How to Clean Trekking Shoes (A Step-by-step Guide)

Cleaning Trekking Shoes in India

A good pair of trekking shoes are the most important asset of any trekker.

If your trekking shoes are not in good shape, it can really trouble you while trekking and take the fun out of it.

Whether it be a rough terrain or a man-made terrain, whether it be scrambling, backpacking or hiking, good clean shoes are a must. The vehicle we need for trekking is feet and feet must have a good grip on shoes.

Related: Best Trekking Shoes in India

Why It’s Important to Clean your Trekking Shoes?

After every hike or trek, it is best if we clean the shoes/boots properly. This will ensure that the shoes functional capabilities are optimized. For example, if we have mud or dirt or pebbles in the outsoles, the grip on the ground will be compromised.

Similarly, if the fabric of our shoe is covered in muck, it will hamper the quality, as well as the breathing capability of the fabrics like leather, would go down.

It will also abrade the fibers of the shoe, causing them to wear out quickly  Dirt also has a negative effect on the waterproofing capability of the shoe

Mud and dirt absorb moisture from the shoe fabric thereby increasing the aging process of the shoe. Every time the shoe flex, particles of dirt, grit or sand get deeper into the fabric of the shoe grinding it like sandpaper.

Also, if you wear the same trekking shoes to another trek the invasive species stuck on the outsoles will get transferred to other areas.

Aside from this, the sweat and oil from our body needs to be removed from the shoes as it can cause fungal infections to the feet as well as damage the material of shoes, soles due to constant moisture and can cause stinking feet.

How Often Should You clean Your Trekking shoes?

You can clean your shoe as often as you want, but you need to make sure you’re not ruining them while doing it.

For example, it’s alright to clean them gently using a cloth or mild brush frequently, but you shouldn’t deep clean this too often.

Deep cleaning should be done only when the shoes get really soiled or once in two-three months according to the frequency of treks. If a person treks a lot then he/she has to clean frequently depending on the condition of the shoes.

What is to be done is as soon as we spot a stain quickly wipe out with a damp cloth. This will ensure no staining occurs. Later on, reaching home, it can be cleaned deeply.

Cleaning Less Dirty Trekking Shoes

Firstly knock the shoes together or on the ground to remove all loose debris, grass, pebbles, mud, and dirt. Shake it upside down for more effective removal

Take an old toothbrush or shoe brush and turn the shoes and remove the stuff stuck on the outsoles in the zigzag beneath the feet. Stamp the shoes for effect. If the dirt caked on is stubborn, soak just the outsoles and then wash away with water.

Wipe away all the dust with a shoe brush or plain cloth. Use a toothbrush for small nook and crannies. If needed lightly soak the brush in water or use a damp cloth to wipe away all the muck. Turn the shoes upside down and remove sole and shake off.

Wipe inside and put a little baking soda. Baking soda removes bad odor.

Stuff a newspaper inside for quick removal of moisture and to maintain shape. Remove the newspaper once the shoe has dried up and then insert a fresh crumble of newspaper inside.

If your shoe looks dry condition/moisturize them according to shoe fabric. However, it is better to condition the shoes whenever you wash and waterproof them. Re-waterproofing is only required once or twice a year.

Put chrome polish to remove rust from shoe hardware.

Store the shoe in a cool dry location where it can get some air naturally. Storing wet shoes promotes mold growth, so make sure it has dried completely.

Deep Cleaning of Trekking shoes

Every few months, it’s a good idea to deep clean your shoes. Again, this would be dependent on how often you go for trekking. If you’re not very regular, you can do this every six months.

There are five steps in cleaning dirty shoes

  1. Cleaning
  2. Drying
  3. Treating
  4. Repairing
  5. Storing

Let’s quickly learn what you need to do in each step.

Cleaning

Open the shoe. Shake off the debris. Open the laces. Remove the insoles. Bang the shoes against each other or on the ground. sprinkle the soles with baking soda to help them dry and to remove any odors.

