How to wash running shoes

Footwear cleaning materials

Washing the essential tools of our running game, using a machine wash, laundry detergent, paper towels – it all takes work.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve messed up in this department. From setting my washing machine too high, to using an old toothbrush that’s rough and taken some of my decals off, washing your running shoes can be surprisingly difficult. We all need to be careful. Some of you may be thinking – well, why didn’t you just use a soft brush… and well I’d be embarrassed if you were, but there’s still an art to doing it right.

Certain methods, like air dry, absorb excess moisture (great) but can shrink certain aspects of your shoe. Others may leave their shoes outside to dry only to find they’ve gathered outside wear or worse… it starts raining. So if you’re sceptical about a professional washing technique article, well, you needn’t be.

Let’s break down how to use machine washing and other tricks to wash your running shoes right.

Hand wash running shoes

This one is probably the best thing to do. It’s easy to do damage still but much harder to do damage than most other methods. Stubborn dirt does require a bit of hard washing but again this is much easier to do with a smaller, hand-operated cleaning tool. If you use a washing machine then it might stay resistant to its powers. Use a bit of warm water, and some fabric-safe soap, and get scrubbing.

If you don’t want to use this method, then that’s fine, you can use a cloth too with some other cleaning materials.

The dangers of sunlight

Be careful when leaving shoes in the sun, especially when they’re wet. Your shoes will have some sweat on them, and this is incredibly damaging. Sweat in the sun accentuates moisture, making it spread and, wow, making it stink. Some shoes are specially designed to avoid this, but no amount of design can avoid a wash load of water, sweat and moisture and then being left in direct sun. Avoid this at all costs.

Products to use

Use these products for an excellent de-smelling, drying, and immaculate finish. One is obvious, warm water – you can use this to lightly remove dirt and other frustrations. De-oderisers are great, too, so give them a go. These act as safe chemicals to remove your smelly discrepancies. Cleaning products like fabric-safe soap are great too. Baking soda can do the job in light doses, and if you want to avoid washing machines to wash trainers, then use baking soda and vinegar (look up the amount) to rectify these issues.


There you have it, some pretty darned good solutions (pun intended) to wash your trainers. As I said, I couldn’t tell you how many times this has happened – I’ve left my shoes for too long, put them in the sun only to find they stink and, to be honest, pose problems with bacteria if I were to wear them.


Is air drying okay?

Air drying is fine provided it’s in a safe place. Any place where mould can gather, like a wardrobe, for example, isn’t good. But outside, provided there’s no direct sunlight, is fine also.

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