How to Clean Walking Boots

How to Clean Walking Boots

Dirty hiking boots are a good sign of a great day of walking and exploring. However, without the proper cleaning and maintenance of your walking boots, you could be shortening their lifespan.

Thankfully, walking boots are super easy to clean and you will only need a few pieces of equipment to clean them.

Can I clean my walking boots without damaging them?

Yes, there are many ways to clean your walking boots without damaging them. Walking boots are built to withstand muddy, gritty and challenging conditions, so they can certainly withstand a bit of a clean.

In fact, it is actually better to clean your walking boots than it is to just leave them after you’ve worn them. The buildup of dirt and mud on your boots can seep deeper and deeper into the leather and fabric, which slowly grinds the materials away like sandpaper.

Mud also sucks moisture from leather and fabrics as it dries, leaving your boots to be less pliable and age much quicker.

Can you put walking boots in the washing machine?

It is highly advised that you do not put your walking boots in the washing machine, since it will likely damage them.

Whilst synthetic materials may not be affected by the washing machine, the detergent used could damage delicate areas or strip coatings from other materials.

There may be a tag on the inside of your boot that says they are suitable for machine washing, but you should really examine your boots before you just throw them in the machine.

There are a few materials which should not be machine washed, including:

  • Leather or suede

  • Waterproof coatings

  • Rubber soles

How to clean walking boots

Walking boots can be cleaned fairly quickly, but this depends on how muddy they are.

To clean your boots, you will need the following pieces of equipment:

  • A small bristle brush or toothbrush

  • A cloth

  • Shoe cleaner or washing up liquid

How to clean mud from walking boots

One of the first things you should be doing when you clean your walking boots is tackling the mud.

If you’ve just worn them and you still have chunks of wet mud on your boots, you can get this off by banging the soles onto the ground outside. Once these pieces of mud are removed, leave the rest of the mud on your boots to dry.

Remove the laces from your boots. If they are muddy as well, you can wash these in a solution of warm soapy water.

To remove the dried mud, use your bristle brush to brush away as much dirt as possible. Most of the dirt should come off the soles of the boots, but the fabric parts may need a bit more work.

Next, use your cloth and dip it in a warm water solution with either shoe cleaner or washing up liquid. Wipe across the parts of the boots which have stubborn pieces of mud on them. You can go back to using your brush here too if there are pieces that are hard to remove.

Leave your boots and laces to dry and they should be ready for your next adventure. You can also finish them off with a protector spray as well, for additional protection.

How to stop hiking boots from smelling

Unfortunately, having odour in your walking boots is bound to happen. Once an odour has set into hiking boots, it can be hard to get rid of. However, there are methods you can use to remove and prevent this odour.

Firstly, to remove the initial odour, mix a solution of half water and half white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the inside of your boots. This will kill the existing bacteria in your boots, removing the smell.

To keep your boots smelling fresh, make sure to give them a spray after each wear with the same solution or with an odour eliminating spray.

Don’t let the mud and dirt build up on your boots, as this can contribute to the smell. Instead, make sure you give them a wipe down after every wear. When the dirt sits on the surface of the boots, it can cause the fabrics to erode over time which can make the smell much worse.

How to clean inside your walking boots

One of the more basic methods to clean the inside of your boots is by using a solution of washing up liquid and warm water. Simply wet a cloth in the solution, rinse out the excess water and wipe down the inside of the boots.

You can also use a bristle brush here to gently rub the solution into the inside fabric. Try to avoid any areas with heavy stitching as this can cause the stitch fibres to break down.

Again, you can use the same water and vinegar solution to clean your boots. However, be careful not to spray it on any leather or suede parts of the boot as this can break down the fabrics over time.

How to dry walking boots

Once you’ve cleaned your walking boots, inside and out, they will likely be a bit wet. To prevent them from smelling, be sure to dry them properly.

Don’t put them in the tumble dryer or anywhere that could be damp. Instead, place them in a warm area, ideally not in direct sunlight. If possible, just place them outside away from direct sunlight since the warmth can affect the boots’ construction.

Re-waterproofing walking boots

Once you’ve cleaned your boots and they’re dry, now is the perfect time to apply a waterproof solution to the exterior of your boots.

Waterproof solutions come in a variety of different types of applicators. Some are spray bottles, some come in the form of a sponge bottle and others look more like wax.

Simply choose whichever waterproof solution is right for your boots and apply where necessary. Leave the solution to have time to dry and settle into the fabrics and your boots should be ready to wear again.

You can also read our dedicated blog to the best waterproof footwear, which includes some of our top waterproof walking boots.

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