The way to Clear Climbing Footwear & Boots

The way to Clear Climbing Footwear & Boots

The way to Clear Climbing Footwear & Boots
Closeup of a hiker's feet crossing a creek in a muddy pair of Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 hiking boots
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

Conserving outside gear clear isn’t at all times handy, and muddy mountain climbing sneakers are sometimes the very last thing we wish to wash. Nonetheless, anybody who’s needed to pull on a pair of crusty boots is aware of that just a little upkeep goes a good distance. 

A number of quick and easy steps can lengthen the lifetime of your boots and assure they’re prepared for any journey. On this information, we stroll you thru tips on how to maintain your footwear – so your footwear can maintain you.

Why Clear Climbing Footwear & Boots?

Identical to you would possibly wish to clear off after an extended hike, your boots and sneakers additionally require common cleansing and care. Over time dust, mud, and moisture can infiltrate weak threading, seams alongside the only, and the material of the uppers. These particles speed up the damage and tear in your boots and can finally break down the shoe development. Nonetheless, routine upkeep can sluggish and stop injury.

Clear sneakers imply a extra snug and wholesome atmosphere to your toes. Constant cleansing prevents the expansion of micro organism and retains your sneakers dry and odor-free. Even in a mountain climbing tradition that wears dust and sweat as a badge of honor, there’s no glory in moist, filthy, or tremendous smelly sneakers.

A clear shoe can simply flex, breathe, and transfer together with your foot the way in which it was designed, as an alternative of preventing in opposition to caked particles. As well as, clear sneakers have higher grip. Mud-covered soles cut back traction and improve the chance of slips and falls. Over time, lingering gravel, dust, and sand can passively destroy the lug sample by degrading the rubber.

Looking down a a circle of muddy hiking shoes and boots
Picture credit score: Dave Collins (

Do I Want To Wash My Climbing Footwear or Boots?

The reply is: most likely! Listed here are methods to inform if it’s time to scrub your footwear.

  • Seasonal We advocate a deep clear of your mountain climbing boots or sneakers at the very least twice a yr for average use and a couple of to three occasions a month for a pair in heavy rotation. For those who put on the identical boots a number of occasions per week via a mountain climbing season, it’s been greater than 30 days, or you possibly can’t keep in mind once they have been final cleaned, time is up.
  • Dust – If any a part of your sneakers or boots are nonetheless caked with final weekend’s romp via the woods and you’ll nonetheless see apparent dust, gravel, sand, or different particles, a lightweight cleansing won’t minimize it.
  • Scent – Each leather-based and artificial supplies harbor odor-causing micro organism, particularly as soon as they’re moist. Moisture, whether or not it’s from sweat, a river crossing, or a shock thunderstorm, could cause the froth and material to reek. Don’t ignore that funky odor.
  • Climate – How typically you clear your footwear is dependent upon the time of yr and the season once you’re most energetic:
  • Summer time – The warmth of summer season typically means sweatier toes and stinkier sneakers. A low-maintenance spot clear with cleaning soap and water, wiping your sneakers clear, and utilizing odor-eliminating ways (like baking soda) could also be all that’s wanted.
  • Spring and Fall – In shoulder seasons, you’re prone to encounter all situations together with rain, snow, and dirt, making for messier sneakers and common cleansing. Whereas it’s unreasonable to scrub your sneakers each time they get moist, spring and fall hikes require giving your sneakers extra consideration. We advocate a deeper clear after actually muddy or mucky adventures, and a spot cleansing as wanted after wet or moist hikes.
  • Winter – Moist, chilly, and snowy hikes require aware cleansing habits. Climbing in winter typically means your footwear shall be chilly and moist. For artificial gear, take waterproofing steps and ensure your boots are absolutely dry earlier than storing. For leather-based uppers, meaning constant reapplication of conditioner and waterproof sprays as typically as wanted to maintain leather-based robust and moisturized.
A pair of muddy Obōz Bridger hiking boots on the kitchen counter with cleaning supplies including a toothbrush, Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof, white vinegar, Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel, Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, and a sponge
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

Supplies Wanted

You want just a few objects to maintain your mountain climbing footwear in tip-top form: 

