How To Clean And Waterproof (dirty) Hiking Boots

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

Hiking boots and shoes are meant to get dirty.

A squeaky clean boot is a sign that your adventures are obviously not epic enough.

However, in order to prolong their life, it is important to clean your hiking boots when they get dirty. Dirt and caked-on mud can prematurely dry out leather, and can abrade the fibers of your shoes, making them wear out faster. Luckily, it’s easy to clean your hiking shoes and boots once you know how.

In order to demonstrate a near worst-case scenario, these fabulous Oboz Bridger Mid hiking boots were thoroughly muddied and left to dry out.

How to clean a (very) dirty hiking boot:

1. Knock off or brush off all chunks of dirt. Do this outside or into a garbage bin. Use a stiff-bristled brush to help get into cracks (boot eyelets love to hang onto crud).

2. Remove shoelaces. This will help you clean the tongue more effectively. You can also wash the laces for extra bonus points.

3. Stuff your boot with paper towel or a hand towel. This will soak up any extra water that might find its way into your boots during washing, and thereby help your shoes dry faster later.

4. Rinse your boots clear of any debris with water. If you use an indoor sink, be sure you got most of the dirt chunks off first so you don’t clog your drain/anger your housemates.

5. Scrub-a-dub your boots with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. It will help remove embedded dirt and prepare your boots for any waterproofing you might want to add.

6. Rinse Cleaning Gel off boots.

7. Add some waterproofing if you fancy (why not?!)  For these boots Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof  Spray-On was applied while still wet.

8. Let dry and Ta DA! Now you have clean and (if you waterproofed them) waterproof hiking boots.



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