Can You Put Military Boots In The Dryer?

Whether your military boots are dirty, smelly, or a combination of both, you probably want to put them in the washer for a good clean and subsequently toss them in the dryer afterward. But before you do, it’s important to consider if putting your boots in the dryer is a safe choice.

Certain military boots can be put in the dryer. Military boots made of cotton, polyester, or nylon blends are safe to tumble dry with the proper technique and spin cycles. Military boots made of suede or leather are not meant for the dryer and should be dried differently.

Let’s go into more detail about how to dry military boots in the dryer and what alternative drying methods are available to you.

Why Some Materials Are Safe

Before you throw your boots into the dryer, you should check to see what the boots are made out of. The manufacturer may even list if the boots are good to put in the dryer or not, which saves you the worry of figuring out whether you should or shouldn’t dry your boots in a machine.

The symbol for the drying machine is a square. If the square has a circle inside it, that means the boots are safe to put in the dryer.

But if the square has a circle and an X through them, then it means you can’t put them in the dryer.

To be even safer with machine drying, you can always use the “tumble dry low” option. Although this may take up a bit more time, your boots won’t be exposed to as much high heat over a short period of time.

However, your military boots may not have these symbols on them, so it will be up to you to determine the materials.

Cotton Blend

Clothing made of cotton is fine to machine dry, and boots mostly made of them are fine as well.

Remember, though, that cotton tends to shrink if it has never been machine dried before. So to take extra precaution, stuff your boots with socks, hand towels, or other safe-to-dry options. This helps avoid shrinkage by maintaining boot structure with reinforcements.

Polyester Or Nylon Blend

Many modern military boots are made up of some polyester or nylon blend. If one or both materials are the primary constructs, then you should be good to give them a machine wash and dry. Nylon is prone to melting and polyester is prone to shrink, however, so you may want to tumble dry the boots on low with something stuffed into them as well.

Putting Military Boots In The Dryer

When you do decide that your military boots are safe to machine dry, you will want to take the steps to ensure that your boots and the dryer itself are protected.

Remove soles or insoles. Any gel insoles should be taken out before drying. They should be washed by hand instead of in a machine, but in any case, they can’t be machine dried, or else the heat will melt them. Regular soles should also be laid out to dry. Taking them out of the boots prevents warping or shrinking.

Tie shoelaces together. The last thing you want to hear is your boots clunking wildly in the dryer. Although tying the shoelaces together alone won’t stop the tumbling entirely, it will decrease the noise and spare your dryer. Unlace the shoelaces up to the last upper holes to ensure an even drying for both the boots and the laces. You can even shut the dryer door on part of the laces to keep them in one place.

Dry with towels or other items. To save your dryer even more from denting (and save your ears from loud noises), you can pad the boot drying process with towels, clothes, or blankets.

Check every 15 minutes. Even if you have your dryer on low heat, you’ll want to frequently check how much your boots have dried during the hour to hour-and-a-half machine time. You don’t want to over-dry your boots and cause any melting or shrinking.

Why Some Materials Aren’t Safe

You may have a pair of military boots made from suede, leather, or a mix of both. These two materials can’t be put in a machine to dry.


For such a finicky material, military boots are commonly made of suede. If they’re dried with high heat over a short period of time, the suede will dry out to the point of cracking and warping.


Leather is reactive to heat, so it will warp in the dryer. When you put them back on, you may find that they’re a different size or shape. There will also be added wrinkles and creases from the rapid shrinking and expanding process it undergoes.

How To Dry Without A Dryer

Although machine drying is convenient, it’s not always the best for your boots–nor is it the only method for sanitizing.

Suede military boots can be cleaned in a variety of ways. Check out this article from the Spruce detailing how you can clean and dry suede boots and get rid of several stains.

Fortunately, leather boots are easy to clean. You can take a simple damp rag and some soap to wash off debris, followed by a leather conditioner to keep it shining and prevent cracking. As much as you want your leather boots to dry quickly, they need to air out naturally and away from direct heat or sunlight.

You can always try placing your boots on a shoe rack or somewhere off the ground. This gives your boots more access to airflow and quickens drying.

Stuffing newspaper into your military boots is a helpful method for drying. The newspaper soaks up excess water instead of letting it sit in your boots for longer than it should.

For those who consistently need to dry their boots, consider purchasing a boot dryer. Not only is it safe for boots of all kinds, including suede and leather, but it saves you the energy and hassle of machine drying.

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