How to clean walking boots

Investing in a good pair of walking boots is essential for anyone that regularly walks or hikes for long distances. A good pair of boots protect the feet from the elements and provide stability and support on uneven terrain. But if you don’t look after your walking boots and clean them after each heavy use, you risk the chance of reducing their longevity and breathability.

This article will answer some common questions people have about cleaning their boots and list the main steps you need to take for a simple yet effective cleaning routine. By following these tips, you’ll be able to ensure a long healthy life for your boots.

How soon after a walk should I clean my boots?

It’s really important to clean your walking boots properly, as soon as possible after you’ve finished your walk. If you wait too long, the mud and dirt will harden, and it will be a lot harder to clean them. Waiting to clean your boots for too long can also result in odours and mold growth.

Can I clean walking boots in the washing machine?

As convenient as this would be, unfortunately not. It is never advisable to clean your walking boots in the washing machine.

Cleaning your walking boots in the washing machine can seriously shorten their lifespan and may even damage them.

What are the main steps for cleaning my boots?

Following this simple yet effective routine is the best way to clean your boots after a heavy walk:

Remove the laces and insoles

The insoles of your boots absorb a lot of sweat as you walk, and laces can also become saturated with moisture and mud.

Both laces and insoles are easily cleaned by hand, ideally with a cloth under warm running water. A small amount of mild washing up liquid on the laces might help for stubborn dirt.

Once the laces and insoles have been washed, leave them on one side to dry. You might also want to sprinkle over a little baking soda to help keep them smelling fresh.

Remove loose dirt from the boot and the mud in the treads

You can remove any large bits of loose soil by banging your boots together – this is probably best done outside!

The handle end of an old toothbrush or teaspoon can be used to scrape off any stubborn mud that has found itself embedded into your treads.

With all the large bits of mud and dirt removed, use a firm, dry shoe brush across your boots to remove any remaining loose dirt.

Gently scrub with a firm shoe brush under warm running water

Once all the loose dirt is removed, it’s time to clean your walking boots by running them under warm running water, and gently scrubbing with a firm shoe brush.

It’s important to clean your boots both inside and out. With your laces removed, you should be able to access the inside of your boots to clean them more easily.

If warm water alone is not doing the job, consider using a small amount of specialist boot cleaner to help remove any ground-in dirt. We also recommend using a boot buddy to get the boots really clean! The boot buddy is the perfect tool to get into the tiny little areas of your boots and with its integrated scraper, water flow and scrubbing brush, it has everything you need. 

Avoid the use of any other detergents or chemical cleaners, which may actually damage or impair the performance of your boot materials. 

Rinse (and repeat if needed!)

After you’ve gently scrubbed your boots under warm running water, give them a good rinse removing any last traces of dirt and specialist cleaning product.

If you notice there is still some stubborn dirt after rinsing, repeat these last two steps of the process as necessary.

What is the best way to dry my boots after I have cleaned them?

The most important thing to remember is that after cleaning your walking boots, they should NOT be dried by a radiator or any other direct heat source. This can damage the leather and fabric of the boot.

The best way to dry your walking boots after cleaning is to stuff them with newspaper and leave them in a warm, well-ventilated area. 

To get more tips and tricks to help with running, walking and cycling – head over to our main blog page

We hope you enjoyed this blog, read more of our walking guides and advice