  • Clear water – Water from a clear family supply.
  • Delicate cleaning soap – Keep away from “common” bar soaps, hand soaps, and detergents with heavy fragrances and dyes. These merchandise can stain, strip, and injury the membranes in leather-based and artificial supplies. We advocate an unscented, non-detergent, delicate dish cleaning soap like Dawn Soap Free & Clear or a fundamental castile cleaning soap like Dr. Bronners Unscented.
  • Vinegar – Diluted with water to take away stains and remove smells.
  • Footwear-specific cleaners – There are glorious merchandise made for cleansing each leather-based and artificial choices. Relying on the shoe materials, you might want greater than only a cleaner.
  • Bucket – A sink, bucket, or any container to combine water and cleaning soap.
  • Cleansing instruments:
    • Toothbrush – An previous toothbrush to scrub small crevices and particulars.
    • Comfortable Bristle Brush – A big brush to wash materials with out damaging it.
    • Clear material or sponge – To wipe the floor of the shoe.
  • Drying instruments:
    • Baking Soda – Useful in absorbing and neutralizing odors.
    • Paper Towels – Place inside moist sneakers to soak up extra moisture.
    • Shoe Bushes – Maintains the form of shoes or sneakers and holds footwear open as they dry.
    • Shoe / Boot Dryer or Fan – Quickens the drying course of and cuts drying time in half.
A pair of dirty Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 hiking boots on the kitchen counter with a bucket, rag, sponge, toothbrush, bristle brush, baking soda, and paper towels
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

Spot Cleansing Climbing Footwear & Boots

Generally all of your mountain climbing sneakers or boots want is an attentive spot clear. For those who’re crunched for time otherwise you’re simply between hikes, a lightweight cleansing is a quick solution to refresh your boots. 

  1. Examine – After each hike, look over extremely dirty areas externally just like the outsole, sides, and higher for notable grime or injury.
  2. Knock off – Take away any giant quantities of caked or clumped dust, gravel, or apparent particles with fingers or a dry brush.
  3. Spot clear – Fill a bucket with 5 elements water to 1 half cleaning soap. For an efficient small-area cleansing on the surface of the shoe, soak a clear material or sponge then gently scrub the shoe till all dirty areas are lathered and cleaned. 
  4. Brush – Subsequent, use a soft-bristle brush or a toothbrush to work the cleaning soap into the affected space.
  5. Spot rinse – Utilizing heat water, clear the soapy areas. Ensure all cleaning soap is eliminated. 
  6. Air dry– Loosen the laces, take away the insole, open the sneakers, and depart the pair in a heat, dry place to air out earlier than storing. Think about using a fan or shoe dryer to hurry up the method. This may take wherever from 12 to 72 hours.
  7. Struggle the stink – This can be a useful step for any lingering scents. Combine 1 half water to 1 half vinegar and calmly spray the inside of the shoe. Or, place a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in a muslin bag, previous sock, or espresso filters to go away within the shoe till they’re dry. The baking soda will take in lingering smells and take in extra moisture. 

Deep Cleansing Climbing Footwear & Boots

Completely different materials require barely totally different cleansing steps. Figuring out what your mountain climbing boot is constructed from can assist inform how, and the way typically, you’ll want to scrub your footwear. To seek out the composition of your shoe, take a look at the within of the higher tongue or hop onto the producer’s web site. Ensure to comply with any warnings or guidelines about cleansing your footwear.

To revitalize your favourite boots, comply with these steps. This cleansing course of will work for many mountain climbing sneakers and boots together with leather-based or artificial uppers, waterproof and Gore-Tex supplies, and insulated boots.

