• Remove laces (wash them by hand with mild soap, and dry separately)
  • If the mud layer is very thick clay, start by gently removing some with a smooth object, like an old spoon.
    • Hard scraping, the use of a knife or wire brush may mar the finish of your boot
    • Other soils will probably not need this step.
  • Rinse quickly with fresh water, rubbing gently with your hand or a soft bush
    • With leather, avoid the use of detergents or soap, and try to avoid thorough soaking.
    • Fabric boots may clean better with mild soap and a brush.
    • Keep water from entering the boot as much as possible. See “Wet Boots” section if not.
  • Air-dry naturally.
    • A clothes-dryer may shrink or crack boots.
    • Heat of fire or hot air may also damage them.
  • When dry, inspect and touch-up seams and edges with a toothbrush (especially where the sole is attached).
  • A slightly-damp cloth will remove any residual haze.
  • Re-water-proof your boots with a product approved by their manufacturer, paying special attention to seams, edges and crevasses.


The goal should be to dry them as quickly as possible, BUT without using heat. Air-drying is best, but even with a fan, if the boots are very wet inside, and especially if they have thick linings, they may take more than a day to air-dry. This may result in mould and bacteria growing in them, weakening the structure, and smelling terrible. As well as a fan, something inside may also be needed. The first two possibilities may already be in your house. Before you start, remove laces and insoles (or orthotics). Then add one of the below.

Newspaper: Pack the boots tightly with balled-up newspapers, (keeping darkly-inked pieces inside the balls – or just don’t use them). Change 2-3 times a day (more often at first), until the balls come out crisp and dry. – Pro: Cheapest – Con: Least effective of these.

Rice: [I’ve used this myself – Ed.] Fill ‘em up, and (as for newspaper) change regularly. Just spread used rice on a cookie sheet and bake under low heat (at or less than 120°C, 250°F) for a while. Re-dried rice can be re-used immediately, or stored in an air-tight container for re-use later. – Pros: Bulk rice is inexpensive, and easy to use – Con: May grow mould itself if you’re not careful.

Desiccants: Many are toxic or carcinogenic, so bulk (un-packaged) silica-gel and other chemicals should be avoided. Packets of silica-gel beads (enclosed in, e.g., Tyvek™ envelopes) are safer, and are even used in food and drug packages. Clay desiccant is very safe, but it should also be used in bags, or you’ll just make mud in your boots! – Pros: Most effective, will not rot, most reusable (bake as per rice) – Con: Expensive.

Removing insoles after every hike is a good idea; Moisture accumulates from sweat. Even if the boot feels dry, things may grow.

GHTC Newsletter 2017 July; Compiled by PJF


Privacy Policy

Guelph Hiking Trail Club is a charitable organization Registration#11894 9395

PO Box 1, Guelph, ON, N1H 6J6 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software