How to Wash Running Shoes

Running shoes are essential fitness tools. But sweat is just one of the many components that can give running shoes a dirty appearance. Weather conditions and grime buildup also affect the way shoes look and smell.

Properly cleaning your running shoes will help them last longer.
Credit: LightFieldStudios/iStock/GettyImages

Washing running shoes will not only make the shoes look newer, but also prolong their life. For quick and straightforward cleaning of your running shoes, you only need to use your washing machine.

Why Feet Smell

The short answer is that feet smell because of bacteria. When you walk around all day in sneakers or have a sweaty workout, bacteria are having a hay day. That's especially true for those days you don't wear socks inside your kicks. After munching on the dead skin cells that slough off naturally and the oils that are excreted from you feet, bacteria leave behind a smelly deposit of organic waste, according to Kids Health.

As if the organic waste were not enough, in about 10 percent to 15 percent of people, super bacteria leave behind a sulfur smell. That's why it's extra important to clean your sneakers before an indelible smell inhabits them.

Read more: How to Find the Best Running Shoes for You

Washing Running Shoes

  1. Wipe the outside of the shoes with a cloth or baby wipes. An old toothbrush will help get off stubborn dirt. Use an anti-grease soap on the outside of the shoe to clean grime.
  2. Remove the insoles, or liners, of the shoes if possible and wash them separately. You can leave the laces on or remove them and insert fresh ones.
  3. Place each shoe in a separate pillowcase. Knot the ends of the cases to secure the shoes inside.
  4. Set the shoes inside the washing machine and add laundry detergent as normal. Adjust the cycle on the machine to what you use for normal laundry.
  5. Cushion the inside of the washing machine tub with two bath towels. This will prevent the shoes from banging around during agitation. If you took out the liners, place them in the machine with the towels or hand-wash them separately. Turn on the washing machine and let it run.
  6. Remove the shoes from the machine once the cycle ends. If your shoes have a mesh surface, place them in the dryer on the gentle cycle.
  7. Stuff the inside of shoes, if not dryer safe, with newspaper or paper towels. This will help absorb water from the inside and maintain the shape. Place the shoes and liners somewhere and allow them to air-dry. Once done, reinsert the liners into the shoes. Add new laces, if necessary.

Now You See Them

Adidas, as innovative as always, have come up with a biodegradable running shoe that you can literally wash away. Just run the water from your taps over the sneakers combined with an enzyme solution to make the shoe disappear. Sustainability at its finest. The thing is, they'll last up to two years, but what do you do in that two-year period with your stinky, dirty shoes?

The David Suzuki Foundation came up with a dry shampoo recipe that's actually good for cleaning running shoes. Make up a batch that includes: one-quarter cup cornstarch, one-quarter cup arrowroot powder, one tablespoon white clay and six drops of the essential oil of your choice. Mix and store in an airtight container for up to six months. Apply to sneakers when needed.

Read more: The Best Outdoor Running Shoes for Handling Whatever Mother Nature Throws at You

Tips

Verify that the shoes are machine washable before placing them into the units. If the manufacturer warns against machine washing, just wash the outside with a wet cloth and soap. Stuff the shoes with paper and let them air-dry.

Warning

ASICS warns not to put shoes near a heat source, such as a radiator or vent while air drying. This may cause the shoes to lose their shape.

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