How you can Clear Mountaineering Footwear & Boots

How you can Clear Mountaineering Footwear & Boots

How you can Clear Mountaineering Footwear & Boots
Closeup of a hiker's feet crossing a creek in a muddy pair of Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 hiking boots
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

Retaining outside gear clear isn’t all the time handy, and muddy mountaineering footwear are sometimes the very last thing we wish to wash. Nevertheless, anybody who’s needed to pull on a pair of crusty boots is aware of that somewhat upkeep goes a great distance. 

Just a few quick and easy steps can lengthen the lifetime of your boots and assure they’re prepared for any journey. On this information, we stroll you thru learn how to maintain your footwear – so your footwear can maintain you.

Why Clear Mountaineering Footwear & Boots?

Identical to you would possibly wish to clear off after an extended hike, your boots and footwear additionally require common cleansing and care. Over time dust, mud, and moisture can infiltrate weak threading, seams alongside the only real, and the material of the uppers. These particles speed up the wear and tear and tear in your boots and can finally break down the shoe development. Nevertheless, routine upkeep can sluggish and forestall injury.

Clear footwear imply a extra snug and wholesome atmosphere on your ft. Constant cleansing prevents the expansion of micro organism and retains your footwear dry and odor-free. Even in a mountaineering tradition that wears dust and sweat as a badge of honor, there’s no glory in moist, filthy, or tremendous pungent footwear.

A clear shoe can simply flex, breathe, and transfer along with your foot the way in which it was designed, as a substitute of combating towards caked particles. As well as, clear footwear have higher grip. Mud-covered soles scale back traction and enhance the chance of slips and falls. Over time, lingering gravel, dust, and sand can passively destroy the lug sample by degrading the rubber.

Looking down a a circle of muddy hiking shoes and boots
Picture credit score: Dave Collins (

Do I Want To Wash My Mountaineering Footwear or Boots?

The reply is: in all probability! Listed below are methods to inform if it’s time to scrub your footwear.

  • Seasonal We advocate a deep clear of your mountaineering boots or footwear at the very least twice a 12 months for average use and a couple of to three occasions a month for a pair in heavy rotation. Should you put on the identical boots a number of occasions per week by means of a mountaineering season, it’s been greater than 30 days, or you possibly can’t keep in mind after they had been final cleaned, time is up.
  • Grime – If any a part of your footwear or boots are nonetheless caked with final weekend’s romp by means of the woods and you may nonetheless see apparent dust, gravel, sand, or different particles, a light-weight cleansing is not going to reduce it.
  • Scent – Each leather-based and artificial supplies harbor odor-causing micro organism, particularly as soon as they’re moist. Moisture, whether or not it’s from sweat, a river crossing, or a shock thunderstorm, could cause the froth and material to reek. Don’t ignore that funky odor.
  • Climate – How usually you clear your footwear depends upon the time of 12 months and the season whenever you’re most lively:
  • Summer season – The warmth of summer time usually means sweatier ft and stinkier footwear. A low-maintenance spot clear with cleaning soap and water, wiping your footwear clear, and utilizing odor-eliminating techniques (like baking soda) could also be all that’s wanted.
  • Spring and Fall – In shoulder seasons, you’re prone to encounter all circumstances together with rain, snow, and dust, making for messier footwear and common cleansing. Whereas it’s unreasonable to scrub your footwear each time they get moist, spring and fall hikes require giving your footwear extra consideration. We advocate a deeper clear after actually muddy or mucky adventures, and a spot cleansing as wanted after wet or moist hikes.
  • Winter – Moist, chilly, and snowy hikes require conscious cleansing habits. Mountaineering in winter usually means your footwear will likely be chilly and moist. For artificial gear, take waterproofing steps and ensure your boots are totally dry earlier than storing. For leather-based uppers, which means constant reapplication of conditioner and waterproof sprays as usually as wanted to maintain leather-based sturdy and moisturized.
A pair of muddy Obōz Bridger hiking boots on the kitchen counter with cleaning supplies including a toothbrush, Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof, white vinegar, Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel, Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, and a sponge
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

Supplies Wanted

You want only some gadgets to maintain your mountaineering footwear in tip-top form: 

