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How to Clean Running Shoes – An Easy Step By Step Guide

As you run through dust, mud, and different kinds of terrain, your running shoes are bound to get dirty. Running every day, not just subjects your shoes to wear and tear, but also leads to dirt accumulation. So knowing how to clean running shoes is the best way to enhance their durability and performance. Don’t forget that even though most of the running shoes on the market are sturdy, they’re made of materials that are delicate and should be treated with the utmost care.

It’s an easy DIY job that can extend the life of your running shoes.  If you can’t stand the dirt on your shoes anymore and want to clean them, we have some handy information for you. In this article, we’ll tell you how to clean running shoes using the right products and techniques. Keep reading to find out how.


Why do you need to be careful while washing your shoes?

Yes, that’s true. You need to be very careful while washing your shoes. Most of the running shoes incorporate the use of water-based cement that holds them together. If you carelessly wash them in water, the water will definitely pull your shoes into pieces subsequently.

Cleaning shoes is a lot different from cleaning clothes. You can’t just put them in your washing machine and dry them in the dryer. As many running shoes don’t come cheap,  you definitely don’t want to lose them early, right? That’s another reason why you must know how to clean running shoes.

How to clean running shoes – what you’ll need.

To clean your shoes, you will need the following products:

  • A mild detergent or soap
  • A soft scrub or toothbrush
  • A sponge
  • Paper towel
  • Warm water

How to clean running shoes – A step by step guide

  • The first thing that you need to do is take the insoles and shoelaces out as all these parts will be washed separately.
  • Take a bucket or a bowl. Pour warm water and add around 15 to 30 ml of mild detergent.
  • Take a dry paper towel and clean clinging debris, mud, or dirt off the shoe.
  • Take a scrub or a toothbrush, dip in the water and begin with cleaning the outsoles. Once you are done scrubbing, rinse the outsole with a wet towel or sponge.
  • Now comes the upper surface. Cleaning of the upper surface depends on the material it is made up of.
  • For mesh, fabric or canvas: Take a wet and soapy sponge and gently scrub the entire upper. Don’t submerge the shoes in water as this can ruin the quality of the upper material. These materials can be easily cleaned with handwashing.
  • For leather, suede or nubuck: Water and soap can ruin the quality, as well as the color, of these materials and hence, you should not wash them with the regular washing process. The markets are full of cleaning products that are made specifically for leather, suede, or nubuck. Buy these products, read the instructions on how to clean running shoes and then clean accordingly.
  • Coming to the insoles, take the soapy scrub and clean the surface of the insole. You can also use a toothbrush for this purpose. Now, take a wet sponge to clean the dirt, as well as excess soap. Never soak the insoles in water as it can cause a change in the foam and the shape of the insole.
  • Take your shoelaces and clean them using a scrub brush and soap under running tap water.

How to dry your shoes?

Once you have finished with cleaning your shoes thoroughly, it is time for you to dry them.

To dry them, take some paper towels and stuff them inside your shoes. The paper towels will absorb all the moisture. Let them air dry. The paper towels will help in maintaining the shape of your shoes while they dry. Also, don’t keep your shoes in direct sunlight as it can damage the shoes.

Once the shoes are dry, sprinkle some baking soda to absorb the residual moisture, as well as odor.

How to deal with the odor?

Majority of brands are now launching shoes with Ortholite sock liners that possess some excellent antimicrobial properties and help to monitor the odor. But, if your shoes don’t have these sock liners, you shouldn’t worry as we have some easy ways to deal with the odor.

There are many reasons behind the bad odor coming from running shoes. It could be due to the fact that you sweat a lot while running or maybe because you got your shoes wet and they couldn’t dry.

Here is how you can tackle a bad odor.

  • Take a baby wipe or Oxyclean to clean your shoes.
  • Dirty insoles can cause a bad smell. Take the insoles out and clean them. You can also replace the insoles.
  • Take out the sock liner and let it dry thoroughly.
  • Sprinkle some foot powder inside your shoes. The powder will absorb the moisture and prevent subsequent odor.
  • You can also use old tea bags to eliminate a bad odor from your shoes. Tea bags smell good, and they are excellent at absorbing moisture.
  • Sprinkle some baking soda inside the shoes to tackle bad odor.

What not to do while cleaning the shoes?

Now that you know how to clean running shoes, let us tell you what not to do while cleaning your running shoes.

  • Never wash your shoes in a washing machine. Soaking the running shoes in water is the worst you can do to them as it negatively affects the material and adhesives.
  • Never use bleach or any household cleaning supply to clean your running shoes. Use a mild, clothing-safe detergent or special shoe cleaners to clean the upper material of your shoes.
  • Never dry your shoes in a dryer, direct sunlight, or radiator. The heat due to these agents can hamper the shape of your shoes.

A little care and alertness can keep your shoes clean and odor-free. These are some of the easiest ways to clean the running shoes. Stick to these tried and tested ways to clean your running shoes and enhance their shelf-life.

Final thoughts

Now that you know how to clean running shoes, make sure you follow all the tips and tricks mentioned in the article to extend the life of your running shoes, make them look presentable, keep them odor-free, and dirt-free.

If you have some interesting ideas that you would want to share, please leave your comments in the comments section below. Also, if you have any questions regarding how to clean running shoes, do let us know. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Further read:

The Athletic Foot Team