How To Clean Smelly Hiking Boots in 7 Easy Steps! (2024)

Aren’t you just tired of having to clean smelly hiking boots after your adventurous hike? 

It’s literally the last thing you want to think about, but there it is, your smelly hiking boots just staring at you, waiting for you to clean in. 

If you are new here, Hi, I am Aisha Preece ! I am an avid solo female traveller and I LOVE hiking!  It’s free, good for your health and you get to see so many exciting parts of the world, through hiking 🙂

How to clean smelly hiking boots

I’ve  tried a few different ways to clean the hiking boots, and I want to share the best way to do it!

In this article, I will share everything you need to know on how to clean smelly hiking boots, the appliances that you need, and how often you need to clean them. 

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How to clean smelly hiking boots

How to Clean Your Smelly Hiking Boots in 7 Easy Steps:

Cleaning your hiking boots should be a part of your gear maintenance routine to make sure they last long before you have to replace them. 

Here are 7 easy steps on how to clean your smelly walking boots:  

Step 1: Get your Hiking Boots Ready 

  • The first step in cleaning your hiking boots is to loosen and remove the laces and inner soles (most hiking boots have removable insoles). 

Step 2: Clean the insoles and laces

  • In a bowl,  mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water. Get your boot cleaning brush and brush the insoles thoroughly and gently. 
  • Your insoles hold the most odor as this is where the moisture is being soaked up the most. Make sure that the soap goes right through them. 
  • Next, get your shoelaces and gently brush them with a mixture of dish soap and water as well. 
  • Once this is done, set both of them aside and let it air dry.

Step 3: Cleaning and rinsing the outer surface of your hiking boots

  • Before rinsing your shoes with water, you need to get rid of any excess dirt that is stuck in your shoes by smacking the soles together. 
  • Once the excess dirt is off, get a collapsible tub, fill it with warm water, and mix it with washing-up liquid.
  • Wet the dry cloth with the mixture and gently wipe the boots down. 
  • Grab your brush and gently scrub your hiking boots to get rid of all the mud and dirt, especially in the crevices on the sole of your footwear. 
  • For hard-to-get areas, you can use a smaller brush, like a toothbrush, to get the dirt off. 
  • If there are more stubborn dirt deposits, do not scrub it harder because you may damage the shoes. 

To Note: Be mindful with the water and do not soak your hiking boots too much (Hiking boots that are made out of leather could potentially lose their shape)

Step 4: Let it Air Dry 

  • Now that you have cleaned and rinsed the outside of your hiking boots, you need to let it air dry in a well-ventilated area. 

Tip: To speed up the drying process, roll up small pieces of dry newspaper and fill the inside of your hiking shoes. 

Step 5: Overnight Soak 

  • Once your hiking boots are fully dried, it’s time to cover them up in baking soda. 
  • Just simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda throughout the inside of your hiking boots. 
  • You would want to let this sit overnight before brushing off the excess powder the next day. 

Step 6: Time to Disinfect

  • If your hiking boots are still smelling a little bit funky, spray the inside of your shoes with a disinfectant spray.
  • It’s always good to deodorize your boots to kill any lingering fungus or bacteria in your hiking boots. 
  • Alternatively, you can also spray some white vinegar or any solution that has over 80% alcohol content. 

Step 7: Add a few drops of  Essential Oils

  • This is an optional step to give your hiking boots a fresh, clean smell. Do consider adding a few drops of your favorite essential oils. 
  • Essential oils help in covering up any lasting or lingering odor from the hiking boots. My favorite oils would be Jasmine and Peppermint! 
  • Once you’re done, put your insoles back in place and you’re good to go on your adventure again!

Some recommendations on Essential oils that I personally love: 100% Pure Jasmine Essential Oil 

What You Will Need To Clean Your Smelly Hiking Boots 

Cleaning your hiking boots may look like a daunting task at first, but it’s not that difficult once you get to know how to do it. 

The best thing about cleaning your hiking boots is that you don’t need any expensive gear. Some of the appliances may be lying around your house already. 

Let’s take a look at the appliances that you need to clean your hiking boots: 

1. Dry Cloth 

2. Boot Cleaning Brush 

3. Portable Washing Basin

4. Dish soap

5. Baking soda 

6. Essential Oils (Optional)

Waterproofing Your Boots

I’m glad that you now know how doable it is to clean your hiking boots! 

If there is one more thing that I would add to the footwear care routine, it would be to waterproof your hiking boots. 

Why is waterproofing your hiking boots important? 

It’s basically to help maintain the waterproof capabilities and durability of your hiking boot. 

This can be done by using a waterproofing spray that will help to extend its longevity for years to come.  

This waterproofing spray helps to keep your hiking boots in incredible condition, no matter what type of material they are.  

Why Do Hiking Shoes Smell? 

The more we wear our hiking boots, the more we will notice that they will start to smell, which is inevitable. 

The reason why your hiking boots smell funky is because bacteria and fungus are growing inside the shoes. 

When you sweat, the fabric in your hiking boots will absorb all the stench and sweat that comes off your feet. This makes the perfect breeding ground for them. 

They are the real reason why your shoes smell, which is why you must have a regular maintenance routine.

As someone who regularly hikes, these breathable shoe insoles have been a game changer. They made a big difference with my awful foot odors, thanks to the ventilation holes.

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How To Clean Smelly Hiking Boots With Baking Soda

Before you use baking soda to clean your hiking boots, make sure your shoes are fully dried after you have cleaned them. 

