How to Dry Running Shoes Without Ruining Them

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Wet or damp running shoes can quickly become a hotbed of unhealthy microbes that can cause several unpleasant effects. But do you know how to dry running shoes without ruining them?

Running shoes are made of materials that can be fragile when they come into contact with heat. It’s important to understand that conventional methods of drying apparel—in the tumble dryer—can cause damage to the structure and integrity of your shoes.

So then, how do you dry your shoes without damage? We’ve put together several techniques you can use to remove the moisture from your shoes without causing permanent problems with the materials.

Why Is It Important to Dry Running Shoes Properly?

Whether you’re running in your shoes or just placing them in your cupboard until you need them again, it’s essential to ensure they’re dry. Not semi-dry, not damp… But completely dry.

Running in wet shoes feels uncomfortable. Not only does it cause a squelching sound on every step, but it leaves you more prone to developing blisters, fungal infections like athlete’s foot, and unpleasant odors that become stuck in the shoe.

It’s not only sweat that’s the problem. If your shoes become soaked by rain, puddles, or stepping in a stream on a trail run, bacteria can settle in.

When you don’t take action to dry your shoes out properly between runs, it provides the perfect environment for mold and fungi to grow. Aside from that, it can cause structural damage and compromise the shoe’s support.

Drying your running shoes properly ensures that they remain hygienic and there’s little chance of bacteria and fungi growing. This means they’re likely to smell better, as well as last longer and keep providing you with the right kind of support.

How to Dry Running Shoes Safely

There are multiple ways to dry running shoes without ruining them. These methods cause no damage to the shoes, but we’ll also discuss some methods to avoid.

Use Newspaper

Newspaper is one of the best ways to draw moisture out of your shoes. Most homes have some old newspapers lying around, and even if you don’t, it’s easily accessible.

Start by removing the insoles from the shoes so that they can air-dry on their own and you have full access to every part of the inner of the shoe. Loosen the laces and open the shoes as much as possible.

Crumple up some newspaper and stuff each shoe tightly with it. Avoid placing areas with a lot of ink against your shoes, as they may leave marks. It’s a good idea to wrap the shoes in something absorbent, like a towel.

Once you’ve done that, place the shoes in a dry, well-ventilated area. Keep an eye on the newspaper over the next hour or so. If it becomes soaked and your shoes aren’t completely dry, you may need to replace them.

Leave the shoes with the newspaper in them for about 12 hours. You might need to change the newspaper a few times over this period.

Air-Dry Them

Note that placing your shoes in direct sunlight can cause damage to the material and fade the colors. It’s best to place them in a well-ventilated area free from humidity.

Choose a space indoors away from the sun but still warm and dry. All you need to do is remove the insoles, loosen the laces, open the shoes up as much as possible, and leave them to stand.

Depending on how damp they are, it could take a few hours to 12 hours for your shoes to dry properly.

Use A Fan

Moving air can do the job quicker than just standing your shoes in a room and waiting for them to dry. A fan can effectively dry your shoes. While a high-speed fan works best, even slower fans can work.

You should remove the insole and open the shoe up as wide as possible. Then, stand it upwards, so the flow of air from the fan flows directly into the shoe.

If you only have a ceiling fan, you can still do this method. Place your shoes on top of a cupboard or find a way to raise them in the air and turn the fan onto the highest setting.

Use Warm Air

If a fan isn’t drying your shoes fast enough, you can use warm air from refrigerator vents or other heating vents throughout the house. The warm air will help to dry the shoe materials faster. It’s also great for warming your feet up if you’re going out for a winter run!

Buy a Shoe Dryer

You can buy shoe dryers like the DryGuy Travel Dry DX Boot and Shoe Dryer online. They’re small, portable devices that contain both convection and air to dry your shoes from the inside out.

You just slip the device into your shoe and switch it on. In two to five hours, your shoes should be dry. Thanks to its portable design, you can take this almost anywhere to keep your shoes dry on the go.

Use Rice

This method is unusual, but it’s effective. You will need a box that can fit your shoes—like a shoe box—and a lot of uncooked rice.

Fill the box about halfway with rice. There should be enough space to fit your shoes in the box. For this work, you don’t need to get the rice inside your shoes.

Close the lid of the box and leave your shoes in there for a few hours. The uncooked rice should soak up the excess moisture in your shoes and leave them dry. Throw away the rice!

How NOT to Dry Running Shoes

You may find that some people recommend these ways to dry your shoes. However, they can cause permanent damage to the structure of the shoe, so we suggest not trying these methods.

In the Dryer

Even in the coolest setting, the dryer can damage your shoes. The heat from the dryer can compromise the glue used to hold the shoe material together, reducing the lifespan of your shoes.

If you use the cool setting, the action of your shoes being thrown around the dryer can cause them to become damaged. Some dryers have a shoe-drying rack, but there’s still a higher chance of sustaining damage in the dryer.

It’s best to just avoid putting your shoes in the dryer from the start. With the number of other, non-destructive ways to dry your shoes, there’s no need to try this method.

With a Hairdryer

A hairdryer can be a helpful way to dry shoes. However, you need to keep the heat moving across the fabric of the shoe to prevent damage to the glue and material. We recommend not using a hairdryer to reduce the chance of accidentally damaging the shoes.

In Direct Sunlight

It might be tempting to put your shoes outdoors in the sun on a beautiful day to dry them, but this can actually lead to severe damage.

The sun’s UV rays can melt rubber and glue, as well as damage canvas, mesh, and cracked leather. There’s also a chance of color fading, which can happen to new running shoes, making them look old.

In Front of a Fireplace or Heater

While you can control the heat of a hairdryer to some extent, there’s no way to control the amount of what your shoes will be getting from a radiator.

Placing your damp shoes in front of a heater or a fireplace also means that the heat is unevenly dispersed. Even if you rotate them, it’s very difficult to heat them evenly, which could be a problem.

This could also be a fire hazard, as you can’t tell how the shoes’ fragile materials are getting while standing in front of the heat source.

Other Tips to Dry Your Running Shoes Properly

Clean Off Dirt First

If there’s dirt or debris on your running shoes, it’s a good idea to clean it off before drying your shoes. That way, you can give them a good clean without worrying about getting them wet, because you know you’re going to be drying them.

Loose dirt can be brushed off with a soft-bristled brush. You can rub more stubborn stains with a soft toothbrush and fabric-friendly detergent.

Take Out Your Insoles & Remove the Laces

Remove the insole from the shoe before drying it. This allows the insole to dry by itself and opens up the space in the shoe for air to flow properly through it without moisture getting stuck between the insole and the bottom of the shoe.

You can remove the laces if you’d like to so they can dry more easily. This also makes it easier to pull the tongue up and create more space in the shoe for air to circulate.

Store Them Safely

Drying your running shoes properly can extend their lifespan significantly. However, they can be susceptible to mold if you don’t store them properly. Even if you dry your running shoes properly, store them in a room with low humidity and relatively dry.

They also shouldn’t be stored in a sunny area. A cool, dry cupboard is the best place for storing your shoes, but make sure they’re properly dry before you place them there.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.