Removing the lace will open up the tongue of the shoe and aid in cleaning the lace holes and metal hardware. Wash the laces with warm water and dish soap.

Use a brush to or a cleaning gel gently to rub against the shoe everywhere. A solution of warm water and mild dish soap should be used. Use a toothbrush for nooks and crannies and especially along the seams.

Wipe away the soap with a wet damp cloth. Keep on rinsing and squeezing the cloth in water while washing off the soap from the shoe. If you use a cleaning gel as advised by the care instructions of the shoe, you can rinse it off.

Avoid submerging the footwear in water as this can alter the performance of the shoe

Turn the shoe facing outsoles and remove with help of brush or toothbrush. If the caked on dirt is stubborn soak the outsoles for an hour and use hose to wash off.

If the shoe is leather it is a good idea to fill the insides with lukewarm water and leave overnight. Next morning tip the water away and leave to dry naturally.

Never put shoes in a washing machine as that can damage the shoes.

Cleaning Spot Stains

To clean spot stains on leather, make a solution of three parts dish soap to one part distilled water. Apply the solution and blot with a clean cloth.

In the instances where the stain has set overnight and isn’t drying in an attractive way, experts recommend applying leather conditioner not just to the spot but to the entire shoe for color consistency. This is because leather darkens in the area where conditioner is applied. Leave for some time and then wipe off the excess.

To remove stubborn salt stains from shoes, soak the stain side for an hour in water. To clean mold use a mixture of 80% water and 20 % vinegar.

For gunk like sap, wax, and gum, put the shoes in the freezer bag and keep them in the freezer for an hour or two.

Once the gunk is frozen, remove it using a blunt knife.

Drying

It is important to dry at normal room temperature. Use a fan to speed up the drying process.

Stuff a newspaper inside the shoe to soak up the moisture. Keep changing the wet newspaper until shoe has dried up.

As stated before, let them air dry for at least 24 hours. Avoid drying near a heat source or in sunlight as that can damage the shoes.

Treating

A good wash opens up the pores of the shoes.

To close them we need to re-waterproof the shoes. Read the care manual carefully before applying a re-waterproofing layer. It will help the shoe regain its waterproofing ability. It will also reduce the ability of moisture to penetrate the upper layers.

Spray the product all over the shoe evenly. Let it dry for a day.

Waterproofing grease is applied to leather shoes to prevent aging and cracking of the shoe. The grease or wax should be left on leather for an hour or two and then wipe off the excess.

Conditioning should be done to retain moisture and it should be specific to the material of the shoes. Nubuck and suede do not need conditioning whereas finished leather needs conditioning.

Too much moisturizer should be avoided as it makes the shoes too soft, reducing the support they provide.

Use chrome polish to remove rust from shoelaces holes and other metallic parts.

Repairing

Inspect your shoes and get them repaired as soon as you see a tear or loose thread.

A torn sole or loose stitch can cause blisters on the foot. Take them to a cobbler and get them repaired as soon as possible.

This will allow you to obtain maximum benefit from shoes without hindering their efficacy.

Storing

Store them in a cool dark dry well-ventilated place.

Put in a crumpled newspaper to maintain their shape. Additionally, one can add silica gels or tea bags to keep them odor free.

Now that they are clean go have some fun trekking with cleaner and happier feet!

Some Important Pointers When Cleaning Your Trekking Shoes

Never place wet boots next to the heater or source of a fire. That can contract certain fabrics like leather. Since trekking shoes are usually made of a mix of fabrics, take care.

They can also split and the rubber insoles inside can melt. In certain shoes, it can lead to discoloration and weakening of adhesives.

Make sure you have at least 24 hours in between using them once again after deep cleaning. One technique to absorb moisture and humidity from the shoe is to crumple a newspaper and stuff inside the shoe.

It will also help remove odor. Newspaper can also be used to maintain the shape of the shoe if it isn’t being used.

It is best to look for manufacturers care instructions before cleaning them as certain fabrics like leather need special instructions.

Take care of your trekking shoes and they will take care of you while trekking. After all, they are your only source of contact to the ground.

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