How to Clean Hiking Boots

How to Clean Hiking Boots

It is essential that you learn how to clean hiking boots as they take in lots of mud and dust from the trails you walk when out hiking. If you fail to clean them immediately after and store them while dirty, they can get damaged. Hiking boots are hardy, but if you want them to serve you for a long time, you must know how to clean and store them for the next time you will need them. 

Follow these steps to clean and care for your boots every time.

How to Remove Dirt and Stains from Hiking Boots

Rinse with Clean Water

When walking home from your hike, you can start by trying to get rid of most of the mud and dirt by walking through a puddle of water or rubbing on wet grass. Once you reach home, remember to rinse the outside of your boots with clear and clean water. 

Clean the Inner Soles

After the rinse, remove the insoles and shoelaces and then clean them using soap and water. Sometimes they might not need washing; however, you can sprinkle baking soda to counter the odors, if any. After washing the laces and insoles, hang them up to dry. 

Using a mild detergent, soft brush, a cloth, and some water, start scrubbing the outside of your soles. On the upper side, you must be gentle, not putting too much pressure on your boots’ fabric if they are made of synthetic material. A toothbrush can help you clean the tight corners of your hiking boots sole. 

Clean the Upper Surface

When removing stubborn stains and dirt from your shoes, pick a brush with soft bristles to avoid damaging the leather of your hiking boots. You can use a damp or wet paper towel to clean the upper part of your boots, but this may not work for the soles. Depending on the trail you walk, your boots can have salty stains, and soaking them for at least an hour will help get rid of the salts on the sole. 

Rinse with Warm Water

The last step is rinsing the soap from the cloth using warm water, then rinse off the foam from your boots, leaving them clean and shiny. Sometimes how to clean hiking boots if you have stepped on gum or sap can be a challenge. Consider putting your boots inside a freezer bag, then place them in the freezer. Sap and gum easily peel off once dry and frozen. 

How to Clean the Inside of your Hiking Boots 

It is not necessary to clean the insides of your hiking boots every time you are from a hike. But if you feel they need cleaning, depending on the frequency of use, you should know how to clean hiking boots. Sweat and salt deposits will damage your shoes and have adverse effects on your feet, becoming unbreathable hence uncomfortable to wear. 

Consider filling them with lukewarm water and leave them to soak overnight. Empty the water and hang your boots to dry naturally. 

Check out this YouTube video for more insights:

Maintenance and Care after Cleaning Hiking boots

Conditioning your Hiking Boots

When the shoes are almost dry, apply a shoe conditioner so that it can spread evenly with ease. Some shoes depending on the fabric may require that you wait until your shoes are completely dry. 

The process of how to clean hiking boots needs that you read instructions from the manufacturers first. The wrong product may damage your boots instead of preserving and maintaining them. When using a conditioner, avoid applying too much as it may compromise your boots’ quality by making the fabric soft.

After applying the conditioner, leave it to dry naturally as this will help retain the fabric as new. The final step before drying is applying a waterproofing gel to your hiking shoes. Waterproofing gel gives your boots a protective outer coating if you are hiking in muddy, damp, or snowy terrains.

Drying Your Hiking Boots

When drying your shoes, never force dry them by using an unnatural heat source like blowers or warm radiators. Your hiking boots will deteriorate, and the outer fabric hardens, making them uncomfortable. 

Also, never dry your boots under direct sunlight. Consider an area with enough ventilation to let clean air dry your hiking shoes naturally. If you want to aid in the drying process, you can use baking soda to stash a piece of crumpled old newspapers inside your boots. 


The procedure on how to clean hiking boots is not complicated if you can adhere to the above steps. It is also essential that you use the right detergent and conditioners. The wrong product will wear down the fabric or make your boots lose their color. The boot might end up looking old when they are still new. 

Finally, part of how to clean your hiking boots include proper storage. Never store your hiking boots in the dark attics, garage, or basements. Keep them aerated, and they will be pleasant and comfortable to wear for your next hiking.