How to Clean Hiking Shoes?

Learn how to clean hiking shoes in easy way with step by step guide.

A complete guide with different techniques for cleaning hiking shoes like a pro. It also includes valuable information about hiking shoes and their features.

Hiking shoes are constantly exposed to dirt and other residues. Therefore, it’s recommended to clean them after each use. However, most users aren’t used to doing this. In fact, many of them wait too long to clean their shoes for the first time.

The longer the stains remain on the surface, the more difficult they’ll be to remove. And when that happens, you’ll have to apply some special cleaning techniques to get the best results.

Today, you’ll learn some of the most effective cleaning hacks for hiking shoes. Best of all, you can make it with common ingredients that you can easily find at home.

What are Hiking Shoes?

Hiking shoes are designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the external environment. Therefore, they’re perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities, including hiking. These shoes are made of more durable and resistant materials than common shoes. So, you can move through sharp rocks and abrasive surfaces without damaging them.

Hiking shoes are available in a wide variety of models and designs. Each type better adapts to certain terrain conditions. Some are good for wet and slippery surfaces and other for dry and abrasive terrain.

Commonly, hiking shoes have leather uppers and thick and stiff outsoles. The heel case also helps your foot to remain in a safe position, preventing strains and other serious injuries. Some hiking shoes have arc support for people with flat feet.

Cleaning Hiking Shoes: Step-By-Step Guide

To learn how to clean hiking shoes, you don’t need to be an expert. You just need some common cleaning products and tools like:

  • Boot brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Boot cleaner
  • Saddle soap
  • Mild dishwashing soap
  • Leather conditioner

Cleaning the Upper

For cleaning the uppers of your shoes, this is what you have to do:

  1. First of all, remove the laces of your hiking shoes.
  2. After that, use the boot brush to remove all accumulated debris on the surface. For best results, apply a dishwashing soap and water solution while brushing.
  3. Finally, put the uppers under the water string to remove excess soap.

Washing the Laces

Laces also tend to stain on contact with mud. Washing them is very easy and you only need to do this:

  1. First of all, fill a small container with equal parts of mild soap and warm water.
  2. Then, soak the laces in the solution for several minutes. Scrub the laces to remove all the dirt.
  3. Finally, rinse the laces with plenty of water and leave them air-dry.

Cleaning the Outsole

To clean the outsoles of your shoes, follow these steps:

  1. First of all, use the toothbrush to remove the mud stuck inside the grooves of the traction pattern.
  2. Then, use a small piece of wood to remove rocks and other objects that are too difficult to remove.
  3. To remove hardened mud, soak the outsoles in warm water for a few minutes. This will soften the mud. Then, use the toothbrush to remove the residue.

Conditioning the Leather

Mud residue tends to absorb the natural moisture from leather. So, when you wait too long to remove dry mud, the leather surface begins to crack and lose shine. In case that happens, this is what you should do:

  1. First of all, apply leather conditioner all over the upper surface. Apply a little bit more to the most affected areas.
  2. Then, rub the surface with your hands so that the product penetrates the leather.
  3. Repeat the procedure until you get the expected results.


  • Before applying soap on the uppers, read the label of the product to verify that it’s safe for leather.
  • Don’t use detergents or bar soaps, because they tend to accumulate in the ventilation holes of the shoe.
  • Use a mixture of vinegar and water to remove mold.
  • Always clean your hiking shoes by hand, don’t put them inside the washing machine.
  • Remove the midsoles and wash them separately. Apply odor removers if necessary. Then, leave them to air dry in a warm place.
  • Don’t place the shoes near an artificial heat source to dry them faster. Excessive heat may melt the adhesive and wrinkle the leather.
  • If water accidentally gets in, fill the shoes with newspaper to remove excess moisture.
  • Store your hiking shoes in a cool, dry place. Never store them in a dark and humid space. This may cause mold growth on the surface.


As you can see, cleaning your hiking shoes is the easiest thing to do. Just make sure the cleaning product you’re going to use is safe for leather. Also, keep your shoes away from intense heat while drying so as not to ruin the uppers. Make sure to always follow these tips to keep your hiking shoes looking like new.

James Smith

James Smith, along with an army of foot soldiers, personally tries and reviews some of the most revered products and brand in almost every imaginable category of footwear.

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