How to wash hiking boots in washing machine?

Are your beloved hiking boots in dire need of a thorough cleaning? If you’ve been exploring muddy trails and rough terrains, it’s only natural for your shoes to accumulate dirt, grime, and even unpleasant odors.

But fret not. A convenient and effective solution exists: utilizing a washing machine to wash your hiking boots. So, let’s delve into the details and discover How to wash hiking boots in washing machine?

Step-by-Step Guide: How to wash hiking boots in washing machine

Washing hiking boots in a washing machine can be a convenient way to clean them thoroughly. However, following the correct steps is essential to ensure the shoes are not damaged.

Step 1: Preparation

To begin, properly preparing your hiking boots for the washing process is crucial. Start by removing the shoelaces and loose debris or dirt from the shoes. Employ a soft brush or cloth to brush off any excess dirt gently.

Step 2: Check the Manufacturer’s Instructions

Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or care label on your hiking boots before proceeding with machine washing. Pay close attention to any guidelines or warnings provided. If the instructions advise against machine washing, it is best to clean your boots manually.

Step 3: Prepare the Washing Machine

Before washing your hiking boots, ensure your washing machine is clean and free from detergent or fabric softener residue. Residual substances can damage your shoes or leave behind unwanted residues. Run a short cycle with hot water and no detergent to clean the machine before washing your boots.

Step 4: Protect and Prepare the Boots

To safeguard your hiking boots during the washing process, it is recommended to place them inside a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase. This precaution will prevent them from getting tangled with other items in the machine and minimize the risk of damage.

Step 5: Select the Appropriate Cycle and Settings

Choose a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine to minimize the risk of damaging your hiking boots. Additionally, select a cold or lukewarm water setting, as hot water can cause the adhesives and materials of the shoes to degrade.

Step 6: Use a Mild Detergent

Select a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics or sports gear. Follow the detergent manufacturer’s instructions regarding the appropriate amount to use.

Step 7: Initiate the Washing Cycle

Place the protected hiking boots into the washing machine and start the selected cycle. Allow the engine to complete the entire washing process.

Step 8: Rinse Thoroughly

Once the washing cycle is complete, remove the boots from the machine and rinse them thoroughly with clean water. Ensure that all detergent residues are eliminated.

Step 9: Air Dry the Boots

It is crucial to avoid using a dryer to dry your hiking boots, as the heat can warp or damage the materials. Instead, stuff the shoes with crumpled newspaper or use boot forms to help them retain their shape. 

Checking the Manufacturer’s Instructions

Before proceeding with machine washing your hiking boots, it is crucial to review the manufacturer’s instructions or care label carefully. These instructions provide specific guidance on cleaning and caring for your shoes, including whether machine washing is recommended. 

Locate the manufacturer’s instructions: Look for a care label attached to your hiking boots. Typically, you can find it inside the tongue or on the inner side of the boot. This label may include symbols or written instructions.

Read the guidelines: 

Pay close attention to any mentions of machine washing. Some boots may explicitly state that machine washing is acceptable, while others may recommend hand washing only.

Note any warnings or precautions:

Manufacturers often include specific warnings or precautions related to machine washing. These instructions are essential to prevent potential damage to your boots or the voiding of the warranty. Look out for temperature restrictions, recommended detergents, or other important details.

Consider the boot material:

Different boot materials may require different cleaning methods. The manufacturer’s instructions should outline the recommended approach based on the specific materials used in your hiking boots. Pay attention to special care requirements for Leather, synthetic materials, or waterproof membranes.

Follow the guidelines: 

It is crucial to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the longevity and performance of your hiking boots. If the instructions advise against machine washing, respecting those guidelines and exploring alternative cleaning methods is best.

By carefully reviewing and following the manufacturer’s instructions, you can effectively clean your hiking boots while minimizing the risk of damage. These instructions are designed to provide you with the most accurate guidance for maintaining the quality of your shoes. Always prioritize the manufacturer’s guidelines over general advice to ensure the best care for your specific hiking boots.

Cleaning Techniques

Consider the following cleaning techniques

1. Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning is suitable for addressing small stains or specific areas that require attention. Begin using a soft brush or cloth dipped in mild detergent and water. Gently scrub the affected area, ensuring not to apply excessive pressure. Thoroughly rinse the spot to eliminate any residue.

2. Hand Washing

Hand washing is effective, especially if the manufacturer’s instructions discourage machine washing. Immerse the boots and gently scrub them with a soft brush or cloth. Pay close attention to any heavily soiled areas. After cleaning, rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of detergent.

3. Machine Washing

If the manufacturer permits machine washing, it can be a convenient option. However, it’s crucial to proceed with caution:

  • Use a mesh laundry bag or place the boots in a pillowcase to protect them and prevent tangling.
  • Select a gentle or delicate cycle with cold or lukewarm water.
  • Opt for a mild detergent suitable for delicate fabrics or sports gear.
  • Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals that could harm the boot materials.
  • After the washing cycle, remove the boots from the machine promptly.

