How To Clean Walking Boots - Outdoors Magic

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How To Clean Walking Boots

Cleaning boots or shoes might seem like a drag to go through, but it’s one of those things where the short term pain really is worth it for the long term gain.

First of all, it’s necessary in order to make sure your footwear lasts. Without a bit of TLC, most boots and shoes available on the market these days are unfortunately going to lose their waterproofness and performance within a year. 

It’s mainly lingering mud that causes the issues. It can dry out the materials and degrade the stitching and seams, particularly affecting any footwear that has a waterproof lining.

So, treat your footwear right and you won’t need to buy a new pair every year, or even every five years or more. 

Why Keeping Your Boots Clean Is Important For Your Feet

Cleaning your footwear is also worth it for your feet. Don’t underestimate the difference a well cleaned and conditioned pair of boots can make to the climate within them. A good, regulated climate can mean a much smaller risk of getting blisters. 

Here’s OM editor Will on why he finds clean walking boots so important for his backpacking adventures.

With non-waterproof boots and shoes, if the materials get dirty and saturated, that’s going to cause obvious problems for your feet. For waterproof footwear, the problems associated with dirt come about from within. That’s because, while moisture might not be able to get in from the outside, if the outer fabric is allowed to get dirty and saturated it can block hot, moist air on the inside of the boot from escaping, therefore creating perfect conditions for a blister to form. 

How To Clean Your Boots Or Shoes

First thing’s first: don’t put your boots in a washing machine. That’s a surefire way to lose any water resistance that the materials already had. It could also cause damage to the stitching, glues and the waterproof membrane (if there is one).

Nikwax offer fast, efficient and effective solutions for cleaning and reproofing your synthetic and leather footwear and all in an eco-friendly way as well. Not only are their treatments earth kind, but the bottles they come in are made from recycled materials which can go on to be recycled once they’re empty. 

Remove the Laces

For a comprehensive clean, it’s worth taking the laces off before you get started. You might want to take a picture of them while on the boots or shoes just so you know how to get them back on correctly.

Remove The Mud And Debris

Boot brushes are handy for this but you can also just use an old toothbrush. Just a bit of warm water should be enough to remove most of the dirt. If you do want to use a detergent like washing up liquid, make sure it’s a very mild solution. 

Apply The Footwear Cleaning Gel

After you’ve dampened the surface of the boot or shoe, apply Nikwax’s Footwear Cleaning Gel generously throughout. This will clean leather or synthetic fabrics safely and will revitalise their breathability and water repellency. Rinse well afterwards or wipe down with a damp cloth. 

Apply The Fabric And Leather Proof

Nikwax Fabric And Leather Proof is the stuff that adds a brand new water resistant layer to your footwear, helping to repel dirt and moisture to ensure the waterproof membrane underneath can breathe. Press the sponge onto the fabric, press down and apply generously to the uppers while they’re still damp from the cleaning process beforehand. After two minutes, wipe away the excess solution with a damp cloth. Job done!

You’ll really notice the difference this cleaning and re-proofing does when you’re out about about…

An Outdoors Magic staffer with both of their boots fully submerged in a Snowdonia river.
Boot on the left - not cleaned or proofed. Boot on the right? You guessed it.

For More Like This:

How To Take Care Of Your Tent

How To Re-Proof Your Waterproof Jacket And Trousers

How To Break-In Your Walking Boots 

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