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How to Clean Dirty Hiking Boots


Hiking boots and shoes are meant to get dirty.

A squeaky clean boot is a sign that your adventures are obviously not epic enough.

However, in order to prolong their life, it is important to clean your hiking boots when they get dirty. Dirt and caked-on mud can prematurely dry out leather, and can abrade the fibers of your shoes, making them wear out faster. Luckily, it’s easy to clean your hiking shoes and boots once you know how.

In order to demonstrate a near worst-case scenario, these fabulous Oboz Bridger Mid hiking boots were thoroughly muddied and left to dry out.

How to clean a (very) dirty hiking boot:

1. Knock off or brush off all chunks of dirt. Do this outside or into a garbage bin. Use a stiff-bristled brush to help get into cracks (boot eyelets love to hang onto crud).

2. Remove shoelaces. This will help you clean the tongue more effectively. You can also wash the laces for extra bonus points.

3. Stuff your boot with paper towel or a hand towel. This will soak up any extra water that might find its way into your boots during washing, and thereby help your shoes dry faster later.4. Rinse your boots clear of any debris with water. If you use an indoor sink, be sure you got most of the dirt chunks off first so you don’t clog your drain/anger your housemates. 5. Scrub-a-dub your boots with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. It will help remove embedded dirt and prepare your boots for any waterproofing you might want to add. 6. Rinse Cleaning Gel off boots. 7. Add some waterproofing if you fancy (why not?!)  For these boots Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof  Spray-On was applied while still wet.8. Let dry and Ta DA! Now you have clean and (if you waterproofed them) waterproof hiking boots.








  1. You’re “worse case scenario” boots are way cleaner then my “Pennsylvania spring thaw” boots currently are.

    • Hey Sandy! Those boots must be REEEALLLYY dirty then! Best of luck on the cleaning process. It does NOT sound fun at all. 😉

      Thanks for reading! – Brennon

  2. Can I use the Nubuck and suede proofing on my cross country skiing gloves and mitts that don’t have a leather palm, but something that resembles nubuck?

    • Hey Dorrie! Yes! Our products are designed with fabrics in mind, not necessarily just specific garment types, so if you have textured leather (nubuck or suede) on your garments of various types, it has the same, desired effect…water repellency! Hope that helps! – Brennon

  3. WOW! looks great! I’m a fisherman,so you surely understand how important waterproofing is for me. looking forward to trying out these(seem to be) great products

    • Hey Danny! Yes, you are definitely in a line of work that will benefit greatly from staying dry. Let us know how it goes for you. We’d love to hear your feedback, once you’ve tried a few products! Thanks for reading! – Brennon

  4. I am off to buy the waterproofing nikwax for my WCT May hike!

    • Hey Carmen! We love that! That will be an amazing trip. Let us know how everything goes. We’d love to hear from you afterwards! Thanks for reading. – Brennon

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