How to Wash Hiking Boots in the Washing Machine

By Sophie Williams
Updated: November 28, 2023
How to Wash Hiking Boots in the Washing Machine Featured Image

You can use a washing machine to clean your hiking boots, but it’s not recommended as it can seriously damage your shoes. Either way, many people don’t have the patience or the time to do it manually.

You should consult the shoe company on whether you can machine wash your shoes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Suede and synthetic boots are washing machine-safe.
  • Cleaning hiking boot outsoles are recommended.
  • Avoid direct heat sources while drying boots.
  • Use a mild soap or cleaning gel to clean the shoes.

What Types of Shoes Can Be Put in the Washing Machine?

Since laundry-cleaning hiking boots are only ideal for some shoes, you need to know which materials can survive the washing. Here are the materials that are washing machine safe.

1. Suede

2. Synthetics (Nylon and Polyester)

While you can wash leather hiking boots in the washing machine, don’t do it unless you know for sure. Leather boots need more care as machine washing can damage the fabric, soles, and waterproof membranes. Stick to hand washing them if you can.

Things Needed for a Wash Cycle

It’s also important to know essential tools before you put your shoes in the laundry bag. If you notice a foul odor from your hiking shoes, you may wash them with the machine. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Laundry detergent
  • An old toothbrush or a scrub
  • Towel
  • Mesh bag

Step 1: Removing laces and insoles

To wash shoes, you must eliminate anything that might get in your way. Remove the laces and insoles first. If your boots have midsoles, remove them too.

Afterward, put the laces in a mesh laundry bag.

Step 2: Removing debris

It’s normal for footwear to have debris after a hike. To clean your boots, you need to get rid of them. Use your hands and remove any dirt.

You can also use a towel or toothbrush with warm water and scrub the dirt. Removing debris might balance the load if your shoe smell is getting a little funky.

boots in a washing machine

Step 3: Cleaning the interior and exterior

Before your shoes go into the washing machine, use a microfiber cloth or damp towel to clean the insides of the boots. This can lessen the work of the washer.

Step 4: Putting them in the washing machine

Your boots are prepared for the next big thing. Put the shoes inside the washer and put the cycle into an as low setting as possible. The more aggressive the machine is, the more harm it causes.

Use a mesh bag and tie the bag once the hiking footwear is in. This stops the shoes from banging around the machine.

Step 5: Leave them to Dry

Now that you’ve washed your shoes, it’s time for the boots to dry. Avoid direct sunlight at all costs. Find a well-ventilated area and dry your hiking boots until they are dry completely.

The process is the same whether they are leather shoes or synthetic boots. Never put your shoes in the dryer; while you might think that’s a smart move to speed up the drying process, it’s not.

Tips for Cleaning Your Shoes

Here are some do’s and don’ts while boot cleaning. These are the small things that make the difference.

  1. Learn how to wash the boots properly.
  2. Don’t give your bots a wash without removing soles and laces.
  3. Use detergent or a low-pH soap to wash your boots. You can also use a boot cleaner.
  4. Don’t put the washing machine on at high speed or intensity.
  5. Give hiking boots proper waterproof treatment.
  6. Don’t wash your boots without following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Leave your boots completely dry.
  8. Always clean inside your boots first.

How to Take Care of Your Hiking Boots?

No matter how much you clean your shoes, you can’t get significant mileage from your hiking boots if you don’t care for them. Below are some tips that might increase the life of your boots. 

  1. Clean your boots after every hike.
  2. Hand wash leather hiking boots.
  3. Most running shoes can be washed in the machine.
  4. Clean your shoes if you notice a foul odor.
  5. Clean shoes don’t mean healthy shoes.
  6. Air-dry your shoes.
  7. Many hiking boots are not made for the washing machine; if you put them in the machine, the washing process might damage your boots. 
  8. Full-grain leather boots need hand washing.
  9. Avoid salt water
cleaning suede shoe

If you’re a casual day hiker, you don’t need to clean your boots after a hike. Use a brush to clean the dust away. Gore-tex membrane keeps your shoes waterproof. You should look after them according to care instructions.

If you’re choosing to hand wash your walking boots, check out our article on how to clean hiking boots for a more detailed guide.

Wrapping Up

Drying or cleaning hiking boots shouldn’t have to be a painful thing. They can be fun and take only some time if you know what you’re doing.

If you’re still wondering how to wash hiking boots in the washing machine, let’s quickly sum it up. Remove the laces, soles, and debris. Clean the outsoles and the boots. Put them in a bag and off to the washing machine at a gentle speed.

You must dry your boots in an open space. Not all hiking boots are washing machine-safe, so consult your manufacturing company before washing.

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Sophie Williams

Sophie Williams

Sophie Williams is popularly known as a dynamic and creative footwear specialist, and she sharpened her skills and developed a strong foundation at College for Creative Studies, especially in design principles, boot and shoe materials, and boot construction techniques.

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