How to Stop Walking Boots Smelling: Tips and Tricks

walking boots smell
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Walking boots are essential for outdoor enthusiasts, providing comfort and support on long hikes. However, after a few uses, they can start to develop a pungent odour from sweat and bacteria build-up. And yes, I am speaking from experience!

This can be not only unpleasant but also embarrassing, especially if you’re hiking with friends or family. The good news is that there are several ways to stop walking boots from smelling.

Understanding the causes of boot odour is the first step in preventing it.

Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, and the interior of a walking boot is the perfect breeding ground. Sweat from your feet, combined with the heat generated by walking, creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. The bacteria produce waste products that cause the unpleasant odour. By taking steps to reduce moisture and kill bacteria, you can keep your walking boots smelling fresh and clean.

Key Takeaways

  • Daily boot care, including drying them out and using odour-prevention products, can help prevent boot odour.
  • Cleaning techniques such as washing the insoles and using natural remedies like baking soda and tea tree oil can help remove existing odours.
  • Proper storage solutions and foot hygiene can also play a role in preventing boot odour.

Understanding Boot Odour – why do your walking boots smell

walking boots smell? use natural products where possible

Walking boots are obviously an essential piece of equipment for hikers, we can’t hike barefoot, but they can quickly become smelly due to the accumulation of sweat, bacteria, and fungus. The odour can be unpleasant and embarrassing, but it can also be a sign of poor hygiene, which can lead to foot infections and other health problems. Therefore, it is essential to understand the causes of boot odour and how to prevent it from occurring.

One of the main causes of boot odour is sweat. When the feet sweat, the moisture gets trapped inside the boots, creating a warm and damp environment that is perfect for bacteria and fungus to grow. As a result, the boots start to smell bad.

Another cause of boot odour is the accumulation of dirt and debris inside the boots. The dirt and debris can also trap moisture, making the boots even more susceptible to bacterial and fungal growth.

To prevent boot odour, it is essential to keep the boots clean and dry. Regular cleaning and drying of the boots can help prevent the accumulation of sweat, dirt, and debris, reducing the risk of bacterial and fungal growth. Some tips to prevent boot odour include:

  • Let boots dry out after each use by removing the insoles and allowing them to air out in a well-ventilated area.
  • Use a boot dryer to speed up the drying process and prevent moisture buildup. If you have not seen one before check out this Renogy boot dryer.
  • Clean boots regularly with a mild soap and water solution, paying special attention to the areas where sweat and dirt tend to accumulate.
  • Use a deodorizing spray or powder to help eliminate odours and prevent bacterial and fungal growth. We found Scholls to be the best basic product for this, although later on we mention more specific products.

By understanding the causes of boot odour and taking steps to prevent it, hikers can keep their boots smelling fresh and clean, reducing the risk of foot infections and other health problems.

Daily Boot Care

Taking care of your walking boots on a daily basis can help prevent them from developing a bad smell. Here are some tips to keep your boots fresh and odor-free.

Proper Ventilation

One of the most important things you can do to prevent your boots from smelling is to allow them to dry out properly. After each use, remove the insoles and loosen the laces to allow air to circulate inside the boots. Avoid storing your boots in a damp, enclosed space as this can lead to the growth of bacteria and fungi that cause bad odours.

Moisture Management

Moisture is a major contributor to smelly boots. To keep your boots dry, use a moisture-wicking sock that draws sweat away from your feet. You can also use a boot dryer or stuff your boots with newspaper to absorb moisture. If your boots get wet, remove the insoles and let them dry completely before wearing them again.

Using Foot Powder

Another way to prevent your boots from smelling is to use foot powder. Apply a small amount of powder to your feet before putting on your socks and boots. The powder will help absorb moisture and prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. Be sure to choose a powder that is specifically designed for use on feet and avoid using too much as it can cause clumping.

By following these daily boot care tips, you can help prevent your walking boots from developing a bad smell. Proper ventilation, moisture management, and the use of foot powder can all contribute to keeping your boots fresh and odor-free.

Cleaning Techniques

A pair of walking boots being cleaned and deodorized using various techniques to eliminate any unpleasant odors

Regular Cleaning

To prevent walking boots from smelling, it is important to clean them regularly. This means wiping them down with a damp cloth after each use to remove any dirt or debris. It’s so easy to just take them off and leave till later, but how often does life get in the way and you realise several days later they still haven’t been cleaned?

Once the boots are clean, they should be left to air dry in a well-ventilated area. This will help to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, which can cause odours.

In addition to wiping down the boots, it is also a good idea to remove the insoles and wash them separately. This can be done by hand using a mild detergent and warm water. Once clean, the insoles should be left to air dry completely before being placed back into the boots.

Deep Cleaning Methods

If walking boots have developed a strong odour, it may be necessary to use a deep cleaning method to remove the smell. One effective method is to mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. The boots should be sprayed with the solution and left to air dry completely. The vinegar will help to kill any bacteria or fungi that may be causing the odour.

Another deep cleaning method is to use a solution of warm water and baking soda. The boots should be soaked in the solution for several hours before being rinsed and left to air dry. Baking soda is a natural odour absorber and can help to eliminate any unpleasant smells.

It is important to note that harsh chemicals should be avoided when cleaning walking boots, as they can damage the materials and cause the boots to deteriorate more quickly. By using gentle cleaning methods and regularly wiping down the boots, it is possible to keep them smelling fresh and clean.

