How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Hiking Boots – A Complete Guide

Have you ever experienced the unpleasant smell of mildew in your hiking boots after a long, wet hike? If so, you know how frustrating and uncomfortable it is.

I have also experienced mildew in my hiking boots on a few occasions. One time, I went on a hike in a tropical rainforest, and despite my best efforts, my boots got soaked through.

When I returned home, I let them air out, but the musty smell remained. Later, I discovered that mildew had grown on the inside of my boots, which was causing the odor.

How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Hiking Boots

In this article, I’ll share with you some useful tips and tricks on how to get mildew smell out of hiking boots and keep them fresh and clean. So, if you’re tired of dealing with smelly boots, keep reading to learn more.

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How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Hiking Boots?

Mildew is a type of fungus that thrives in damp and humid environments. It’s one of the most common causes of the musty smell that permeates hiking boots. It is a problem that many hikers face, particularly those who hike in wet or humid conditions.

Removing the mildew smell from your hiking boots is crucial for various reasons but you can remover this by following these steps

1. Cleaning

After a hike, remove any dirt or debris from your boots and let them dry in a well-ventilated area. If they are particularly wet, stuff them with newspaper to absorb excess moisture. Later in this article you will find a step by step guide to clean your hiking boots.

2. Moisture-wicking socks

Moisture-wicking socks help to keep your feet dry and reduce the amount of moisture that is trapped in your hiking boots. This can go a long way in preventing mildew growth.

3. Deodorizing spray

Using a deodorizing spray specifically designed for hiking boots helps to keep them smelling fresh and prevent mildew growth.

4. Air dry

After cleaning your boots, let them air dry completely. Do not use any heat source to dry your boots because this will damage the materials and cause them to deteriorate faster.

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5. Use silica gel packets

Silica gel packets are a great way to absorb any moisture and prevent mildew from forming inside your boots. You can purchase these packets online or find them in the packaging for various products. Place a few packets inside each boot before storing them.

6. Store in a dry place

When storing your boots, make sure to keep them in a dry, cool place with good air circulation. Avoid storing them in damp areas like basements or garages, as this promotes the growth of mildew.

7. Use boot trees

Boot trees also help to maintain the shape of your boots and prevent them from creasing or collapsing. They also allow for air to circulate inside the boots, which helps to prevent moisture buildup. Insert a pair of boot trees into each boot before storing them.

Using these tips has helped me to prevent mildew from growing in my hiking boots. By following these simple tips, you can also ensure that your hiking boots are always ready for your next adventure.

How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Hiking Boots

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How To Differentiate Mildew Smell From Other Odors?

Identifying the mildew smell in your hiking boots is tricky, especially if you are not familiar with the odor. Mildew has a distinct musty smell that is often described as damp or earthy.

After a few hikes in wet and humid conditions, I noticed a damp and musty smell coming from my boots. At first, I thought it was just from sweat, but the odor persisted even after I cleaned and aired them out.

To confirm my suspicions of mildew, I inspected the inside of my boots and found white or grayish spots that had grown on the materials. Mildew appears on different surfaces, including leather, fabric, and rubber, and it can often spread rapidly if left unchecked.

If you suspect that your hiking boots have a mildew smell, there are a few things you can do to confirm it.

1. Inspection

Inspect the inside of your boots for any signs of mold or mildew growth. You can also check for discoloration, stains, or a slimy texture on the materials.

2. Sniffing

Another way to identify mildew is by sniffing the boots and paying attention to any damp or musty odors. Mildew smell is often described as strong and musty, and it is overwhelming, even from a distance.

Mildew has a distinct earthy or musty smell that is different from other odors like sweat, leather, or rubber.

If you notice a pungent odor coming from your boots, it’s likely mildew.

3. Visual signs

Mildew appear as white or grayish spots on the materials of your hiking boots. Check the inside and outside of your boots for any visible signs of mold or mildew growth.

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4. Consider the environment

If you hike in humid or wet conditions, your boots are more likely to have a mildew smell. Other factors like storage conditions and exposure to moisture also contribute to mildew growth.

