How to Clean Hiking Boots Properly?

Ever wondered “how to clean hiking boots” efficiently? Our guide covers all from mud removal to waterproofing. Perfect for trail enthusiasts!
Hiking boots after a wild adventure: worn, muddy, and ready for more nature.


  • Remove loose dirt from boots before any cleaning method.
  • Use a brush, cloth, and specialized boot soap for cleaning; avoid household cleaners.
  • Gentle cleaning for leather/suede; vinegar solution and air-drying recommended. Do not machine wash.
  • Baking soda can deodorize boots effectively; air out and dry insoles separately.
  • Maintain Merrell and Columbia boots by regularly cleaning, air drying, waterproofing, and avoiding heat.
  • Interior cleaning: remove insoles/laces, gently scrub with mild soap, rinse, air dry without direct heat.
  • Machine washing is generally not advised, but if permitted by manufacturer, use gentle cycle, mild detergent, and air dry without heat.

Stomped through mud and your favorite boots took a beating? I get it. You’re out conquering trails and your trusty hiking boots are right there with you. But let’s face it, they can look like a mess afterwards. Worry not, I’m here to guide you through the ins and outs of getting those boots clean without harming them. Dive in as we tackle the do’s and don’ts of boot cleaning, from shaking off that stubborn dirt to picking the right products to keep your footwear in top shape. Whether you’ve got fabric kicks or leather hikers, I’ll show you how to make them look as fresh as your first trek. Ready? Let’s get those boots back to trail-ready status!

How Do I Begin Cleaning My Hiking Boots?

To clean and restore hiking boots, start by removing loose dirt. Before you wet them, get your tools together. You’ll need a brush, cloth, and mild soap. Knock your boots together outside to shake off grit. This is your initial dirt removal step, which is crucial.

Now, let’s talk materials. For leather or suede, use a soft brush. Got fabric boots? A harder brush can work. Be gentle with waterproof boots. They need less water and a soft touch. Assess the boot material to decide on water use. For most boots, a damp cloth does the trick.

Choose your cleaning products wisely. Use soap that’s made for boots, not harsh household cleaners. Leather cleaner keeps leather tough. Fabric shampoo is great for nylon or canvas. This care keeps your boots ready for more trails. Always follow the boot maker’s washing tips. They know best how to care for their designs.

Remember, happy boots make for happy hikes. Keep ’em clean, and they’ll take you far!

What’s the Best Way to Wash Hiking Boots Safely?

To clean hiking boots with vinegar, mix a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Wet a cloth with it, then wipe your boots down. For suede boots, use a soft brush to apply the solution and tackle any tough spots. Avoid soaking them, as too much liquid can harm the suede.

For leather boots, it’s fine to use the vinegar solution. Make sure to work gently and let them air dry after. Don’t place them in direct sunlight or heat. This can cause the leather to crack. For boots made from fabric, the same approach works. Be sure to rinse them with clean water after cleaning.

Machine washing hiking boots is not safe. Hand washing is kinder to your boots. It helps them last longer. Machine washing can damage boot materials and wear them out quicker. However, for a quick clean, you may lightly scrub them with a mix of water and dish soap. Don’t soak them and rinse well after.

When washing any type of boots, always remove loose dirt first. Then clean them using the appropriate method for their material. After every adventure, take time to maintain your boots. This keeps your footwear in top shape, ready for the next outdoor challenge!

How Do I Deodorize My Trail Shoes Effectively?

How to clean hiking boots smell? First, find the odor source. More details will follow. Let’s talk about removing that stubborn smell from your favorite trail shoes. Yes, those that have seen muddy paths and long walks and now remind you of their adventures a bit too strongly.

Identifying the sources of odor in trail shoes is key. It could be bacteria, sweat, or dirt. These unwelcome guests love the dark, moist home that your shoe provides after a hike. Next, target these smells with the right fix.

For odor elimination in boots, start with natural remedies. Baking soda is a classic deodorizer. Pour it inside the shoes, let it sit overnight, and shake it out in the morning. If your boots could thank you, they would.

Boot deodorizing practices also say yes to airing out insoles. Take them out and give them a breather. Does sunlight help? You bet. Just like vampires, most bacteria hate sunlight, so let the sun work its magic.

You want to keep those stinky sandals at bay? Wash the insoles with a mild soap and warm water. But let them dry completely before you put them back in.

