How to Clean Hiking Boots: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you a hiker with a pair of beautiful hiking boots you bring with you to your adventures? Learning how to clean hiking boots will ensure that they last longer and perform better on the trails. 

Two men climbing a green hill while wearing two pairs of hiking boots.
Photo by Kirill Lazarev from

Whether you are an experienced hiker or a beginner, your boots or sandals will get dirty and require cleaning. In this article, you will find out some hacks in this beginner’s guide on how to clean hiking boots.

Materials Required

In cleaning hiking boots, you need to gather a few materials before getting started. It would be best if you already have them at home, but feel free to buy from your trusted cleaning products seller.

Below are some of the tools you need to learn how to clean hiking boots:

  • A soft-bristled brush
  • A clean cloth
  • Mild soap or specialized boot cleaner
  • Water
  • Newspaper or paper towels

The Causes of Dirty Hiking Boots

Curious as to how your hiking boots look so dirty after going on your trips? Here are some common causes of dirty hiking boots:

1. Mud and Dirt

Hiking trails can be muddy and dirty, especially after rain or snow. Mud and dirt can stick to your hiking boots, making them dirty and harder to clean.

2. Sweat and Body Oils

Sweat and body oils can accumulate on the inside of your hiking boots, leading to unpleasant odors and staining. Over time, these oils can break down the materials of your boots, causing them to deteriorate faster. They can also make your boots stink. We can also help you clean smelly hiking boots.

3. Environmental Elements

Hiking in different environments can expose your boots to different elements that can cause them to become dirty or damaged. These terrains may include rocky hills or sandy beaches. Exposure to saltwater, for example, can cause corrosion and rust.

4. Improper Storage

Leaving your hiking boots in a damp or humid environment can lead to mold and mildew growth. Furthermore, it can also cause discoloration and odors. Storing your boots in direct sunlight or near heat sources can also damage the materials.

5. Lack of Cleaning and Maintenance

Lastly, if you are not cleaning your hiking boots regularly, dirt and debris can accumulate. This may lead to stains and discoloration. Lack of maintenance can also cause the materials of your boots to break down, reducing their lifespan.

A 5-Step Guide on How to Clean Hiking Boots

Want to know how to clean hiking boots like this one on the snow? Read on!
Photo by Leah Kelley from

So, now, time for the real deal. If you are curious about how to clean the hiking boots that you own, follow the five steps enumerated below!

Step 1: Remove Laces and Insoles

Start by removing the laces and insoles from your hiking boots. This will make it easier to clean all the areas of your boots.

Step 2: Brush off Dirt and Debris

Soft-bristled brushes are the best cleaning tool to use in removing any dirt and debris from the surface of your hiking boots. Pay special attention to the crevices and hard-to-reach areas. Dirt can accumulate in these areas and cause damage to your boots over time.

Step 3: Clean the Boots

Fill a bucket with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild soap or specialized boot cleaner. Dip the brush into the solution and gently scrub your boots, paying attention to any areas with stains or scuffs. 

Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the material of your boots.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry Your Boots

Next, rinse your boots thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap or cleaner residue. Use a clean cloth to dry your boots and remove any excess water. 

Stuff your boots with newspaper or paper towels to help them retain their shape and absorb any remaining moisture. Avoid drying your boots in direct sunlight or near a heat source, as this can cause the material to crack or warp.

Step 5: Reinsert Laces and Insoles

Once your hiking boots are completely dry, reinsert the insoles and laces.

Tips for Maintaining Your Hiking Boots

Man wearing black pants with a pair of brown hiking boots on shallow water with rocks.

Regular cleaning is just one part of maintaining your hiking boots. If you need more information on how to clean your hiking boots, take note of the following must-dos:

  1. Use a waterproofing spray or wax to protect your boots from water and moisture.
  2. Never forget to store your hiking boots in a dry and well-ventilated area. Check out our tips on how to store hiking boots.
  3. Avoid exposing your boots to extreme temperatures or harsh weather conditions.
  4. Consider investing in a boot brush and specialized cleaner to make cleaning your boots easier and more effective.
  5. Replace your hiking boots when they show signs of wear and tear or no longer provide adequate support and protection.

Conclusion: How to Clean Hiking Boots

Learning how to clean hiking boots is not an easy thing to do. Regular cleaning and maintenance will help keep your boots in top condition and ready for your next hiking adventure. 

By following the simple steps outlined in this guide, you can keep your boots clean, comfortable, and supportive for years to come.

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