How To Clean Your Walking Boots Or Shoes

If you want your hiking and walking boots to last and stand up to any terrain you throw at them, taking good care of them at all times is essential.

If you want your hiking and walking boots to last and stand up to any terrain you throw at them, taking good care of them at all times is essential.

We know a thing or two about walking boots and walking shoes, and we understand they’re not throwaway items you want to replace after every outdoor adventure.

To stop your walking boots from looking (and feeling!) old before their time and ensure that they perform just as you need them to, you must do your bit to maintain them and keep them clean.

Read on to find out how to make sure your walking boots stand the test of time…

How to clean your walking boots or shoes


After a busy day’s walking, there’s a good chance your boots may be covered in mud and dirt. While this may give them a rugged, worn-in look, it’s not great for their performance and longevity.

Dirt in the grooves of the sole could mean you have less grip so you could lose your footing, while the accumulation of mud and grime on the upper can affect the waterproofing and breathable nature of the boot.

Therefore, always make sure you give them a wash after heavy use. If it’s been raining, then you can splash them through a puddle to wipe through some wet grass to get some of the mud off.

Use a medium-stiffness brush and warm water to get the rest of the dirt off. It’s best not to use detergents, however, as this can affect the material. Scrape the rest of the mud off the bottom – just be careful if you’re using something sharp.

Remove the laces to really get into the harder-to-reach places, and you can give those a wash while you’re at it.

Drying your walking boots 

Once you’ve given them a good scrub and got all the dirt off, you need to leave them to dry. Don’t leave them next to a fire or radiator, as this can cause leather walking boots to crack and warp, and it probably won’t do synthetic boots much good, either.

Natural drying is much better for your walking boots. Simply stuff them with newspaper to absorb moisture and leave them to dry naturally. Stuffing with newspaper will also help keep the boots’ shape.

Inside your walking boots

Every so often, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the inside of your walking boots. Sweat from your feet can build up in the boot, causing odour and impacting the waterproofing and breathability. 

To clean the inside of your walking boots, simply fill them with lukewarm water and leave them for 12 hours. Then simply pour it away and dry them naturally.

Re-proofing your walking boots

Generally speaking, all hiking boots have some form of waterproof membrane, coating or repellent applied – but that’s not always the case!

After a while, this will slowly start to wear away, which is why you need to re-proof your walking boots or shoes with some of the fantastic waterproofing sprays/washes on the market.

We advise thoroughly cleaning your walking boots or shoes beforehand with a footwear cleaner so that you have a good base to work from. This will ensure the waterproof coating will get into all areas of the boot.

If you have leather walking boots, then the leather will need conditioning to keep it soft and supple and prevent it from cracking, while all walking boots (leather and synthetic) will need an extra coating of waterproofing.

We stock Grangers and Nikwax, both of which have footwear waterproofing products, along with other quality outdoor gear (e.g. tents and waterproof jackets).

This can be applied when the boots are dry or slightly damp, but ensure the boots are clean before applying. Once applied, wipe down with a clean, dry cloth to remove excess.

Pro tip: Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations before applying any waterproofer or conditioner.

For example, GORE-TEX states that any boots featuring their technology shouldn’t be treated further with any sprays or conditioners. This is because it affects breathability – simply washing them will keep them waterproof.

A summary of how to clean walking boots

  • Clean all dirt found on the outside of the walking boots. Wipe through a puddle or wet grass if outside, then clean with lukewarm water and medium stiffness brush. Don’t use detergents.
  • Remove dirt from the bottom of the walking boot.
  • Dry naturally and fill boots with newspaper – don’t force dry with heat.
  • To clean the inside of boots, fill them with warm water, leave overnight, pour away, and dry naturally.
  • Apply conditioner and waterproofer every so often to keep boots supple and maintain optimum levels of waterproofing.

Shop walking boots and shoes at Winfields Outdoors 

Are you looking for the best products to thoroughly clean your walking boots? Or maybe you’re browsing for the perfect replacements. Whatever you’re looking for, we’re confident we have the best options to choose from here at Winfields Outdoors. 

From our extensive selection of children’s and mens walking boots to our premium range of womens walking boots, we stock options to suit all budgets, suitable for all outdoor adventures. 

Explore premium walking shoes and boots from Craghoppers, ECCO, Columbia, Karrimor, Berghaus, Keen and many more trusted outdoor brands today.


1 Comment

  1. Paul travis
    Great advice thanks
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