How to Clean Smelly Hiking Boots? (Expert Tips)

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Hiking boots stinking because of moisture and nasty microbes is something unpleasant. Getting to smell that stink after conquering a difficult trail total ruins the joy of success. That is why once you detect your best-hiking boots stinking it is time that you get to learn some ways about how to clean smelly hiking boots.

If you have issues of your feet sweating and your socks soak all of the moisture, you will see that all the moisture and sweat starts going into the inner sole of your shoes. This creates the perfect condition for microorganisms to start breeding and create a stink.

Other than that it is obvious that you will have to face mud and grime while you hike on difficult trials. Walking on wet surfaces is also part of hiking. And whenever, you make your best waterproof hiking boots face all of this you need to apply ways to clean them immediately. Hence, this guide is all about teaching you some important ways to clean your smelly hiking boots so they aren’t stinky any longer.

How To Clean Your Smelly Hiking Boots:

Expose your insole to direct sunlight:

While you are taking rest during your hike, you can remove your boots and the insole from the inside. And then leave both the insoles and the hiking boots under direct sunlight. This helps in drying up all of the moisture that the insole soaked in previously. Other than that, all the germs and bacteria also get killed because of the UV rays present in the sunlight.

This remedy lets you get rid of stinky boots on the go and makes your boot more comfortable to wear on. Do this not only during your hike but also after you reach your home safely. You can also do that before the day you are going to set out hiking.

Cleaning insoles to eliminate strong odor:

To properly clean your smelly hiking boots and to eliminate the odor from your boots you need to do a deep cleaning. For doing that, prepare a cleaning solution that is a mixture of water and detergent. Then dip in the insoles into the solution and keep them inside the solution for at least an hour.

During this time the detergent can work on the insole. It will do the job of washing away all accumulated dirt and odor. Make sure that you rinse the insoles with clean water and all of the sap from it washes away. If you don’t do that, the soap will remain and next time you set out on a hike your sweat along with soap will make the inside of the boots slippery, creating a mess.

After being done washing properly make sure that you hang the insoles out in the sun to let them dry out. No moisture should remain.

Cleaning the interior of the boots:

After the insoles cleaning the interior of the boots is essential. That is because the interior of the boots all gets covered up with sweat. Mud, water, and other dirt do somehow manage to get inside no matter how much you try to stay away from them. The other important cause of cleaning the interior is to remove the salts that are present in there because of your sweat. Removing salts is essential as it can reduce the longevity of boots.

So, prepare a mild soapy solution. Don’t use harsh detergent for this as the quality of the fabric might get ruined. After you are done preparing dip in the entire boot in the solution. And then let the boots be inside the solution for an hour. After that, use a soft brush to remove mud stains and any other stubborn sticking to the boot. If you see they are still not completely coming off, you can use white vinegar as well.

After being done with all the scrubbing and removing stains you need to expose the boots to the sunlight. Sunlight will dry off all the moisture from the fabric making it all ready to be worn. And just like how you have done for the insoles make sure all of the soapy water is rinsed off.

Soaking bottom of hiking boots in baking soda:

If you still find that a bit of odor is lingering from the boots even after cleaning thoroughly you can take the assistance of baking soda. All you have to do is add a little amount of baking soda in the bottom of the boots and let the soda do its work overnight. The baking soda will do the job of neutralizing the odor. Sprinkle the soda in the toe regions and between the midsole of your hiking boots.

Applying disinfecting spray:

After being done with all the cleaning it is time that you give the hiking boots ultimate protection. You can do that by spraying a disinfecting spray both in the interior and on the exterior of your hiking boots. This is to kill any kind of nasty smell causing bacteria. You will get disinfectant spray easily available in stores.

Things you can do to avoid making your boots stink:

Other than just cleaning the smelly hiking boots after they start stinking why not try out ways to help hiking boots not stink? Hence, we have listed down some things that you can do so that your boots don’t stink. These ways are for trying to avoid the creation of conditions that cause all that odor formation.

Trying out these ways is essential as we all know stink coming off from hiking boots in front of friends and family can be embarrassing. Give these ways a try and stay completely worry-free about facing any sort of embarrassment.

1. Cleaning your feet:

Before you wear on your boots make sure that you clean then thoroughly using soap. It is best if you use anti-bacterial soap as an odor creating microbes that will die. The necessity of wearing on hiking boots after cleaning your feet is because the salts present in sweat and microbes can combine to create odor.

Anyone who has issues of having sweaty feet needs to apply a different technique. You can use baking powder, talcum, cornstarch, or simply baby powder on your feet and put some inside your socks. This powder will do the job of absorbing moisture so there is no issue of odor forming. Your feet will be smelling nice as well because of the scent that this powder contains.

2. Stuffing boots with the newspaper:

If your hiking trip is for days, it is obvious you will be staying somewhere during the night. You can make use of that time and prevent your boots from stinking. Carry some old newspapers along with you. And during the night stuff these newspapers into your hiking boots. All of your sweat and moisture will be soaked in by the newspaper.

The absence of sweat and moisture does not let any kind of odor-causing microorganisms to grow and breed. So remember to always carry some old newspapers in your backpack. No-load will be added as we all know that newspapers are lightweight.

3. Wear a pair of fresh socks on every hike:

Never do the mistake of wearing the same pair of socks on the second day of your hiking trip. Repeating your socks is indeed the silliest mistake you can do. Wearing the same pair of socks over again results in building up of swear and bacteria that will, later on, make the odor unbearable.

The number of pairs of sock you will be carrying to a hiking trip has to be equal to the number of days that you will be spending on the trip. Socks are lightweight so no issue of feeling worried about carrying too much load.

4. Layering your hiking socks:

As a hiker, it is obvious that you will be wearing moisture-wicking socks to help in keeping your feet. It doesn’t matter if you have sweating or not you will be sweating because of conquering hard trails.

However, even if moisture-wicking socks do a great job in keeping your feet dry it creates a problem. These kinds of socks make all the sweat channel towards the insole of your hiking boots away from your feet. All of the sweat starts building up in the insole along with the moisture creating the perfect environment for odor-causing microbes to breed.

As a solution to this issue, all you will have to is layer the moisture-wicking socks with the woolen ones. The woolen socks will prevent sweat from accumulating in the insoles and the moisture-wicking ones will keep your feet dry. Following this trick is a complete win-win situation.


To sum up, by going through all the techniques you surely have understood how to clean smelly hiking boots. It doesn’t matter if you have got the best hiking boots for yourself if you don’t follow certain things that we listed above to avoid your hiking boots from stinking.

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