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How to clean smelly hiking boots

It is imperative to take good care of your hiking boots in case you intend to use them for long. Hey, they are costly. Still, the last thing you need is to put on stinking boots for an awesome time in the jungle. Here is an exclusive guide on how to clean smelly hiking boots.

The rugged outdoor environment, which is synonymous with dirt, mud, snow, or water, is bound to take a toll on your boots. Keep in mind that hiking boots are designed to protect your feet.  They prevent water from penetrating the insole thus keeping the feet warm and comfortable. Therefore, dumping your dirty hiking boots in a closed door after a grueling hiking trip would be a bad idea.

1. Wash with warm water and mild soap

How to clean smelly hiking boots

Just like normal hiking boots or shoes, you need to eliminate any dirt that might be accumulated on the exterior or interior. This is possible with mild soap and warm water. Remove insoles from your boots prior to this step.

The insoles have to be whisked through soapy water too. Thereafter, the outside and inside of the boot should be wiped with a washcloth. Drying comes up next. It is essential to curb the build-up of microorganisms.

2. Soak the boots in baking soda overnight

This step will get rid of the nasty odor. Add a little baking soda into the boots’ bottom and let it stay overnight. The baking soda has to be sprinkled between the midsole and toe regions. It will not only absorb but also neutralize the foul smell within the boots.

3. Apply disinfecting spray

Next, you will have to disinfect the boots. The essence of treating each boot with disinfecting agents is to kill any lingering fungi or bacteria. These two are responsible for the bad odor.

You can buy a disinfecting spray or utilize a homemade one. Vinegar, alcohol, and essential oils are perfect for a homemade disinfectant.

4. Mask lingering odors

How to clean smelly hiking boots

It is impossible to get rid of the smell in one blow. You will still smell subtle odors even after putting the problem to bed. This is where essential oils come in. They are natural fragrant known to mask unwanted odors. Tea tree, peppermint, or rosemary oil would be ideal in this case. A few drops of any of these oils will give your boots a freshly pleasant smell.

FAQs :

Check out the detailed answers to some of the common questions relating to the maintenance of hiking boots below:

How do you disinfect hiking boots?

Sprinkling vinegar inside your hiking boots for a few hours will promote disinfection. Likewise, you can wipe it with a cloth damped in alcohol. To top it off, you can use essential oils.

Why do my boots smell so bad?

Sweat is the main reason why boots smell bad. Although sweating occurs all over the body, there are more than 25,000 sweat glands on every foot. This implies that your feet produce a lot of sweat into your boots yet there is no significant way to curb that.

Unfortunately, sweat creates a perfect breeding ground for fungi and bacteria particularly in humid or hot weather conditions. Besides that, your boots are likely to smell if water sips through the insole. Moisture will surely promote the buildup of fungi and bacteria.

How do you clean smelly leather boots?

You can eliminate bad odor from your leather shoes by spraying vinegar on the inside of the boot. In addition to that, sprinkle it with baking soda prior to an excursion and pour it out afterward.  Baking soda is known for its deodorizing properties. It will absorb the bad smell from the boots.

How do you waterproof hiking boots?

As much as most hiking boots are made with durable water repellent (DWR) the agent wears out over time. You have to replace them occasionally to make the boots effective. First, you need to clean them up. This is because dirt prevents the waterproofing treatment from being absorbed into the boot. Moreover, the treatment holds best on a dumb or wet surface.

Normally, Boots are made from fabric, suede, and leather among other materials. Ensure that the treatment is right for your boots. Of course, the insoles and laces ought to be removed. Thereafter, apply the waterproofing treatment on the boots’ surface.

Can you wash your keen hiking boots?

It is possible to wash keen hiking boots with the help of a little cold water alongside mild soap. For the best performance, try a soap formulated specifically for the material. Likewise, you need a soft brush. While washing, it is crucial to clean or dry the insoles, laces, and boots separately.

How do you deodorize boots?

There are several ways to deodorize your hiking boots. At the top of the list are deodorizers. However, they are a temporary solution since they simply mask the bad odor rather than eliminate it. On the same note, you can use odor eliminators that work in a similar fashion to deodorizers.

The best solution for smelly boots is baking soda. Sprinkle several teaspoons of baking soda into your smelly boots and let it stay overnight. If the boots still have a foul smell after 24 hours, give the process another shot for a longer duration.

How can I make my boots smell better?

In order to kill the smell, you will have to wash the boots in soapy warm water. Remember to look out for the manufacturer’s warning or cleaning instructions. After that, rinse them using a damp cloth. The cloth should be damped in alcohol for the sake of killing any remaining bacteria.

When the rinsing process is over, move on to drying. Next, stuff the boots with crumpled newspapers and place them in an area that is dry and well ventilated. Let the boots dry with the stuffed newspaper for 24 hours. The stuffing should be replaced daily for three to five days while the boots dry up.


Smelly hiking boots should be the least of your worry with the guide above. Do not forget to condition your hiking boots – if they are made of leather – after cleaning. Conditioning prevents the boots from getting dry.

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