We’ve all been there. That dreaded moment when you go to put your walking boots on – and realise they’re caked in layers and layers of dried up mud. But don’t fear. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to clean walking boots properly, including a step-by-step run through and a whole host of tips and tricks along the way. Get the most out of your hiking footwear by caring for them in the best way possible. Find out more below.
What Is The Best Way To Clean Hiking Boots
So, what is the best way to clean hiking boots? It actually differs slightly, based on whether the mud has dried or not. If the mud is still wet, you’ll need to alter your technique. One of the best things you can do is to get the worst of it off when you’re still on the trail. Find a light stream of water or a reasonably clear puddle to remove as much of the wet mud as possible – and it will make your life much easier once you get home. We’ll talk you through how to clean walking boots when the mud has dried, below.
How To Wash Walking Boots: Step-By-Step
1. Prepare the shoes for cleaning. Before you get stuck in, you’ll need to remove the laces and insoles from your shoes, as they can absorb a lot of moisture. Leave the insoles out to dry with some bicarbonate of soda to help them smell fresh, and wash shoelaces in warm soapy water, rinse and then leave to dry.
2. Brush off the dirt. Using a shoe brush, start removing the layers of dirt. Struggling to get rid of stubborn stains? A damp paper towel or wad of kitchen roll should do the job. Just remember to rub off any tissue residue with the brush once you’re done!
3. Wash your boots with a mild dish soap. In a medium sized bowl, mix some warm water with a gentle dish soap. This will help to remove any further stains or grime that may have built up on your boots. Top tip! Use an old, cheap toothbrush to accelerate the cleaning process and clean any tricky areas that a cloth would miss.
4. Rinse the soap away. Once you’ve done all you can with the soap, rinse a clean cloth under the tap, squeeze out the excess water and wipe all over the boot to remove any soap suds. Keep rinsing the cloth under the tap to ensure that all the soap has been wiped off the boots.
5. Re-waterproof your boots. The only small downside of giving your hiking boots a good scrub is having to re-waterproof them afterwards. Although it’s a small price to pay for keeping your feet warm and dry on your future adventures! You can make them waterproof again in two ways, by using a wax or by using a waterproofing spray. Top tip! If you opt for a spray, be sure to spritz your boots while they’re still damp so that it absorbs it into the material as much as possible.
6. Apply finishing touches. Are your hiking boots made from suede or leather? Use a specialist conditioner just after you have finished waterproofing so that the boots are still damp. And to give them that fresh out of the box sparkle, apply a chrome polish to smarten up any hardware, let it sit for approximately 5 minutes and then wipe away with a clean, dry cloth.
7. Dry your boots. Preferably away from direct sunlight – as this can cause both discolouration and cracking. Leave them somewhere open, dry and well-aerated and keep them away from heat sources, such as radiators – as tempting as it may be! Only once they’re completely dry can you pop them away, ready to get muddy again on your next outdoor expedition.
And we’re done! Now you know how to take care of hiking boots, why not spruce up your own? And if you’re on a mission to become more sustainable in your lifestyle, regularly cleaning hiking boots and caring for them will prevent you from having to throw them out and buy a new pair before you need to. Read our sustainable clothing guide for more information on how to be kinder to our planet through your shopping habits.