The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel Review

Boot cleaned with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel on the left  dirty boot on the right.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $9 List | $8.50 at REI
Pros:  Easy to use, cleans well.
Cons:  Pricey, Not something necessary to buy.
Manufacturer:   Nikwax
By McKenzie Long ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 21, 2012
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Our Verdict

Are your hiking boots tired, lifeless, and sand-spattered? You could revive them with a quick wash with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel.
Gear Care Test: Nikwax Sandal Wash and NikWax Footwear Cleaning Gel
Gear Care Test: Nikwax Sandal Wash and NikWax Footwear Cleaning Gel

But, do you really care if there are stains or dirt on your hiking boots? Doesn't a dirty boot prove you have been out there getting after it? Removing abrasive dirt can prolong the life of the boots and save fabrics from showing excessive wear. Nikwax claims that removing the dirt particles restores the breatheability of your boots as well, which is a fine remedy for sweaty-feet.

The process couldn't be easier: shake, sponge on cleaner, rinse. Voila! Your grungy boots have a new foot forward.

The main use that we see for the Footwear Cleaning Gel is to prep your boots for a more serious treatment such as a waterproofing product. You wouldn't want to treat a dirty boot for waterproofing, because particles could inhibit the effectiveness of the treatment, and this cleaning gel leaves the boots squeaky clean.

If it is spring cleaning season and you want to freshen up multiple pairs of smelly shoes, this product can be used on all kinds of footwear, from Gore-Tex boots to sandals, making the Footwear Cleaning Gel more versatile than the Sandal Wash, which is shoe-type specific, but still less versatile than a product like Dr. Bronner's soap, which is half the price and can be used for anything. However, it is important to note that it is not recommended to clean your waterproof boots with soap or detergent because they contain ingredients that actually attract water instead of repel it, and can leave nasty residue. This makes an approved cleaner like the Nikwax product a safer alternative.

At $8.50 per 4.2 ounce bottle, it is slightly more expensive than the Sandal Wash and other leading brands of footwear cleaners, such as Meltonian All-Purpose Cleaner and Conditioner, which falls in the $5.99 - 6.99 range. It is about the same price as Tectron Shoe Wash and McNett ReviveX Boot Cleaner Concentrate, but won't last as long as a concentrated formula. If you are on a budget you could probably make due with some water and a washrag, or to get rid of mold that may work its way onto your boots you could clean with a mixture of 80% water and 20% vinegar.

Using Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel on the waterproof Keen Targhee II's.
Using Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel on the waterproof Keen Targhee II's.

Our Analysis and Test Results

McKenzie Long