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How to Clean Hiking Boots

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At Rydale, you know we’re big on quality over quantity. With quality pieces, that means looking after them properly. Footwear, especially, is something we often neglect and can then have a nightmare trying to clean them up. When you’ve invested in a pair of shoes or boots, get the most for your money by cleaning them regularly.

When it comes to hiking boots, the more you keep them clean, the longer they will last and the better the tread will be. Whilst we know you can’t avoid getting them dirty in the great outdoors, the soles need cleaning after every hike or walk. That way, you will get a strong grip whenever you wear them. When mud and dirt starts to clog up on the soles, it becomes harder to remove and takes away from the grippiness of the tread too. What’s the point in having a pair of hiking boots that you can no longer go hiking in?

Women's Walking Boots

In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into how to clean hiking boots properly with our step by step guide. We recommend giving them a thorough clean every couple of months if you wear them sporadically or fortnightly if you wear them daily. The soles should really be given a quick scrub after every wear, just to get rid of excess dirt and stones collected! Keep reading for our top tips!

Give them a wipe down first

Before you give them a proper clean, wiping your boots first should get rid of at least some dirt. Walk through a puddle on the way home if you want to! When you get in, grab a damp cloth that’s not too wet and give them a rub. Don’t put too much pressure as you’re just doing a quick clean. You might need to grab an old toothbrush to remove the dirt wedged into the grooves of the tread. This clean should only take a couple of minutes every time because it’s not a thorough clean and polish! Give them a quick rinse afterwards but do not soak them in water. That will reduce the effectiveness of the waterproof protection if you do this after every wear!

Men's & Ladies Walking Boots

Grab a sturdy brush for tougher grime

If we’re going to look after our hiking boots properly, you’ll need to create a cleaning kit if you will. One of the first things you need is a decent brush. You can buy specific ones for different materials, such as leather or suede, so make sure you buy the right one for your boots. The bristles should be soft and supple, as opposed to a polish buffing brush. Remove the shoelaces, get yourself a bowl of lukewarm water and dip the brush in before brushing your boots. You’ll need to get the brush wet but not saturated, which is why we suggest dipping the brush into water, rather than the boot.

Leave your shoes to dry fully

This is why we suggest cleaning your shoes after you’ve used them! You need to let them air dry to keep them soft. Using heat, such as a hairdryer, will make any material harden, meaning the life of the boot will become much shorter. It’s best to leave them overnight to dry. You can try stuffing dry newspaper inside them to help soak up any moisture; just remember to switch it when it gets wet!

Prolong the life of your boots

The main ways to prolong the life of a pair of boots is to condition and waterproof them. Investing in a decent product of each of these will guarantee that you will get as much time as humanly possible out of your footwear. You should always clean your boots before applying either treatment because they need to be dry beforehand. We don’t recommend using both products at the same time though; leave a couple of days in between if you need to condition and leather boots.

Men's Hiking Boots

For leather conditioning, use a small amount of wax and apply in circular motions. You can always add more wax but if you start off with too much, it will be harder to remove! Make sure you have an even spread of wax across the boot, not forgetting smaller parts such as grooves on the boot or around the shoelace eyelets. Again, leave them to dry naturally once you’re done. It will usually say on the packaging how long it takes for the conditioner or wax to dry but overnight is more than enough time for any product.

When it comes to waterproofing, a spray is the easiest way to use this product. Again, make sure you apply it evenly and use a dry cloth to wipe any excess liquid off, especially on the soles of the boots. Leave them to dry as long as you can and that’s all you have to do!

Clean the insides of your boots

The one area most of us neglect regularly is the inside of our boots. Because we can see the outside, we can tell when footwear needs cleaning. The insides get more wear and tear because they’re closer to our skin, even if you are wearing the thickest socks you own. There are tonnes of hacks, from sprinkling in baking soda overnight, using a shoe disinfectant spray or washing up liquid, water and a toothbrush! Most ways are inexpensive so we recommend trying some of the cheaper alternatives first.

Men's Walking Boots

If you’re going to invest in a decent pair of hiking boots or shoes, why wouldn’t you look after them? Quality footwear only stays high quality if you treat them with care. Investing and making your own shoe care kit means you won’t have to buy a new leather wax every time because you’ve prepared beforehand. It doesn’t have to be expensive and you could even make a kit for one of your country friends or family members as a gift!

Our range of footwear and clothing care products has everything you could possibly need for different materials too, with leather and suede cleaners available along with waterproofers and wash-in cleaners. We offer products that protect most outerwear clothing because when you’re investing in quality clothing and footwear, you should keep it that way by protecting them all!

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