How to Clean Smelly Hiking Boots [Step by Step Guide]

Hiking is for those people who dare to be adventurous.

But when you return from a mountain hike or a jungle trek, your hiking boots are very likely to be covered with dust and mud.

To clean the boots, you need to wash the outer part and soles. Some baking soda or vinegar mixture is helpful to soak the shoes.

After cleaning, the boots need to dry properly, or else the leather may get damaged.

Next, use disinfecting sprays and fragrances to get rid of the stench.

Follow the article until the end if you want to know how to clean smelly hiking boots with the detailed procedure.

Is Cleaning Your Boots Necessary?

cleaning your boots

Whenever you think about cleaning your boots, the first thing that comes to your mind is whether it is necessary or not.

We would say, “of course, it is!”  Mainly, there are two reasons why we say so.

The first reason is that hiking boots are very costly. You don’t want to lose this kind of expensive footwear after a few hikes.

The other reason is that you won’t get to enjoy your ride or trekking if your boots are in the worst condition.

How To Clean Smelly Hiking Boots?

About the cleaning of hiking boots, there are some misconceptions. But don’t worry because we are here to help you with everything.

You will need to clean your hiking boots in two stages.

  • Immediate cleaning
  • Deep Cleaning

If you want your boots to always be in tip-top condition, you must follow these two stages. But if the two stages seem too challenging for you, you can follow the second stage only.

However, we must warn you that you will face some troubles in cleaning if you only follow the second stage.

Immediate Cleaning

Suppose you have just returned with your friends from a trip to the jungle. So, it is evident that your boots are covered in mud.

Unfortunately, some people have the wrong idea about cleaning mud. They think that it’s easier to clean after the mud dries up.

But in reality, it is the total opposite. You have to get rid of the mud or dust as soon as possible. Normal or hot water can be a good option for the job. Probably it’s best to wash at home.

The situation is different in mountain hikes. Most of the time, the boots get dusty, not muddy. Therefore, you don’t have to wash them immediately with water.

Just grab the top part of the heel and give them a bang together. After that, do the same for the front part of the boots.

It’s the easiest way to remove the dislodged mud from the boots. However, the immediate cleaning won’t do anything about the smell.

Deep Cleaning Or Should We Say Serious Cleaning?

Most of the time, immediate cleaning is not enough to remove all the dirt and smell. Hence, you should do the deep cleaning.

For that, you have to follow these particular steps in a sequence.

Step 1: Remove The Soles And Laces

It will be easy for you to clean the boots if you remove the insoles and the laces. If you don’t remove them, you won’t be able to work correctly with the outer parts.

Also, it is better to wash all the parts separately.

Step 2: Clear The Outer Part

Now, it’s time to clean the outer part. First, you should use a brush to scrub the dust from the surface. The outer part is the dirtiest of all components.

So, regular washing won’t be enough for it.

But make sure you don’t use stiff brushes instead of a soft brush or sponge. It is because stiff brushes can destroy the exterior design or break some molds if you scrub hard.

Step 3: Don’t Use Bar Soap Or Detergents

When the dirt is too rough to clean, most people use bar soaps or some detergents to remove the dirt. But they are proven to be harmful to the boots.

There are some additives present in the soap and detergents. These additives can demolish the leather structures.

As the boots are mainly made of leather and waterproof membranes, it won’t be wise to wash them with soap and detergents.

If regular washing isn’t enough to get rid of the dirt, try alternate solutions for that.

Step 4: Mild Soap With Warm Water Is A Better Option

Mild soap with warm water can be used instead of detergents. You can either use a toothbrush or a washcloth to wipe out the dirt from the boot surface.

The soap water will also be helpful to clean the insoles. It can also be used to clean the interior of the boots.

Step 5: Use Vinegar For The Mold

You might not be able to clean off the mold from the boots entirely with just brushes and clothes.

Then, is there anything you can do to get rid of the mold with less effort? Yes, you can.

Use a vinegar and water mixture for the job. The ratio of water and vinegar must be 80:20.

Otherwise, vinegar can adversely affect the mold structure.

Step 6: Use Baking Soda To Soak

The purpose of using baking is to remove the smells and perform the extra cleaning if necessary. All you need is a small container or bowl and a tiny amount of baking soda.

Mix them and get your boot into the bowl to soak for a long time. It’s best to keep it overnight.

Sometimes it is not possible to clean in very intricate regions.

However, baking soda will clean those regions and counterbalance the ridiculous smells of the boots.

Step 7: Give It Enough Time To Dry

Now, when the cleaning is done, you have to give it enough time to dry. It would be better to keep the boots in an open place where sunlight comes. You can also directly put them in daylight.

Some people use different types of heating resources to have a quick-drying process. But it will do more harm than good to the boots.

That is because excessive heat is harmful to leather and reduces its maturity. So, try to dry the shoes in a natural process.

Step 8: Spray The Disinfectants

And don’t forget to use disinfectants. After heavy use, it’s a great possibility that there will be germs and microorganisms.

Even the deep washing process cannot get rid of all the germs. The result will be seen in your infected legs with fungus or other organisms.

So, always remember to use the disinfectants after every wash and before every use.

Do Something About The Smell Of The Boots

The nasty smell that oozes out of your boots happens for several reasons, like dirty feet, using the same socks repeatedly, wearing poor quality boots, etc.

But what to do when the baking soda can’t remove all the smells? Well, some fragrant oils on the market will be helpful for you.

Most of these oils are made of organic products. So, their chance of success is higher. There are also some enzyme-based odor eliminators in the market.

You can use them by mixing them with water. They can quickly get rid of those ridiculous smells from your boots.

Don’t Use The Boots Until Dry Enough

Most people are always in a hurry and wear boots that are not dried completely.

The outcome? More nasty smell than before, and the footwear gets dirty quickly.

On top of that, the leather quality will be compromised. The boots won’t last long if you keep using them like this.

Therefore, it is imperative to let the boots dry thoroughly. You can use some newspapers or a fan if you need them quickly.

Is Conditioning Bad For The Boots?

Well, conditioning your boots is not bad, but not good either. Most of the time, leather doesn’t need conditioning at all. But when the boot leather seems hard and dry, use conditioners to smoothen it.

Then what’s so wrong with conditioning? Excess use is terrible, no matter what it is. If you use extra conditioner, the boots may get smoother and softer than necessary.

Then you will lose the support of the shoes, and the leather won’t be able to attach with the mold properly.

Some Boot Cleaning Tips For You

Even if you are not new to cleaning hiking boots, some tips will help you avoid uncertain circumstances.

For example, don’t use cheap products on leather boots. Sometimes you may confuse the fragrant oils with mink oils.

But you should know that the mink oils are basically for industrial boots, not for hiking boots.

Always clean your feet and wear clean socks before you put on the boots. The main advantage is that you will have less struggle while cleaning the boots in the future.

Bottom Line

Hiking boots are essential if you love to explore mountains and jungles. But you won’t be able to enjoy those moments when the shoes are troubling you.

Therefore, you must keep them clean following the procedure we have discussed regarding how to clean smelly hiking boots.

Enjoy your adventures happily!

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