How to clean and care for your hiking shoes
Have you just returned from an amazing mountain hike or a trek? Are your walking shoes covered in mud and dirt? Whether you just need to do some regular maintenance or want to treat your shoes before you store them for while, here is some advice on how to properly clean your hiking boots.
Time: about 10 minutes
Equipment: a water faucet preferably outside, a sink or a tub and a soft brush. Also a disinfectant to kill odors if needed.
The most effective way to clean and protect your shoes is to use products made specifically for this purpose like NST Wash (a cleaning product for shoes made of Gore-Tex, fabric, suede, nubuck or leather) and a re-waterproofing product like NST Proof that works on shoes made from Gore-Tex or leather.
--- Our hiking shoes for WOMEN | for MEN
After your hike
- If your hiking shoes are covered in mud, remove as much as possible by dunking them in water or in a stream. Don’t wait for the mud to dry or it will be more difficult to clean.
- Another method is to hold the shoes by the top of the heel and bang the soles together. Then hold from the front and repeat. This works great for dislodging mud and dirt from the lugged soles.
When you’re back at home:
- Pull the insoles out of your shoes, rinse or wash them then leave them to dry in a well-ventilated place.
- Loosen the laces or the Quick Lace.
- Rinse your hiking shoes with water. If necessary, use a soft brush or a sponge to remove any mud and dirt that’s left.
- If your shoes have a Gore-Tex type membrane, you can re-activate the waterproofing in the outer material by using a specially made spray or applicator. NST Proof is also effective at re-waterproofing shoes made from leather or nubuck. Whichever product you use, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
--- Our Gore-Tex hiking shoes for WOMEN | for MEN
- It’s essential to allow your shoes to dry completely after you wash them! Let them dry at room temperature in a well-ventilated area. Do not leave them to dry in the sun or near a source of excessive heat like a radiator.
- Here’s a little tip for speeding up the drying process: fill the inside of your shoes with newspaper.
- Make sure your shoes are completely dry before putting the insoles back in and re-lacing them.
- If your shoes still smell bad, give the insides a blast with an anti-odor, disinfectant spray.
Don’t wash your shoes in the washing machine because it might damage them.
Between each hike, store your shoes in the open air (not in a bag) in a dry place that is not exposed to the sun.
How often you should clean your hiking shoes
After each hike:
- Remove the insoles.
- Air out your shoes in a dry place. Keep in mind, the bad smell is mainly caused by sweat from your feet and the proliferation of bacteria in a humid environment. Leaving your shoes in the open air is usually enough to prevent this from happening
After a hike on muddy trails or as soon as your shoes look dirty:
- Remove as much mud as possible before it dries.
- Clean with water as described above.
- Once again, don’t forget to let them dry!
As soon as foot odor or moisture persists, use a spray disinfectant on the inside and let your shoes dry completely.
How to store your hiking shoes
At the end of the season, or if you’re not going to use your shoes for several months, rinse them off and let them dry completely.
Remove the insoles and store your shoes in the open air, away from moisture and sunlight. Do not put them in any kind of plastic bag or airtight box!
Washing your hiking shoes (same as with your sneakers, your road shoes or trail running shoes) is part of taking care of your gear so that it lasts longer. When dirt penetrates the fabric, it accelerates the mechanical wear of the fibers. In addition, when mud dries it forms a crust that stiffens the outer fabric and weakens it at the creases.
Another piece of equipment that’s absolutely essential for hiking is a clean pair of socks. Put on a fresh pair each day of your hike and you’ll be more comfortable and also keep odor to a minimum.
--- Our socks for WOMEN | for MEN.
One last piece of advice is to only use shoes that are designed specifically for hiking and not for your everyday sneakers or your running shoes. By choosing shoes that are designed for hiking, you’ll not only be more comfortable, you’ll also be a lot happier.