  • Clear water – Water from a clear family supply.
  • Gentle cleaning soap – Keep away from “common” bar soaps, hand soaps, and detergents with heavy fragrances and dyes. These merchandise can stain, strip, and injury the membranes in leather-based and artificial supplies. We advocate an unscented, non-detergent, gentle dish cleaning soap like Dawn Soap Free & Clear or a fundamental castile cleaning soap like Dr. Bronners Unscented.
  • Vinegar – Diluted with water to take away stains and eradicate smells.
  • Footwear-specific cleaners – There are glorious merchandise made for cleansing each leather-based and artificial choices. Relying on the shoe materials, you might want greater than only a cleaner.
  • Bucket – A sink, bucket, or any container to combine water and cleaning soap.
  • Cleansing instruments:
    • Toothbrush – An outdated toothbrush to scrub small crevices and particulars.
    • Mushy Bristle Brush – A big brush to wash materials with out damaging it.
    • Clear material or sponge – To wipe the floor of the shoe.
  • Drying instruments:
    • Baking Soda – Useful in absorbing and neutralizing odors.
    • Paper Towels – Place inside moist footwear to soak up extra moisture.
    • Shoe Timber – Maintains the form of trainers or footwear and holds footwear open as they dry.
    • Shoe / Boot Dryer or Fan – Accelerates the drying course of and cuts drying time in half.
A pair of dirty Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 hiking boots on the kitchen counter with a bucket, rag, sponge, toothbrush, bristle brush, baking soda, and paper towels
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

Spot Cleansing Mountaineering Footwear & Boots

Typically all of your mountaineering footwear or boots want is an attentive spot clear. Should you’re crunched for time otherwise you’re simply between hikes, a light-weight cleansing is a quick option to refresh your boots. 

  1. Examine – After each hike, look over extremely dirty areas externally just like the outsole, sides, and higher for notable grime or injury.
  2. Knock off – Take away any giant quantities of caked or clumped dust, gravel, or apparent particles with fingers or a dry brush.
  3. Spot clear – Fill a bucket with 5 components water to 1 half cleaning soap. For an efficient small-area cleansing on the surface of the shoe, soak a clear material or sponge then gently scrub the shoe till all dirty areas are lathered and cleaned. 
  4. Brush – Subsequent, use a soft-bristle brush or a toothbrush to work the cleaning soap into the affected space.
  5. Spot rinse – Utilizing heat water, clear the soapy areas. Make sure that all cleaning soap is eliminated. 
  6. Air dry– Loosen the laces, take away the insole, open the footwear, and go away the pair in a heat, dry place to air out earlier than storing. Think about using a fan or shoe dryer to hurry up the method. This could take wherever from 12 to 72 hours.
  7. Combat the stink – It is a useful step for any lingering scents. Combine 1 half water to 1 half vinegar and frivolously spray the inside of the shoe. Or, place just a few tablespoons of baking soda in a muslin bag, outdated sock, or espresso filters to go away within the shoe till they’re dry. The baking soda will take up lingering smells and take up further moisture. 

Deep Cleansing Mountaineering Footwear & Boots

Completely different materials require barely completely different cleansing steps. Realizing what your mountaineering boot is created from may help inform how, and the way usually, you’ll want to scrub your footwear. To search out the composition of your shoe, have a look at the within of the higher tongue or hop onto the producer’s web site. Make sure that to comply with any warnings or guidelines about cleansing your footwear.

To revitalize your favourite boots, comply with these steps. This cleansing course of will work for many mountaineering footwear and boots together with leather-based or artificial uppers, waterproof and Gore-Tex supplies, and insulated boots.

