When was the last time you cleaned your hiking gear?
Let’s be real; it’s probably filthy and teeming with germs, which is the last thing anyone wants right now! With the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in effect, now might be the perfect time to give your gear a proper cleaning!
Hiking gear that is regularly used, such as down jackets, sling bags, and backpacks, get quite dirty on the trail and should be cleaned regularly. Not only does cleaning remove any bacteria and germs from your gear, but it also increases its lifespan.
Here are some general cleaning tips to help you wash and care for your hiking gear like a pro:
Wash Them with Care
When it comes to washing your hiking gear, the key word is mild! Whether you are washing your socks, wool clothes, shoes, jackets, or any other hiking gear, you should always use mild detergents and gentle setting on the washer. If possible, choose handwashing instead of tossing your stuff in the washing machine. Harsh chemical cleaners and strong washer settings can damage your gear and shorten its lifespan.
Hang Them Out to Dry
While it might be slower but air-drying, your hiking gear is usually the best and safest option. You can either lay them flat or hang them up in a well-ventilated area or place them next to a heat source such as a radiator or fireplace. Be careful not to place them in direct sunlight or too close to the heat source to prevent any damage from over-drying.
Washing Your Backpack
Before you start washing your backpack, you must make sure it is completely empty. Most hiking backpacks have numerous pockets and small sections that have leftover stuff that can damage your backpack once it gets in the water. Similarly, you don’t want to end up ruining your headphones or notebook that’s full of brilliant ideas you came up with during your hiking trip by forgetting it in your backpack during the wash.
Once you have tripled checked all pockets, shake lose any dirt or mud before soaking it in lukewarm water with a little mild detergent. Use a washcloth or sponge to get rid of any stains and dried up sweat. Separate any detachable belts and straps and wash them separately. Give the zippers a nice scrub using a toothbrush to get rid of any debris that might cause it to jam.
Rinse it off once you are sure it’s completely clean and hang it out to air-dry for a couple of days. Make sure it’s fully dried before putting git back in storage to avoid any mold growth due to moisture.
Rules for Cleaning A Down Jacket
The best part about down jackets is that you can just toss them in a washer and dryer. However, to avoid clumping or damaging the jacket, it is best to handwash them. But if you do want to use a washing machine, turn the jacket upside down before tossing it in the water.
It’s important to note that you should only wash your down jacket in a top-load washer that doesn’t have an agitator or a front load washer to avoid damaging the down.
Run it through a couple of cycles till its fully clean, and then use a tumble dryer on low heat to dry it out. Toss in a few tennis balls along with the jacket to keep the down from clumping.
Cleaning Your Stinky Shoes!
Your hiking shoes are probably the smelliest and most dirty piece of your gear. With the current lockdown, now is the perfect time to give them a deep clean that will make them look just like new. First, sprinkle a little baking soda inside the shoes and leave them overnight for any bad smells to dissipate. Remove the baking soda and give the shoes a full scrub-down using a soft bristle brush. Make sure you get to all the nooks and crannies that a washer can’t get to.
Once you are sure it’s free of any dirt, mud, and debris, toss them in the machine (don’t forget to check if they are machine washable!). Squeeze out any excess water after they are washed and dry them out in a well-ventilated area. Disassemble all the pieces, such as the laces and the tongue, to speed up the drying process!