How To Clean Hiking Boots – Care And Storage Tips

by Crazy Hiker
How to clean hiking boots by hikingpirates

Why do you need to clean hiking boots?

  • The maintenance and care will result in retaining the properties of the boots for a longer time. It protects the features like waterproofing, insulation, and durability of the boots. 
  • Cleaning hiking boots is beneficial to enjoy hiking for many years. It will reduce the need to buy new boots. 
  • The mud and dirt take out the moisture from the leather and affect it, and weaken it. It reduces the quality of boots. Also erodes the fabric of the boots.
  • If you leave the dirt and mud-covered shoes without cleaning it will damage the boots over time and impact performance.
  • Wearing dirty boots will give you a less remarkable look toward others.

The Importance of Cleaning Hiking Boots

We always choose hiking boots that are durable and reliable. But they require proper care and maintenance for longer life.

They should be washed regularly according to their use. It needs proper care to keep the properties and good service of the boots alive. Hiking boots are crucial hiking gear for outdoor adventures.

They are designed to protect your feet and survive in hot or cold weather conditions. It provides support to feet and ankles while crossing rough, muddy, rocky, or uneven terrain.

Leather shoes especially require more care. To prevent cracking in leather boots you should clean them after every hike. It’s very important to wash them after every hiking and trekking activity.

You can schedule the following day to clean your boots after you come back from a long hike. There are some important points and easy techniques available to clean hiking boots.

You don’t know any of it?
Don’t worry, in the below lines, you will get the step-by-step guide to cleaning hiking boots efficiently.

Step-by-Step Guide to Clean Hiking Boots

Remove the Insoles and Laces

To clean hiking boots, it’s the initial step to beginning the process. Take your hiking boots and remove their laces and insoles. It becomes easy to wash the boots without laces and insoles.

The laces and insoles can be cleaned separately. After removing the laces you can clean the boots easily and in a better way. It’s good to wash the insoles by taking them out from boots as they absorb bad odors. 

Elimination of Dirt and Mud

This is an easy and initial process of removing the dirt. You need to hold the boots and bang them together or on a flat surface to remove the excess dirt.

It helps to eliminate most of the mud and dirt to separate off quickly. It causes the loose mud to get off effortlessly.

Now you can use a piece of cloth and gently scrub it over the boots to clean the extra soil and dirt. Try to remove mud as much as possible before washing it with water. 

Cleaning of Hiking Boot Uppers 

With the help of a cloth clean the eyelets and hooks on the upper. The upper surface is greatly affected by the dirt and needs proper cleaning. A cloth or hand towel doesn’t work well on this caked dirt.

Use a light scrubbing brush to clean out the mud and extra accumulated soil on boots. Sometimes this process is not sufficient to get the dirt out. So, take some water and soak the shoes for nearly an hour.

After some time you can try some rubbing action with the cloth as well as with a soft-bristles brush. But do it lightly so that it doesn’t affect the shoe’s material. Now, most of the dirt and mud is removed.

It is ready to be washed. Take some soap and warm water and wash it. This works well to remove the stains from the boots. To make the washing smart and easy, put the hand under the shoes like a glove and now do the scrubbing. 

Cleaning Hiking Boot Outsoles 

Hiking boots won’t get damaged due to muddy soils and sludge, after cleaning they restore their properties to the same resistance. A lot of people tend to leave the outsoles dirty but it’s a part of the hiking boots and needs to be washed.

They are the most exposed part and prevent you from taking invasive species along with you. Use a brush to get rid of the pebbles, grass, stones, and other caked dirt in spaces of soles. 

You can use tools like a screwdriver, wrench, knife, or any other multitools to take out the stubborn stuff. Now soak the outsoles in lukewarm water.

It helps to wash out the heavily stacked caked dirt. The water pressure with hose pipes comes in handy to clean it.

Cleaning the Boots from Inside

The inside of the boots is as important to clean as the outer parts. Clean the inside of the boots occasionally. It depends on how much you have used the boots for hiking and outdoor travel.

