Lots of people love hiking when the sun's out, appreciating the floral beauty of mountain meadows, seeing the aspen groves glowing golden and scarlet on the cusp of autumn. But you know what can be an unexpected delight and joy when it comes to getting out into the great outdoors? The great frozen outdoors!
There aren’t many who are into putting themselves through both the cold and the strenuous nature of lengthy nature walks, but you get it, don’t you? I mean, you clicked onto this page, so I’m going to go out on a brittle wintery limb here, and guess that you already know and absolutely adore hiking when most others would just clamp their mouths shut, shake their heads, and pronounce “TOO COLD!”
You’re likely the kind of person who finds beauty in the stalwart green pines that retain their sense of strength and vitality, even as the rest of the forest takes a long winter’s nap. You see the deep drifts of snow and perhaps think to yourself, “Dang, it sure would be awesome to be out exploring in that!”
You’re also probs the kind of person who exposes their poor hiking boots to plenty of moisture (whether that be sweat or snow), and your poor winter-ready footwear has probably been through it, am I right?
Lots of sweat, and lots of extra moisture? Am I also right when I guess that your winter hiking boots also stink just a little bit? Maybe… a lot?
Don’t you worry your lovely lil’ ski-cap bedecked mind one whit about that, because there are plenty of options to deodorize your hiking boots effectively and with ease!
Table of Contents
1. Vinegar for the Win(egar)
2. Baking Soda Busts the Bad Smells
3. Freezer for your Favorite Frosty Footwear
4. Charcoal for the Win
5. Soapy for the Soles
6. Say Adios to Stank with Cedar Chips!
7. LUMI’s Extra Strength Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Shoe Deodorizer
How can vinegar help to fix your smelly winter hiking boots?
I get it– when you’re out winter hiking, smelly shoes are probs the very last thing on any of y’all’s minds. Like, it’s freakin’ cold, our face is freakin’ cold, our feet are freakin’ cold, I mean everything is freakin’ cold! HA! Tell that to the stinky bacteria on your feet, now heated up by all of your hiking adventures.
Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yeah, there’s bacteria thriving and jiving all over your feet, shoes, socks, and um… well, sorry if this is the first time you’re hearing about all of this. It’s quite a stinky shock to the system, to be sure.
You see, said smelly bacteria love to eat the moisture from your sweat and the extra leftover dead skin cells also hanging out on your feet. Thus, when you do any kind of working out (like a fresh jaunt in the wintery woods) you’re also kind of feeding your wee little pet bacteria (do they even count as pets if you didn’t actually mean to get them?)-- regardless of how you feel about that, it’s a fact and we’re just going to have to deal with it.
This time, with vinegar! Soak a couple of cotton rounds in any kind of vinegar (apple cider may stain your shoes, so I’d usually say to just go for the white vinegar), and then stuff ‘em into your soon-to-not-be-stinky winter hiking boots.
You can leave everything be overnight, but longer will def help the acidic vinegar to do its job and do away with the stinky bacteria, and help you to finally fix those stinky shoes for good!
2. Baking Soda
But let’s see if we can make a science experiment-type volcano, because the next one up on our shoe deodorizing list is baking soda!
Oh yes, the magical chemical agent that makes cakes (and empires, surely) rise, fizzes on contact with any kind of vinegar (the BEST kind of explosive childhood science, am I right?), and also is totally and most absolutely capable of getting rid of your footwear’s funk!
Baking soda, you see, is actually kind of fantastic for absorbing any and all kinds of moisture which, if you may recall, is what the stinky bacteria just love to eat. And, NEWSFLASH, fed bacteria is stinky bacteria! We don’t want that, obvs. Prevent the bacteria from getting their three square ones a day, and you’ll have better-smelling shoes in no time at all!
All you have to do is get yourself a couple tablespoons of baking soda and then use it all to just dust up the insides of your winter hiking boots really well. Give ‘em a good shake to totally coat everything in there– it certainly wouldn’t do to have most of one shoe be smelling fabulous, and then like that one little nook or cranny smell like… well, foot.
But hey, you might be worried about cleaning up the inevitable mess. I mean, if you’re just out hiking, it probs won’t matter to you all that much because you can clap out your shoes right before you set out, but I ain’t here to judge– just here to help ya’ fix your stinky shoes, m’kay? And honestly, I’d probs be in the worry crew myself (messy white footprints everywhere just sound positively dreadful).
SO, you might want to try putting the baking soda into a sock, then you’ll tie it off with a rubber band or something, and stuff the sock into your rank hiking boots.
Regardless of the mode, get the baking soda into your shoes, leave overnight at the very least, but leave it for longer if you truly want to say sayonara to the shoe stank.
Ok so you read the title of this option, and I’m sure that your first thought wasn’t, (*cue the most sarcastic tone your own inner voice has to offer): “Obviously. Of course. This was my plan all along. Why the heck would we not first think to stuff our funky footwear into the freezer? Obvs.”
Or perhaps that’s exactly what it was, and you’re just a really well-informed winter hiker who already knows the entire game plan when it comes to knowing how to use the freezer to actually fix your smelly hiking boots for good. If so, then go you, ten out of ten, ma’ dear reader.
So we already know that it’s the bacteria in your shoes that are stinking them up, and what do bacteria need to thrive besides moisture and dead skin cells? Love, attention, some positive words of affirmation, perhaps gifts– heck no, it’s not any of those (although they may be for some real rad people in your life). It’s warmth! Not the affectionate kind, duh, but like literal, actual toasty temperatures.
Regularly, sweaty feet provide all of the heat, dead skin cells, and moisture a wee little bacterium could ever possibly require, BUT not today! No siree-bob, we’re putting an end to that this very minute!
Stick the stinky little suckers (AKA your shoes) into the nearest freezer (after putting your shoes into a pillow case or ziploc bag perhaps, just to keep your footwear and frozen food separated). Leave overnight or longer if you can manage it.
What’s also cool about this option is that it works with camping for all of you hikers out there. Do you want to know what’s the world’s largest (and free!) freezer? Its own open-aired self! When camping in the winter, leave your hiking boots right outside your tent and wake up to shoes that are stink-free because all of the bacteria are now literal popsicles.
4. Charcoal Tablets and Envelopes
Another easy method you can use to deodorize your hiking boots while camping (stinky shoes wait for no one, and certainly not if you just spent the whole entire day trekking into the unknown) is simple charcoal!
And no I don’t mean the charcoal that you get from your cooking fires– that is charcoal, but I mean it’d probs just be really difficult to use for this next option of ours.
Charcoal, you see is just superheated carbon (usually we use things like coconut husks, bamboo, etc. etc.) and then when it's all toasty the charcoal develops wee little pores that can absorb things like funk plus all of our woes and worries (not literally, but I mean no shoe stink would totally have me feeling a little bit less woeful, of course).
So we can use charcoal in its powdered form (usually it comes in tiny little tablets that are supes convenient) to help us with our poor shoes’ dank-smelling dilemma. Simply put the charcoal powder into your shoes or in a little envelope of something if you want to be careful for an easier time cleaning it all up, and then leave overnight– longer, of course, if you’d like to give the charcoal a better chance at absorbing the rank odors.
And just make sure to remember to switch out the packets after a while– charcoal is pretty cool, but it isn’t fairly reusable. Once it’s absorbed a lot of the odor, the charcoal will need to be replaced if you want this neat little deodorizing trick to keep absorbing the shoes’ odor.
5. Soap in the Sole
But I get that figuring out the charcoal tablets can be a little new, and then honestly trying to figure out this whole deodorizing hiking boots thing can just be a wee bit stressful overall, so this next one up on our list is a super easy (but still totally effective) method for getting rid of that funk for good! As in, this is like one step and then you’re all good to blaze a trail in the frosty frontier of your choosing without fear of stinky shoes.
Soap, you see, actually is sort of fabulous because of how it can take down the dank bacteria at the molecular level. To explain, when you wash your hands, the water is a mechanical force that simply pushes the bacteria (like a backslap off of your skin, if you will), whereas soap is something that’s able to quite literally burst apart the fatty membrane surrounding the bacteria.
And do ya’ want to know what’s pretty rad? No membrane, no bacteria. *Insert satisfied smirk and arms folded across the chest* BOOM!
So we don’t actually need to suds up our poor stinky winter hiking boots for this one (thank goodness, because after a long hike in the powdery snow, I really don’t want to be messing around with moist shoes). Instead, we merely require a plebian bar of soap in addition to some time.
All you’ve got to do is stick your choice of hard bar soap into your shoes, leave everything to hang out overnight (or longer if you haven’t a pressing need to do more hypothermic hiking any time soon), and then you’re golden! More importantly, you’re also (most probably) stank-free! Repeat if needed, of course, because consistency works wonders, as they say.
6. Cedar Chips
Perhaps you’d like a more rustic scent for your smelly snow-safe shoes, however. I mean, after all, you’re clearly a person who loves the great and wondrous outdoors (and obviously thus one of a rather refined and cultured taste). Some soaps just kind of smell like old lady armpit anyway. With this option the only worry you could possibly have is people smelling you and wondering who or what rustic woodsperson just walked into their range of smell, and curiously wondering how they too could ever possibly achieve such a fabulous mountainy aroma.
It’s all cedar chips, my fine (yet likely still a tad bit funky) friend. They’re those wonderful little packets of spicy woodsy magic that may remind you of summer BBQs perhaps, long evening walks beneath autumnesque trees, or even
just your own local gardening center.
Plenty of local outdoors stores supply them, or even some grocery stores can come to our rank rescue (a very extra sincere to all of the grill masters out there who keep said chips in steady demand).
Cedar is particularly pungent, and it’s absolutely fantastic for helping us to rid us of the rad odors emanating from our hiking gear, you see. Simply put a couple of tablespoons of the amazingly-scented wood chips directly into your shoes (cedar works fabulously, although if you can only find hickory or even applewood, that should work just fine).
Leave the wood chips in overnight, but longer probs won’t hurt your boots (but that’s just my humble and most mortal take on the matter:) ).
7. LUMI’s Extra Strength Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Shoe Deodorizer
I get that you might not have the time, however, to just let your winter hiking boots hang out overnight (or longer) because the snow-blanketed woods are extraordinarily vociferous in their calling, and you must go ASAP!
And that’s where LUMI’s Extra Strength Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Shoe Deodorizer comes in! This stuff works fast, effectively, and it’s as simple as could possibly ever get.
LUMI’s Extra Strength Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Shoe Deodorizer is the company’s best-selling product, given a 4.4-star rating on Amazon, with over TEN FREAKIN’ THOUSAND perfect 5-star reviews. This one Amazon reviewer here tells us of how one use was literally all it took for them to get rid of basically all the funk their boots have been getting from the winter moisture:
LUMI is also a pretty fabulous company itself. They never test on animals, all of their products are sourced from the highest quality and all-natural ingredients, and they also produce everything in the US! Oh and btw they’re a small family-owned business as well– like seriously, come on. Cue all of the confetti and gospel choirs, because your shoes are about to get the actual VIP treatment.
Simply spritz LUMI’s Extra Strength Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Shoe Deodorizer once or twice directly into your winter hiking boots, and you’re all set! That’s literally all you have to do!
No need to wait overnight or longer or for the next big sale for new winter hikers because you chucked your old boots out since the smell had kind of begun to smell like radioactive cheese– none of that! Fix the boots you have, ma’ dear reader, with LUMI’s Extra Strength Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Shoe Deodorizer.
But I think I might want a review of all of these options. I don’t know about you all, but I always make sure to double-check and review the route before I set off on a hike in temperatures that may or may not be able to turn me into an actual popsicle.
Vinegar can help you to deodorize your winter hiking boots thanks to how acidic it is. It’ll get after all of the smelly bacteria and before you know it you’ll be stank-free with no fear of the little buggers hitching a ride on your hikes. Soak some cotton pads or rounds in your vinegar of choice (white vinegar won’t stain, FYI), and then stuff those rounds or pads into each of your boots. Leave overnight or longer to make sure the bacteria won’t be doing an encore.
Baking soda also works well for taking care of funk from soggy shoes, as it absorbs any and all kinds of moisture really, really quite well. Simply dust a tablespoon or two into each of your boots (or fill a sock with the same, tie it off, and then stuff the socks into your boots), leave overnight, and call it a day! Or alternatively leave the baking soda in for longer to better absorb the stank– you’ll know when the baking soda can’t absorb anymore moisture when it starts to clump up some.
An overnight trip to your freezer will also help to nullify the musty mayhem of your winter hiking boots. The cold and bacteria aren’t exactly BFFs, and with the chilly temps your boots can be fresh albeit possibly frosty. If you’re camping, you can totally just stick your boots outside the tent, and wake up to the stink-free wonders that are now your boots, or alternatively you could put the boots into a bag or pillowcase and place ‘em in the freezer overnight or a bit longer (your Ben and Jerry’s won’t mind the company, I’m sure).
Charcoal tablets come to save the day with actually amazing odor-absorption superpowers. For real, all you’ve got to do is fill up a wee little envelope with the powdery stuff, and stick it right on into your boot, leave overnight or longer, and then take a deep breath of frigid but fresh air because now you get to enjoy your winter hiking without the wack wafts emanating up from your boots.
Soap will do away with the bacteria’s outer cellular layer, meaning that it won’t be able to stink up your soggy shoes after any and all kinds of brisk adventuring that you might have planned. Just stick a bar into each of your shoes, and leave overnight, or longer if you can spare your shoes for any more time. No need to even suds up the (hopefully no longer) stinky suckers! Just two dry bars of soap that will take care of your pungent peds without involving any of the elbow grease!
Cedar wood chips will take on the funk with its own fantastically woodsy aroma. Layer the pungent mulch in those boots (remember that hickory or really any other lovely-smelling wood chip will also do), trying to cover most of the surface area in your shoes. Leave overnight, but longer won’t do anything but make your shoes smell *that* much more amazing.
And then we’ve got ourselves a fabulous option in LUMI’s Extra Strength Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Shoe Deodorizer. Simply spritz once or twice directly into your shoes, and then you’re done! No overnighting or anything for this option– its speedy, and the bottle is also conveniently sized so that you can easily pack it in with the rest of your stuff on any kind of frigid backpacking or camping trip without worry for it taking up too much space.
So go ahead and march right on up the marvelously chilly mountains, the arctic tundra, or wherever you may be adventuring this winter, because any of these options will successfully deodorize your stinky winter hiking boots with ease and quite possibly a touch of pizazz. Take any of these quick and easy tricks to get rid of your stinky shoes’ smell for good!