How to Wash Running Shoes

How to Wash Running Shoes

For avid runners, keeping everything smelling fresh is an ongoing challenge. If left in the hamper too long, anything you wore on a run can start to stink. And the same can be said for your shoes.

While you won’t usually smell your shoes while you’re running, their aroma can permeate a closet or even a whole room once you take them off. To keep the odor at bay, you need to wash your running shoes regularly — and properly. After all, shoes are expensive! By washing them the right way, you’ll help look clean, smell fresh, and hold up for many, many miles.

Hand Wash or Machine Wash?

When it comes to washing your running shoes, you can do it by hand or with the help of a washing machine; you just want to be aware of the pros and cons before you get started.

The major pro of using a washing machine is that it requires far less work than washing your shoes by hand. Plus, it saves you time that you can use to do other things while the shoes go around and around.

With that said, the washing machine can cause more wear and tear to the shoes, causing them to break down (and need to be replaced) faster. By taking the time and effort to hand wash your shoes, you’ll be able to better maintain the integrity of the shoes, and you can still get them very clean.

Ultimately, the choice comes down to saving time versus saving money. There isn’t a right or wrong answer; it’s up to you to decide which approach works best for you.

A Few Important Rules

Whether you’re washing them in the washer or by hand, there are a few key rules that will help you from accidentally damaging your shoes:

  • Remove the insoles. Before you go through the washing process, take a moment to remove the insoles from your shoes. This part of the shoe can collect a ton of water and will therefore take a long time to dry enough for you to go on a run again. If you’d like to clean the insoles, you can follow any instructions that might be provided for their care. Also, they can be replaced periodically while keeping the same shoes, so swapping them out is another option if yours start to smell.
  • Avoid laces in the washer. If you are going to use the washing machine to clean your running shoes, remove the laces so they won’t get caught and tangled up in the machine. Also, when using a machine, put your shoes in a mesh garment bag so they don’t bang around the inside the drum, which can cause damage.
  • No dryer. Perhaps the most important rule on this list is to keep your running shoes far away from the dryer. Even if you decide to use your washing machine to clean them, do not transition the shoes to the dryer as you would with the rest of your laundry. The hot environment of a dryer—even on a relatively low setting—will definitely damage the integrity of the shoe’s materials. Instead, find a good place to let the shoes air dry. You can even speed up this process but stuffing them with old newspaper, which is very absorbent. Just remember to take it out after a few hours!

Make It a Habit

To keep any stench from setting in, get into the habit of cleaning your running shoes regularly. How often you need to wash them will depend both on how much you run and what kind of conditions you encounter on those runs. If you tend to run on muddy trails rather than dry pavement, for instance, you’ll want to wash them more frequently.

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