4. Drying

Proper drying is essential to maintain the shape and integrity of your hiking boots. Avoid direct heat sources such as dryers, radiators, or direct sunlight, as they can cause the materials to warp or degrade.

Instead, stuff the boots with crumpled newspaper or use boot forms to help them retain their shape. Place them in a well-ventilated area at room temperature and allow them to air dry completely before wearing them again.

Remember, the choice of cleaning technique depends on the extent of dirt and the materials used in your hiking boots. Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cleaning recommendations. Regularly cleaning and maintaining your hiking boots will help prolong their lifespan and ensure optimal performance during your outdoor adventures.

Drying Hiking Boots

Properly drying your hiking boots is essential to preserve their quality and prevent damage. Follow these guidelines to ensure adequate drying:

Remove Excess Moisture

After washing or exposure to water, gently remove any excess moisture from your boots. Avoid rubbing vigorously, as it may harm the materials.

Air Dry

To dry your hiking boots, choose air drying over heat sources. Find a well-ventilated area away from direct heat, such as radiators or sunlight. Allowing natural airflow will aid in the drying process.

Boot Forms or Newspaper

Maintain the shape of your boots during drying by inserting boot forms or loosely crumpled newspaper. This helps the shoes retain their structure and prevents deformation as they dry.

Rotate the Boots

Periodically rotate the boots during the drying process. This ensures that all areas receive sufficient airflow, promoting uniform drying.

Patience is Key

Be patient and allow your hiking boots to air dry completely. Rushing the process with heat sources can lead to material damage, warping, or shrinkage. 

Avoid Heat Sources

Avoid using direct heat sources like hairdryers, radiators, or dryers to speed up drying. Excessive heat can be detrimental to the materials, compromising their integrity and fit.

Reapply Waterproofing (if applicable)

If your hiking boots have a waterproof coating or membrane, consider reapplying with a suitable waterproofing treatment after thoroughly drying. This helps restore their water-repellent properties and maintains their performance.

Post-Washing Care of Hiking Boots

After washing and drying your hiking boots, providing them with proper post-washing care is crucial to preserve their condition and maximize their lifespan. Follow these essential care tips:

Inspect for Damage

Thoroughly inspect your hiking boots for any signs of damage or wear after cleaning. Check the soles, seams, laces, and other areas for loose threads, cracks, or separation. Address minor issues promptly to prevent further damage during future use.

Treat Leather (if applicable)

If your hiking boots have leather components, apply a suitable leather conditioner or waterproofing treatment after completely drying. This helps nourish the Leather, keeping it supple and extending its lifespan. Follow the instructions provided with the leather care product for optimal results.

Re-lace Properly

Ensure that you re-lace your hiking boots correctly after washing. Proper lacing provides a secure fit and helps maintain the boot’s structural integrity and support. Consult guides or tutorials for specific lacing techniques tailored to your boot type.

Store in a Dry Area

Avoid storing them in a cramped position that could alter their shape. Consider using a shoe rack or shoe box to keep them organized and protected from dust and accidental damage.

Regular Maintenance

This may involve periodic cleaning, conditioning (for leather boots), and inspecting for signs of wear or damage. Addressing minor issues early on can prevent significant problems and extend the lifespan of your shoes.

Follow the Manufacturer’s Guidelines

Always adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions for specific post-washing care recommendations. They provide valuable insights into the best practices for maintaining your particular hiking boots and can help ensure their longevity.

Maintaining Hiking Boots

Proper maintenance is crucial for preserving the performance and longevity of your hiking boots. Follow these guidelines to ensure your shoes stay in excellent condition:

Proper Drying

After each hike or when your boots get wet, ensure they dry thoroughly before storage. Use a towel to remove excess moisture and allow them to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct heat sources, as they can warp or shrink the materials.


Consider applying a waterproofing treatment to your hiking boots, mainly if they are made of Leather or have a breathable membrane. This helps repel water, keeping your feet dry and preventing moisture-related issues. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate waterproofing product and application method.

Inspection for Damage

Regularly inspect your hiking boots for wear, damage, or lose parts. Check the soles, seams, laces, and other areas requiring attention. 

Replacement of Worn-Out Parts

Consider replacing these parts if you notice significant wear on the outsoles, deteriorating cushioning, or damaged laces. Worn-out components can compromise the performance and comfort of your hiking boots. Consult the manufacturer or a professional footwear repair service for suitable replacement parts.

Proper Storage

Avoid leaving them in a compressed position that could deform their shape. Stuff them with crumpled paper or boot forms to maintain their structure during storage.

Boot Rotation

If you have multiple pairs of hiking boots, rotate them between hikes. This allows each pair to dry and rest, reducing wear and extending lifespan. Additionally, having an alternative pair of boots ensures you always have a backup for different terrains or weather conditions.

By following these maintenance practices, you can prolong the life of your hiking boots and ensure they continue to provide comfort and support on your outdoor adventures. Regular cleaning, proper drying, and timely repairs or replacements will keep your shoes in top shape, ready for your next hiking excursion.

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