How to Clean Hiking Boots (Get the Smell Out of Hiking Boots)

It is a fact that hiking boots like to smell bad sometimes. It’s unavoidable, especially when you spend a lot of time on the trail. However, the good news is that your boots don’t have to smell permanent.

To remove the smell from your hiking boots, you’ll need to scrub the inside of your boots with a special odor remover or with some lemon juice. It’s also important to air your boots thoroughly after every hike to keep the infamous hiking boot smell at bay.

If you’re struggling with smelly hiking boots, check out this article for a remedy. Learn my tips for making your hiking boots smell good again and last a long time.

How to clean muddy hiking boots?

Muddy hiking boots can be a real pain to clean.

Not only do they require some elbow grease, but also the proper cleaning supplies.

I will outline the necessary steps for how to clean muddy hiking boots so that you can be back on the trail in no time.

  1. First, you will need to remove as much of the mud as possible. This can be done by using a brush or simply kicking them off. Once most of the mud is removed, it is time to get down to business.
  2. Next, fill a bucket with warm water and add some mild soap. Submerge your boots in soapy water and let them soak for about 15 minutes.
  3. After the boots have soaked, use a brush to scrub away any remaining mud. Pay special attention to the soles and crevices where mud likes to hide.
  4. Rinse the boots with clean water and let them air dry. Once they are completely dry, you can apply a water-repellent to help keep them clean for longer.

With these simple steps, you will have your muddy hiking boots clean.

Why do your hiking boots stink?

Hiking boots are known to smell badly after a few uses.

This is because the fabric of hiking boots soaks up the sweat produced on your feet as you hike through the wilderness.

In addition, hiking boots can stink because they harbor mold and bacteria if they are poorly cared for.

Since hiking boots get wet when hiking on muddy trails or crossing rivers, they create the perfect environment for odor-causing molds and bacteria.

In addition, many people do not properly air out their boots at the end of a hike, which exacerbates the problem of smelly shoes.

In general, waterproof boots smell more than non-waterproof boots because they trap any moisture that has crept inside.

Fortunately, there are ways – to clean both waterproof and non-waterproof boots – to minimize odor buildup.

How do you remove sweat odors in hiking boots?

Cleaning the inside of a hiking boot seems like a difficult task for many, but that’s not the case.

Cleaning your hiking boots should be a regular part of taking care of your gear.

You can clean your hiking boots as follows:

  1. Prepare your boots: First, take out the insoles and laces and set them aside. Cleaning the insoles and laces is also important, but you can do this towards the end of the cleaning process.
  2. Before you clean the inside of your boots, you need to make sure the outside of your boots is clean. Mud quickly accumulates on the outside of your boots, so you’ll want to scrub the outside and outsoles of your hiking boots with a soft brush to remove the mud.
  3. After your boots are clean on the outside, fill a tub or large plastic container with warm water. The tank should be big enough to submerge your boots completely. Before you put your boots in the water, you should add an odor remover to the water – Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how much to add per gallon of water.
  4. Take your boots and place them in your tub of water and cleaning solution. Using a small brush, scrub the inside of your boots thoroughly, especially the bottom of the footbed, as this is where mold and bacteria like to grow.
  5. After your boots are clean, take them out of the cleaning solution and rinse them with clean water.
  6. Take your boots and put them in a warm and dry place until they are completely dry. Do not put your hiking boots in the dryer or next to an external heat source, as this can damage the boots.
  7. Boot soles are often one of the main sources of bad odors. To clean them, soak the soles in the same cleaning solution you used on your hiking boots. Then lay them in a dry place to dry before putting them back in your boots. Alternatively, you can replace them with new ones.

Shoelaces can also get dirty, but they are not usually a source of bad odors. Rinse them with clean water and let them dry before replacing your boots.

Once your boots are clean and odor-free, you can head out and hike.

Tip: To avoid odors in the future, let your boots dry completely after each hike. While you’re at it, take the insoles out of your boots to prevent mold from growing in the footbed.

If necessary, clean your boots with an odor remover to prevent bad odors.

Tip: If your boots are too old and can’t take another wash, check out my blog article, where I listed all the possible hiking boot types you might be interested in.

Odor remover products for hiking boots

As mentioned earlier, you’ll need an odor remover to get the stink out of your boots.

Try the following remedies to remove odors from your boots during the boot cleaning process.

Household baking soda for bad odors

Baking soda is a popular remedy for cleaning smelly gear, as it can remove stains and stench with relative ease.

To use baking soda, you can sprinkle a few teaspoons of it inside your hiking boots and leave the boots overnight to get rid of bad odors.

Maybe you may need to repeat this process a few times.

The advantage of using baking soda to eliminate odors in your hiking boots is that it is inexpensive. However, it’s also not effective like a special product.

ReviveX odor remover for outdoor gear.

Gear Aid ReviveX is an odor remover designed specifically for hiking boots.

It’s designed for use with outdoor gear, suitable for a wide range of boot materials, including leather and nylon.

If you want to remove odor from your boots before a hike quickly, you can also use ReviveX as a solution in a spray bottle.

You need to mix about 50 ml of ReviveX with 50 ml of water, spray it on your boots and then let the boots air dry before you put them on.

The downside to this product is that it is quite expensive.

Even though it’s a bit more expensive than other products, ReviveX is a solid choice if you despair of disinfecting your boots.

Can hiking boots be washed in a washing machine?

It would be best if you did not put hiking boots in the washing machine to clean them.

Washing machines are designed to agitate clothing, which causes wear and tear over time.

This may not be a big deal for a t-shirt, but it’s not a good idea to wash them in the washing machine for an expensive item like your hiking boots.

Also, washing machines have been known to damage the waterproof lining of many hiking boots.

Also, many detergents, chemicals, and other additives contain ingredients not suitable for cleaning hiking boots.

Therefore, it’s best to play it safe and wash your hiking boots manually by hand.

If you’re wondering if hiking boots should be dried in the dryer: Don’t!

The soles of many hiking boots are attached to the boot with a type of adhesive that melts when exposed to heat.

Exposing your boots to the high heat can be a problem, as the soles can come loose after just a few hikes.

Also, the heat can damage the exterior and fabric of the boots (especially leather), which is not ideal.

In short, you shouldn’t put your boots in the washing machine or dryer!

Only clean your boots by hand and let them air dry if you want your gear to last.

My conclusion about bad odors in hiking boots

Hiking boots have a bad reputation for being smelly pieces of gear. If you go hiking in them, you’re bound to attract strange looks.

Yet your boots don’t have to smell awful every time.

There are many ways to clean your hiking boots. The challenge is taking the time to do so.

However, washing your boots frequently is only part of keeping them odor-free.

After each hike, you should dry your boots and insoles thoroughly to prevent bacteria buildup.

Ideally, you’ll use a spray to spray your boots after each hike to keep odor at bay.

Then, when it’s time to clean your boots thoroughly, you can use a specially made odor remover to keep your boots smelling as fresh as possible.

This way, you can enjoy all your hiking adventures odor-free

Tip: Winter boots, in particular, should be dried well to keep bad odors at bay. In my blog article, you will find different winter hiking boots in the overview.

Happy hiking!

Photo of author
Hi, I'm Dave. I'm an avid outdoors and sports enthusiast who loves to share my passion with others. I publish the experiences I've gained over the years on Outdoormeta to give beginners helpful tips and bring people closer to the outdoors.

Keep Reading

Sorry, no posts were found.