How To Disinfect Work Boots The Right Way? (Solved)

If your boots got stinky or maybe you’ve got an athlete’s foot infection and you want to disinfect your work boots in an easy DIY way then welcome, you’re in the right place.

I’ll share with you how I personally disinfect my work boots. It’s easy to replicate and cheap!

a pair of stinky safety work boots that are going to be disinfected by myself using rubbing alcohol trying to kill all the bacteria and fungus living inside.

When should you disinfect and sanitize your work boots?

Although this might sound like a silly question I found out on my own skin (literally) how important it is to sanitize and clean your work boots every now and then. I’ll tell you more in the next section but first here are a few scenarios I found myself in where I had to disinfect my work boots. One or more might apply to you as well.

  • Buy a second hand used pair

It was my first job where I needed to wear a pair of safety work boots. I was young and silly and I never thought about the risks of wearing someone else’s footwear or the importance of a good work boot. 

What did I do? 

In order to save some money, I bought a pair of second-hand work boots. I knew at that point that at least I had to wash the boots but I didn’t go all in and disinfect them. 

So maybe you are in a similar situation. Please disinfect your work boots if you buy them used.

You never know who wears them and if they had any feet conditions or not. I was lucky that time but I’ve learned my lesson.

  • You’ve got Athlete’s foot infection

Another reason you might want to disinfect your work boots is if you had Athlete’s foot.

To my disgrace, I lived with this condition for more than a year not knowing how simple it is to deal with it (and cheap too).

As I was treating my feet to get rid of the Athlete’s foot fungus, I washed my boots, and also I was disinfecting the boots every day at the end of my shift to try to eliminate any possible bacteria that might want to live inside my work boots.

  • When the work boots get stinky

Now, thank God I got rid of the fungus and I’m not sanitizing my work boots after each shift anymore. I still do it once per week or so depending on how much I wear them.

One huge sign that bacteria and fungus are starting to build a home inside your work boots is when the boots start to stink. Sometimes they even stink like cat pee or ammonia.

When that happens I start the process of disinfecting my work boots. I simply wash the boots and disinfect them every day for a week. That does the job for me.

Now, if you’re asking what products I’m using to disinfect my work boots here are a few I can recommend…

What products can kill bacteria in work boots?

I’ve stopped using bleach because is just stinky for me. And Lysol I feel that is not as effective as alcohol isopropyl.

You can buy a ready-made sprayer on Amazon like this one or you can make your own one at home as I do nowadays. I just buy a bottle of 99% alcohol isopropyl like this one and then I use it for different purposes at home by mixing it with different liquids.

How do you disinfect and sanitize work boots?

As I said above, I’m using isopropyl alcohol to disinfect and sanitize my work boots.

Here’s how I do it:

Step 1: Prepare your solution

step number one in disinfecting work boots is to create our own disinfecting solution

In a clean spray bottle, I’m mixing isopropyl alcohol with water. For this purpose, you want to have 70%-80% alcohol and 30%-20% water.

Why you can’t use 99% alcohol to disinfect work boots? 

Simply because this type of alcohol, at this level of concentration, will evaporate immediately.

I’m sure you’ve seen one of those sprays that you use to clean your laptop or computer. Do you remember that the surface you spray it on gets dry almost instantly?

That’s why is not good to disinfect work boots with high concentrated alcohol. Because the alcohol evaporates so quickly, it won’t have time to do its job.

On the other hand, when we mix alcohol isopropyl with water, the surface that’s applied on (in our case, our work boots) the surface gets wet and the alcohol will stay there for a while.

That’s good because that’s when the alcohol will do its job, killing the bacterias and fungus you might have in your stinky work boots.

Step 2: Apply the solution to the boots

step number two in disinfecting work boots is to apply the spray solution in this image

Now just start spraying the solution inside your work boots as freely as you want. I do put a lot until the insole of the boot gets wet.

I leave it for a day or until it gets dry (it depends on how much solution you apply and how hot it is in your area).

Step 3: Wipe the inside of the boot

You don’t have to do this step but I like to go all-in baby. 

After the boot got dry, it could be a few hours or maybe a day…I then use the same solution to humidify a clean cloth and wipe the inside of the boot with it.

This is kinda like dry cleaning the boot or washing the boot without getting it soaked in water. This will help remove dirt, bacterias, and fungus that were left on the insole.

And now the last step is to apply one more time the same solution with the sprayer. Let it dry naturally and then your boots are disinfected and sanitized!

Will this method kill bacteria and fungus for good?

Yes, this will kill bacteria and fungus but it’s not that they can’t come back. Actually, depending on the type of work you’re doing and the type of work environment you’re in they might take a little or a lot to come back.

If let’s say you’re a groundworker, the chances of your work boot developing bacteria and fungus inside are greater than an electrician for example who mostly works indoors.

That’s why I always recommend having more than one pair of work boots available at any point because first, you can change them daily, reducing the risk of developing bacteria and funguses.

And even if one of the boots got stinky you can disinfect one whilst you still have the other to keep working and bring that money home.

It’s a good practice to disinfect your work boots every couple of months. So, build good habits in order to have healthy feet

In addition, for heaven’s sake, get yourself a boot dryer.

This is a game changer, especially for those of you with sweaty feet or working in water and wet conditions all day. And it’s not that expensive. I use this PEET Original boot dryer that costs less than 50 bucks.

Can’t you just wash them in the washing machine?

You can wash your work boots in the washing machine but that won’t kill the bacteria and fungus inside the boot.

Especially because I don’t recommend you use hot water when washing your work boots in the washer. That can deactivate the adhesives and damage the boots.

So throwing your boots inside the washing machine won’t be effective against bacteria and fungus. It won’t disinfect the boots, it will just clean them!

Precautions when disinfecting your work boots with alcohol

If you’re going to do it as I do it by mixing your own solution at home, then be sure to take a few safety steps in this process to avoid some unpleasant situations.

  1. Handle the alcohol in an area away from anything that can create sparks or create a fire. 

This alcohol is super flammable and it can start a fire very easily if you’re close to any type of ignition source. So mix the water with alcohol in the garden or in the bathroom wherever it’s safer. 

  1. Mix the alcohol with water in an area that’s well ventilated.

The first time I used this 99% alcohol, I had my throat and hands itching the whole day. I read people giving these simple safety instructions but I didn’t think is going to be THAT bad. So I didn’t follow these simple safety steps.

Now I even use gloves to handle this chemical haha. Another lesson learned.

Also, the vapors alone can badly irritate your eyes and nose. It can give you headaches and nauseous too. It’s a quite strong chemical so treat it with respect. When used properly, it’s a great product to have and use at home.

If you want to know more about alcohol isopropyl this is a great article.

Watch it on YouTube if you prefer

Disinfection of your work boots at home DIY: The takeaway

So ladies and gents, whether you bought a pair of second-hand work boots or your boots got stinky the easiest and most effective way to disinfect your work boots is by using a solution of isopropyl alcohol and water. 

You can easily kill the bacteria and fungus in your work boots by following the simple step-by-step instructions I’ve shared with you above. Good luck!

Team Members Working On This Page

Victor Adrian, author and editor at
Adrian – Editor & Webmaster

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!

Jessica Flynn
Jessica Flynn – Writer And Researcher

Love technology, going to the beach, taking care of my body, and writing (amongst other things). You’ll see my face around here a little bit since I’m responsible for part of the research and writing of some of the articles you’re reading on I hope you’ll find our content helpful and enjoyable! See you around, thanks for reading!

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