How To Clean Hiking Boots and Properly Care For Them

How To Clean Hiking Boots and Properly Care For Them

Hiking is great fun, and having the right hiking boots on your feet goes a long way to making sure you enjoy all of the benefits of exploring the great outdoors. Knowing how to wash hiking books and clean them properly is an important part of ensuring they stay in tip-top condition, so you can avoid injury or nasty spills on the trail and, quite literally, get more mileage from your hiking boots. While you might be pretty worn out after a day's hiking, the good news is that washing your boots doesn't have to take a lot of time or energy.

What Supplies Do I Need to Clean and Maintain Hiking Boots?

To wash your hiking boots, you will need a few basic supplies that you may already have:

How to Clean Hiking Boots

When it comes to washing your hiking boots, use dishwashing liquid or purpose-designed boot cleaning detergent and follow the steps below:

  1. To start with, take the laces out of your boots and set them aside.
  2. If your boots are muddy, either bang the heels together to remove the mud or dunk the outside of the shoes (i.e. where they're most dirty) in soapy water. If the mud has dried, use an old toothbrush or household brush to remove mud and other dust.
  3. Next, take out the insoles from your boots, and give them a wash in soapy water with a soft-bristled brush. When you've finished washing the insoles, leave them in a well-ventilated space to dry.
  4. Then, give the outsoles of your shoes a good scrub in soapy water with a tough brush, making sure to get rid of anything like pebbles or dirt that are trapped or stuck between the tread lines. You might need to apply a fair amount of elbow grease if you've gotten a bit lazy with regularly cleaning your hiking boots.
  5. Once this is done, give your boots a thorough rinsing with clean water, getting rid of as much of the cleaning detergent as you can.
Cleaning hiking boots

How to Dry Your Hiking Boots After Washing

Drying your boots properly is just as important as how you wash them. It's absolutely vital that you allow your shoes to dry completely after you finish cleaning them. The best way to dry your hiking boots is to let them air naturally at room temperature and in a well-ventilated space with minimal humidity. Never use a direct heat source like a heater or fireplace and, while it might seem counter-intuitive, don't leave them in the sun. Excessive heat breaks down the adhesives used in the soles and the uppers of your boots and too much direct sunlight prematurely ages the leather.

To speed up the drying process, stuff newspaper inside your boots and change it whenever it gets damp. When your boots and insoles have completely dried, pop the insoles back in the boots and re-lace your footwear. Giving them a spray with an anti-odour or disinfectant spray will help avoid smelly boots.

Drying hiking boots

How To Properly Care For Hiking Boots: Online Maintenance Tips

To ensure your hiking boots and shoes last for years to come, it is not just about washing them every now and then. It is imperative to look after them and ensure they are stored properly. Protect your investment and ensure you are supported on your next hike with our tips for maintaining your hiking boots.

Time matters, clean your boots the sooner the better!

The sooner you wash your boots after a hike, the better. Don't just throw them in your shoe storage space thinking you'll get to them another time. They should be cleaned as soon as possible, or on the following day at the latest. Dirt - especially mud - sucks the moisture from boot leather, making them less pliable, speeding up the ageing process and making them less comfortable for hiking. If you can, give your boots a rinse in a stream or river when you finish your hike.

Do not use a washing machine to clean hiking boots

Never (ever) wash your boots in a washing machine! As tough as they are, the spin cycle is too harsh on hiking boots and will weaken the materials used in their construction.

Use a specialised boot cleaning detergent or mild soap solution

Always make sure you buy footwear cleaner that's okay to use on boots, and follow the directions on the packaging. Avoid bar soap or other detergents, like laundry liquids, because they can break down waterproofing membranes.

Treat your boots with a waterproofing treatment for conditioner for longevity

If you notice that water isn't beading on the surface of your boots anymore, it might be time to give them another waterproofing treatment. As always, follow the manufacturer's instructions on your waterproofing packaging to get the optimal results for that specific product. Try Granger's Performance Proofer for a fast-acting and long lasting waterproofing treatment that protects from water damage and stains. For full-grain leather hiking boots, use a leather conditioner such as Granger's G-Wax to maintain the suppleness and quality of the leather. Especially if your leather boots are looking cracked or dry, it is time to condition and bring them back to life.

Store your hiking boots properly when not in use

Between each hike, store your boots in a cool dry place, which is out of direct sunlight. Avoid storing them in a hot attic or garage, as extreme heat (which includes direct sunlight) can damage the material that holds your boots together and seriously reduce their lifespan.

Getting rid of mould on hiking boots

If there is stubborn mould or stains on your boots, you may need to use a 20% vinegar and 80% water solution to treat the mould and prevent it from growing back. Soak and scrub your boots in the water and vinegar solution, carefully removing the mould. Ensuring you allow your boots to dry and ventilate after each use is key to preventing mould growth.

How to prevent smelly hiking boots

To reduce odour, ensure that you wash your hiking boots regularly, and always allow them to dry in a ventilated area after each use and wash. You can also use an odour-eliminating spray to quickly eliminate smells and keep your hiking boots fresh. Perfect for in-between washes and when you're out on your adventure. Wearing quality breathable hiking socks with your shoes also helps to ventilate sweat and odour build-up.

Brush off surface dirt and gravel after each use

It is a good idea to gently brush off loose dirt with a cloth or brush after each use to prevent the dirt from caking on further. Removing any rocks or gravel from the outsole after your hikes is also a good idea to reduce further build-up.

Use a Muk Mat or doormat for quick removal of surface build-up

A Muk Mat is not only great for keeping your camping site or caravan clean but also great for quickly scrubbing off drift from your hiking shoes. You will still need to do manual scrubbing and washing of your hiking shoes but a mat is a quick way to remove dirt when out and about.

Maintenance and cleaning tips

Ensure Your Hiking Boots Last For Years to Come With Our Expert Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

Your hiking boots do an enormous amount of work when you're out on trail walks and camping, so knowing how to clean hiking boots is important. Keeping them clean not only means they protect your feet as they should but it also extends the lifespan of your boots, helping you get excellent value for money and, most of all, supporting you in some exciting adventures while you're out hiking.

If your hiking boots are worn out and a wash won't cut it, shop for a new pair from our range of men's hiking boots, women's hiking boots and kids hiking boots that will support you the entire way. You'll find quality brands including Merrell, Salomon, Zamberlan and Keen, shop the entire outdoor footwear range online or at your nearest Anaconda store. Plus get accessories and hiking essentials to elevate your adventure including hiking packs, footwear accessories, hiking socks and hiking clothing for the whole family.

Looking for more advice and information for your next hiking adventure? Check out our articles and guides below:




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