How To Clean Hiking Boots -11 Pro Tips

Hiking boots are built tough and designed to get dirty. They can take muddy and gritty trails in stride while keeping your feet safe and protected. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a great idea to not clean them. Cleaning your hiking boots regularly will stop them from aging prematurely and extend their lifespan. You may even be able to reuse your old hiking boots by cleaning them.

clean hiking boots

Washing your hiking boots is simple and doesn’t require expensive ingredients. If you’re too tired to clean them right after a hike, you can clean them the next day. Keep reading this article if you would like to know how to clean hiking boots in a few easy steps.

How To Wash Hiking Boots

Removing Dirt And Stains

Remove The Laces And Insoles

Removing the laces makes it easier to clean and polish the lace holes and metal hardware on your hiking boots. It also allows you to clean the laces as well. To clean your laces, simply:

  • Rinse them with warm water and dish soap.
  • Leave them to dry.

Insoles collect moisture, so you’ll need to dry them out. If you don’t, they can develop mildew and cause your hiking boots to stink. To dry out your insoles:

  • Sprinkle them with baking soda.
  • Leave them until the baking soda has absorbed all the moisture and foul smells.
  • Dust off the baking soda.

Brush Off Dirt And Debris

Take a stiff nylon shoe brush and try to remove any caked-on dirt and debris from the boot’s surfaces. You can also try a damp paper towel to remove accumulated dirt. If your hiking boots have stubborn salt stains, you’ll need to soak them in water for an hour or two. If not, you can move on to the next step.

Scrub Boots With Warm Water And Mild Dish Soap

A solution of warm water and mild dish soap should be powerful enough to remove dirt and grime. you can use a soft cloth, a soft-bristle brush, or an old toothbrush on stubborn stains. If you have suede boots, then you’ll need to apply gentle pressure when scrubbing to not damage the material.

Use the soft-bristle brush or old toothbrush to scrub areas that may be hard to reach. Try using a pencil eraser on any scuff mark that won’t come off with dish soap and warm water solution.

Remove Soapy Residue

Once you’re done scrubbing and all traces of dirt and grime and the scuff marks are removed, you need to wipe away the soapy residue. Take a clean microfiber cloth and run it under some warm water to get it wet and squeeze out excess. Use the wet cloth and wipe the soap off the boots.

When the cloth gets soapy, rinse it under warm water once again, squeeze it out and continue wiping the boots until there’s no soapy residue justify.

Put them In The Freezer To Remove Sap

One of the most common issues with hiking boots is that they will pick up pesky gunk like sap, wax, or gum. These can be hard to remove but don’t worry, you can try this hack. Place you’re hiking boots in freezer bags and put them in the freezer. leave them for about an hour or two or until the sticky spot has hardened. Once it’s frozen, take a blunt knife or nail file and remove the gunk.

How To Care For Hiking Boots

care for hiking boots

Waterproofing And Conditioning

Waterproof Your Boots

After cleaning leather, suede, and nubuck boots, the surface pores will open. This makes them more receptive to water, so you’ll want to close and protect them. To do so you can apply a waterproofing spray made for that specific material and wax that can waterproof and moisturize the boots.

Spray the boots with the waterproofing spray while they’re still damp. Do this whenever you wash your hiking boots. You can also give them a spray or wax the day before you go hiking to keep them in good shape.

Condition The Boots

After waterproofing your hiking boots, you can use a cream or conditioner to retain moisture. Be sure to use a care product that is meant for the material of your boots. Apply this product right after waterproofing your boots.

Too much moisture is bad for some boots, but the right amount will prevent cracking and other damages. Just remember not to apply too much conditioner to your boots at one time or they’ll become too soft.

Polish The Hardware

The metal around the lace holes of your boots is prone to rusting. To prevent this from happening, you can use a cotton swab to apply a chrome polish. Let it sit for a few minutes and wipe off the excess with a dry cloth.

How To Dry Hiking Boots

dry hiking boots

Dry Boots Out Of Direct Sunlight

Leave your boots to dry in an open, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight the prevent cracking and discoloration. You can also sprinkle baking soda inside the shoe or place crumpled newspapers to help dry them out faster and remove odors.

Dry Boots Away From Heat Source

You should also try not to dry your hiking boots using heat sources like radiators, dryers, blow dryers or even in an oven. Intense heat can cause irreversible damage to the fibers of your boots. Just like the sun, these heat sources will cause your boots to dry and crack.

Store Boots When Completely Dry

Make sure that your boots are completely dry then re-lace them and replace the insoles. You can then store them in a shoebox or bag and place them in your shoe closet until you’re ready to use them again. Make sure the boots are completely dry (usually 24 hours or more) because storing damp or wet boots promotes mold growth. You should also try not to leave your boots in the car after a hike or you may very well end up with moldy, smelly boots.


Now you know how to clean your hiking boots to get the most out of them. This allows you to enjoy more time out there doing what you like. Read on in this article for the best ways to lace hiking boots to have a better hiking experience.

Leave a Comment