Gear Maintenance | Why You Need to Wash Your Outdoor Kit Straight After Use
If you're not keeping your boots and jacket clean, you're damaging them. Here's why...
We’ve all done it. You’ve had a long, tough day in the hills where the conditions have been wetter, windier and muddier than you perhaps would’ve liked. You’ve had as much fun as ever, but now you’ve got a cup of tea and a comfy sofa on the mind. So you leave all your kit with the promise of cleaning it later.
But of course, you end up forgetting about it all, and then the next time you decide to head out you have to chisel through a sarcophagus of mud to get to your boots.
"You leave all your kit with the promise of cleaning it later, but of course, you end up forgetting"
It’s inconvenient and it’s not aesthetically pleasing either, but that’s just the start of it. Take your chances and there are far more annoying problems that can occur when mud is left on.
It Damages Leather
Leather needs a bit of moisture in it otherwise it can disfigure or even crack. This, coupled with the sponge-like properties of mud when it eventually begins to dry, can lead to big problems for your walking boots. Leave a pair muddy for too long and the leather can dry out to such an extent that the seams and even the waterproof lining can become damaged beyond repair.
It Hinders Breathability
When a waterproof jacket gets dirty its outer fabric becomes far less likely to be able to repel water and prevent ‘wetting out’. In other words, it gets saturated, and a saturated jacket is a clammy one with little to no breathability.
This same problem applies to both synthetic and leather boots. They need to be able to repel water otherwise warm air from your feet can get trapped and lead to sweating. And you know what that means? Blisters.
It Breaks Trekking Poles
Most trekking poles are adjusted via a twist lock system which involves a screw within the shaft called an expander. Despite being one of the most important parts of a trekking pole, the expander is also the most brittle, and if mud and grit get inside and are allowed to build up, this can be at a high risk of breaking.
Some trekking poles can also be very vulnerable to rust if mud, which stores moisture, is left on them for too long.
What You Can Do
To avoid all of these problems the solution is simple: clean off that mud and do it as soon as you reach the end of your hike.
Portable cleaners like the Kärcher OC3 are perfect for this. With an in-built lithium-ion rechargeable battery you can take it anywhere, and it's got enough juice for you to clean your boots, jacket, trekking poles and even pots and pans too if you need.
The pressure is efficient enough to remove even the most stubborn clumps of dirt without damaging your gear. In fact, it’s gentle enough to be safely used to clean dogs. There's an additional pet box you can buy with with specialist accessories like a nozzle designed for cleaning more sensitive areas like a dog's underbelly and paws.
Ultimately it means you can get home, put your feet straight up and rest safe in the knowledge that your gear will be good to go the next time you decide to head into the hills.