How To Clean Ski Boot Liners

by Simon Knott | Updated On: May 16th, 2022
Boots

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Ski boots are a vital and often underestimated part of the ski kit. They transfer the movements of the skier’s legs and feet to accurately steer the skis. To perform this task the outer shell of the boot is made of hard plastic, which makes it easy to clean. However, the inside section, or boot liner, needs special attention for cleaning, or it can get damaged. So, what’s the best way to clean boot liners? And how often?

Ski boot liners take a lot of punishment. Physically they are exposed to considerable forces during skiing, as the leg articulates in the ski boot. The conditions inside the boot are hot and damp, which can lead to odor, bacteria, and mold. Fortunately, most boot liners can be removed and washed either by hand or machine. It’s important to always follow the manufacturers’ advice on washing procedures.

Expert Skier

There are several different types of boot liners, which are made from a variety of materials including natural rubber, thermoplastic elastomer, and low-density polyethylene.

The detachable liner needs to achieve two aims. Firstly, to protect the foot and leg from the rigid outer casing of the boot, and secondly, to grip the shape of the foot and leg, ensuring efficient transfer of power from the boot to the ski.

Boot liner technology has evolved rapidly over recent decades, from the early days of using natural cork, to the complex man-made materials of today. There is always a trade-off in boot liners between comfort and transfer of power to the skis.

The boot liner material needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the shape of the foot without being too soft, so the foot isn’t supported. New boot liners need to be worn in, so they adapt to the contours of the foot. After regular use, the boot liner material becomes compressed and loses its ability to return to its original shape. This is a process called packing out.

When you buy a new pair of ski boots, they will normally come with stock liners, which are the standard boot liners the manufacturer supplies. They have some potential for customization and heat molding, but it is often limited. These liners are generally of average quality, depending on the price of the boots, and tend to pack out quite quickly.

There are also several styles and brands of boot liners you can buy to replace the ones in your own ski boots. They are mostly heat mouldable, giving good customization, as well as good insulation and durability on the runs.

Other brands, such as ZipFit, use a cork compound, which can be shaped to the individual foot providing extra support for the heel, which is ideal for the backcountry.

All manufacturers provide their own cleaning instructions for their boot liners, which have been formulated to work with their materials.

Often the instructions are straightforward with simple cleaning agents but it’s best to always check the manufacturer’s recommendations before proceeding. Some boot liners can only be washed by hand, while others are suitable for a machine wash.

Cleaning Your Ski Boot Liners

Over time your ski boot liners take a lot of punishment. The skier’s foot is constantly flexing the boot lining, which tends to flatten or pack out the boot liner with repeated use. The physical process of washing boot liners often helps to restore the original shape of the liner when new.

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The muscles of the lower leg and foot generate a considerable amount of heat and moisture from sweat, which has no escape as the boots are waterproof. This warm, damp environment is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and molds, which remain in the boot liners creating a bad odor.

Although liquid dish soap and household ammonia are suitable for cleaning boot liners there are also several products on the market specifically designed for cleaning boot liners. Check what your manufacturer advises.

Handwashing Ski Boot Liners

Equipment

  • Liquid dish soap (washing up liquid)
  • Household ammonia cleaning solution
  • A brush with medium bristles
  • An old T-shirt to dab dry
  • Paper towels

Instructions

  1. Remove the liners from the ski boot.
  2. Fill a large bowl with warm water.
  3. Add a squirt of liquid dish soap.
  4. Add enough ammonia solution for the volume of water.
  5. Soak the liners in the solution for 5 mins. Squeeze gently a few times to make the solution penetrate the liners.
  6. Carefully brush the liners all over to remove surface dirt.
  7. Pour away the washing solution and replace it with clean warm water.
  8. Rinse the liners in the clean water – squeezing a few times.
  1. Use the T-shirt to dab the liners dry.
  2. Stuff paper towels loosely inside the liners to absorb the moisture and retain the shape of the liner.
  3. Dry away from direct heat and sun

Machine Washing Ski Boot Liners

  1. Carefully remove the liners from the ski boot.
  2. Set the washing machine to a gentle wash, such as woolens.
  3. Fill the machine with the required laundry detergent (washing powder).
  4. Start washing.
  5. In the end, wring the liners gently to remove the remaining water.
  6. Stuff paper towels loosely inside the liners to absorb the moisture and retain the shape of the liner.
  7. Dry away from direct heat and sun
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Skiing at Dynaland
Photo by cotaro70s licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Don’t be tempted to:

  • Use a tumble dryer to dry your liners
  • Use very hot water
  • Wring the liners hard to remove excess water
  • Use strong cleaning or washing agents
  • Scrub hard with the brush
  • Dry the liners in the sun or next to a radiator

By removing the grease and grime of everyday use, the materials used to manufacture your boot liners will retain their shape better and contour to the shape of your leg and foot. If you take the time to wash your boot liners now and again, they will last a lot longer, perform better and smell a lot better.

Tips for Keeping Your Ski Boots in Top Condition

Once you have found the perfect ski boot, it is important to take care of them so that they will last for many seasons. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

  1. Store them in a cool, dry place: This will help to prolong the life of your boots.
  2. Clean them after each use: This will help to remove any dirt or grit that could damage the boot.
  3. Condition them regularly: This will help to keep the boot flexible and prevent it from drying out.
  4. Replace the liners when needed: Over time, the liners in your boots can become worn down and no longer provide support. When this happens, it is important to replace them so that your feet will be properly supported.

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