How to Clean Hiking Shoes – 5 Easy Steps

Hiking shoes quickly become dirty from mud, dirt, and debris picked up on the trail. Regular cleaning keeps hiking shoes in top condition, extending their life. With just a few simple tools and supplies, you can have your hiking shoes looking like new again.

Before getting started, gather the following cleaning supplies:

  • An old toothbrush or shoebrush
  • Dish soap or laundry detergent
  • Bucket of water
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Stiff scrub brush
  • Old towel

Now let’s go through the 5 easy steps to clean hiking shoes:

Step 1: Remove Laces and Insoles

The first step is to remove the laces and insoles from your hiking shoes. Taking out the insoles allows you to clean the insides more effectively. Removing laces prevents them from getting excessively dirty in the cleaning process.

Step 2: Rinse Away Debris

Use a bucket of water to rinse off loose dirt and debris from the upper shoe and outsole. Focus on removing mud and large chunks of dirt by gently scrubbing with your hand or brush. Avoid submerging the shoes in water if possible.

Step 3: Scrub With Soap and Brush

Use a small amount of dish soap or laundry detergent with water to create a cleaning solution. Dip your toothbrush or shoe brush in the solution and scrub all surfaces of the shoe upper and outsole. Make sure to get into crevices and underneath the lugs. Use a stiff scrub brush for extremely dirty areas.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry

Once scrubbed entirely, rinse the shoes under running water to remove all soap residue. Remove excess water by stuffing shoes with a towel. Allow shoes to air dry fully before continuing.

Step 5: Clean Laces and Insoles

Hand wash shoelaces in warm soapy water. Use a toothbrush to remove ingrained dirt. Rinse and air dry laces. For removable insoles, clean with soap and water before rinsing and air drying completely. Insert back into shoes once fully dry.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning Hiking Shoes:

  • Soaking shoes – This can damage shoes long-term by breaking down adhesives.
  • Using harsh cleaners – Stick to mild soap and avoid bleach or other harsh chemicals.
  • Putting shoes in washing machine or dryer – Only hand wash shoes to protect material.
  • Not drying fully – Trapped moisture can break down shoe components.


With just a few household supplies and these easy steps, you can keep your hiking shoes looking and performing like new. Proper cleaning removes dirt and mud that can degrade shoes over time.

Remember to avoid soaking, only use mild soap, hand wash, and fully dry shoes after each cleaning. Repeat cleaning as needed after adventures on the trail. Your hiking shoes will thank you!

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