You might think that your hunting boots were made to get dirty, and they were, but if you want them to last a long time they’ll need a quick cleaning after most outings. Leather boots require just the right amount of moisture to function properly, not too much and not too little. If they become too dry, which happens when caked on mud sucks the moisture out of them, there’s a risk of cracking. If they are too wet, they can mildew (remember leather is a natural product that provides a perfect home for microorganisms). Non-leather fabrics, like rubber and neoprene aren’t susceptible to moisture damage, but you’ll still want to clean them to remove grime and any scents that they might have picked up during your hunting trip. These tips for how to clean and clean for your hunting boots show help them to last a longer and stay comfortable for your next hunt.
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Cleaning Your Leather Hunting Boots
For the first step, you’ll need to remove the big chunks of caked on mud and debris. Start with a damp cloth and then move to a soft, nylon brush – the kind you’d use for cleaning the tiles in your bathroom. Then use an old toothbrush to remove all of the dirt that’s gotten into the little crevices around the laces.
While you won’t be soaking the insides of your boots, you should remove the footbed inserts before moving on to the next step (they take forever to dry if they get wet). Clean off any remaining grime with a cloth and some mild soap and water (don’t use too much though, you don’t want your boots to be soaked). If your boots are suede leather, skip all steps involving water and just do a surface cleaning with the brush To get them extra clean, dip a small feather duster in the soapy water and run it through the inside of the boot. This step is more important if you stepped in a deep puddle and soaked the boots’ interior during your last hunt. For a deep clean, you actually will need to fill the interior with water and do some scrubbing with that toothbrush.
Leave your boots out to dry for several hours (drying time will vary based on the temperature of your house and relative humidity). Don’t leave them in the sun or use a hairdryer to speed up the process though; drying them too quickly can cause the leather to crack.
Before putting your leather boots in storage, you might want to condition them to keep them moisturized, flexible, and a bit more waterproof. This step doesn’t need to happen after every outing, just a few times each season. The type of conditioner that you use depends on whether you have full leather boots or ones with a combination of leather and synthetic fabrics. Full leather boots should be conditioned with a natural paste made from animal oils and beeswax, while boots with made with nylon and Gore-Tex fabric need a synthetic conditioner. Work the conditioner into the fabric using your hands, and then use a dry cloth to remove any excess.
Cleaning Your Non-Leather Hunting Boots
With rubber hunting boots you aren’t worried about the material drying out and cracking, but you will need to clean them so they don’t carry a scent. You also won’t need to worry about damaging the boots with water, which makes the clean up process a whole lot easier.
Start by rinsing the boots with clean water; I suggest using a hose outside to prevent your household drain from being clogged with mud and debris. Then sprinkle some baking soda over the wet boots and use a nylon brush to scrub away any stubborn grit. The baking soda helps with the scrubbing process by acting as a light abrasive, but it’s also the first step in removing any scent that the boots might be carrying.
Once you’ve removed all the grime, rinse the boots to off to remove any leftover baking soda. Rub the boots down with a dry cloth to give them a quick shine and pour a small amount of baking soda inside the boot; it should absorb some the human smell. If you don’t like the idea of leaving grit inside of your boots, fill a couple of socks with baking soda and store them inside the boots. If you really want to remove any last visage of body odor, buy some commercial scent blocker to spray on the clean boots.
Make It Part of Your Hunting Routine
Now that you know how to clean your hunting boots, make it part of your post-hunt routine. You already give your rifle a thorough cleaning when you get home, why not add your boots to the process? They’ll last longer, be more comfortable, and less smelly.
While we focused on hunting boots this post is relevant to any outdoor boots, hiking boots, army boots etc. If your going to fork out for the best army boots you better make sure you take care of them to make them last a lifetime!