How to Clean Hiking Boots – Ultimate Guide

Our mountain footwear, both shoes, and boots, protect us from all the inclemencies that the weather can present us. Learn all about how to clean hiking boots in this guide.

Depending on the terrain where we walk the boot will require specific care but of course, we always appreciate finding our shoes clean before each trip, therefore, if you are one of those who often go out… get used to clean your shoes immediately after each trip to the mountains.

To care for and extend the life of the materials and membranes of your shoes or hiking boots… follow these tips!

What I need to clean my hiking shoes:

One or a couple of brushes: a large one to start with and even a toothbrush for more complex areas. A good example is the 3-pack of VIKINGA.

Specific cleaning product for boots (Nikwax GEL) or a soap.

Regularity

Surely our footwear is one of the garments to which we demand more and it is that they have much to resist. Something indispensable is regularity, we must get used to clean our hiking or mountain footwear every time we return from a route with extra mud and dirt stuck to our feet.

How to Clean Hiking Boots: Brush, Water, and Soap

Whether they are made of leather or synthetic material, it is best to clean our boots or sneakers with a stiff brush to remove major dirt, it is important not to forget the sole. If you still see embedded dirt, soak the brush in a little water and soap (as natural as possible) and brush again, finally, rinse the brush and only with water, rinse the shoes.

You have to dedicate time to clean the soles well, the more drawing they have, the more remains of pebbles, branches, and above all mud will lodge in them. A nail or toothbrush is a good option to keep them clean.

hiking boots clean

Laces and Insoles

Removing laces and insoles (in the models that allow it) helps to clean them thoroughly. Depending on the characteristics of the insole, it is best to wash them either by hand or in a washing machine at low temperatures; the same goes for the laces. This way, when removing the laces, we also eliminate dirt in the eyelets of the boots.

How to Dry Hiking Boots

In a clean and dry place, we let the footwear dry at room temperature and avoiding contact with any source of heat, whether natural or artificial. A good mountain shoe consists of several layers of high-tech material and only retains its properties if it is protected from humidity.

The inside is stuffed with newspaper to absorb moisture, and be careful (depending on the terrain you have hiked) to change the newspaper as soon as it absorbs moisture. Previously remove the insoles in those boots that allow their extraction since they absorb a lot of humidity. If necessary, remove and clean the laces as well.

As for the insoles, they should be dried separately and occasionally cleaned in a washing machine or by hand. Once they are dry, you can apply foot deodorant or a disinfectant. They can also be renewed if necessary.

how to dry hiking boots

How to Clean the Upper

Remove the laces and insoles before cleaning. Use a brush to remove dust, mud, and dirt. For more thorough cleaning, add running water and any cleaning product you have chosen.

Metal elements are protected by applying petroleum jelly to them regularly to prevent corrosion.

A few tricks:

Most shoe soaps can be used on a wide range of materials, but check that your chosen product works well with your shoe materials.

Avoid detergents: many may contain additives that can be harmful to leather or waterproof membranes.

If they have been neglected for a long time, to clean mildew, use a mixture of 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar.

Always rinse your boots with clean water.

Never clean them in the washing machine as they may break.

If your footwear has a GORE-TEX or similar waterproof membrane, unless it starts to fail you should not apply a water repellent wax: they negatively affect breathability. You should keep your boot waterproof by simply washing it (remember that having a waterproof membrane does not mean that it is 100% waterproof, it just means that it takes longer for water to get in).

How to Clean Hiking Boots: Spray and Grease

Both waterproof and leather footwear should be sprayed regularly to keep the waterproof function active. After letting the shoes or boots dry, spray (at a distance of about 8″ (20 cm) the membrane reactivating spray, making sure that you impregnate the entire shoe. Allow drying.

For leather boots, able to resist snow and heavy rain, you can use leather grease. Spread a cloth and rub the boot, this helps to keep the leather moisturized, supple, and also enhances the color.

Ignoring cleaning will damage the shoe in several ways:

Every time your boot flexes, particles of dirt, sand, pebbles, or dust are dragged into the interior spraying it like sandpaper.

If your footwear is made of leather, the mud absorbs moisture from the leather and dries it out, leaving it less flexible and aging it much sooner.

foot boot hiking