How to Clean Running Shoes

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Running is excellent for our overall health, but it isn’t that great for our shoes. If you run often, you’ve probably noticed how quickly the shoes succumb to damage from dirt, debris, and grime, not to mention rain and sweat.

If you want to extend the lifespan of your shoes and keep them looking fresh, you need to learn how to take care of them properly. We’ll provide detailed information on how to clean running shoes.

General Guidelines for Cleaning Running Shoes

Running shoes usually aren’t high maintenance. But if you often run on unpaved surfaces, different particles can compromise the traction. Typically, most runners don’t care about keeping their shoes sparkling clean. Instead, they want to ensure maximum functionality. Here are a few general guidelines for maintaining your running shoes.

Cleaning Running Shoe Outsoles

If you want to regain maximum traction, you need to clean your outsoles thoroughly. For this, you’ll usually need a brush with stiff bristles. If the dirt is caked on, you may also need a hose. Next, scrub the soles until all the nooks and crannies are dirt-free.

Cleaning Running Shoe Uppers

Cleaning your shoes’ uppers is pretty simple, but it can be lengthy, especially if your shoes are covered in dirt and mud. First of all, you’ll need to remove the laces. After that, the easiest way to clean them is to put them in a mesh bag and wash them in the washing machine using a gentle cycle. Of course, you can also wash them by hand, but if they’re really dirty, that may not be as efficient.

To hand wash them, start by removing the insoles or liners. Now, take a brush and gently remove dirt from the uppers. After all the dirt is gone, take a mild soap and water solution or a shoe cleaning spray and scrub the shoes. Be careful not to damage the exterior by using a harsh brush. Once you’re done, rinse the shoes with clean water and let them air dry.

Cleaning Running Shoe Insoles

Running shoe insoles absorb sweat and represent an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Hence, cleaning the insoles thoroughly is essential for your comfort and health. For this, you can use mild soap, baking soda, and water solution, vinegar and water mix, or a store-bought product designed for cleaning insoles. After washing the insoles, rinse them with clean water and air dry them.

Drying Running Shoes

It’s best to place your running shoes in a mild temperature and low humidity spot. You should never put the shoes in a dryer or anywhere close to a heat source because they could become distorted. However, if you want to speed up the process, you can place the shoes close to a fan or AC. Moreover, you can stuff newspaper or paper towels inside the shoes, but remember to replace them whenever they become damp.

Can Running Shoes Be Washed in the Washing Machine?

For several reasons, most running shoe manufacturers don’t advise washing them in the machine. Firstly, washing shoes at high temperatures can change their shape completely, resulting in decreased functionality and poor fit. Moreover, tossing them in a spin cycle can affect the material and compromise the shoes’ structure.

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Although washing the shoes in the machine may seem more convenient and faster, it’s best not to do it. This goes for all washing machines, even those with hand wash options.

That being said, every manufacturer has rules for maintaining shoes, and some may recommend machine washing. Before placing the shoes in your machine, don’t forget to check the label. If the manufacturer doesn’t advise machine washing, but you still do it, and the shoes get damaged, you won’t be able to file a complaint.

Washing Your Running Shoes in the Washing Machine

Even if you’ve established your running shoes can be thrown into the washing machine, you still need to be extra careful not to damage them in the process.

Firstly, use a dry brush to remove dirt and mud. That way, you’ll ensure the machine doesn’t get clogged or damaged due to the debris. Now, remove the laces and the insoles and place them into a delicate bag to prevent them from getting tangled.

Of course, if the insoles are glued to your shoes, don’t worry about removing them. The next step is pouring about a capful of your preferred washing detergent into the machine.

Remember that you shouldn’t use bleach as it can damage your shoes. Likewise, refrain from using detergents that have “whitening” or “bleaching” written on the label. Instead, you can pour the detergent directly on the shoes or into the agitator.

Now it’s time to place the shoes into the washing machine. Use the coldest setting because hot water can damage the glue and ruin your shoes. It’s recommended to wash only one pair of shoes at a time to avoid damaging your machine. If you have an old towel or sheet, you can wash it with the shoes to reduce the noise and the risk of damage.