  1. Put together your footwear – Begin by knocking off any seen dried or unfastened particles and dust. Subsequent, take away the insoles and laces from each sneakers, so you possibly can clear each nook and cranny.
  1. Cleansing laces and insoles – Most shoe laces and insoles will be washed with delicate cleaning soap and water.
    1. Rinse – Maintain each insoles and laces below a stream of water to take away main particles and apparent dust. 
    2. Wipe – Wipe down the laces with a lukewarm, moist, soapy material. Do the identical with insoles.
    3. Soak – Soak laces and insoles for five to 10 minutes in a bucket or container of heat, soapy water.
    4. Rinse once more – Run soles and laces below water to take away all cleaning soap and cleaning soap residue.
    5. Vinegar spritz– We advocate a mixture of 4 elements water to 1 half vinegar to de-stink your shoe sole. Spray this resolution throughout the highest of the insole to forestall smells and kill any lingering micro organism.
    6. Dry – Place insoles and laces on a dry material to air-dry. By no means use a warmth supply to hurry up the drying course of and permit them to dry fully.
A hiker applying Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to their damp Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 shoes with laces removed
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
  1. Cleansing the surface
    1. Water Moist down all the shoe or boot with a sponge or material. Actually soiled sneakers would possibly want a hose, however often, a bucket of heat water or a faucet over a big sink is sufficient. 
    2. Soak – For particularly gnarly instances, think about leaving your mountain climbing boots or sneakers absolutely submerged in a bucket of heat water to soak for 10-Quarter-hour. The water will break down the muck and penetrate the shoe, making it simpler to scrub. When time is up, take a soft-bristle brush and scrub the surface of the shoe to loosen any grime. Empty the bucket and refill it. Repeat this soaking course of till the water stays principally clear.
    3. Cleaning soap and water – For those who’re utilizing cleaning soap, combine 1 half delicate dish cleaning soap or castile cleaning soap with 5 elements water. Utilizing a clear material or sponge, gently wash the only and the higher of the boot. Give further consideration to high-use areas inclined to break from dust buildup just like the seam of the soles, the toe cap, and across the lace eyelets. Cleaning soap up all the shoe from backside to high, working your manner round each a part of the shoe till it’s foamy to the collar of the shoe. 
    4. Cleansing gels and sprays – For those who’re utilizing a cleansing gel or spray, open the product and comply with the instructions on the label. Within the case of Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel open the cap, break the seal, and apply the bottle straight onto the footwear. The bottle distributes cleansing resolution with stress, and bristles across the rim can be utilized to scrub the boot straight. For sprays, douse the higher and outsole of the shoe and use a sponge or damp material to therapeutic massage the answer into the shoe.
    5. Brush – With the cleaning soap or cleansing gel nonetheless on the shoe, dampen a big, soft-bristle brush and apply it to the sudsy exterior of the boot. Transferring in small circles, work across the complete shoe, together with the only. The purpose is to scrub each seam, fold, and overlay on the shoe. For small areas just like the lacing eyelets and tongue, use a toothbrush to take away grime.
    6. Rinse – As soon as the surface of the shoe is roofed in cleansing resolution, rinse it off. You possibly can absolutely submerge the mountain climbing boot or shoe in water to make sure cleaning soap is faraway from each seam. Keep away from leaving any cleaning soap that might dry out or injury the fabric.
A pair of Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 soaking in a clear storage box full of water with bottles of Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap and white vinegar beside it on the table
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
  1. Cleansing the within – The within of most mountain climbing sneakers or boots is a comfortable materials lining the higher, hooked up to a tricky midsole. To wash it:
    1. Fabric – Use a moist, comfortable material. Keep away from brushes to forestall injury to the comfortable inner material.
    2. No cleaning soap – We don’t advocate cleaning soap as a result of it may be troublesome to take away, and would possibly linger within the absorbent inside material. Use solely water or a water/vinegar resolution as an alternative.
    3. Vinegar – For further smell-reducing energy, we advocate a mixture of 4 elements water to 1 half vinegar. Use this as the first resolution to scrub the within of the mountain climbing shoe or boot.
    4. Hand-clean – Making use of stress, dab and wipe the inside of the shoe in a round movement, transferring from toe to heel. Methodically wipe down all the inside the shoe with the fabric.
A pair of La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX hiking boots next to a sink for cleaning with a brush, soap, baking soda, a rag, sponge, and towel
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
  1. Insulated boots – Insulated boots typically have a further liner to retain physique warmth. We advocate eradicating and soaking this liner in a cleaning soap and water resolution like in step 2b and drying it individually from the remainder of the boot earlier than changing. In any other case, you possibly can comply with the identical steps as above to scrub even your heaviest winter boots.
  2. Stain and mildew removing – Had been your sneakers saved moist and have mildew injury? Are they coated in cussed oil or grass stains, dust, or scuff marks? Vinegar is the reply. Vinegar is delicate on most materials, kills mildew spores, and if it doesn’t take away the injury from a stain, it is going to possible lighten any discoloration. This resolution is protected for each leather-based and artificial sneakers.
    1. Combine We advocate a combination of 4 elements water to 1 half vinegar.
    2. Clear – Utilizing a comfortable material or brush, work the vinegar resolution deep into the material of the outsole the place the stain or mildew is. Repeat till the realm is totally soaked. Let sit for five minutes.
    3. Repeat – Repeat 2-3 occasions. 
    4. Rinse – Wash the answer off with water. Ensure vinegar is faraway from the fabric.
Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof next to a pair of Bogs ankle boots in a kitchen
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
  1. Leather-based conditioning – When you have leather-based boots, this step is for you. When you have artificial boots, transfer to step 8.