It is important to address mildew growth early on to prevent further damage and avoid health issues. By identifying the mildew smell and taking the necessary steps to clean and prevent its growth, you can keep your hiking boots fresh, clean, and ready for your next adventure.

What Type Of Cleaner Should I Use To Get Rid Of The Mildew Smell In Hiking Boots?

In terms of cleaners, choose a cleaner that is specifically designed for use on hiking boots and is safe for the materials of your boots. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as these can damage the materials and cause them to deteriorate more quickly.

How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Hiking Boots

A good option is a mild soap and water solution, which helps remove dirt and debris from your boots without damaging them. Mix a small amount of mild soap with warm water and use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the surface of your boots. Rinse with clean water and let them air dry completely before wearing them again.

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What Kind of Socks Should I Wear?

Look for socks that are made of moisture-wicking materials like wool or synthetic fabrics. These materials help to wick moisture away from your skin and prevent it from building up inside your boots, which can lead to mildew growth.

Avoid wearing cotton socks, as they tend to retain moisture and lead to a buildup of sweat and bacteria inside your boots.

Can I Use Essential Oils To Remove The Mildew Smell From My Hiking Boots?

Essential oils are effective in removing mildew smells from hiking boots. However, it is important to note that essential oils should be used as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, proper cleaning and storage practices.

To use essential oils to remove mildew smells from your hiking boots, you can follow these steps.

Before using essential oils, make sure your boots are clean and dry. Remove any dirt or debris from the exterior and interior of the boots and let them air dry completely.

Several essential oils have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that help to eliminate mildew smells. Tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and lavender oil are popular choices.

Mix a few drops of your chosen essential oil with water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray the mixture inside your boots. Make sure to cover all areas of the interior. Let the boots air dry before wearing them again.

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Step-by-step Guide On How To Clean The Boots Effectively

Cleaning your hiking boots is a straightforward process that helps to extend their lifespan and keep them odor-free. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean your hiking boots effectively:

Materials needed to clean hiking boots

Cleaning hiking boots is an essential part of maintaining their lifespan and keeping them odor-free. To effectively clean your hiking boots, you will need some basic materials that are often easily accessible. Here are the materials you will need and how to use them to clean your hiking boots:

Soft-bristled brush

A soft-bristled brush is essential for removing dirt, grime, and other debris from the surface of your hiking boots. The brush should be gentle enough not to damage the materials of the boots.

Mild detergent or soap

A mild detergent or soap is necessary for deep cleaning your hiking boots. It is recommended to use a non-toxic and biodegradable detergent to avoid any harsh chemicals that could potentially damage your boots.

Warm water

Warm water is best for cleaning your hiking boots. It helps loosen dirt and grime and makes it easier to remove with a soft-bristled brush.


Towels are also essential for drying your boots after cleaning. It is recommended to use a clean towel to avoid any further contamination and ensure the boots are fully dry.

Waterproofing spray

A waterproofing spray is necessary for protecting your hiking boots from moisture, which leads to mildew growth. It’s recommended to use a spray specifically designed for hiking boots to ensure it doesn’t damage the materials.


Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any visible dirt, debris, and mud from the surface of your hiking boots. This will help you get rid of any elements that could cause a mildew smell in the future.

Mix a small amount of mild detergent or soap with warm water in a bucket or sink. Make sure to use a non-toxic and biodegradable detergent to avoid any harsh chemicals that could potentially damage your boots.

Dip a clean cloth into the cleaning solution and gently wipe the surface of your hiking boots. Make sure to pay attention to the seams and other hard-to-reach areas.

Use a clean cloth dipped in warm water to rinse the cleaning solution off the boots. It’s important to avoid submerging the boots in water, as this can cause damage to the materials.

Use a clean towel to dry the surface of your hiking boots. It’s recommended to let the boots air-dry for a few hours before wearing them.

Once the boots are completely dry, use a waterproofing spray specifically designed for hiking boots to protect them from moisture. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

By following these simple steps, you can keep your hiking boots clean and ready for your next adventure.

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