How To Clean And Care For Hiking Boots Without Ruining Them


While hiking boots are designed to take dirt and mud on the often gritty and muddy trails, this does not mean that you should ignore them after every hiking trip. Cleaning the boots before storing them eliminates the need to replace your favorite footwear prematurely. 

Understanding how to care for hiking boots is the key to ensuring that you can enjoy many years on your favorite long-distance hikes with the boots. In this article, we will show you how to clean hiking boots. 

A Step by Step Guide on How to Clean Hiking Boots

1. Remove the Insoles and Laces 

Insoles can collect a lot of moisture. For this reason, it is a good idea to remove them before you start cleaning your hiking boots.  To dry the hiking insoles and get rid of bad odor, be sure to sprinkle them with baking soda.

Removing the laces will make it much easier for you to clean the metal hardware and lace holes. To clean the laces, simply rinse them with dish soap and warm water and then leave them out to dry. 

2. Scrub the Boots with Mild Dish Detergent and Water

Mild dish soap and warm water should help you get rid of stains and grime from your boots. Make use of a soft cloth during the scrubbing to get rid of the non-stubborn stains. If you are learning how to clean hiking boots featuring stubborn stains, use a soft-bristled brush. If the hiking boots are suede, you must use gentle pressure to avoid damaging the material. 

To clean the hard to reach nooks and crannies, you can use a toothbrush to scrub. If any scruffs fail to come off with the dish detergent, you should consider using a pencil eraser. 

3. Wipe Away the Soap 

Most beginning hikers – especially those learning how to care for hiking boots for the first time – tend to forget this step. After scrubbing, rinse the cloth under some warm water. Use the wet cloth to wipe the detergent off the boots. 

When your cloth gets too soapy, simply rinse it under some running water, squeeze it out, and then continue wiping the boots. Stop only after sopping up all the detergent. 

4. Remove Sap by Throwing the Boots in Your Freezer 

When learning how to clean hiking boots, pesky gunk like gum, wax, and sap tends to be a huge issue. The easiest solution to the gunk is to place the boots in a freezer bag and then put them in your freezer. 

Keep your boots in the freezer until the sticky spot hardens. Once frozen, the spot should be easy to remove. 

Waterproofing Hiking Boots 

Cleaning hide-based boots (nubuck, suede, and leather) opens up their surface pores making them more receptive to water. To close and protect your wide feet hiking boots, you should waterproof the boots

You must ensure you are using a waterproofing product labeled for your boot. If you are not very familiar with how to care for hiking boots by waterproofing them, you can always ask boot experts to recommend a waterproofing product. 

Related Review: Hiking Boots For Wide Feet

Conditioning Your Boots 

After waterproofing the boots, apply a suede, nubuck, or leather conditioner. Ensure that you are using a product that is labeled for your boot’s specific material. Apply the product immediately after waterproofing – this is because the boots should be damp when you apply the conditioner. 

Hardware, such as the metal around the lace holes is prone to rust. To avoid rusting, simply use a cotton swab to apply a chrome polish. 

Drying the Boots 

Choose a well-aired spot to air dry the boots to prevent discoloration and cracking. Find a location that is out of direct sunlight. 

You must avoid drying the boots near a heat source. Intense heat can cause irreversible damage to hide-based fibers. This will cause the boots to end up ill-fitting and cracked. 

Once your boots are completely dry, you can put them away. Simply replace the insoles and lace the hiking boots before storing them in a box or shoe bag. 



Q: Can I Put My Hiking Boots in The Washing Machine?


You should never put your boots in the washing machine. This is because the washing machine can easily damage both leather and vegan hiking boots.

Related Review: Vegan Hiking Boots

Q: How Do You Clean Smelly Hiking Boots?


The most ideal solution to smelly hiking boots is baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda into the boots and allow them to stay overnight. This should get rid of the bad odor. 

Q: How Do You Wash Salomon Hiking Boots?


After every use, you should remove all mud and dirt from the shoes using clean water and a soft, wet brush. After cleaning the boots, dry the boots at room temperature without the aid of any external heat source. 

Q: Why Do Merrell Shoes Stink?


Merrell shoes usually stink when they are worn regularly without getting cleaned often. To get rid of the bad smell, simply fill socks with baking soda and allow them to stay inside the shoes overnight. The baking soda will absorb the unpleasant odors – this will leave the hiking shoes smelling fresh. 

Q: How Do You Wash Merrell Hiking Boots?


On a regular basis, use a soft brush to brush away any surface dirt. After extended and rugged use, wash with warm water and mild soap. Allow the shoes to dry before putting them away.

Q: Can You Wash Boots in the Dishwasher?


Using the dishwasher to clean boots can be done, but it is not recommended. While the machine can remove soil and dirt, the high heat of the drying cycle can create shrinkage and even melt some parts of the boot. 

Q: How Do You Care for Lowa Boots?


To care for your Lowa boots, you will need to clean, waterproof, and condition them. Before storing them, always allow them to air dry completely.

Q: How Do You Maintain Leather Hiking Boots?


To maintain leather boots, you should clean them regularly, waterproof the boots, and use a conditioner to ensure they stay in good condition. If the shoes happen to have bad odors, simply use baking soda to absorb the bad smell.

Q: How Do You Clean Waterproof Boots?


Waterproof boots should be cleaned just like other boots. However, after cleaning the boots, it is crucial that you apply a waterproofing spray. This will restore the boot’s ability to resist water. 

Globo Surf Overview 

Learning how to care for hiking boots is the first step towards extending the lifespan of your boots – properly maintained boots should be able to last for a long time. In this article, we have shown you how to clean hiking boots. Armed with the instructions above, keeping your boots odor-free and looking good should be easy.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!