So, you’ve spent all season riding in your ski or snowboard boots. Chances are pretty good they are grimy and nasty – buckles and/or laces sticking, shells are dirty and oily feeling. Just as with your skis and snowboards, this no way to store your gear, especially if you want it to last. Properly cleaning and storing away your boots during the offseason will certainly lengthen their lifespan. Follow these tips to protect another important investment in your favorite winter snow sport – your boots.
Don’t Just Throw Those Boots in a Closet – Clean and Protect Them
Clean Your Boots!
Cleaning your boots at the end of the season requires minimal supplies and can be done almost anywhere – your kitchen sink or table, garage, or outside on your driveway or patio area. Just about all the supplies you will need, you already have around your house too:
- Cleaning cloth or soft sponge
- Spray water bottle
- Toothbrush (optional for gritty, hard to reach spots)
- Mild dish soap
- Bucket or sink filled with hot water
Start by removing the liners and insoles from your boots. Whether you ski or ride, moisture develops inside your boots as you use them. If this moisture is left unattended, not only can it make your boots stink, but it can turn to mold. Using a spray bottle, spray both liners and insoles with slightly warm water to get them damp. Then, with a sponge dipped in mild soap, wipe the insoles from top to bottom, as well as the inside of your liners. Rinse by wiping everything down with clean water and clearing away any excess soap. Try to avoid repeated rubbing in one area on both the insoles and liners as this can damage them.
TIP: NEVER put your liners or insoles in the washer or dryer! This will destroy them.
Allow liners and insoles to air dry completely – at least a day – before them putting back into your boots. If your boots are extremely wet, you can use a boot dryer as an alternative method.
Next, clean both the inside and outside of your shells with a damp cloth and mild soap and water. Dawn dish soap is highly recommended as it is mild enough that it won’t degrade the plastic shell like many other cleaning detergents. Yet, it’s also strong enough to cut through grease and oils that are often left behind by manmade snow.
TIP: For ski boots specifically, pay special attention to areas around the buckles and under each enclosure flap. Wipe off all buckles, ensuring each buckle functions properly as you go and is not sticking. Use a toothbrush to clean any extra dirt and grim from these hard-to-reach areas.
What? You might be thinking, “. . . but my boots don’t stink.” While this may be true most of the time, it can still happen. After storing your boots in the offseason, you bust them out the next fall only to find they do have some kind of funk. Odds are this is a result of putting boots away still damp – another reminder to make sure your boots are COMPLETELY dry before storage. Additionally, to keep your boots smelling fresh, you can spray them with a quick shot of Febreze down each boot prior to storage. If you still notice an odor that cleaning and drying doesn’t remove, here are a few other tips and tricks you can try:
- Baking Soda: Sprinkle baking soda inside your boots to absorb any remaining musty odor and leave the baking soda inside the boots overnight. Either shake out your boots or vacuum, using an upholstery attachment to remove the baking soda.
- Fabric Softener Sheets: Tuck 1-2 fabric softener dryer sheets inside each boot and let sit overnight before storing away. To keep boots fresh regularly, you can also do this after each day on the mountain.
- Vanilla Extract: Place two drops of vanilla extract on two cotton balls and drop one cotton ball into each boot. Again, you can either leave the cotton balls inside the boots overnight and remove before storage, or between uses to keep them smelling clean and fresh all season long.
- Try using either a charcoal-based liner or an anti-microbial insert to combat the smell.
Ski Boot Toe and Heal Check
For ski boots only, always check the toes and heals of your boots at the end of the season. If they are extremely worn down, you may want to order a new set from a ski shop.
Always buckle or lace up your boots when not in use, especially during the offseason. If you leave them hanging open, the shell material may begin to take on a different shape and your boots will not fit as comfortably next season. Plastic (primarily in ski boots) does have memory and may lose its shape with the heat of warmer weather if stored unbuckled. Buckle or lace your boots snug enough to keep them in proper shape, but do not over tighten as this can stretch the material while in storage, and again, change the shape and fit of the boots. End of season is also a great time to inspect snowboard boot laces and replace if they’re worn.
Often times, boots too get kicked into a dark corner or stashed in the garage, along with skis and/or snowboards at the end of the season. As with skis and snowboards, your boots should also be stored in a cool, dry place such as a closet, laundry room, or finished basement. They should NEVER be stored in a garage, unfinished basement, crawl space, or attic. Any environment that is damp or has high heat can harm your boots. Both ski and snowboard boots should be stored standing upright. It is also a good idea to put a plastic grocery bag loosely over your boots to allow for air circulation and keep out any dust that may acquire during the off season.
TIP: DO NOT store boots in a boot bag or closed storage container long term. Bags especially may be dirty from your boots being carried in them all season and can trap moisture in. Same with closed storage containers. This type of storage results in mold and bacteria, causing that nasty odor mentioned previously.
Taking a bit of time and care and following these tips will not only provide proper hygiene and significantly save the life span of your boots, but it will also will keep your boots fresh and ready to go when the snow starts to fly and the lifts start to turn next season.