10 Ways to Wash Hiking Shoes Safely – How to Wash Hiking Shoes

Have you ever walked through a stream with your shoes filled with mud? Or hiked up muddy hills? Or even stepped through puddles of water while wearing your hiking shoes? If so, then you’re familiar with the challenges of keeping hiking shoes fresh. After a few hikes, dirt and grime start to build up on the surface. Sweat starts to soak in. And after a while, it’s almost impossible to get that bad-smelling funk out of your footwear again. But what about those soaking wet hiker socks? How do you safely clean your hiking boots when they’re covered in muck? Read on to learn more about how to properly clean your hiking boots after excursions into the great outdoors.

Plan for your next hike before you go

A good way to prevent a stinky pair of hiking shoes is to plan ahead of preparing about how to wash hiking shoes. Before you set out on a hike, make sure your boots are clean. If necessary, you can do a wash in the sink, and then rinse them out with fresh water. But remember that this should be just for double-checking that your boots are actually clean before going into the wild. Unless you have time between hikes to let them dry properly, make sure to pack along some socks (or even a pair of clean hiking shoes) to change into upon arrival at your destination.

Don’t wear new hiking boots to the trailhead

One of the worst ways to start a hike is by wearing new hiking boots. If you don’t know how to take care of your footwear properly, then it will only break down faster. In turn, this will cause your boots to get wet, giving you even more problems to clean up on the trail. So if you already have a pair of hiking boots that have lasted for a few years, then try and stick with them for as long as possible.

Drying tips for hiking boots when they get soaked

If your hiking shoes are soaked with mud, they need to be taken off immediately. With the shoes off and at a flat surface, you should start by pouring out as much water as possible. Next, use paper towels or a rag to dry off the outside of your footwear. Just make sure it’s a clean rag! You can also use a vacuum cleaner or have someone else help you pour water out of your boots if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

Toothbrush-up your hiking boots before washing

Now it comes to question: how to wash hiking shoes? The first step in washing your hiking boots is to brush them. Because the bristles of a toothbrush have tiny rough edges, they can help loosen dirt and other grime from your footwear. Use an old toothbrush or one that’s been used too many times. Simply use it to scrub the foot of your boot, including the toe area, near the laces and around the collar. If you have a lot of dirt or mud on your boots, you might want to use a toothbrush with a long handle so that you can get into those hard-to-reach areas.

how to wash hiking shoes

Working dryers are a great option for hiking boots

If your hiking boots are soaked and you don’t have access to a dryer, then you should consider working some air dryers into your hiking gear. Air dryers such as those used for drying out clothes and shoes can be found in most camping stores, but they might also be available at your local big-box retailer. The best option is either an electric or an air compressor type of air dryer. If using an electric model, make sure to plug it in outside the tent or under the shelter before turning it on so that the circuitry doesn’t get wet. Another option is to use a fire pit as a source of heat for drying out your boots. Place the boots on top of rocks or logs with heat-resistant materials such as wood chippings or sand over them. Alternatively, wrap wet boots in blankets and place on top of hot coals from a campfire or BBQ grill. In either case, let sleeping dogs lie…so to speak!

Harsh detergents and scouring agents should be avoided

Some people might be tempted to use harsh detergents or scouring agents in order to clean their hiking boots. However, harsh detergents and scouring agents can actually damage the materials of your footwear and degrade the performance of certain components like waterproofing. They are also much more likely to cause allergic reactions that can be harmful for your health. The best way to clean hiking shoes is by using room temperature water. If you want to use something else, then a mild soap solution (like dish soap) will work just as well as detergent. Note that you should avoid any pre-soaked sponges because they are typically too abrasive and could damage your shoes.

Use baking soda instead of detergent in your washer

Detergent is a powerful cleaner, but it’s also very strong. It can strip the natural oils from your footwear and dry them out, ruining their comfort. Instead of detergent, use a light amount of baking soda mixed with water in your washer to clean your hiking boots. Baking soda is an excellent alternative for naturally cleaning your footwear because it doesn’t contain harsh chemicals and won’t leave behind any residue.

To speed up drying, hang-dry your boots over night

Above is about how to wash hiking shoes, but people are also eager to know how to dry shoes in a timely manner. One way to clean your hiking boots is to hang them up overnight. This will allow the boots to dry in a shorter time, making it easier for you to pick them up and start wearing them again. Another way to speed up the drying process is by using an air-drying rack. This will allow moisture vapor to rise through the boot, making it easier for you to remove and deodorize the unwanted bacteria and sweat. If you don’t have either of these options, then simply take your wet boots outside and let them sit in direct sunlight for a couple hours before cleaning them. Make sure that they are completely dry before continuing with this process though.

Take care with sandal and flip-flop tops when cleaning them too

Leave the sandals and flip-flop tops to soak in a bucket of water while you focus on those boots. Step One: Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water You’ll need a bucket that’s large enough to hold your footwear. Fill it with warm, soapy water and leave it for about five minutes to soak. Step Two: Scrubbing Brush Up Your Socks Using an old toothbrush, scrub all over your socks. If you don’t have an old toothbrush, use a brush or rag instead. This will help eliminate surface dirt and bacteria. Step Three: Soak your footwear in the soap-filled bucket again After scrubbing your socks, re-soak them in the soapy water for about five minutes before moving on to the next step. Step Four: Pour some chlorine tablets into the water To disinfect the dirty water left in your bucket, pour some chlorine tablets into it before adding more warm, soapy water to fill it up again. You can also use this method if you want to clean both your shoes and sock at once!

how to wash hiking shoes

Summary – How to Wash Hiking Shoes

Cleaning your boots after an outdoor adventure is a must if you want to keep them in good condition and prevent the spread of odor. Follow these simple tips to clean your hiking shoes.

  1. Fill up a container with cold water and some household vinegar for an effective and safe cleaning agent.
  2. Place your boots into the container and allow them to soak for about 20 minutes before rinsing them out thoroughly.
  3. Next, fill up a separate container with warm water, dish soap, and baking soda. Add some liquid hand soap as well to make it foamier (it will be more fun).
  4. Soak your boots in this mixture of liquids for 30 minutes while gently scrubbing their surface with a bristle brush or sponge to loosen grime and dirt that has set in over time.
  5. Finally, place your clean boots back into the cold water/vinegar solution to rinse away any remaining grime. You should now have fresh-smelling hiking shoes that are ready for another day of adventuring!
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