Hiking Boots

How To Clean Smelly Hiking Boots?

To clean smelly hiking boots, start by removing the insoles and laces. Rinse the laces and let them air dry. Use a soft brush to remove loose dirt and debris from the shoes.

Mix warm water with a small amount of mild detergent, and use a soft cloth or brush to scrub the interior and exterior of the boots. Avoid using the washing machine to wash hiking boots.

Rinse thoroughly with clean water and wipe them dry. Stuff the shoes with newspaper to absorb moisture and odor, leaving them to air out in a well-ventilated area.

For persistent odors, sprinkle baking soda inside and let it sit overnight before shaking it out. Avoid direct heat sources to prevent damage.

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Why Hiking Boots Smell?


Boot odor typically arises from moisture retention and bacterial growth. Fungal infections, like athlete’s foot, can further contribute to the unpleasant smell in gore-tex boots.

Inadequate drying, poor ventilation, and certain boot materials can exacerbate the issue.  Enzyme based odor remover helps to eliminate bad smell from walking medical boots 

To prevent boot odor, prioritize foot hygiene, wear moisture-wicking socks, and ensure proper boot ventilation. Employing odor-absorbing remedies like baking soda or cedar shoe trees can help maintain fresh-smelling boots.

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How To Wash Hiking Boots Step-by-Step Guide

To clean the smelly hiking boots:

Gather Supplies

  • Mild detergent or specialized hiking shoe cleaner
  • A soft brush
  • A soft cloth or sponge
  • Warm water
  • Laces (optional: can be cleaned separately)

Remove Insoles and Laces


Take out the insoles and laces from your boots. This makes it easier to clean both the inside and outside of the smelly hiking boots effectively.

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Prep for Cleaning the Smelly Hiking Boots


Knock the boots together to remove loose dirt and debris. Use the soft brush to further wash the exterior, paying attention to seams and crevices.

Interior Cleaning

Interior Cleaning
  1. Mix warm water with a small amount of mild detergent or specialized boot cleaner.
  2. Dampen a soft cloth or sponge with the soapy water, then wring it out so it’s not dripping.
  3. Gently scrub the interior of the boots, including the tongue and insole, to remove dirt, sweat, and odor.
  4. Rinse with clean water or wipe with a damp cloth to remove soap residue.

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Exterior Cleaning

Exterior Cleaning
  1. Dip the soft brush into the soapy water and gently scrub the exterior of the boots, paying extra attention to areas with stubborn stains.
  2. Rinse the boots thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap residues.

Laces Cleaning (Optional)

If your laces are dirty or smelly, you can soak them in soapy water or replace them if necessary.

Rinse and air dry the laces separately. You can check out the best hiking boots with red laces.


Stuff your clean, damp boots with newspaper to absorb moisture and help them maintain their shape.

Leave the shoes in a well-ventilated area to air dry. Avoid direct heat sources like heaters or direct sunlight, as excessive heat can damage the materials.

Deodorize (Optional)

If lingering odors persist, sprinkle baking soda inside the boots and let it sit overnight. Shake out the excess baking soda from the boots. the next day.

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Condition (Optional)

After the boots are completely dry, consider applying a leather conditioner or waterproofing treatment to maintain their quality and performance.

Reassemble The Cleaned Hiking Boots

Once everything is dry and fresh, reinsert the insoles and laces into your washed and cleaned hiking boots.

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Some Hacks To Remove Smell From Hiking Boots


Removing foul odors from boots can be done effectively with these hacks:

Baking Soda

Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda inside the boots and leave it overnight. Shake out the excess in the morning. Baking soda absorbs moisture and neutralizes odors.

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Activated Charcoal

Place activated charcoal pouches or sachets inside the shoes to absorb odors. Replace them periodically.

Freeze Them

Put your boots in a plastic bag and place them in the freezer overnight. The cold temperature kills odor-causing bacteria. Let them thaw and air out before wearing.

Tea Bags

Insert unused tea bags (especially black tea or herbal varieties) into your boots. Tea contains tannins that can help absorb odors.

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Cedar Shoe Trees

Cedar shoe trees not only help maintain the shape of your boots but also absorb moisture and odors.

Vinegar Spray

Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz the interior of your boots and let them air dry. Vinegar helps kill bacteria and neutralize odors. And vinegar helps to keep your smelly hiking boots clean.

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Dryer Sheet 

Place a dryer sheet in each hiking shoe. They can impart a pleasant scent while neutralizing odors.

Essential Oils

Add a few drops of essential oils like lavender, tea tree, or eucalyptus on a cotton ball and place them inside the boots. These oils have antibacterial properties and leave a fresh scent.

Sunlight and Fresh Air

Place your boots in direct sunlight and fresh air for several hours. UV rays and natural airflow can help eliminate odors.

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Alcohol Spray

Mix rubbing alcohol with water in a 1:1 ratio and spray it inside your boots. Allow them to dry thoroughly. Alcohol kills bacteria and evaporates quickly, leaving no residue.

Cat Litter

Fill old socks with clean cat litter (non-clumping) and place them in your hiking shoes. Cat litter absorbs moisture and odors effectively.

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Boot Deodorizers

Consider using commercial boot deodorizer products specifically designed to tackle odors.

Why is it Necessary to Keep Hiking Boots Clean?


Keeping your boots clean is essential for several reasons:


Clean boots help prevent the buildup of bacteria and fungi that can thrive in damp, dirty environments. This reduces the risk of foot infections and bad odors.


Dirty boots can cause discomfort by creating pressure points, blisters, or chafing. Clean hiking boots maintain their original shape and cushioning, providing better support for your feet during hikes.

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Dirt and debris can accelerate wear and tear on your boots. Regular washing helps maintain the structural integrity, ensuring they last longer and provide reliable performance.

What Kind of Gears Do You Need For Hiking?


A clean hiking shoes with a well-maintained tread pattern offers better traction, especially on slippery or uneven terrain. This enhances your safety during outdoor activities.


Clean boots look better and are more presentable. If you use them for both outdoor adventures and casual wear, keeping them clean ensures they remain versatile and stylish.

Odour Control

Dirty boots tend to develop unpleasant odors over time due to the accumulation of sweat and bacteria. Washing helps eliminate these odors, keeping your feet and gear smelling fresh.

Prevent Contamination

If you hike in various environments, keeping your boots clean can prevent the transfer of contaminants (like invasive plant seeds or harmful microorganisms) from one location to another, helping preserve the natural environment.


Boot odor is a common issue caused primarily by moisture retention and bacterial proliferation. When your feet perspire, the moisture becomes trapped inside the boots, creating an environment conducive to the growth of odor-producing bacteria.

Proper boot care involves prioritizing foot hygiene, choosing moisture-wicking socks, allowing boots to thoroughly dry between uses, and selecting well-ventilated footwear. Utilizing odor-absorbing solutions such as baking soda or cedar shoe trees can effectively combat and prevent boot odor from walking shoes.

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