Dirty hiking boots are a sign of a good time. 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 fabric and leather, and can abrade the fibers of your shoes, making them wear out faster. Additionally, it’s important to re-waterproof hiking boots to keep them performing their best. Luckily, it’s easy to clean and re-waterproof your hiking shoes and boots once you know how.

For your educational pleasure, these La Sportiva GORE-TEX hiking boots were volunteered for a cleaning and waterproofing. They trekked many miles this summer and have the dirt to show it.

How to clean your (very) dirty hiking boots:

  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. Rinse your boots clear of any debris with water. Try to get those big chunks of dirt off before hand so you don’t clog up your sink!
  4. Grab Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel, shake thoroughly, then press down on the sponge applicator to break the seal (if it’s new!)
  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.

How to re-waterproof your (now clean) hiking boots:

  1. Grab  Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proof (great for all fabric, leather or combination footwear). Shake thoroughly, then press down on the sponge applicator to break the seal.
  2. Apply the waterproofing all over your boots to ensure your feet stay nice and dry! Let sit for a few minutes, then wipe off any excess product.
  3. Let dry completely!
  4. Put the laces back in and enjoy your clean and (if you waterproofed them) waterproof hiking boots that are ready for their next adventure!


2 thoughts on “How to Clean and Re-waterproof Hiking Boots”

  1. Hello! I’ve recently washed a pair of new La Sportiva Uragano GTX Winter Trail Running Shoes with water and regular (mild) hand soap.. Result: the DWR might be damaged as they soak up water relatively quickly once exposed to snow, mud or rain.
    I wish I had known I should have used a specific product like Nikwax..
    Now, the question is: have I definitely ruined the shoes, or can I still get it back as new using Nikwax (Gel+ Fabric Proof)?
    Thank you very much for helping!

    1. Hi Edo! No worries- you can absolutely revitalize those shoes by cleaning first with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel, and then re-waterproofing with Fabric & Leather Proof. Nikwax cleaners not only get rid of dirt and crud, they also get rid of any soap/detergent residue left behind by other cleaners. Happy trails!

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