How to Wash Running Shoes: Keep Your Trainers Pristine


Having a good pair of running shoes means that you should also take care of them. This includes using them only for running, taking care to untie them before taking them off – and keeping them clean!

In this article, we’ll talk about how to wash running shoes, the dos and don’ts in taking care of them, and other general advice that will make keeping them clean so much easier. After all, running shoes are an investment. Don’t ruin them by carelessly using harsh cleaning products or throwing them in the washing machine.

When it comes to washing running shoes, there are a couple of different approaches. We recommend doing it by hand.

Some runners swear by throwing them in a washing machine. We disagree.

Let’s dig in a little deeper to determine why.

How to Wash Running Shoes: Wash by Hand

Running shoes need to be cleaned with more care since damaging them even in the slightest might cause them to wear out much sooner. It’s important to keep this in mind when cleaning the shoes.

Here are the things that you will need:

  • A cloth or baby wipe
  • Some mild soap
  • Cold, clean water
  • A toothbrush

Once you have gathered all of these things, then you are good to go. Simply follow these instructions to ensure that you do it correctly.

Step 1: Clean the Soles

Take a wipe or a cloth that is soaked in water and soap and rub off the grime from the soles. Make sure to get up close and personal with any lingering dirt and give the soles a nice rub.

White soles are very hard to maintain, and this is where the toothbrush comes in very handy. If the toothbrush and some detergent aren’t packing a strong enough punch to get rid of the dirty bits, then it’s important that you make a cleaning solution.

Take one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of laundry detergent and mix them together. Dip the toothbrush in the cleaning solution and scrub the dirty areas thoroughly.

Step 2: Scrub Dirt Off of the Upper

The upper of the shoe usually gets dirty from general wear or using them in the rain.

Here’s how to clean: if the shoes are wet from a vigorous workout session, then let them get nice and dry first.

After scrubbing all of the dry dirt, use a mixture of water and laundry detergent and scrub it softly on the fabric using the toothbrush. After the dirt has dislodged, take a wet cloth or wipe and remove the foam and the lingering dirt.

Step 3: Clean the Insoles

The same solution used for cleaning the shoe’s fabric can be used for cleaning the insoles. Just take them out and rub the solution in the top area with a toothbrush until it’s nice and moist. Air dry the insoles at room temperature.

Midsoles Still Not White?

Sometimes, just using baking soda and detergent might not be enough to get all of the horrible dirt that’s turning white into brown. Luckily, you can turn things around using ingredients that are already in your home. Here is how it is done:

  • Take some simple toothpaste. Simple as in the kind with no beads or gel-like ingredients. Just plain white toothpaste.
  • Use your finger to rub it gently on the affected areas.
  • Afterward, use a toothbrush to scrub every nook and cranny.

What to Avoid

As tempting as it may be, avoid machine-washing running shoes. Running shoes need to keep their original shape and flexibility. Unfortunately, this is something that can be affected by the circular motion of the washing machine and the high temperatures that it reaches in the cleaning cycles.

Washing the shoes using a washing machine will definitely decrease their resistance and, therefore, their lifespan. They will end up coming out deformed with weakened seams.

In addition, it is also important to avoid drying the shoes with heat. This will definitely decrease their resistance to wear and tear, as the fabric will tense up. Sure, it might be appealing to clean the shoes the night before a workout and just place them under the radiator, but this is how one would damage the integrity of the shoe.

And whatever you do, don’t throw them in the dryer! The tumbling will put even more wear on the shoes.

How to Take Care of Your Running Shoes

Regularly washing your running shoes by hand is not the only trick that can prolong their lifespan. There are also other ways in which you can make sure that your running shoe stays in its best shape. Here are some of them:

  • Untie the Laces After Running

Don’t just use your feet to remove your shoes. Untie them and pull them off the foot using your hands. Using your foot to remove the shoes will make the heel area weaker, making them much more unstable.

If the heel can move freely up and down, the friction will cause some nasty blisters that will make running an ordeal.

  • Follow the Manufacturer’s Indications

What’s so great about running shoes is that every reputable manufacturer will provide instructions on how to clean certain models. These cover anything from the do’s and don’ts to the soaps, detergents, and cleaning products that are safe to use.

As a rule of thumb, always check your manufacturer’s website for helpful tips on how to prolong your shoe’s lifespan. After all, they know exactly how to take care of their products.

  • Get Rid of Odor

There are times when just cleaning them won’t do the trick. Sometimes, a bit of help will be needed to get rid of the foul stench of success and fitness.

Foot sprays and powders are already available in any shoe shop or online for purchase, so this isn’t really any news. Grab a box or a can, read the instructions and get at it. Remember to give the insoles a good washing now and again, just to be extra effective.

If sprays and powders aren’t your thing, then consider using old tea bags, especially those that are very nice-smelling. Take the dry packets and place them in the shoes overnight. They will absorb the moisture and help eliminate any bad odor.

Final Thoughts

Make sure to avoid using the washing machine when washing your running shoes. It’s important that the running shoe keeps it’s original resistance and shape.

Having a deformed shoe can lead to workout-related pain, discomfort, and just plain demotivate you.

If budget isn’t an issue, there are products that are specifically manufactured for cleaning running shoes, so it would be a smart move to invest in such items. Make sure to give the shoes plenty of care and maintenance, as it will definitely increase their lifespan, saving you money and time in the process.

Photo of 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.

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