If you hike a lot, your boot gets dirty, and stains appear pretty quickly. This means, you should likely be cleaning your boots to keep them looking good, waterproof, and to increase the lifespan. In this article, we discuss a step by step cleaning guide, provide you a video, and give you links to some of the most popular hiking boot brand’s directions for cleaning their own boots.
Before cleaning, gather the best boot cleaning material, such as;
- Medium to soft-bristle boot cleaning brush (vegetable brush or an old toothbrush)
- Mild dishwashing soap (or boot cleaning soap)
- Special boot cleaning agent for leather, Suede, and fabric
- A tub, sink, or container to soak the boot, laces insole, etc.
- Clean water to rinse (sink or outdoor hose)
Steps to Clean Hiking Boots
Now that you have gathered all the essentials for cleaning the hiking boot, it’s time to start cleaning it. So, let’s get to the procedure.
Before we dive into the below steps, this video on boot cleaning is also helpful:
1. Scrub Off the Scum, Mud, and Dirt
If the boots are too dirty, the first thing should be to remove excess dirt. Use the brush (preferably medium to soft nylon bristle) and brush off the layered dirt. Thoroughly rub the brush between the seams, tongue, and other tight places of the boot to remove the dirt. An old toothbrush is often a great option for this.
2. Untie the Boot and Remove the Insoles
Now, untie the boots’ laces and remove their footbed for the best cleaning. Scrum and remove the dirt if there is a caked-on layer on it.
However, if it’s too dirty, it’s time to clean up further. If you don’t untie its laces, there are chances that the dirt works its way down to the fabric, and they won’t be perfectly clean.
3. Get Your Cleaning Station
A cleaning station can be done in a sink, in a bathtub, our even just an outdoor hose. In our opinion, it is easy to work in a tub or sink and do multiple boots at once. Others will simply just use running water, and don’t need a bucket, sink, or tub.
First, fill the tub or any container with water and add a mild dishwashing soap or boot cleaner. Make sure to mix well. Never use regular bar soap as it’s too harsh for the boot upper and can damage the quality of leather boots or the waterproof membrane.
However, you can also make a homemade mixture of 80 percent water and 20 percent vinegar to clean the boot.
4. Clean the Boots
Now it is time to clean the boots. Use the soapy solution and brush to clean the boot inside and out. Gently and thoroughly brush off the dirt from every corner and nook and ensure no scum or stains are left behind. If dirty or smelly, pop them into a small bucket or bowl of water with a bit of dishwashing soap and give them a good scrub with the brush.
Then, let them dry while you wash the rest of your boots. Make sure to completely immerse the boot, laces, and insoles into the solution and scrub all the dirt off from clefts. However, if you are using any specific solution, follow its guidelines to avoid damaging the boots.
5. Rinse the Boot With Water
After scrubbing the boot:
- Rinse it with clean water. The goal is to remove all of the soap from the boots.
- Wash everything (insole, laces) and everything with water. You can still use a brush if it is needed.
6. Dry the Boots
Now you need to dry the boot but don’t use any artificial heat source.
For instance, using a dyer, heater, or other sources will likely damage the leather and other boot material. Therefore, you should air dry the boot.
You can also stuff it with newspaper or paper, so it soaks up the excess water for fast boot drying. That’s all.
Boot Material to Consider Before You Clean
Cleaning the hiking boot increases its longevity and overall lifespan. However, choosing the wrong cleaning agent or chemical could end up damaging the footwear.
The wrong choice of chemical damages the boot upper causing faster wear and tear. Therefore, it is imperative to consider boot material. Different hiking boot brands use other materials, but Nylon, Split-Grain Leather, Suede, etc., are among the popular choices. Simply put, make sure you know the materials your boot is made of, and you use a cleaning agent meant for those materials.
That said, the outsole and insole of the hiking boot may differ in quality. If you want to maintain the boot quality, here is the list of top brands of hiking boots and the best way to clean them.
Salomon is among the top brands of hiking boots. Although, they use many materials for their hiking boot line, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and Suede are the most significant materials that Salomon boot uses. Be sure to read the Salomon cleaning directions.
- So, the best way to clean Salomon’s boot is to use a softer suede brush to remove a caked-on layer of dirt. This would be a good cleaning kit example.
- Then, use a shoe stain eraser if the boot has stubborn stains and dirt.
- After that, apply a waterproof protector such as Nikwax.
Asolo makes some of the best hiking boots on the market, which is helping it grow in popularity. Asolo leather-made boots mean that you cannot use regular soap for leather cleaning in order to avoid damage to your boot material.
So, to clean the Asolo leather boot, remove its laces and use a soft bristle brush to scrub off the dirt.
- Apply the a leather cleaning agent, or dedicated leather soap on the boot. Wipe it with a towel or soft leather brush.
- Follow Asolo boot cleaning instructions.
Like many brands, Keen hiking boots are available in various materials.
- Be sure to check out Keen’s care tips here.
See Columbia’s care instructions here.
Merrell has a great resource on cleaning different types of leathers here.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about