How to Care for Your Muddy Footwear
Let’s face it – we all want to focus on our outdoor adventures instead of fussing about cleaning our gear. But it can be a real bummer when your $300 hiking boots or favorite trail running shoes are caked in mud. On the bright side, there are some super simple steps you can take that will help extend the life of your shoe, keeping them fully functional and looking like new.
At the very least, the folks at rei.com recommend rinsing and brushing the clumps of dirt off your shoes and boots after a muddy adventure. You should clean your hiking boots after every hike, because dried mud can accelerate the age of the leather, and grit can embed itself into fabric, eating it away. If your boots or shoes have a waterproof coating on them, you’ll need to add a waterproofing treatment as soon as you notice water failing to bead on the upper.
First, give your shoes a good soaking in warm water (super hot water should be avoided). If shoes are very muddy, I like to rinse them in a small plastic bin – it saves valuable time cleaning your tub later.
Use a brush or cloth to remove as much dirt as possible.
Never use detergents or regular soaps, as these can leave nasty residue or even damage the dyes in the shoe. My favorite shoe and boot cleaner is Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel ($8.50 for 4.2 oz.). The gentle formula is made specifically for cleaning waterproof footwear.
Just squeeze the gel directly onto the upper and rub gently with the brush tip.
Rinse the shoe under warm water, and let it air dry at room temperature. Be sure to remove the footbeds to ensure thorough drying. If your boots need to be treated with a waterproofing formula, Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof is super simple and cheap ($8.50 for 4.2 oz.). When your shoes are clean and damp, apply generously with the sponge applicator, wait 2 minutes, wipe them with a cloth and allow to dry.
And you’re done. Shoes are clean and ready for the next adventure.