NOTE: Please see update at end of post for another cleaning method that works equally well…
My wife picked up a pair of heavily discounted Hunter rubber boots tonight. I expect they were discounted because they were covered with a white disgusting film. I did some googling and found out that this white film is called “bloom” and is a natural occurrence with real rubber. Some further searching revealed that Hunter makes a “boot buffer” that apparently removes the white film from the boots. Unfortunately when I discovered this it was 10pm at night and I certainly didn’t have any “Hunter boot buffer” on hand. I did some further searching on “rubber bloom” and found some folks that have used goo-be-gone and other degreasers to remove the film. The only problem with these product is they tend to leave an oily film and smell. I went to my shop and decided to try some new car finishing/wax that I had picked up recently called FW1. From what I can tell it is a combination degreaser/wax, so other similar products may also work. I sprayed it on a boot and got into all the cracks using a Lee Valley surgical brush (a note that these if you don’t have a supply of these in your house you are seriously missing out on one of the most useful things to have around http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?p=10259&cat=2,42551,10259) then wiped it off. The results are in the picture below. It not only cleaned the boot nicely but also gave it a good finish without looking greasy or oily…and when you are done cleaning your boots you can go and wax your car with it 🙂
UPDATE: My lovely wife was so pleased with how well the boots cleaned up that she went and bought the 2 other discounted pairs. When I went to clean the bloom off the 2nd pair I realized that I might be able to improve on using FW1. FW1 is a combination cleaner and wax, and I quickly discovered that it is the CLEANER part that removes the bloom and not the wax. While it works good, it requires a huge amount of wax to get just a little cleaner. It also may not be readily available in some areas. I went to my garage to see what else I had in more readily available automotive supplies. I tried some glass cleaner and de-greaser, which did not work at all (Glass Kleen). I tried some commercial wax and grease remover (used for automotive painting prep) which worked good, but seemed a bit strong and also has a nasty smell. I had a Mequiar’s 3 step wax kit on hand, which has a cleaner, polish, and wax with it. I thought I would try the cleaner part to see if it would remove the bloom. It worked great and did not have the excess wax of FW1. I expect that any pre-waxing cleaner would work, but be careful not to use one that contains any “polish”, since polish is abrasive and would probably scratch up the rubber. The cleaner removed the white film, but the boot itself was not as shiny as the FW1 due to the lack of any wax (picture to the left below). To try to get a nice glossy finish I used the Carnauba wax that Mequair’s uses for step 3 of their kit (skipped step 2 which is the scratchy polish). It worked like a charm and resulted in a nice glossy finish (picture to the right below). I expect even if you don’t have any white bloom film on your boots that a quick Carnauba wax would make them look like new (any brand would work). I used my power buffer just because it was more fun than doing it by hand. (note: To state the obvious, I have no idea if any of these cleaning techniques violate any kind of warranties with Hunter, they are simply information on what worked for me.)
This was so helpful, thank you!!
Now that some time has passed, would you say it’s still a good choice. I’m searching for a recipe or alternative to buying the Hunter brand boot buffer. Thanks!
Yes the 3 pairs of boots that we have all look good. The one pair was starting to get a bit white this fall and I used the same solution and it refreshed the boots so they look like new again.
Thank you SO much! I have this “bloom” also. But I also have only worn my boots 3 times. One time last year in the snow. I wore them once this year and yesterday I notice that there is some “PEELING near the toe of one boot!! So disappointed! I paid a fortune for these (which I never do) because I thought I would be wearing then for years! I keep EVERY receipt, so guess what? I cannot find my receipt and probably threw away the receipt. I am going to try to exchange them at Nordstroms. Hopefully they will believe that I bought them there. Otherwise, I am out $150!!
Hey, I have a question, after going through this process of cleaning with all these cleaner/degreaser, what happened when the boots dried from cleaning? Did the blooming come off or was is still visible? Thank you.
I use a little cooking oil on a paper towel. Works great
Great little article, funny too ….