How to Clean Smelly Hiking Boots

how to clean smelly hiking boots

Do your hiking boots smell bad? If so, you’re not alone. Hiking boots can often get smelly, especially if you wear them frequently. In this blog post, we will discuss how to clean smelly hiking boots, and provide some tips on how to prevent your hiking boots from becoming smelly in the first place!

First steps first, start by cleaning the outside of your hiking boots by following the directions on this post on how to clean the exterior of your hiking boots. Cleaning the outside is an essential part of gear maintenance and should be done frequently.

What You Will Need

Once you’re ready to clean the interior, follow these easy steps. You will need some simple household items:

– an old toothbrush

– dish soap

– old towel

– baking soda

– vinegar

– vacuum (optional)

How to Clean Your Hiking Boots

Before cleaning the inside of your boot with any liquids, save yourself some time and effort by vacuuming the inside of the boots to remove small particles such as sand, dust, dirt, or even small rocks. 

In a cup or bowl, mix a few drops of gentle dish soap with water and stir with the toothbrush. Remove the insoles from your boots, and using the toothbrush and soapy liquid, brush the insoles all over – let suds form but try not to get them too wet or soaked through. Using a dry towel, wipe them clean and as dry as you can get them. Set aside and let them air dry. Depending on the shape of your boot, you may also do this to the inside of the boot itself, but we’ve found most hiking boots are too difficult to reach into. Make sure both the insoles and the boot’s insides are completely dry before continuing.

The next step is to soak the boots in baking soda overnight. Baking soda absorbs odors, and is one of the most effective and affordable methods to getting rid of odors instead of just masking them. Simply generously sprinkle baking soda throughout the inside of the boot, as well as across the top of the insole. Let this sit overnight before shaking and dry brushing away the powder the next day. If you have any issue getting the baking soda out, a simple solution is to use a vacuum cleaner to get the rest. 

Next, apply a disinfectant spray to kill any lingering bacteria or fungus. If you have vinegar at home, you can simply spray white vinegar or anything over 80% alcohol. Let the boot dry completely before wearing it again.

Essential Oils for Lingering Odors

To mask any lingering odors or to give your boots a nice clean smell, consider adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your boots. This will help mask the odor – just make sure you let the oil completely dry before wearing your boots. Our favorite suggestions for oils are peppermint and tea tree oil.

Best Product to Clean Smelly Hiking Boots

If you’re still struggling to keep the stink away, consider trying special products that are specially designed to eliminate odors no matter how bad they are. Our favorite is the Gear Aid ReviveX Odor Eliminator.

Gear Aid ReviveX Odor Eliminator

Proved time and time again to be the best odor remover for smelly hiking gear, Gear Aid ReviveX Odor Eliminator has earned it’s place in our washing process for taking care of even the worst smells that just won’t leave. We love the fact that it is an all natural product that is highly concentrated and activated with water. You can dilute it with water in a spray bottle for things like chacos or hiking sandals, or use it in a washing machine for bigger things like clothing, jackets, and tents.

Keep the Stink Away

To keep your boots stink-free long-term, you can follow steps like wearing clean, wool socks, and letting your boots air out completely between uses. Using a few drops of essential oils goes a long way, as does consistently cleaning your boots to keep bacteria at bay. If you are ever hiking in the rain make sure that your boots dry out completely before storage. This will ensure mildew and mold doesn’t build up in your boots


How do you get the smell out of hiking boots?

Baking soda is the most effective and affordable option for getting the smell out of hiking boots. Simply generously sprinkle it inside your boot and let it sit overnight. Use a vacuum to get out the powder the following day. Follow this up with a disinfecting spray to kill any leftover bacteria that could bring the smell right back. 

How do I clean the inside of my hiking boots?

First, begin by vacuuming the inside to pick up any loose dust particles or rocks. Then mix a few drops of gentle dish soap and some water. Pull out your insoles, and scrub them with an old toothbrush or dish brush. Let them dry completely. If you can reach the inside of your boot, you can follow these same steps, or skip to deodorizing with baking soda and vinegar. 

Why do my hiking boots stink?

Considering each foot has approximately 125,000 sweat glands, no wonder why your boots get sweaty while hiking. The stench normally comes from boots that don’t dry out properly, or boots that have been worn frequently without cleaning. Consider using a foot powder if you have sweaty feet, as well as wearing wool hiking socks and sock liners. To get rid of the stench, generously sprinkle baking soda inside your shoe and let is sit overnight. Remove it the next morning using a vacuum then spray with a disinfecting spray. Make sure the shoe is completely dry and clean before wearing it again. 

How do you stop Gore-Tex shoes from smelling?

Because Gore-Tex provides a waterproof barrier, it holds in moisture. The key to preventing smelly Gore-Tex boots is to let them dry out completely between wears. If they begin to stink, sprinkle baking soda inside your shoe and let is sit overnight. This will absorb any odors. Use a vacuum to get out the powder the following day, then follow up with a disinfecting spray to kill any bacteria leftover. 

Does baking soda stop shoes from smelling?

Baking soda is the best and cheapest option for getting rid of the stench inside your shoes. Sprinkle it on the inside and let is sit overnight. Shake it out the next day or use a vacuum.

About the Author

Derek Vitiello

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers. Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me. When I’m not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

Hey there!

We are Derek and Ashley of Know Nothing Nomads. Whether it is hiking, camping, or just generally being outside, we love it. We are so happy that you have found our little blog and hope that you stick around a while. Feel free to contact us with any questions or get in touch with us on social media!

Safe Travels,

Derek and Ashley

Know Nothing Nomads