Conditioning is a should to ensure your leather-based boots keep cozy, modern, and useful. Over time, the pure oils within the leather-based dry out. Dry leather-based turns into brittle and stiff. It will definitely cracks and splits whereas supple, hydrated leather-based stays sturdy and waterproof for years.

Make sure to apply leather-based conditioner instantly after cleansing. Your boots ought to nonetheless be moist from washing. We advocate Nikwax Liquid Conditioner For Leather. Like the opposite merchandise within the Nikwax line, open the cap, break the seal, and apply the bottle like an outsized glue stick. Ensure to cowl all elements of the leather-based. Give the conditioner 2 to three hours to soak in, then transfer on to the subsequent step. 

Nikwax Products lined up on a wooden table with a brush, sponge, hiking boots, and a down jacket
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
  1. Waterproofing – The extra you utilize waterproof boots, the extra typically you’ll have to repeat this course of – particularly in moist situations. Be aware that not all mountain climbing boots and sneakers want waterproofing, so be sure you verify producer care ideas earlier than including any product to your sneakers. Waterproofing your sneakers is quick, straightforward, and the final step earlier than drying.
    1. Artificial, Hybrid, and Leather-based – We advocate a catch-all product like Nikwax Fabric and Leather Waterproofing Spray. Open the cap and spray the bottle straight onto footwear. You’ll wish to cowl the higher of your shoe or boot. Make sure the combination reaches all seams and corners.
    2. Leather-based – For all-leather uppers, we favor Nikwax Waterproofing Wax For Leather. This liquid wax is massaged into the leather-based and creates a strong defend that helps your leather-based boots resist the weather and last more.
    3. Nubuck or Suede – Nubuck leather-based is extra reasonably priced than full grain leather-based, however significantly extra fragile. Like suede, Nubuck’s positive texture, skinny membrane, and comfortable really feel make it extra liable to stains, water injury, and discoloration than artificial or full-grain leather-based options. Nonetheless, it’s not unusual for these supplies for use on high-end sneakers. For Nubuck leather-based or suede, think about Nikwax Nubuck and Suede Waterproofing Spray for an additional layer of safety. 

Drying Your Climbing Footwear

Permitting your boots to dry out fully provides longevity and freshness to your subsequent journey. Storing moist sneakers can result in everlasting injury and protracted odors. Endurance is the important thing after a deep cleansing. You’ll have to price range 1 to 4 days to your sneakers to totally dry.

Air dry – It’s this straightforward: depart your boots indoors at room temperature till they’re dry. Place them on a shoe rack or a location with good air flow to forestall stagnant air or smells.

Paper towels – Stuff bunched-up paper towels or newspaper inside moist sneakers to soak up extra moisture for the primary half-hour of drying. Make sure the paper isn’t so tightly packed that there’s no airflow. After half an hour, take away and discard the paper towels.

Shoe bushes – We advocate utilizing a pair of inexpensive shoe trees to carry your mountain climbing boots or sneakers open as they dry. Shoe bushes assist preserve footwear’s pure form via the heel and toe.

No warmth – Keep away from utilizing warmth to dry your mountain climbing boots or sneakers. By no means dry your footwear close to radiators, on high of heaters, or subsequent to a fireplace. Direct, intense warmth sources can soften artificial materials, weaken adhesives, and result in cracks and warping in leather-based. If the warmth supply is just too intense, it may even distort the form of rubber soles and disfigure the lug sample. 

Fan or vent – To hurry up the method, place your sneakers close to a flooring fan on excessive, or 1 to 2 toes from an indoor vent. Extra airflow will assist the drying course of.

Boot dryer – To dramatically pace up drying occasions, we advocate a reliable boot dryer. These units quietly blow lukewarm air into your boots with tiny followers for many air flow. Boot dryers can minimize drying occasions in half. That makes them ultimate for commonly washing boots or for people who want dry boots for an journey the subsequent day.

