Walking boots are designed to get dirty while also keeping our feet warm and dry. Of course, to prolong their lifespan, we need to clean them regularly.
Cleaning walking boots can be a big job, so putting them in the washing machine seems like it’d be the easiest option. But is this possible, or will it ruin your boots?
Can You Put Walking Boots in the Washing Machine?
It’s unlikely that you can put your walking boots in the washing machine without damaging them. Whether or not you can machine wash walking boots depends on the materials used.
Synthetic fabrics are machine safe, but laundry detergent and the machine’s washing action could damage delicate areas or strip coatings off the shoes.
Check the shoes’ care label if you can, as it’ll tell you definitively whether you can machine wash your shoes. It should be on the inside of the tongue if there is one (in the same place you find the size).
Whether your boots are washing machine safe depends on several factors, such as:
- If they contain leather or suede, you can’t machine wash them.
- How they’re waterproofed (if they are). GORE-TEX or similar fabrics should be fine to wash, but waterproof coatings can be stripped by washing.
- What material the soles are made from. Rubber doesn’t do well in hot water, whereas EVA foam should be fine.
As you can see, there’s quite a lot to consider when machine washing walking boots. It’s probably easier to just wash them by hand because it doesn’t take as much work as you might expect.
Cleaning Walking Boots
Walking boots can be cleaned fairly quickly, although this does depend on what you’ve been walking in. To clean your boots, you’ll need the following:
- A toothbrush, vegetable brush or similar
- Shoe cleaner, such as Grangers Footwear Cleaner
- A dry cloth
Start by removing as much dirt and debris as possible. You can do this by banging your boots together or brushing them with a stiff brush.
Most dried dirt should come off the soles but it might be a bit more caked on to the upper parts.
Next, use a softer brush dipped in water to loosen the dirt on the shoe’s upper. If you’re using a shoe cleaner, this is when you should apply it. Alternatively, a bit of washing up liquid should work fine.
If you need to clean off mould or remove smells, a mix of vinegar and water is best. Mix 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water and spray on, leave for 5 minutes, and then wipe off.
Let the boots air dry and then use a protector spray. It’s worth spraying them even if they’re waterproof, as GORE-TEX and similar fabrics don’t protect the outer layer.
Walking boots need a bit of attention to keep them functioning properly. After all, you don’t want to be let down when trudging through a muddy field!
Be sure to clean them after every use, and give them an extra deep clean before you store them for the season.
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.