*Breathe in deeply* (like, really, really deeply)
AH the great outdoors! Nothing quite like it, eh? There’s the sharp jap of pine, there's the scent of warm earth, some lovely sunshine, and… ew, wait, is that… feet? Excuse me, mother nature, but what the actual heck?
Oh wait– it’s those stinky hiking boots. Your stinky hiking boots.
If only you knew how to deodorize hiking boots…
They’re literally so hard to keep clean! I mean, who really cares about the mud splatters on the side (it just shows that you’ve actually been hiking in them)? The dingy shoelaces? Like whatever. But the stank? *GAGS*
Um, yeah no– either the sweaty smell goes or the shoes do, because I’d rather chuck said shoes into the bin with all due haste than have to deal with that faintly cheesy smell for a single extra moment.
And like I said, they're SO difficult to clean!! Seriously, that nice pleather material looked super sleek and outdoorsy when I originally bought the pair of boots at the store, but it certainly is not washing machine-friendly. Actual leather faces the same problem. Or really, any kind of the synthetic materials manufacturers typically craft hiking footwear out of; it’s good for hiking, but not for cleaning. One wrong move and it’ll look like mama nature herself chewed up your boots for your impudence and spat ‘em out again for good measure!
But never fear, my dear, athletic, and quite possibly rank friend! There are a gazillion million safe, effective ways to clean your hiking boots AND keep them in pristine condition!
Read on, as you prepare yourself to be properly flabbergasted by the many ways in which we can salvage your smelly shoes (for good!) and save your adventuring on the trails!
1. Cedar Chips
The first one will help your shoes fit right in when you’re hiking through the woods– now, that’s not to say you absolutely should skip ahead to the next option if you’re more of a beach or tundra sort of adventurer– I mean, this is going to work even if you’re hike consists of your local, suburban streetfront.
BUT cedar chips will remind you of the woods when you use them to deodorize your smelly hiking shoes!
People have been using cedar wood for literal ages to get rid of things they don’t like (including bad smells!). It turns up in the The Iliad (which, if you don’t recall from your high school English class, is all about Odysseus and the adventurers he had sailing on his ship– I mean it’s really cool, like there are witches, monsters, backstabbing neighbors trying to steal his wife while he’s away– all kinds of exciting things to read about). The treasure room is lined with cedar as it repels stuff– kind of like a lot of hope chests are lined with cedar– things like moths really don’t like cedar, it turns out, and that rocks for us.
It’s all because of a wee little chemical known as thujaplicin (try saying that five times fast, I dare you). Thujaplicin, you see, is something we can get from the oil of cedar trees. It prevents food from browning, can repel beetles (and such) if you use it in its mulched form in your backyard, and as aforementioned Odysseus himself used it for a freakin' treasure room as a sort of guard, so there you have it.
We’re going to be using cedar wood chips (which will be a bit more convenient than a whole block of wood for each of your shoes, if you ask me). Stick the wood chips into your stinky footwear, leave it all overnight, if at all possible, and then wake up to shoes that smell like the woods ya’ wanna go hiking in.
2. Airing Out
As hikers, I mean come on, we’re all about that fresh air, yeah? Your shoes feel the same way, I pinkie-promise you.
Actually, this one is probs one of the easier options, as long as you have a convenient place to let said smelly shoes hang out– preferably outside, so that the sun and maybe some wind can help dry out the sweat.
Ooh, I did mention that, didn’t I? Oh no? Ah, well ok, see your sweat is one thing we want to be removing from the material of your hiking boots. This isn’t because your sweat itself is funky– rather, there are these bacteria that simply THRIVE on your sweat, and they’re the ones that are rank.
So we can either go for the bacteria or your sweat, but to be honest, airing out your hiking boots kinda’ sorta’ does both, you see. By letting your shoes air out, you’re basically giving the bacteria and its food (which, if you’ll recall from moments ago, is your very own sweat) no quarter.
I mean, we could leave our hiking shoes inside, where it’s nice and temperate, and there are no things like bright sun or some serious wind to give the bacteria pause for their takeover of your shoes. But like... let's not do that. Stick your shoes where they can take a breather, okay? Good, glad that we've established.
Right after you’re done using your shoes (at their sweatiest, basically) you’ll want to leave your shoes outside, or if you don’t have easy access, at least an open window.