Struggle the stink – When sneakers are midway performed drying, think about these extra steps to forestall lingering scents. We advocate:

  • Vinegar – Vinegar is a strong deodorant that may kill fungus, micro organism, mildew, and different odor-causing microorganisms. Combine 1 half water to 1 half vinegar in a sprig bottle, and calmly spray the inside of the shoe earlier than it’s dry. Don’t soak the fabric. Depart the answer to air dry with the remainder of the shoe for a impartial, crisp scent afterwards.
  • Baking soda – Baking soda may deodorize your shoe because it dries, and can help with moisture absorption. For simple cleanup, we advocate a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in a reusable pouch, espresso filter, or previous sock. Depart this small bundle within the boots till dry. Plus, you possibly can proceed utilizing these baking soda odor eliminators for weeks. Or should you don’t thoughts the mess, sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons straight into the shoe itself and shake to cowl the within of the shoe. 
A hiker standing on a red rock in Glacier in the HOKA Speedgoat 5 hiking shoes
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

Storage Ideas

The way you retailer your most beneficial mountain climbing gear is as necessary as maintaining it clear and maintained.

Cool and dry – Over time, direct daylight and excessive chilly or scorching temperatures can weaken adhesives, compromise materials, and deteriorate rubber compounds. Hold your mountain climbing boots in a cool, dry place like a closet or shoe rack.

Pests – If pests like rodents or bugs are a problem the place you reside, think about storing sneakers in a boot field or mud bag for just a little further safety – however by no means in a vacuum or compression sack.

Compression is dangerous – Boots saved with heavy objects on high, or in a pile with different footwear, will lose their form. Compression can wreck the integrity of the supplies. Your boot was possible compressed if it has a smashed or lopsided look, doesn’t return to its preliminary form, or doesn’t match the way it as soon as did after a winter in a shoe pile. We advocate storing boots in an upright and open place and in a devoted place in your home. For those who’re involved about your shoe shedding form, think about using inexpensive shoe trees to forestall your favourite hikers from changing into misshapen throughout storage.

Air is nice – Moisture buildup is your mountain climbing boots’ enemy. Keep away from storing boots in damp garages, sheds, or crawlspaces. To maximise air flow of the boot when not in use, take away insoles, loosen boot laces, and open the tongue so there’s airflow across the shoe.

Closeup of a brand new pair of Salomon XR Mission hiking shoes
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (
Closeup of the toes of a pair of very well worn hiking shoes
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

Injury Management

As soon as a month, we advocate assessing mountain climbing sneakers for indicators of damage, injury, or separation from the uppers. Even probably the most innocuous hike could cause surprising put on and tear. Common inspection prevents additional injury from roots and rocks.

Injury to uppers – Most often, main tears and rips to the higher of a mountain climbing boot are unrepairable. On a hike, you would possibly have the ability to carry out a short lived repair with duct tape, however we advocate at all times carrying a light-weight, high-quality gear material patch like Tenacious Tape. In the long run, you’ll want new sneakers. 

Injury to soles For injury on the soles of your footwear, we advocate a long-lasting sealant gel like Gear Aid Aquaseal SR. This can be a tremendous robust adhesive that acts as a second pores and skin for worn soles. A powerful sealant can quickly patch splits between the higher and the only, re-seal a peeling toecap, or add life to blown tread lugs.

Worn soles – Don’t change, resole. Many manufacturers provide quick, reasonably priced, and efficient resoling companies. This can be a nice choice for sturdy sneakers the place the higher remains to be in fine condition, however the tread has worn down.

View of the sole of hiker's dirty Obōz Bridger Waterproof hiking boot and they walk down a muddy trail in the woods
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

The Backside Line

Sustaining your mountain climbing sneakers is necessary. Fortunately, a fast wash and scrub will work wonders since muck, grime, and odors are not any match for a easy cleansing routine. 

With the correct merchandise and steps, cleansing your boots and sneakers will be straightforward and quick. An efficient cleansing schedule prevents injury and retains your footwear each micro organism and stink-free. Plus, it extends the lifespan of your favourite boots.

Cleansing your mountain climbing sneakers is a small effort with an enormous payoff – so don’t procrastinate. It’s step one in direction of your subsequent nice outside journey.

A hiker crossing a creek in the Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3 hiking shoes with a marbled mountain in the background
Picture credit score: Heather Eldridge (

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Make sure to try the CleverHiker Gear Information the place our group of specialists exams and opinions the very best outside journey tools in the marketplace – so that you don’t need to. Listed here are different articles you would possibly like: