How to Clean Running Shoes

Running shoes go through a lot. They take the punishment of miles of running over all sorts of terrain and conditions, and often this can make them mucky on the outside and stinky on the inside.

In fact, running shoes are probably some of the hardest shoes to keep clean, especially because they are often made of breathable materials that are difficult to properly maintain and keep muck-free.

Whether you use an ancient pair of running shoes that could do with a freshen up, or a brand new pair that you want to preserve as long as possible, there are some key things to keep in mind when cleaning your running shoes.

In this guide, we’re going to look at a step by step guide of how to clean your running shoes, both inside and out to make them look as good as new so that you can run in comfort and confidence.

We’re going to look at two methods, to make sure everyone can keep their shoes clean regardless of the appliances they have access to.

Hand Washing

Step 1 – Wait for any mud to dry and water to evaporate

If you want to avoid getting your hands and home covered in muck the best way to prevent this is to allow your running shoes to dry properly before you begin cleaning them.

The amount of time this takes will vary depending on several factors such as the material of the particular running shoe, as well as ambient temperatures and how wet and muddy they got during your last usage of them.

It can range from anywhere between a few hours to 12 hours, depending on these factors. When the mud is dry to the touch you’re ready to begin the next step of the process.

Step 2 – Scrub the Shoes

Now that the mud is dry, you can take a dry toothbrush and rub off the mud which will usually flake away quite easily now that it’s dry. Brush all areas on the outside of the shoe but don’t brush too hard or you may damage the material of the shoes.

It’s best to do this outdoors so that the mud doesn’t make a mess, but if this isn’t possible it’s best to lay down an old towel or sheet to catch the flakes of mud you scrub off.

Step 3 – Mix a Cleaning Solution

Now that the worst of the mud has been removed, we can begin to properly clean the shoes without fear of making too much of a mess.

Take a bowl and make a cleaning solution out of washing up liquid or detergent and a little baking soda.

Roughly 120ml of detergent and half a cup or 90 grams of baking soda should suffice for a decent sized washing up bowl.

This solution will be a slightly gritty and abrasive cleaning fluid that will help remove any additional mud from the surface of your shoes.

Mix the solution well before the next step.

Step 4 – Clean the Shoes

Now you can take a toothbrush and use the cleaning solution to scrub the shoes again, paying particular attention to the soles and toe area of the shoes.

Scrub well but not too hard to avoid damaging the shoe or its color.

A nail brush is a suitable alternative to a toothbrush, and in some cases, a cloth will suffice if the shoes aren’t particularly dirty.

Step 5 – Rinse

Use a sponge and clean water to rinse the shoes off and remove all of the cleaning solution you used as well as any remaining mud.

A dishcloth can be used instead of a sponge if necessary.

Step 6 – Dry the Shoes

Dry the shoes off using a towel or microfiber cloth, and allow them to air dry until they are totally dry.

Step 7 – Clean the Insoles

Insoles can harbor a lot of bacteria, but there are ways to prevent this.

Use a thin layer of baking soda to coat the insoles of your shoes, and leave them overnight. This will prevent odors.

When they are ready simply shake out the baking soda. If you prefer and if you are able you can remove the insoles to make this process a little easier.

Using a Washing Machine

Step 1 – Prepare the shoe

Brush off any dry or loose dirt with a toothbrush, to prevent muck getting into your washing machine and clogging it up with filth.

Step 2 – Remove the Laces and Insoles

Unlace your shoes, remove the insoles, and put them in a cloth bag or an old pillowcase.

Step 3 – Set up your washing machine

Pour the proper amount of detergent and fabric softener into your washing machine according to the instructions on your favored brand. Choose the correct setting or cycle for your shoes.

Step 4 – Put the Shoes In

Place the shoes into a separate cloth bag or an old sleeping bag and tie the top of it to stop the shoes from falling out of it. You can also tie the top of the bag with your laces and insoles inside.

This prevents the shoes from moving around so much inside the washing machine and helps keep everything organized. It can also protect your shoes from some of the chemicals in the washing detergent without preventing their cleaning action.

Step 5 – Take Out your Shoes and Prepare Them for Drying

Remove the shoes and insoles from the washing machine and place them in an airy bright location to dry. Use some scrunched newspaper or magazine to keep the shoes in shape while they dry.

Step 6 – Allow the shoes to air dry fully

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