Baking soda works wonders as a natural deodorizer that can help eliminate foul shoe odors from your hiking boots. It does such a great job of absorbing odors. 

The way to use baking soda as part of your cleaning routine is pretty simple – you can sprinkle a good amount of baking soda inside the boots and leave it overnight.

By leaving it overnight, it takes in the smelly odors. Just shake off the excess powder the next day.

This simple habit will help to improve the overall ventilation in the shoes and prevent mildew and bacteria from building up inside the shoes. 

How To Clean Smelly Hiking Boots With Vinegar? 

White vinegar is another alternative to cleaning smelly hiking boots and getting rid of foul odors.

It helps to neutralize the stinky odors and remove any bacteria that is found inside your boots. 

The way that you can use vinegar to clean your shoes is by mixing one cup of white vinegar and one cup of water. Mix the solution and pour it into a spray bottle. 

Once you have it in a bottle, spray the solution inside of your hiking boots and allow them to dry. This will eliminate the foul stink and keep your shoes fresh for days. 

How To Dry Your Hiking Boots? 

The best way to dry your hiking boots is to just leave them out to dry in a well-ventilated area. 

Try to avoid putting them in direct sunlight or directly near a heat source, as it can damage the exterior of the hiking boots. 

If you are drying it overnight, try to roll some newspaper or kitchen towel and stuff them into your hiking boots. 

These materials are great for soaking up excess moisture! Roll them loosely in small balls and fill them all the way up to the leg opening. 

This trick should help in speeding up the drying process.

How to clean smelly hiking boots

Why Should I Clean My Smelly Hiking Boots? 

It is very important to clean your hiking boots because while you’re out hiking, mud and sand get onto your boots, which can eventually wear down the materials. 

It’s hard to see with the naked eye, but those particles will start to bleed into the crevices of your boots, which will make it so much harder to clean them later on. 

As a result, your boots will easily break down and will become very fragile. 

How Often Should I Clean My Smelly Hiking Boots? 

How often you clean your hiking shoes totally depends on how often you wear them and the kind of condition they are in. 

After each hike, I would suggest for you to: 

  • Take out the shoe insoles
  • Always air out your shoes in a well-ventilated area because the lack of aeration can contribute to smelly shoes in the long run. 

After a hike on muddy trails: 

  • Take out your shoe insoles as well.
  • Remove as much dirt as you can on the soles of your hiking boots before they dry off. 
  • Once the muddy gunk is off, clean it with water, as mentioned above. (If you’re not too sure, refer back to the step-by-step process on how to wash your hiking boots.) 
  • Let it air dry, and you’re ready to go for your next adventure!

Tip: Use a  disinfectant spray on the inside of your shoes to kill any lingering foot odor. 

But just remember that if you neglect your hiking boots and don’t take care of them, this can happen:

  • Without you knowing, the mud will suck up the moisture from the leather, and as it dries, it makes your boots’ leather age much faster.
  • Whenever your hiking boots contract, little particles of sand or dirt will slowly creep into your hiking boots’ leather. 

This could affect your hiking boots’ construction, making them erode faster and deteriorating their overall effectiveness. 

Hence, it is very important to be diligent in the upkeep of your hiking boots for their longevity, and smelly, funky shoes are no fun at all. 

How to clean smelly hiking boots

FAQs on How To Clean Smelly Hiking Boots

If you would like to know more about how to clean smelly hiking boots, say no more we have got you covered!

We have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic. 

How Do I Clean The Inside Of My Hiking Boots? 

The way to clean the inside of your hiking boots is by gently wiping them with clean, lukewarm water. Try not to use a brush as it might damage the surface of the inner lining. 

Hiking boots generally have a soft leather lining, or a more popular alternative material is a waterproof-breathable lining, such as the Gore-Tex. 

What Can I Use To Clean The Inside Of My Boots? 

To clean the inside of your boots, you can mix equal parts of water and white vinegar mixture. 

Get a spray bottle and spray the inside of the boots with the solution. Leave it out to dry once you are done. 

The vinegar will help to get rid of any microbes that produce a stinking odor. 

Can You Wash Your Hiking Boots In The Washing Machine? 

No, it is not advisable to put your hiking boots in the washing machine as it may cause damage to the stitching and adhesives of your boots.

To clean the surface of the shoes, mix 80% of water and 20% of the white vinegar mixture. 

Do not use any detergents, as they can be harmful to the waterproof membrane and the leather material. 

How Do You Get The Smell Out Of Boots? 

One of the ways of getting the smell out of your boots is by sprinkling some baking soda inside of your hiking boots. 

Baking soda is an effective natural ingredient that has been used extensively in getting rid of odors instead of just covering them. 

They typically take 24 hours to absorb odors. Once the smell is gone, just shake them off before putting them on.

How to clean smelly hiking boots

Clean Those Smelly Hiking Boots!

As an outdoor enthusiast myself, I understand the importance of keeping my hiking boots clean and smelling fresh.

It just makes my travels and hikes much more comfortable, knowing that they are in great condition and shape. 

The challenge is setting time aside to clean your hiking boots, but once you are diligent with foot care maintenance, you will get to enjoy an odor-free adventure! 

Now that I have shown you simple and easy steps to follow in cleaning your smelling hiking boots, try to include it in your gear maintenance routine. 

I hope my easy steps on how to clean smelly hiking boots have come in handy, and I am glad that you have taken the time to learn how to do it.

If you find this article helpful, feel free to share it with your family and friends who are also in the process of learning how to clean their smelly hiking boots!

Happy outdoors!

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