How to Clean Walking Boots

Person standing in thick mud with their walking boots on.

Person standing in thick mud with their walking boots on.

Your boots are made for lovely muddy walks, keeping your feet dry and ensuring that your footing stable across all terrains. But when the hike is over, there’s the unpleasant task of cleaning all that mud off again. 

No one looks forward to cleaning muddy walking boots after hiking in wet conditions, but it has to be done. Proper care and cleaning helps to protect the material and prolong the life of your trusty boots. If you’ve found a pair of walking boots you love, make sure they last as long as possible. 


How to clean muddy walking boots 

The good news is that it doesn’t have to take a long time to clean your walking boots. In fact, it can be quick and easy with a few tricks and techniques. You’ll need a stiff hand brush, some warm water, washing up liquid (or a specialist boot cleaning product) and a soft brush for more gentle cleaning. Once you’ve rounded up your cleaning kit, follow these simple steps:

  1. Use your stiff brush to vigorously remove any mud or dirt. It’s best to wait until wet mud has dried, otherwise you’ll simply be moving it around. Make sure you do this stage outside or somewhere you don’t mind getting a little muddy. 
  2. Take the laces and inner soles out, and set aside to prevent them getting wet
  3. Use a small amount of warm water and washing up liquid (or boot cleaner product) to gently wash away remaining mud, dirt and stains from the material.

You should avoid soaking your boots, especially if they’re leather. Too much water can soften the uppers and cause your boots to lose their shape. So, be sparing with the water, and only use specialist leather cleaning products. 


How to dry hiking boots

Drying your walking boots in the right way is just as important as washing them. You can give your boots a gentle dry with a towel or clean rag to remove excess moisture, but leaving them to dry naturally is the best option. 

You should never dry your boots by placing them on the radiator or next to a direct heat source. This can cause the material to crack and split. 

If the inside of your boots is really wet and you worry it won’t dry properly, try this trick. Stuff the interior of each boot with newspaper or another absorbent material. This will draw out excess moisture. It also has the added bonus of helping your walking boots retain their shape. 


How to clean smelly walking boots

Are your walking boots giving off an unpleasant odour while sitting in the cupboard or hallway? Even if you’ve cleaned them, some smells can linger. Here are some techniques to help eliminate unwanted odours:

  • Remove the inner sole and wash thoroughly - air dry until completely dry before replacing.
  • Try a shoe deodoriser or disinfectant products - many of these involve a simple spray or sprinkle inside the boot to neutralise odour. You can also make a homemade disinfectant using white vinegar and essential oils. 
  • Sprinkle some baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) inside the boot, between the midsole and toe region. This can absorb and neutralise odour, rather than just masking it.
  • Double check the sole of the boots. It is possible that some dirt has been left in the tread, so you may need to do a more thorough clean.  

Reproofing your walking boots after cleaning 

If you have leather or waterproof boots, you may need to carry out an extra step before wearing them again. This is reproofing them with a specialist product. Spray it on, making sure that all of the boot and stitching is fully covered, then buff with a soft cloth before leaving to dry naturally. This should ensure your boots have a protective waterproof coating and serve you well for longer. 


How to clean your dog's paws after a walk 

You’ve cleaned your walking boots, but don’t forget about the feet of your favourite walking companion. This can be easier said than done, especially if you’ve got an excitable pup who’s not keen to be cleaned. 

To prevent your dog tracking all kinds of mud and dirt into the house after a hike, try these tips:

  • Get a waterproof doormat and put in some extra training time to encourage your dog to use it (some treats hidden under the mat can do the trick)
  • Use baby wipes (making sure they’re fragrance and chemical free) and a soft microfibre towel to quickly clean and dry muddy paws
  • Make your dog wait outside while you fill up a shallow bowl of warm water, then use dog-friendly soap to wash out any dirt. 

And remember - one of the best dog accessories you can buy is a decent towel. Keep it handy by the back door, or take it with you on your hike. If a wash or more thorough clean isn’t feasible, you can still remove most of the mud and moisture with a vigorous towel dry.


 

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