Odour-Prevention Products

Walking boots surrounded by odour-prevention products like deodorizing sprays, shoe fresheners, and activated charcoal sachets

Walking boots can be a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to unpleasant odours. However, there are several odour-prevention products available that can help keep your boots smelling fresh.

Insoles and Liners

Insoles and liners are a great way to prevent odours from developing in your walking boots. They can be easily inserted into your boots and work by absorbing moisture and sweat. This helps to keep your feet dry, which in turn prevents the growth of bacteria that causes odours.

When choosing insoles or liners, look for those made with natural materials such as wool or bamboo. These materials are not only effective at absorbing moisture but are also environmentally friendly.

Sprays and Deodorisers

Sprays and deodorisers are another option for preventing odours in your walking boots. They work by killing the bacteria that causes odours and leaving a pleasant scent behind.

When using sprays and deodorisers, it is important to choose those specifically designed for use on walking boots. Avoid using general-purpose air fresheners or household cleaners, as these may damage the materials in your boots.

Some popular options for sprays and deodorisers include Gear Aid ReviveX Odour Eliminator and Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. These products are easy to use and can help keep your walking boots smelling fresh and clean.

Overall, using insoles, liners, sprays, and deodorisers can be an effective way to prevent odours from developing in your walking boots. By keeping your boots dry and free from bacteria, you can enjoy your outdoor adventures without worrying about unpleasant smells.

Natural Remedies

If you prefer to use natural remedies to get rid of the unpleasant smell in your walking boots, there are a few options available.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural odour absorber that can help eliminate the smell from your walking boots. Simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda inside your boots and let it sit overnight. In the morning, shake out the excess baking soda and your boots should smell fresher. You can also mix baking soda with water to create a paste and apply it to the inside of your boots. Leave it for a few hours before wiping it away with a damp cloth.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are another natural remedy that can help to deodorize your walking boots. Tea tree oil, in particular, has antibacterial properties that can help kill the bacteria that cause the smell. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with water and spray the inside of your boots. You can also use other essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus to freshen up your boots. Simply add a few drops of your chosen oil to a cotton ball and place it inside your boots overnight.

Remember, natural remedies may take longer to work than commercial products, but they are often safer and more environmentally friendly, which will be important for many hikers.

Storage Solutions

Correct Storage

Properly storing walking boots is essential for preventing odour. When not in use, it’s important to ensure that the boots are completely dry. This can be achieved by removing the insoles and allowing both the boots and insoles to air out in a well-ventilated area. Placing crumpled newspaper inside the boots can help absorb any remaining moisture and prevent the growth of odour-causing bacteria.

Boot Dryers

Investing in a boot dryer can be highly beneficial for maintaining odour-free walking boots. Boot dryers are designed to effectively remove moisture from the boots, reducing the risk of unpleasant smells. They are particularly useful after walking in wet conditions or for individuals who frequently use their walking boots.

Foot Hygiene

Taking care of your feet is essential to prevent them from smelling. Here are some tips to maintain good foot hygiene.

Washing Feet Regularly

Wash your feet regularly with soap and water, especially after physical activities such as hiking. Make sure to clean in between your toes and dry your feet thoroughly. Moisture can cause bacteria to grow, leading to bad odour.

Breathable Socks

Wear breathable socks made of natural fibres such as cotton or wool. These materials allow air to circulate around your feet, reducing the risk of bacteria growth. Avoid synthetic materials that trap moisture and heat, which can lead to bad odour.

By following these simple tips, you can maintain good foot hygiene and prevent your walking boots from smelling.

Frequently Asked Questions

What methods can prevent odour in hiking boots?

There are several methods to prevent odour in hiking boots. One of the most effective ways is to wear moisture-wicking socks that can absorb sweat and keep your feet dry. Another method is to apply foot powder or baking soda inside the boots to absorb moisture and control odour. Moreover, it is recommended to air out your boots after each use and store them in a dry, well-ventilated area.

Can overnight treatments effectively neutralise boot odour?

Yes, overnight treatments can effectively neutralise boot odour. One of the most popular overnight treatments is to stuff your boots with newspaper or activated charcoal, which can absorb moisture and neutralise odours. Another method is to apply a mixture of water and vinegar inside the boots and let them dry overnight.

Is it safe to use a washing machine to deodorise walking boots?

No, it is not recommended to use a washing machine to deodorise walking boots. The harsh spinning and tumbling of the washing machine can damage the boots and reduce their lifespan. Instead, it is recommended to hand wash the boots with a mild detergent and let them air dry.

How can one address the issue of damp-smelling walking boots?

The issue of damp-smelling walking boots can be addressed by removing the insoles and letting them dry separately. It is also recommended to stuff the boots with newspaper or activated charcoal and let them air dry in a well-ventilated area. Additionally, applying a mixture of water and vinegar inside the boots can help kill bacteria and neutralise odours.

What are the best deodorisers for outdoor footwear?

There are several deodorisers for outdoor footwear, including foot powder, baking soda, activated charcoal, and cedar shoe trees. Foot powder and baking soda can absorb moisture and control odour, while activated charcoal and cedar shoe trees can absorb moisture and neutralise odours.

Conclusion – how to prevent and treat that walking boots smell

Keeping your walking boot clean and fresh shouldn’t feel like a marathon (although, let’s be honest, walking in one can sometimes feel that way!). By following these simple tips – hand washing with mild detergent, avoiding harsh chemicals, and using handy odour-busters like newspaper or activated charcoal – you can keep your boot feeling (and smelling!) its best.

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