Spring Cleaning: Refresh Your Hiking Gear with Fabric-Specific Cleaners
Keeping your gear clean and in good repair can mean the difference between using the same gear for years and having to replace it every season. Here’s the down and dirty on keeping it all—from sleeping bags to tents to boots—clean.
There are many things to love about spring: warmer temperatures, longer days and the sweet promise of another hiking season just around the corner. But before you hit the trail, it’s time for some good old-fashioned spring cleaning.
Keeping your gear clean and in good repair can mean the difference between using the same gear for years and having to replace it every season. But not all materials can be cared for in the same way. Here’s the down and dirty on keeping it all—from sleeping bags to tents to boots—clean.
Fabric-Specific Gear Cleaners
- Packs and Athletic Gear: Most outdoor gear and apparel should be washed with a detergent-free wash, not regular laundry soap. Sport Suds ($22) is formulated to restore factory-applied water repellents and eliminate odors—all without harsh chemicals or fabric softeners that can clog the breathability of high-tech materials.
- Down Sleeping Bags and Puffies: The more dirt and skin oils your sleeping bag or puffy are exposed to, the heavier and less insulating they become. Using Nikwax Down Wash (not regular laundry detergent; $10) can remove problematic residues, as well as revitalize your expensive down items.
- Leather Boots: Leaving mud and dirt on your leather hiking boots is more than unsightly. It’s also damaging—it draws out important oils that keep your shoes pliable. The solution is Gear Aid’s ReviveX Leather Boot Care Kit ($18.95) which cleans boots and restores their natural moisture.
- Sandals: If your camp sandals are getting smelly, don’t chuck them. Instead, treat them with Nikwax Sandal Wash ($7). It’s designed to remove dirt and body oil buildup that leads to bacterial growth and unpleasant odors.
- Waterproofing: Over time, and through contact with skin oils and chemicals from sunscreen and bug spray, all waterproof fabrics lose their mojo. Bring back that just-like-new water beading to your gear with Gear Aid ReviveX Instant Waterproofing Spray ($10), good for everything from tents to shoes to clothes.
Keep It Clean on Trail
You’ve refreshed your gear and now you’re ready for the trail. Here are some great products and smart tips for keeping your stuff—and yourself—in tip-top shape once you’re out there.
- Do Laundry: If you’ve packed few items of clothing and you’re on an extended hike, at some point you’re going to need to do laundry—even if just to appease your hiking partner. Luckily, doing laundry on trail is now a breeze thanks to the Scrubba Wash Bag ($55). This handy piece of gear looks like a thin rubber dry bag but sports raised dots inside that function like an old-fashioned washboard. Follow the six-step process (fill, roll and clip, deflate, rub, rinse, and dry) and your clothes will come out fresh and clean.
- Take a Bath: Keeping your gear clean starts with keeping yourself clean. And there’s no better way to do that than to take a bath or shower on trail. We’re not talking about anything fancy here. Just grab some eco-friendly wash like the J.R. Liggett’s Shampoo Bar ($7.49) or Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Peppermint Castile Liquid Soap (travel size $3.50) and head to the nearest solar shower.