You can also give your smelly shoes a break from your feet by giving them a few days off in order to air out. Really, our goal here is just to leave the bacteria bereft of your sweat, so anything you can do in order to manage that accomplishes our goal of being smell-free.
3. Sunshine, Lollipops, and no smell anywhere!
Let’s get a little more nit-picky, here. Airing out your shoes outside or by an open window are both awesome and super amazing options, however, if you really want to hit the bacteria where it hurts, we’ll want to fry ‘em!
Not… not actually frying them. Please don’t fry your hiking boots in order to deodorize them. That would be incredibly stupid. Like, monumentally stupid. As in, Elon Musk has called, because you will have breached the atmosphere with such incredible levels of stupidity, should you decide to deep-fry rubber, pleather, or whatever the heck your trail-blazing shoes are made out of. Just don't do that. Don't be stupid.
Nah, we just want to leave the shoes outside where the sun will zap the little smelly buggers. Sunshine not only helps to kill off the bacteria thriving and jiving inside of your shoes, but it also assists in drying out your shoes, which, in other words, steals away the smelly bacteria’s primary source of nourishment.
Can I get an “A!” to the heckin’ “‘MEN!”? It’s like a 2 for one deal, I mean like, the best of the BOGOs this world has to offer! For real, sunshine is actually the one stone of an option for the proverbial two birds.
All you have to do is find the sunniest patch of real estate you have access to (window sills absolutely count) and leave your shoes to sunbathe for as long as possible.
Obviously (and I really hope that this is obvious to y’all), leaving your shoes outside overnight isn’t going to be of much help, because… well, the sun goes down, ya’ dim-wit. I mean, airing your shoes out, as aforementioned, isn’t a bad idea at all, but the sun is only going to be cooking for so long, and that’s where the real kick and punch for this option lie.
Also, be super, super certain that you don’t accidentally leave your hiking boots outside if there’s even a smidgen of a chance for rain. I, um (*coughs discreetly*), may or may not have accidentally done that today, and now my shoes are really soaking wet (as in, DRIPPING), and I have to wait for them to dry out before I can use ‘em again. Wet shoes and sweaty feet make for REALLY smelly shoes, so make sure to not do that– for real, it’s as monumentally stupid (and I, as luck would seem to have it, am apparently stupid– seriously, I want you to promise me that you won’t, under any particular circumstance, be stupid, alright?)
4. Cloves (they're good for more than seasoning)
But it could totally rain at any moment, and also, who the heck truly has the time to be consistently checking the weather for shoes!? I mean, my general thought when it comes to the weather is that whatever comes will come, and if I’m prepared that rocks, but if not then I’ll get sunburned or freeze (yes, I was always the kid who came to school with shorts in snowy January– BUT I also wore a hoodie, in order to give me a 50/50 chance at getting it right, so there’s that).
If we want to put weather aside, however, there are plenty of other options for deodorizing our hiking boots to choose from. In fact, some of them you might already have at home!
Now, that’s not to say that you aren’t the kind of person to have cedar chips just sitting around. You totally might be, but see– most people aren’t, but go you! Props to all the peeps with cedar chips.
But most people have a generally stocked spice cabinet– ya’ know, the six year old thing of salt, pepper that’s dusty enough to make you sneeze without opening it, etc. etc. But quite possibly, dare we hope, there is a small container of cloves in the way back.
They're totally good for more than just your Starbs pumpkin flavored coffee-- this autumnesque seasoning can also help to deodorize your smelly hiking shoes!
Step numero uno: get yourself some porous material like cheesecloth (or just a sock– but the thinner the material, the more effectively the cloves can help to destank the shoe-- so no super thick wooly socks). Put the cloves in, and then put the awesome-smelling capsule into your shoe. Now do it again, assuming you want more than one foot to smell great, then that's it.
Ta-dah! BOOM! Now your shoes smell like the aforementioned (and can I just say, OVERPRICED!?) pumpkin frappe, latte, cold brew, or whatever is your vibe come October.
5. Vinegar Foot Bath
If you want to try getting to the base of the problem, though, maybe go for the feet.
You can’t exactly strap cedar chips or satchels of cloves to your (quite possibly pungent) peds, but we can clean them extra well via other means.
The bacteria which makes your hiking shoes stink doesn’t just live on your shoes– some of it hangs out on your feet, so it’s super-duper important that we make sure that we don’t leave them there for when you slip your feet back into your poor (and soon to be stinky) hiking shoes.
Ok! We’re going to be making our very own DIY kind of cleansing bath for your feet. The most determined of stinky bacteria won’t be able to hang around for long if you stick to this regimen, I pinkie-promise, and if it does, well quite frankly it deserves to live, because it’s some kind of super bacterium and congratulations you’ve probably just spawned our new microbial overlords.
But back to your bacteria-ridden feet. Use your bath or a smaller tub, fill it mostly with warmish water (hotter is better, but your feet are kind of attached to the rest of you, so please be careful, m’kay?), about a cup of distilled white vinegar, and then that’s your base.
You could add a few drops of your fave essential oils if you’d like to make it a lil’ fancier. Also, if Epsom salts are your thing, you can (sparingly) add ‘em on in.
Go for about 20 minutes (no need for any longer), and then afterward make sure that your feet are completely dry. Wet feet are a PERFECT habitat for even more bacteria, so don’t even give them that chance.
You can feel free to do this twice a week– do it any more often, and your feet may or may not totally dry up and look like raisins-- which wouldn't rock, so stick to twice a week.
But I would be remiss not to mention this last one. This absolutely golden egg of a solution that’s going to leave your old, stinky hiking shoes smelling like new!
Well, smelling better than new, because I’m going to assume here that your shoes didn’t originally smell like lemon eucalyptus.
LUMI’s extra strength lemon eucalyptus natural shoe deodorizer is super effective AND super popular.
Amazon customers give this wee miracle worker over 10,000 5 star ratings on Amazon and an average 4.4 star rating overall. J. Mcree here says that they saved the boots, and will be kept in hand for forthcoming shoes.
LUMI is a small, family-owned business that manufactures all of their products in the good ol’ US of A, never tests on cute critters, and is made with natural ingredients.
The value of literally just one bottle is actually kind of magical– there are literally seven hundred PLUS sprays per bottle. Seriously, unless you somehow manage to grow another foot, one purchase of LUMI’s extra strength lemon eucalyptus natural shoe deodorizer will be enough to tide you and your hiking boots over for quite some time.
It’s MAXIMUM strength, and isn’t just a halfway-kind-of-product! Your shoes will smell great every single time after a quick use of LUMI. Yeah, maximum strength, oh and did I mention that it can be sprayed as a general odor eliminator? YUP! Spritz this stuff in the bathroom, the garbage can, literally even the kitchen sink! Your shoes, or absolutely anything else that you think might smell in your home will totally thank you for finally getting rid of that stank.
Simply spritz LUMI’s extra strength lemon eucalyptus natural shoe deodorizer into each of your shoes, and you’re done!
Okay– a roundup of all of today’s stinky hiking boot solutions.
For NUMBER 1 we’ve got cedar chips. Perfect for a nature-buff like you who wants to be surrounded by nature at all times. You like walking through the trees? Now your shoes can smell like them, instead of your sweat! Simply get some cedar wood chips, stick ‘em on into your funky footwear, and that’s all you’ve gotta do!
Next up we’ll be airing it all out. Stick your shoes outside, by an open window, literally just anywhere that’s going to help dry out your shoes and give them a good breather.
Sunshine is an additional step you can take in conjunction with that second option. Let your shoes air out in a SUNNY spot, where the sun will help to knock the bacteria out of the running so that you can get back to hiking without having to worry about that foot funk.
Cloves are another natural option we can use to finally defeat foot odor for good. Tie up some of the sweet-smelling spice in some porous material (for example, cheesecloth) and then stick your super satchels of awesome into the shoes that have been giving you the terrible trouble with stank.
A quick vinegar soak for your feet is up next, and takes no more than a warm bath and a quick dash of distilled white vinegar. With this option, your feet will become complete wastelands for the stinky bacteria, and your hiking shoes will have nothing to fear because we'll be taking care of our feet alongside taking care of said footwear.
And boy, does our footwear need it. Hiking is def a seriously high-impact sport, and in order to truly enjoy it, we would really rather prefer NOT to smell like… well, feet.
LUMI’s extra strength lemon eucalyptus natural shoe deodorizer is the solution that is going to cap us off then, as we get super excited for fearlessly planning our next hike, without fear of that notorious funk. Simply spray away, and feel good about how the only thing you’re going to be smelling on your next hike is whatever natural wonder you’ve set out to see.