  1. Put together your footwear – Begin by knocking off any seen dried or free particles and dust. Subsequent, take away the insoles and laces from each footwear, so you possibly can clear each nook and cranny.
  1. Cleansing laces and insoles – Most shoe laces and insoles might be washed with gentle cleaning soap and water.
    1. Rinse – Maintain each insoles and laces below a stream of water to take away main particles and apparent dust. 
    2. Wipe – Wipe down the laces with a lukewarm, moist, soapy material. Do the identical with insoles.
    3. Soak – Soak laces and insoles for five to 10 minutes in a bucket or container of heat, soapy water.
    4. Rinse once more – Run soles and laces below water to take away all cleaning soap and cleaning soap residue.
    5. Vinegar spritz– We advocate a mixture of 4 components water to 1 half vinegar to de-stink your shoe sole. Spray this answer throughout the highest of the insole to stop smells and kill any lingering micro organism.
    6. Dry – Place insoles and laces on a dry material to air-dry. By no means use a warmth supply to hurry up the drying course of and permit them to dry utterly.
A hiker applying Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to their damp Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 shoes with laces removed
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
  1. Cleansing the surface
    1. Water Moist down your complete shoe or boot with a sponge or material. Actually soiled footwear would possibly want a hose, however often, a bucket of heat water or a faucet over a big sink is sufficient. 
    2. Soak – For particularly gnarly instances, think about leaving your mountaineering boots or footwear totally submerged in a bucket of heat water to soak for 10-Quarter-hour. The water will break down the muck and penetrate the shoe, making it simpler to scrub. When time is up, take a soft-bristle brush and scrub the surface of the shoe to loosen any grime. Empty the bucket and refill it. Repeat this soaking course of till the water stays largely clear.
    3. Cleaning soap and water – Should you’re utilizing cleaning soap, combine 1 half gentle dish cleaning soap or castile cleaning soap with 5 components water. Utilizing a clear material or sponge, gently wash the only real and the higher of the boot. Give additional consideration to high-use areas inclined to wreck from dust buildup just like the seam of the soles, the toe cap, and across the lace eyelets. Cleaning soap up your complete shoe from backside to prime, working your method round each a part of the shoe till it’s foamy to the collar of the shoe. 
    4. Cleansing gels and sprays – Should you’re utilizing a cleansing gel or spray, open the product and comply with the instructions on the label. Within the case of Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel open the cap, break the seal, and apply the bottle immediately onto the footwear. The bottle distributes cleansing answer with stress, and bristles across the rim can be utilized to scrub the boot immediately. For sprays, douse the higher and outsole of the shoe and use a sponge or damp material to therapeutic massage the answer into the shoe.
    5. Brush – With the cleaning soap or cleansing gel nonetheless on the shoe, dampen a big, soft-bristle brush and apply it to the sudsy exterior of the boot. Shifting in small circles, work across the whole shoe, together with the only real. The purpose is to scrub each seam, fold, and overlay on the shoe. For small areas just like the lacing eyelets and tongue, use a toothbrush to take away grime.
    6. Rinse – As soon as the surface of the shoe is roofed in cleansing answer, rinse it off. You may totally submerge the mountaineering boot or shoe in water to make sure cleaning soap is faraway from each seam. Keep away from leaving any cleaning soap that might dry out or injury the fabric.
A pair of Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 soaking in a clear storage box full of water with bottles of Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap and white vinegar beside it on the table
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
  1. Cleansing the within – The within of most mountaineering footwear or boots is a smooth materials lining the higher, hooked up to a troublesome midsole. To scrub it:
    1. Material – Use a moist, smooth material. Keep away from brushes to stop injury to the smooth inside material.
    2. No cleaning soap – We don’t advocate cleaning soap as a result of it may be troublesome to take away, and would possibly linger within the absorbent inside material. Use solely water or a water/vinegar answer as a substitute.
    3. Vinegar – For additional smell-reducing energy, we advocate a mixture of 4 components water to 1 half vinegar. Use this as the first answer to scrub the within of the mountaineering shoe or boot.
    4. Hand-clean – Making use of stress, dab and wipe the inside of the shoe in a round movement, shifting from toe to heel. Methodically wipe down your complete within the shoe with the fabric.
A pair of La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX hiking boots next to a sink for cleaning with a brush, soap, baking soda, a rag, sponge, and towel
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
  1. Insulated boots – Insulated boots usually have an extra liner to retain physique warmth. We advocate eradicating and soaking this liner in a cleaning soap and water answer like in step 2b and drying it individually from the remainder of the boot earlier than changing. In any other case, you possibly can comply with the identical steps as above to scrub even your heaviest winter boots.
  2. Stain and mould removing – Have been your footwear saved moist and have mould injury? Are they lined in cussed oil or grass stains, dust, or scuff marks? Vinegar is the reply. Vinegar is gentle on most materials, kills mould spores, and if it doesn’t take away the injury from a stain, it should probably lighten any discoloration. This answer is protected for each leather-based and artificial footwear.
    1. Combine We advocate a combination of 4 components water to 1 half vinegar.
    2. Clear – Utilizing a smooth material or brush, work the vinegar answer deep into the material of the outsole the place the stain or mould is. Repeat till the realm is totally soaked. Let sit for five minutes.
    3. Repeat – Repeat 2-3 occasions. 
    4. Rinse – Wash the answer off with water. Make sure that vinegar is faraway from the fabric.
Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof next to a pair of Bogs ankle boots in a kitchen
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
  1. Leather-based conditioning – In case you have leather-based boots, this step is for you. In case you have artificial boots, transfer to step 8.

