Walking boots are built to take muddy, gritty tracks in their stride. But that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to toss your mucky companions in the closet and forget about them. Clean them faithfully and you’ll enjoy many years together. If you’re too tired immediately after a walk, then clean them the following day.
Ignoring cleaning breaks down your boots in a couple of ways:
What you’ll need for cleaning your hiking boots:
Remove laces prior to cleaning. Use a brush to gently remove dust and dirt. For a more thorough cleaning, add running water and whatever boot cleaner you have chosen.
Some additional boot cleaning tips:
Though caked-on mud won’t damage your boots, removing it will restore them to full traction. Also, having clean outsoles prevents you from transporting invasive species from one hiking area to another.
Brush the outsoles vigorously and dislodge pebbles that are stuck. For stubbornly caked-on dirt, soak just the outsoles and then use a hose to power-wash the gunk away.
Use a conditioner when your boots’ full-grain leather (leather that looks smooth rather than rough on the outside) appears dry or cracked. Other types of leather—suede and nubuck—don’t require conditioning. Conditioner can also be used if your new full-grain leather boots need to be broken in quickly.
Use a conditioner judiciously. Healthy leather functions best when moisturised. Too much conditioner, though, makes boots too soft, reducing the support they provide.
Do not use Mink Oil or similar oils designed for industrial boots; it over-softens the type of dry-tanned leather used in walking footwear.