Uggs are beloved for their soft, cozy warmth. However, their sheepskin and suede material also makes them prone to water damage and staining. If you’ve ever been caught out in the rain or snow with your Uggs, you’ve likely ended up with unsightly water marks marring their beautiful exterior.
While it can be disheartening to see stains on your favorite boots, don’t despair. With the right techniques and products, you can often successfully remove water stains from Uggs and restore them to their original beauty. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll outline several highly effective methods for getting water stains out of Uggs.
Causes of Water Staining on Uggs
Before diving into stain removal, it’s helpful to understand precisely what causes water damage on sheepskin and suede boots in the first place.
The primary culprit is the structure of the leather itself. Sheepskin and suede consist of a softer inner layer covered by a fibrous exterior layer of hairs or fibers. This layer of fibers traps moisture against the inner leather. As the water evaporates, it pulls oil and dye out from the inner layers, depositing discolored residues across the surface.
Additionally, sheepskin and suede leathers lack a protective outer coating. This makes them extremely porous and vulnerable to liquid spills and moisture exposure.
Once staining occurs, it can be challenging to remove due to the delicate nature of the materials. Harsher cleaning methods like intense scrubbing can further damage the exterior nap. That’s why specialty stain removal techniques are required.
Use White Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
Acidic white vinegar or apple cider vinegar is often an effective homemade remedy for water spots and stains.
The acetic acid in the vinegar gently breaks down stubborn residues, making them easier to blot away. Plus, vinegars help balance pH levels in the leather.
- White Vinegar Method: Dilute undistorted, white vinegar with an equal amount of water. Dip a clean cloth into the solution. Then, gently sponge across stains to lift discoloration.
- Apple Cider Vinegar Method: Use apple cider vinegar directly from the bottle. Dip a clean cloth and apply gently across stains.
When using either solution:
- Avoid excessively scrubbing at the delicate material
- Rotate to fresh sections of the cloth as needed to prevent redepositing grime
- Allow boots to air dry completely after use
- Apply a specialty leather conditioner after to restore oils
- The vinegar smell will fade as boots dry
Use Non-Gel Toothpaste
Surprisingly, non-gel toothpaste containing baking soda works wonderfully for removing Uggs water stains.
The baking soda serves as a gentle abrasive to lift residue from the grain. Meanwhile, specialty ingredients like silica give toothpaste mild bleaching power to fade discoloration.
- Apply non-gel toothpaste directly onto dry leather using a toothbrush or cotton swab
- Gently scrub across stained sections
- Take care not to scrub intensely or damage the leather
- Rinse away toothpaste with a barely-damp cloth
- Allow boots to completely air dry before wearing or conditioning
- Toothpaste leaves behind a refreshed, minty scent!
Just be sure to avoid gels, which can be more difficult to fully rinse away.
Use Nonsudsy Shampoo
Certain nonsudsy conditioning shampoos make excellent Uggs stain removers. They’re designed to thoroughly cleanse delicate hair fibers without stripping away natural oils. These same properties translate effectively to nubuck, suede, and sheepskin leathers.
- Look for a mild moisturizing shampoo formula specialized for fine or damaged hair
- Lighter fluid textures work best to allow thorough distribution into the leather grain
- Apply a small dollop directly onto stains
- Use a soft brush or washcloth to gently lather and lift staining
- Rinse thoroughly with cool, gently running water
- Stuff boots with paper towels and allow to fully air dry
- The shampoo will help restore supple softness as leather dries
Use a Specialty Leather Cleaner
For reliable cleaning results without guesswork, turn to a specialty leather cleaner formulated for suede, nubuck, and sheepskin. The National Shoe Retailers Association recommends consulting a cobbler for professional product recommendations.
Many cobblers stock effective stain removers designed specifically for delicate leathers. Or find spray solutions online through reputable shoe care brands.
When using any leather cleaner:
- Carefully follow all label instructions
- Gently apply only to stained areas using the recommended technique
- Most feature either a spray-on or foam application
- Be extremely cautious when wetting suede or sheepskin to prevent dark water rings
- Allow boots to fully air dry before wearing or conditioning
Recommended Leather Cleaners:
- Cadillac Select Premium Water & Stain Repellant
- Kiwi Suede & Nubuck Protector
- Landau Sheepskin & Suede Cleaner
Steps to Prepare Uggs for Stain Removal
Before attempting to remove water stains from Uggs, it’s important first to prep the boots for effective treatment. Here is a 3-step pre-cleaning procedure we recommend:
- Brush Suede Nap: Use a specialty suede brush to gently lift and realign matted surface fibers. Brush with the natural grain rather than intensely scrubbing across it. This helps cleaning solutions penetrate better.
- Loosen Grime: Apply a pre-cleaning spray for suede and nubuck leathers. Lightly mist across both boot exteriors. Allow to fully dry. Then gently brush again with a suede brush to remove loosened grime.
- Remove Excess Dye: If stains appear darker or like an oil slick, interior leather dye may be the culprit. Use 220-grit sandpaper to gently buff only stain areas to remove excess dye without damaging leather underneath.
After pre-treating, boots are prepped for targeted stain removal using the techniques above.
Tips for Stain Prevention
The best way to keep Uggs looking beautiful is to take proactive steps to prevent staining in the first place. Here are 8 key tips for keeping Uggs stain-free:
- Weatherproof Before Wear: Use silicone sprays like Scotchgard to protect against moisture, salt, and grime. Reapply every 1-2 months.
- Add Protective Soles: Adhere a sole guard between the boot bottoms and exterior soles to prevent moisture seepage through worn-down soles.
- Store Properly: Fully dry boots after wear and use shoe trees to prevent moisture buildup.
- Handle Carefully: Avoid setting Uggs on wet ground which can wick moisture upwards.
- Clean After Exposure: Gently clean and condition boots after rain, snow or salt exposure to prevent lasting stains.
- Refresh Water Protection: Use a suede protector spray like Kiwi Water & Stain Resistant every few months.
- Check Soles for Cracks: Replace worn boot soles to prevent interior staining.
- Bring Backup Shoes: Keep an extra pair of closed-toe shoes in your car or bag in case of sudden storms.
Restore Your Uggs Today!
We hope these effective strategies guide you toward removing pesky water stains from your beloved Uggs. With the right techniques and care products, you can give new life once again to these cozy sheepskin staples.