The best ways to dry out your wet running shoes and walking boots

Below is a follow-up to our article on cat litter

Most of us will have been caught out at some time, in a sudden shower of rain or walking across a muddy field, and ended up with footwear that is extremely wet.

Just like your waterproofs, your footwear will last for a lengthier period of time if you look after them. Drying rapidly, using excessive heat on them, and not taking care of the leather can all lead to rapid deterioration and splitting.

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Caring for your wet and muddy leather footwear

Clean any debris and mud from your boots, and if leather, don’t use any chemical cleaning products as this can lead to surface damage. Remove the laces and insole. Allow them to dry naturally where possible – don’t dry them next to direct heat, in front of a fire, on a radiator or in a hot room, as this can cause the fabric of the footwear to crack and shrink. This is quite often a first thought when faced with a pair of soggy, wet walking boots, but beware of over-drying them effecting even worse damage.

Cleaning synthetic footwear

Use a similar cleaning procedure as with leather footwear, although it is possible to use specialist products as the rubber and man-made fabrics will stand up to the cleaning solvents.  You will find assorted solutions available to buy to remove marks and stains from your synthetic footwear.

There are many remedies for drying out your soaking footwear, with some of them being well tried and tested. In fact the soldiers in the trenches of WW1 used rolled up newspapers to dry out their boots – although where they got their newspapers from remains a mystery!

Newspaper

One of the most effective treatments to help to dry out your footwear, is to compact crumpled newspaper sheets into them, and to stand the damp boots in a non-heated area. Refresh the newspaper often, until they are thoroughly dried.

Towel

In a similar way to the newspaper drying hint, a towel will also absorb any excess liquid from inside your wet shoes. Fist make sure any excess mud is removed, then push the corners of the towel down inside the toe area. Wrap remaining towel around the outside of the shoes and leave for several hours. You may have to repeat the process with a dry towel.

Rice

Cover the bottom of a large plastic bin with around 1 inch of rice. Place your soggy, wet footwear on top of the rice, and seal the lid onto the bin. After a few hours, the rice should have absorbed the moisture and your shoes should be dry and ready to use again.

Silica Gel Sachets

Those small packs of Silica Gel that arrive in postal packages and in new shoe boxes are handy for helping to dry out footwear, although you will need to collect quite a few to fill your walking boots. Be wary of using these and leaving your boots lying around if you have pets in the house, as they are quite toxic if eaten.

Cat Litter

You may not think about cat litter for drying out your wet boots, but try filling an old pair of socks or tights with cat litter, and push down inside your boots. Leave overnight, and be amazed at how much moisture is absorbed. Cat litter in trainers and wellington boots also make a fantastic deodoriser to rid them of sweaty feet odours!

Tumble Dryer

This option is only to be used as a last resort, as the heat can cause damage to the glues on your footwear. However, in some cases, putting a pair of wet running trainers inside a fabric bag or pillowcase in the dryer, can solve your immediate problem if shoes are required and you don’t have time to leave them overnight to dry themselves.

Sunshine

One of the best, natural ways to dry your footwear, is to leave them out in the air to dry slowly, over a period of time. If you have a porch where you can leave them to dry, sunshine will be your best option.

The Bottom Line

You can experiment with any of these handy methods, to see which suits you the best. However, as a last resort, if all else fails, use bin liners to wear over your socks, before you put on your damp boots. The plastic bag will act as a decent barrier to keep your feet warm, if nothing else!