6 Easy Steps to Clean Mud Off Shoes

Product Care

After getting outside, shoes can be a muddy mess. Here's how to clean them.

Last updated: 4 October 2023
5 min read
Time Required
15 min
Estimated Cost


  • Mild soap or liquid laundry detergent
  • Bicarb of soda
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Leather conditioner or waterproof spray (optional)


  • Soft-bristle brush or toothbrush
  • Soft cloth
  • Laundry bag

Whether you hit a patch of mud on your hike or stepped in a puddle by mistake—getting mud off your shoes will keep them in good condition for many outdoor adventures to come.

If you have muddy running shoes or hiking boots, here's a guide for how to clean them.

(Related: How to Clean Your Shoes in 6 Easy Steps)

How to Clean Muddy Running Shoes

Start with running shoes that are completely dry. If you've just come in from a run, hike or muddy trek, let them sit for the remainder of the day or until they've fully aired out. Once dry, they're ready to be cleaned.

  1. 1.Remove Loose Dirt

    How to Clean Muddy Shoes

    Using either a toothbrush or dish brush with soft bristles, wipe off as much loose dirt as possible. Do this outside or lay down some newspaper to catch the mess.

    It's OK to apply pressure to the bottom of the shoe, but go gently when brushing the uppers.

  2. 2.Deal with Stubborn Dirt

    How to Clean Muddy Shoes

    For the soles, grab the scrubbing brush used in Step 1 and create a thick paste that is three parts bicarbonate of soda and one part water.

    Apply plenty of pressure to all the crevices of the tread. If the brush isn't getting the job done, you can get creative and find another small tool to fit into it.

  3. 3.Clean the Uppers

    How to Clean Muddy Shoes

    You can make a cleaning solution using a mild soap or liquid laundry detergent diluted in water. Gently wash the upper materials of the shoes with the cleaning solution and thoroughly rinse with water.

    Note: When using washing-up liquid, dilute the soap with plenty of water. On certain materials, using a high concentration of washing-up liquid can cause discolouration or strip out natural oils in the material (see below for tips on cleaning leather and suede). It's always a good idea to test a small area of the shoe to ensure the soap won't cause damage.

  4. 4.Wash the Laces

    How to Clean Muddy Shoes

    There are two ways to clean shoelaces. The first: remove them from the shoe and wash them by hand in your mild cleaning solution. Massage the laces with your fingers, rinse and dab with a cloth to dry.

    Or, once you remove them from the shoe, you can put the shoelaces in a mesh laundry bag and toss in the washing machine. Use cold water and dry on low heat so the plastic on the ends won't melt. The mesh bag will keep them from getting tangled during the spin cycle.

    (Related: 3 Easy Ways to Clean Shoelaces)

  5. 5.Separately Clean Insoles

    How to Clean Muddy Shoes

    If your running shoes have removable insoles, take them out of the shoe and clean them separately. Scrub them with the same brush and cleaning solution you used on the rest of your shoes. Rinse them well under running water when done.

    Allow several hours to let them dry before re-lacing your shoes and do not put them in the dryer.

  6. 6.Air-Dry

    How to Clean Muddy Shoes

    Separate the shoes, laces and insoles to speed up the drying process. Most shoes take at least 8 hours to fully dry. Once all parts are dry, reassemble.

    (Related: The Best Nike Trail-Running Shoes)

How to Clean Muddy Leather Boots

  1. 1.Remove Loose Dirt

    Wait until the mud on the boots has fully dried. Using either a soft-bristled brush or soft cloth, wipe off as much loose dirt as possible.

  2. 2.Spot-Clean

    Leather boots shouldn't be soaked in water. They will instead need to be spot cleaned. Dip a soft cloth in a mixture of one-part white vinegar and one-part water, then use it to blot dirty spots. Use a fresh cloth dipped in clean water to rinse the boot.

    For suede, wait until the mud has fully dried before cleaning. Gently brush away dried dirt with a suede brush or clean cloth. Dip the corner of the cloth into white vinegar or rubbing alcohol and—without drenching the shoe—massage in a side-to-side motion, then allow suede to dry.

    (Related: How to Get Your Suede Shoes Looking Brand New)

  3. 3.Launder the Laces

    Depending on the material of the laces, you can wash them with the same instructions above—either hand-wash in a mild solution of washing-up liquid or laundry detergent diluted with plenty of water, or in the washing machine on cold within a mesh laundry bag.

    However, if the laces are leather, do not put them in the washing machine or submerge in water. Brush dirt off with a small brush or cloth. Use a damp cloth with warm water to run along the laces and get rid of stains. Then, air dry.

  4. 4.Polish and Protect

    Once your boots are clean and dry, you can apply a layer of protection—such as leather conditioner or waterproof spray that is safe for leather or suede—to make cleaning your boots easier in the future.

    (Related: The Best Nike Shoes to Wear Hiking)

Words by Lesly Gregory

Originally published: 29 November 2022

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