For a stinky sandals remedy, sprinkle some baking soda inside the shoes. You can also mix water with essential oils like tea tree or eucalyptus and spritz it inside for added freshness.

Preventative measures for maintaining freshness after cleaning are simple yet effective. Keep your boots dry, use foot powder before hiking, and store them in a well-ventilated space.

So, what’s the best way to maintain that fresh, ready-for-adventures smell in your hiking shoe interior cleaning regime? Spot clean often, dry thoroughly, and treat your shoes with love. With these habits, the only thing leaving a trail will be your footprints, not the aroma of your last hike.

How Can I Maintain the Longevity of My Outdoor Boots?

You clean Merrell hiking boots by removing dirt and applying conditioner. Merrell boots need care to last long. First, knock off loose mud and then use a soft brush for stuck dirt. Apply a gentle cleaner made for outdoor boots. Let them air dry. Don’t use heat—it can harm the boots. After they’re dry, put on a waterproof treatment.

Columbia boots get clean much the same way. Knock, brush, and air dry. Each brand has a cleaning kit to help with this. These brands design their boots to handle wear. But, they still need a good hiking boot care routine. Use the right tools and products to keep them strong.

Aftercare includes drying. You should not let your boots bake in the sun or sit by a heater. Doing this can crack the leather and glue. Let them dry in a warm space with good air flow.

You should do a quick clean after each hike. A deep clean comes maybe once a season, depending on use. For both Merrell and Columbia boots, a good routine keeps them ready for your next trek.

Treating them with conditioners and protective sprays helps a lot. For leather boots, conditioner keeps them soft and tough. For other materials, use sprays to keep out water and stains. Do this often to preserve your boots.

Store your boots in a cool, dry place. Avoid places with big temperature changes. This can make materials break down faster. It’s smart to stuff them with newspaper to keep their shape.

So, taking a bit of time to care for your boots can make them stay strong for more hikes. And who doesn’t want that?

Is There a Correct Way to Wash the Inside of Hiking Boots?

To clean the inside of hiking boots, start by removing insoles and laces. Use a mild soap and water solution to gently scrub the interior, avoiding heavy soaking. Rinse with clean water and let air dry, keeping the boots away from direct heat.

Let’s dive deeper into cleaning your hiking shoe interior. First, take out the insoles and laces. Sometimes insoles stick to the interior, but a gentle pull should free them. You can wash them separately with a bit of mild soap and water. For the inside boot washing, grab a small brush. You want a brush soft enough to not harm the interior while still getting rid of dirt.

Now, you might wonder about recommended products for interior boot cleaning. Stay away from strong detergents; they can damage the boot materials. Go for mild soap. If you’re reaching inside the boots, a long-handled brush can help you scrub every nook and cranny. Just make sure to add only a little soap to avoid excess suds.

After scrubbing, rinse the inside thoroughly with water. Try not to fully soak the boots.

Finish by drying the interior. Stuff the boots with newspaper to draw out moisture. Change the paper if it gets too wet. Let them air-dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid heat sources like radiators or direct sunlight. These can harm the boots.

Remember, proper washing hiking boots inside keeps them fresh and ready for your next adventure.

Can I Use a Washing Machine for My Hiking Boots?

No, not all boots can handle machine washing. Some may get damaged. You need to know which types can. For boots that can be machine washed, remove all dirt first. Next, take out laces and insoles.

Use a gentle cycle with cold water. Pick a mild detergent. After washing, do not use a dryer. Let them air dry. Finally, re-waterproof your boots. This keeps them safe from water and wear. Always check the care label or manufacturer’s advice. This will help you avoid ruining your favorite pair.

When you think about machine washing boots, Keen mesh boots may come to mind. They usually have a tag with cleaning instructions. If it says machine washable, you can wash them. But take caution. Use a gentle setting, and maybe put them in a mesh bag.

Remember, machine washing isn’t for all boots, especially leather or suede. These need special care. Always use the right methods to keep your boots hiking-ready for years.


We’ve covered how to tidy up your hiking boots from top to bottom. Start prepping, tackle the dirt, pick the right wash for your boot type, and wash with care. Avoid machine washing if you can. Keep your boots fresh and make them last. Regular care means more time on the trails, less cash spent on gear. Always dry well and store right. Happy trails and cleaner boots!

Further reading