How to Clean & Store Your Hiking Gear

So you just got back from an incredible hike across multiple mountains, witnessed waterfalls and valleys, and maybe even captured some sweet selfies with wildlife and endless views abound.

But now you are home with your muddy boots, sopping wet and smelly clothes, dust-covered backpacks, and the like.

This article is for the lazy adventurer who absolutely hates cleaning their gear when they get back from an amazing trip, but knows it needs to get done right away.

Why We Clean Our Gear

Before we jump into the key points on cleaning your gear, it’s important to first understand two major reasons why we always clean our stuff.

Number one is the obvious one that clean gear just plain out right functions better and lasts longer. Not to mention smells better.

The second reason and the more important one is that hikers typically hike all over specific areas and locations. Transferring insects, bacteria, plants, or any other thing from one area to another can he harmful to the landscape.

Cleaning your gear thoroughly will greatly decrease any cross contamination between locations.

Sleeping Pads

Store sleeping pads underneath the bed not inflated. If the sleeping pad needs to be cleaned, spot wipe with a damp cloth without soap.


Setup tents to air out in the backyard, vacuum any and all debris, wash dirt with a damp cloth without soap.

Tent Footprints

Flip over the footprint in the backyard and wash off dirt off with a hose. Make sure to do your best to get it cleaned well. Then hang up on a fence or clothes line to let air dry.

Sleeping Bags

Store your sleeping bag in a pillowcase or very loose stuff sack (typically it comes with one) and if the bag needs to be cleaned, spot clean with a damp cloth or if it’s really bad, hand wash in a bathtub with detergent — rinse and ring out very thoroughly and let air dry.


Clean boots with a brush to remove any and all dirt, sand, and mud. Remove inserts and soles to allow the inside to dry, and if water stops beading on the boot uppers apply waterproof treatment.

Water Bottles & Hydration Reservoirs

Water Bottles are simple, just run them through a dishwasher every now and then to keep them clean and smelling good.

Hydration Reservoirs are a little more tricky, keeping them damp with fluid in the inside can develop bacteria and mold. We recommend cleaning and rinsing thoroughly and then store them in the freezer. This will freeze any remaining liquid inside and the cold prevents bacteria or mold from growing.

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Now you can keep your gear clean, fresh, and up to par. What’s the longest you went without cleaning your gear? Kmon, you know you’ve done it! Let us know in the comments below!

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