Hiking Boot Cleaning 101

Taking proper care of your gear can extend its lifespan. Cleaning your hiking boots after every use is a crucial part of that.

Merrell’s Associate Product Line Manager, Jon Sanregret, shares his step-by-step boot cleaning routine to help you get the most miles from your boots:

  1. Remove laces and insoles to air out separately. Insoles collect bacteria and odors, so giving them time to breathe reduces this.
  2. Wipe away surface dirt and debris with a damp cloth. Don’t force it if some dirt or mud doesn’t come off right away. That’s what a good cleaner is for!
  3. Apply your preferred cleaner and give them a good scrub. Brush your boots with a suede brush so you don’t damage any leather areas. Then wipe the boot clean with a damp cloth. Repeat the process until dirt is gone.
  4. Sprinkle some water on the upper of your boot to test to see if water still beads down the outside of the boot. If not, it’s time to apply a waterproofing agentWaterproofing wears off over time. This is totally normal! Checking every once in a while, and reapplying when needed, ensures your feet will stay dryer on wet or muddy trails.
  5. Apply Leather Lotion to keep your boots hydrated.
  6. Allow boots to air dry. Don’t put them near a heater or else leather areas can dry out and crack!
  7. Replace dry insoles and laces.
  8. Store your boots in a dry space at room temperature.

While your boots seem as tough as nails, the material can still crack, stain, dry and warp if not cared for properly. Following this step-by-step cleaning process gives your boots the durability to last. More importantly, it keeps them prepped and ready for your next hike or outdoor excursion.