Conditioning is a should to ensure your leather-based boots keep comfortable, trendy, and purposeful. Over time, the pure oils within the leather-based dry out. Dry leather-based turns into brittle and stiff. It will definitely cracks and splits whereas supple, hydrated leather-based stays sturdy and waterproof for years.

Make sure to apply leather-based conditioner instantly after cleansing. Your boots ought to nonetheless be moist from washing. We advocate Nikwax Liquid Conditioner For Leather. Like the opposite merchandise within the Nikwax line, open the cap, break the seal, and apply the bottle like an outsized glue stick. Make sure that to cowl all components of the leather-based. Give the conditioner 2 to three hours to soak in, then transfer on to the following step. 

Nikwax Products lined up on a wooden table with a brush, sponge, hiking boots, and a down jacket
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
  1. Waterproofing – The extra you utilize waterproof boots, the extra usually you’ll have to repeat this course of – particularly in moist circumstances. Be aware that not all mountaineering boots and footwear want waterproofing, so you’ll want to test producer care ideas earlier than including any product to your footwear. Waterproofing your footwear is quick, simple, and the final step earlier than drying.
    1. Artificial, Hybrid, and Leather-based – We advocate a catch-all product like Nikwax Fabric and Leather Waterproofing Spray. Open the cap and spray the bottle immediately onto footwear. You’ll wish to cowl the higher of your shoe or boot. Make certain the combination reaches all seams and corners.
    2. Leather-based – For all-leather uppers, we favor Nikwax Waterproofing Wax For Leather. This liquid wax is massaged into the leather-based and creates a strong defend that helps your leather-based boots resist the weather and last more.
    3. Nubuck or Suede – Nubuck leather-based is extra reasonably priced than full grain leather-based, however significantly extra fragile. Like suede, Nubuck’s positive texture, skinny membrane, and smooth really feel make it extra susceptible to stains, water injury, and discoloration than artificial or full-grain leather-based options. Nevertheless, it’s not unusual for these supplies for use on high-end footwear. For Nubuck leather-based or suede, think about Nikwax Nubuck and Suede Waterproofing Spray for an additional layer of safety. 

Drying Your Mountaineering Footwear

Permitting your boots to dry out utterly provides longevity and freshness on your subsequent journey. Storing moist footwear can result in everlasting injury and chronic odors. Persistence is the important thing after a deep cleansing. You’ll have to funds 1 to 4 days on your footwear to totally dry.

Air dry – It’s this simple: go away your boots indoors at room temperature till they’re dry. Place them on a shoe rack or a location with good air flow to stop stagnant air or smells.

Paper towels – Stuff bunched-up paper towels or newspaper inside moist footwear to soak up extra moisture for the primary half-hour of drying. Make certain the paper isn’t so tightly packed that there’s no airflow. After half an hour, take away and discard the paper towels.

Shoe bushes – We advocate utilizing a pair of inexpensive shoe trees to carry your mountaineering boots or footwear open as they dry. Shoe bushes assist preserve footwear’s pure form by means of the heel and toe.

No warmth – Keep away from utilizing warmth to dry your mountaineering boots or footwear. By no means dry your footwear close to radiators, on prime of heaters, or subsequent to a hearth. Direct, intense warmth sources can soften artificial materials, weaken adhesives, and result in cracks and warping in leather-based. If the warmth supply is just too intense, it will probably even distort the form of rubber soles and disfigure the lug sample. 

Fan or vent – To hurry up the method, place your footwear close to a ground fan on excessive, or 1 to 2 ft from an indoor vent. Further airflow will assist the drying course of.

Boot dryer – To dramatically velocity up drying occasions, we advocate a reliable boot dryer. These gadgets quietly blow lukewarm air into your boots with tiny followers for plenty of air flow. Boot dryers can reduce drying occasions in half. That makes them splendid for frequently washing boots or for folk who want dry boots for an journey the following day.

Combat the stink – When footwear are midway carried out drying, think about these further steps to stop lingering scents. We advocate:

  • Vinegar – Vinegar is a strong deodorant that may kill fungus, micro organism, mould, and different odor-causing microorganisms. Combine 1 half water to 1 half vinegar in a twig bottle, and frivolously spray the inside of the shoe earlier than it’s dry. Don’t soak the fabric. Depart the answer to air dry with the remainder of the shoe for a impartial, crisp scent afterwards.
  • Baking soda – Baking soda can even deodorize your shoe because it dries, and can help with moisture absorption. For straightforward cleanup, we advocate just a few tablespoons of baking soda in a reusable pouch, espresso filter, or outdated sock. Depart this small bundle within the boots till dry. Plus, you possibly can proceed utilizing these baking soda odor eliminators for weeks. Or when you don’t thoughts the mess, sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons immediately into the shoe itself and shake to cowl the within of the shoe. 
A hiker standing on a red rock in Glacier in the HOKA Speedgoat 5 hiking shoes
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

Storage Ideas

The way you retailer your most respected mountaineering gear is as essential as conserving it clear and maintained.

Cool and dry – Over time, direct daylight and excessive chilly or scorching temperatures can weaken adhesives, compromise materials, and deteriorate rubber compounds. Hold your mountaineering boots in a cool, dry place like a closet or shoe rack.

Pests – If pests like rodents or bugs are a problem the place you reside, think about storing footwear in a boot field or mud bag for somewhat additional safety – however by no means in a vacuum or compression sack.

Compression is dangerous – Boots saved with heavy objects on prime, or in a pile with different footwear, will lose their form. Compression can wreck the integrity of the supplies. Your boot was probably compressed if it has a smashed or lopsided look, doesn’t return to its preliminary form, or doesn’t match the way it as soon as did after a winter in a shoe pile. We advocate storing boots in an upright and open place and in a devoted place in your own home. Should you’re involved about your shoe dropping form, think about using inexpensive shoe trees to stop your favourite hikers from changing into misshapen throughout storage.

Air is sweet – Moisture buildup is your mountaineering boots’ enemy. Keep away from storing boots in damp garages, sheds, or crawlspaces. To maximise air flow of the boot when not in use, take away insoles, loosen boot laces, and open the tongue so there’s airflow across the shoe.

Closeup of a brand new pair of Salomon XR Mission hiking shoes
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
Closeup of the toes of a pair of very well worn hiking shoes
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

Injury Management

As soon as a month, we advocate assessing mountaineering footwear for indicators of damage, injury, or separation from the uppers. Even essentially the most innocuous hike could cause sudden put on and tear. Common inspection prevents additional injury from roots and rocks.

Injury to uppers – Usually, main tears and rips to the higher of a mountaineering boot are unrepairable. On a hike, you would possibly be capable to carry out a brief repair with duct tape, however we advocate all the time carrying a light-weight, high-quality gear material patch like Tenacious Tape. In the long run, you’ll want new footwear. 

Injury to soles For injury on the soles of your footwear, we advocate a long-lasting sealant gel like Gear Aid Aquaseal SR. It is a tremendous sturdy adhesive that acts as a second pores and skin for worn soles. A powerful sealant can briefly patch splits between the higher and the only real, re-seal a peeling toecap, or add life to blown tread lugs.

Worn soles – Don’t substitute, resole. Many manufacturers provide quick, reasonably priced, and efficient resoling providers. It is a nice possibility for sturdy footwear the place the higher continues to be in fine condition, however the tread has worn down.

View of the sole of hiker's dirty Obōz Bridger Waterproof hiking boot and they walk down a muddy trail in the woods
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

The Backside Line

Sustaining your mountaineering footwear is essential. Fortunately, a fast wash and scrub will work wonders since muck, grime, and odors are not any match for a easy cleansing routine. 

With the precise merchandise and steps, cleansing your boots and footwear might be simple and quick. An efficient cleansing schedule prevents injury and retains your footwear each micro organism and stink-free. Plus, it extends the lifespan of your favourite boots.

Cleansing your mountaineering footwear is a small effort with an enormous payoff – so don’t procrastinate. It’s step one in direction of your subsequent nice outside journey.

A hiker crossing a creek in the Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3 hiking shoes with a marbled mountain in the background
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

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Make sure to take a look at the CleverHiker Gear Information the place our staff of consultants exams and evaluations the perfect outside journey tools in the marketplace – so that you don’t should. Listed below are different articles you would possibly like: