How To Clean Hiking Boots (Easy Way)

You’ve worked hard to get your boots waterproof, breathable and comfortable. So when they get dirty, don’t just throw them away clean them! 

If you follow these simple steps, you can keep your hiking boots in great condition for years to come:

How to clean your hiking shoes
Properly cleaning and caring for your hiking boots is essential to prolong their lifespan and ensure they provide adequate support and protection
Regular cleaning after every use is crucial to removing contaminants and preserving the leather or synthetic materials
Use the right cleaning method depending on the materials your boots are made of
Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning your boots or applying any treatments
Inspect your hiking boots regularly for signs of wear and damage, and plan to replace them when necessary

Scrub Your Boots

When you’re ready to clean your hiking boots, use a toothbrush or hard-bristle brush to scrub off any dirt or grime. 

Make sure to scrub the outsides and insides of the boots and get into all of those nooks and crannies where dirt can build up.

Next, add a mild cleaning solution (no soap) to warm water in a bucket and soak your boots for about five minutes so that they can soften up a bit. 

Then, use gentle strokes along with some elbow grease to scrub away any remaining dirt from both sides of the boot until it looks shiny and bright again! 

Be sure not to skimp on this step as it will help keep your hiking shoes looking great for years to come!

When packing your hiking backpack, it’s important to focus on weight distribution and organization. Check out our guide on how to pack a hiking backpack for expert advice and tips on maximizing your space while minimizing your load.

Clean The Inside Of Your Boots

Once you’ve removed all the dirt, it’s time to clean the inside of your boots. This is where a toothbrush comes in handy it can get into all those nooks and crannies. 

Just make sure you don’t damage anything with it; if you have one of those bristly cleaning brushes for dishes, that’ll work just as well.

After getting all the dirt out by brushing and scrubbing, use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe down each boot thoroughly from heel to toe. Afterward, let them dry overnight before wearing again!

Wash Them In A Machine

If you want to clean your hiking boots in a washing machine, it’s fairly easy to do so. Just be sure to follow these instructions closely:

Wash them cold (not hot). A warm or hot cycle can cause the stitching on your hiking boots to come loose and possibly fall apart.

Use a gentle detergent. Stay away from harsh chemicals like bleach and fabric softener, which could damage the materials used in your footwear.

Put them in a washing machine bag. This will protect your hiking boots from getting caught on other articles of clothing or getting bashed around by other items in the wash cycle.

Breaking in your hiking boots is necessary to avoid discomfort and potential injury on the trail. Read our article on how to break in hiking boots for tips on getting your boots ready for the trail.

Use A Hard-Brush/Toothbrush To Clean The Mud On The Outsides

You can use a hard-brush or toothbrush to scrub the mud off the outsides of your boots.

Be especially careful when cleaning the insides of your boots. Don’t use a toothbrush on them, and don’t use a hard brush inside either because it may damage the leather. A soft brush is best for cleaning on both sides of your shoes

Try Household Items Like Baking Soda & Vinegar

If you’re looking for an easy and cheap DIY solution, baking soda is your best friend. Mix a half-cup of baking soda with just enough water to make a paste and apply it to your boots. Let it sit for three or four minutes, then scrub with a brush and rinse with water.

Baking soda is also great at removing odors from hiking boots just leave them outside overnight with some baking soda sprinkled inside. 

Not only will the baking soda help remove smells but the moisture will help loosen up any dirt that may have accumulated in your shoes too!

If you’d prefer something a little more natural than harsh chemicals (and who wouldn’t?), try mixing vinegar and hot water instead! 

Vinegar is great at dissolving dirt as well as neutralizing odors caused by bacteria on your hiking boots so give this method a shot before reaching for harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia; they can damage leather if used too often!

Preparing for a long hike requires more than just physical fitness – mental preparation is key. Visit our article on training for hiking to learn about the importance of mental toughness and how to develop it.

Give Them A Deep Clean Once Every Few Weeks

When you’re not using your hiking boots, they’re going to collect dirt and grime. Over time, this can take a toll on their comfort and durability. For best results, you should clean them once every few weeks (or as needed).

Here’s how:

Start by putting on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands from any chemicals or other contaminants that might be lurking in the soles of your boots. 

If you don’t have any rubber gloves handy, just make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning your boots so that no residue remains on them.

Use a toothbrush or rag wetted with warm water and mild soap (such as dishwashing liquid) to scrub down all sides of both shoes until they’re clean (don’t forget about the insides!). 

Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia; these types of cleaners can damage leather items over time if used too frequently.

Re-Waterproof Your Boots Regularly

When you clean your hiking boots, it is important to re-waterproof them. This will help keep the dirt out and make sure they last longer. There are several ways to do this:

Re-waterproof with a waterproof spray. If you have an old pair of hiking boots laying around, you can spray on new life with a good quality waterproof spray that lasts for years and also makes them look great again!

Re-waterproof using leather conditioner. Leather conditioner imparts a protective coating over the surface of the leather which helps prevent water from penetrating into it. 

It also helps prevent cracking or peeling of the top layer when exposed to regular wear or weather conditions like rain, snow or high humidity levels in our environment; all things that we encounter every day when wearing our footwear outdoors!

Hiking poles can be a valuable tool for hikers of all levels, providing extra support and reducing impact on joints. Check out our guide on how to use hiking poles to learn about proper technique and how to choose the right poles for your needs.

Use Your Waterproofing Spray Only On the Uppers

Don’t spray waterproofing spray on the soles. This is a no-brainer, but many hikers do this without realizing it. 

If you’ve ever sprayed your boots with waterproofing and then walked through a puddle of water or snow, you’ll know what can happen: The liquid will stay inside the shoe instead of being repelled by its waterproof surface.

Don’t spray waterproofing spray on the insides of your boots either! That’s right you’ve got another spot where you might be making things worse by spraying the wrong place with a product made to keep out moisture.

Don’t spray waterproofing on seams, laces, eyelets… These are all places that are designed to let water in (or out) when it gets too wet inside your booties—so don’t mess with them!

Use A Clean Towel To Dry Them Off Before Air Drying

Once you’ve cleaned your hiking boots and removed the excess water from the inside, it’s important to dry them off before letting them air dry. Using a clean towel or paper towels, pat down the boot and remove as much moisture from around the leather as possible. 

Don’t rub too hard you don’t want to risk rubbing away any of the waterproofing finish or dirt-resistant coating.

After patting down your boots with a towel, set them aside in a place where they won’t come into contact with any heat source like a radiator or heater vent (the last thing you want is for your new hiking boots to shrink!) 

If they’re not completely dry after four hours or so, repeat this process until they are fully dried out.

Maintaining hygiene and cleaning your gear is essential to ensure a successful and enjoyable hiking experience. Our guide on how to clean hiking boots provides easy tips and tricks for keeping your boots clean and in top condition.

Get Rid Of Odor With Some Young Living Essential Oils

Diffusing is a great way to get the benefits of essential oils without feeling like you’re walking around with a giant bottle of perfume.

Add 10-20 drops of the essential oil(s) you choose into the diffuser, then turn it on for about an hour or so. (You can also put them in a spray bottle and spray clothing and gear with it.) 

You can also put them straight onto cotton balls or cotton pads and leave them in your shoes overnight, which may be more efficient at killing bacteria if you’re short on time!

If you don’t have any diffusers yet, Young Living has some pretty nice ones that are easy to use (and not super expensive either).

Recommended Essential Oils for Hiking Boot Odor

Essential OilDescription
Tea Tree OilTea tree oil is a natural antifungal and can eliminate bacteria and odor on contact. Apply a few drops to a cotton ball and place in each boot overnight.
Eucalyptus OilEucalyptus oil has antiseptic properties and can help to eliminate odors. Add a few drops to a spray bottle with water and spray inside your boots.
Peppermint OilPeppermint oil has a fresh scent and is a natural deodorizer. Mix a few drops with water and apply to a cloth and wipe the inside of the boot.
Lavender OilLavender oil is known for its calming properties and has a pleasant scent. Add a few drops onto a cotton ball and place in each boot overnight.
Lemon OilLemon oil is a natural disinfectant and has a fresh, clean scent. Add a few drops with water and apply to a cloth to wipe the inside of the boot.
Thyme OilThyme oil has powerful antibacterial properties that can eliminate odors. Combine a few drops with water and spray inside your boots.

If You Have Leather Boots, Use Mink Oil Or Saddle Soap

If you have leather boots, use mink oil or saddle soap. This will help to keep them supple and soft. Apply the oil to a clean cloth and rub it into the leather. Let it soak in for a few hours before wearing them again.

Recommended Products for Leather Hiking Boots

Product NameDescription
Mink OilMink oil is a natural oil that helps to condition and protect leather boots. It is easy to apply and can help to keep the leather soft and supple over time. Apply it to a clean cloth and rub it into the leather before letting it soak in for a few hours.
Saddle SoapSaddle soap is a traditional cleaner for leather items, including boots. It is designed to remove dirt and stains while conditioning the leather to keep it supple. Apply the saddle soap to a damp sponge, rub it into the leather, and wipe off the excess lather with a clean cloth.
Leather ConditionerLeather conditioner is designed specifically to keep leather soft and supple over time. It can be used on a variety of leather items, including boots. Apply it with a clean cloth and rub it into the leather, focusing on any areas that are particularly dry or cracked. Let it soak in for a few hours before wearing your boots again.


That’s all there is to it. Now you can clean your hiking boots with confidence and know that they’ll last longer. 

Cleaning them doesn’t need to be difficult or time consuming just follow these simple tips and enjoy your time outdoors!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to help you learn more about how to care for your hiking shoes and boots:

Salomon: How to Clean and Care for Your Hiking Shoes

Advnture: How to Clean Hiking Boots

REI: Expert Advice: Caring for Hiking Boots


How often should I clean my hiking boots?

You should clean your hiking boots after every use, especially if they have been exposed to mud, dirt, or other contaminants. This will help prolong the life of your boots and ensure that they are ready for your next adventure.

What should I use to clean my hiking boots?

The best way to clean your hiking boots depends on the materials they are made from. In general, you can use a soft-bristled brush, warm water, and a mild soap or detergent to clean the boots. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the boots, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

How should I dry my hiking boots after cleaning?

After cleaning your hiking boots, it’s important to let them dry thoroughly before wearing them again. You can stuff them with newspaper to help absorb moisture and speed up the drying process. Avoid direct sunlight and high heat, which can damage the boots.

How can I maintain the waterproofing on my hiking boots?

Over time, the waterproofing on your hiking boots may start to wear off. To maintain their water-resistance, you can use a waterproofing spray or wax specifically designed for hiking boots. Be sure to clean the boots thoroughly before applying the waterproofing treatment, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

How often should I replace my hiking boots?

The lifespan of your hiking boots depends on a number of factors, including how often you use them, the terrain you hike on, and how well you care for them. As a general rule, you should plan to replace your hiking boots every 500 miles, or when they start to show signs of significant wear and tear.