Once the machine is done, take out your shoes and place them in a location with low humidity. Avoid keeping the shoes close to radiators or exposing them to direct sunlight because this could damage their structure. You can place newspaper or paper towels inside the shoes to speed up the drying process.

When Should You Clean Your Running Shoes?

It’s impossible to specify how often you should clean your running shoes. The frequency depends on what kind of running you’re doing, the location, weather conditions, etc. For example, your shoes won’t be as muddy if you’re running on paved surfaces. But if you’re running on mountain trails, you’ll quickly notice caked mud.

A general rule of thumb is to clean your running shoes as soon as you notice they feel different than what you’re used to. Dirt and mud usually affect the traction you get from your shoes, so cleaning them thoroughly every once in a while, is essential.

Tip: As soon as you get home after running, grab an old toothbrush and remove mud and dirt from the shoes’ exterior. That way, you’ll be able to get rid of the particles quickly and easily. Remember that you should do this only if the mud is dry.

How to Clean Running Shoes

When Is It Time to Say Goodbye to Your Running Shoes?

There comes a point in every runner’s life when they must say goodbye to their favorite pair of running shoes. Unfortunately, at that point, no amount of cleaning can resurrect the shoes that are past their prime. Besides not looking as good, damaged and worn-out shoes don’t provide proper joint support and can lead to severe injuries.

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You should consider replacing your shoes if you’ve run more than 300-500 miles in them. After 300-500 miles, your shoes will lose their resiliency and shock-absorbing properties. Although you may not notice it immediately, this affects your muscles and joints.

Since most runners, these days use fitness trackers, keeping track of how many miles you run in your shoes isn’t much of a challenge. You probably know the approximate distance if you don’t have a tracker but often go on the same route.

Of course, this isn’t a universal rule. For example, you may need to replace the shoes more often if you run on mountain trails. Likewise, minimalist shoes typically have less cushioning, so they don’t last as long. Regardless of the shoe type, heavier people will need to replace them more frequently than thin people.

Other signs that indicate it’s time to replace your running shoes are significant wear and tear, heal damage, and rips. Lastly, don’t forget to listen to your body. If you notice running has become more difficult or you’re getting blisters frequently or feeling uncomfortable, it may be time for a new pair of shoes.

Tips for Extending the Life of Your Running Shoes

You can make your running shoes last longer by following these tips:

Rotate Several Pairs of Shoes

Your running shoes could benefit from a rest. Not using the same pair of shoes daily allows the foam to bounce back and dry out completely. If possible, invest in another pair of shoes and rotate them. Although it may seem unusual, buy shoes with a different height and heel-to-toe drop. The subtle changes can strengthen the muscles in your feet and legs.

Always Dry Them Out

If you often run when it’s raining or sweat a lot, you should remember to dry your shoes thoroughly before wearing them again. As mentioned, wet shoes are a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus, which is definitely something to avoid.

The simplest way to ensure your shoes dry quickly is to remove the insoles and stuff the shoes with newspapers or paper towels. Let them sit for a few hours, then replace them until they are completely dry. If your shoes came with paper inside them, keep it. This paper is of the ideal size and texture for absorbing moisture. Instead of throwing it away, you can let it dry and reuse it later.

Use Them Only for Running

While it may be tempting to wear your running shoes around all day, this adds extra mileage and reduces their longevity. If you want to wear them to work, to school, or to the park, we recommend getting another pair.

Protect Them from the Elements

Never leave your running shoes out in the sun, as high temperatures can degrade the materials and distort the shape. Instead, use waterproof sprays to prevent moisture from damaging the shoes.

Enjoy the Run

High-quality shoes are essential for every runner. But even the best shoes will quickly become damaged if you don’t take proper care of them.

While sparkling clean shoes look great, don’t overdo it. Washing the shoes with aggressive cleaning products or throwing them into the washing machine can quickly lead to wear and tear.

Instead, clean the shoes with gentle cleaning solutions using a brush or a toothbrush, and be careful when drying and storing them.

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