The sweating of the feet affects the inside material of the boots. It damages the leather and blocks the waterproof membrane which affects the breathability of your boots. 

To start the process of cleaning you need to fill the lukewarm water into the shoes. Leave the shoes with it for 14-15 hours and let them dry naturally. It works great and gets the smell or odor away with the evaporated water.

Using Boot Cleaner or Detergent for Hiking Boots

Cleaning of hiking boots is a step-by-step process. You should follow the process to give your boots a longer life. Running water is useful to remove the extra mud and soil from the shoes. For deeper cleaning action on the shoe use of cleaner or a detergent is necessary.

Take a boot cleaner solution and apply it as recommended. Gently, use the polishing brush for scrubbing and avoid any chance of scratches. Rinse the shoes in water to remove any left residue of the solution or detergent used for cleaning.

Nowadays, there are various boot cleaners, detergents, soap, and other solutions available to clean hiking boots without any damage.

Drying and Storage Tips for Hiking Boots

Cleaning of hiking boots is a must if you want to keep their quality and features alive longer. Keep the boots in a natural environment and let them dry naturally.

Don’t use any external means to dry them quickly. Avoid using any sources like heaters, campfires, radiators, wood stoves, fireplaces, etc. They will make the joint weaker and affect the age of leather.

The boots need to be dried with care and naturally. Keep it at room temperature as well in a properly ventilated place.

There is a newspaper trick which I recommend you use for drying the boots quickly. Take newspapers as sufficient to fill the inside of the shoes. Keep the boots as it is below the fan to the nearest distance possible.

Check out the paper which definitely gets wet. Now remove the wet paper and fill the insides again. Repeat the process till you get the dry paper back from it.

It is a well-applied process and it works. This process helps to only speed up the drying process of the boots.
While inserting shoelaces and insoles make sure the boots are dry perfectly.

Use Fabric Softener Sheets to keep the stinky odors away from the shoes. These softener sheets are useful and prevent smelly and bad odors from your backpack too. Keep your hiking gears smelling good.

How to Store Hiking Boots

Store in a cool and dry place

Dry the boots in an open place where the temperature doesn’t have any frequent changes. To store the hiking boots safely, remember these tips.

Avoid storing the hiking boots in hot or non-breathable places with no ventilation. It can damage the material of the boots. Do not store in the trunk, plastic bags, closet, etc.

Remove the insoles

After drying the shoes, storing the boots is a vital part. If you are not able to use the shoes for months, keep the insoles and shoes separately for safe storage.


We have made the above guide with deep research. It has covered all the important points required and is helpful in cleaning hiking boots. Follow the steps and keep the boot’s features alive for longer.

Always use specially designed boots to ensure comfortable and safe hiking. The cleaning of hiking boots at regular intervals after their usage keeps the boots like new. It will add up to your savings.

Washing the boots and proper maintenance increases the life of the boots’ material. After cleaning, don’t forget to condition your hiking boots.

Hope our tips for hiking and outdoor travel would help you in your upcoming adventures. 

FAQ for cleaning hiking boots

How do you clean dirty hiking boots?

To clean the dirty boots first remove the insoles and laces. Eliminate the extra dirt and mud by banging the boots against each other. Soak the boots in water and use soap or detergents to get the boots clean. Rub gently to remove all the stains. Dry the boots and store them in a ventilated place.

How often should you clean hiking boots?

To extend the life of hiking boots, it’s recommended to clean hiking boots at regular intervals. Clean the boots after each long hike and after 2 short hikes. Proper washing can be good and beneficial on the following day of the hike. It would help to avoid any damage to the boots.

How do you clean and maintain hiking boots?

To maintain the hiking boots, avoid using soap or detergents to clean hiking boots. As they weaken the leather membrane and reduce the life of your hiking boots. Do not use a washing machine to wash the boots. It will damage the hiking boots very much.
Dry the boots in an open place where the temperature doesn’t have any frequent changes. To store the hiking boots safely, remember these tips.
Avoid storing the hiking boots in hot or non-breathable places with no ventilation. It can damage the material of the boots. Do not store in the trunk, plastic bags, closet, etc.

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