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Cross Training For Runners

How To Clean Running Shoes

4 Mins read

Looking for the best way to clean running shoes?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

Why is cleaning important?

It’s a key part of taking good care of your running gear so that it lasts longer.

Sweat and moisture in the feet set up the perfect humid environment that facilitates the growth of bacteria which leads to bad odor. Also, cleaner running shoes often have better support and grip.

Here’s the good news – washing running shoes is easy and takes only a few simple steps (and minutes).

In today’s post, I’m going to share with you some effective ways to clean your running shoes and keep them looking new without damaging the functionality or material.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

How Often To Clean Running Shoes?

Running shoes are designed to withstand the wear and tear on the road, but they’re not dirt-proof.

In general, and depending on weekly mileage and running surfaces, running shoes—and athletic footwear in general—requires cleaning at least every couple of weeks.

What’s more?

Sometimes your shoes will need immediate wash is the only way, following a rainy trail run, for example.

Additional Resource – Here’s how to break in new running shoes.

The Checklist You Need For Cleaning Your Running Shoes

Here are the tools and equipment you need to give your running shoes a thorough wash.

  • Mesh laundry bag
  • Towel
  • Heavy-duty detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Drying rack
  • A Used toothbrush or a soft scrub brush
  • White tissue paper
  • A sponge
  • A bucket of warm water

And that’s all.

Now let’s get to work.

How To Clean Running Shoes  – The Hand Washing Method

The most effective—and safest—way to clean your running shoes without damaging them is through hand-washing (more on why machines are bad for your athletic footwear later).

Here are the steps.

Use The Right Detergent

Since most standard laundry detergents are designed for clothing, I’d recommend using a soap that’s specially made for athletic footwear, such as Sport Shoe Wash or Nikwax Sandal.

The proper detergent should remove both strains and odors without harming or damaging the shoe’s composition.

Additional Resource – Here’s how to dry running shoes.

Fill A Bucket

Grab a small bowl or bucket, then mix warm water and a small amount of gently laundry detergent or your stain removal of choice.

Make sure the consistency is moderately soapy but not overly sticky or frothy. You should also use enough water to fully submerge your shoes.

Avoid bleaching agents for white shoes as these can cause discoloration or even damage certain types of fabrics.


Remove the laces and insoles from your shoes, then brush off all loose dirt and debris. Use an old toothbrush or brush, then briskly rub.

Additional resource – Here’s the full guide to running shoe anatomy.

Clean Fully

While using a dry paper towel and a sponge, clean your shoes thoroughly from any clinging dirt, mud, or debris before immersing them. For stubborn stains, feel free to use a used toothbrush or a brush that has stiff bristles.

Clean The Insoles

Wash your insoles with soapy water. Use a brush to thoroughly scrub the surface, then clean off the debris and excess soap with a wet sponge.

Just avoid soaking the insoles, as you’ll risk damaging the foam and its shape.

Smelly insoles? No problem. Simply sprinkle them with baking soda to get rid of the odor and moisture. But this is only good for emergencies. Replace your insoles when the odor refuses to go.

If all fails, replace them.

Additional resource – How to measure foot size for running shoes

Wash The Shoes

Fill up a bucket or sink with warm water and some laundry detergent, then place each running shoe in the water and allow them to soak.

This might be enough to get rid of any dirt or grime. But if some remains, feel free to gently scrub the stubborn stains using a cloth or brush.

When done, use a clean cloth or sponge dipped in water, then wipe off any suds.

Air Dry

First, let the shoe drip in an empty sink, then re-squeeze to get rid of any extra water. Don’t forget to pull the tongue out.

Dry your shoes in a warm place and stuff them with scrunched white tissue paper or white cotton towels to help speed up the drying process while preventing color transfer.

Next, put your shoes on a drying rack in a well-ventilated space to air-dry.

This will help speed up the absorption of moisture and keeps the shoe of your shoes as they dry.

Additional Reading  – Your guide to the heel to toe drop.

Baking Soda

Last but not least, once the shoes are properly dried out, sprinkle baking soda inside to get rid of any odors or lingering moisture.

Things not to Do To your Running Shoes

The above process is exactly what you need to do to wash and clean your running shoes without much hassle.

Here are some of the things you should never do, though.

  • Never put your shoes in the dryer. The high temperature may compromise the glue that holds your shoe together. It may also cause the materials or fabrics to shrink.
  • Avoid The washing machine. Tossing your shoes in the washing machine can also damage the fabric and adhesives, shortening its lifespan.
  • No bleach allowed. Avoid using bleach or other household cleaning supplies to wash your shoes. Opt for gentle, footwear-safe options only.

Additional Resource – Here’s a list of the best running shoe brands.

How To Clean Running Shoes  – The Conclusion

There you have it. If you’re looking for a simple way to clean your running shoes and keep them smelling—and looking—fresh, then today’s article has you covered. The rest is just details.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts or favorite way to wash your shoes down below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong.

David D.

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