Here's How to Clean Running Shoes, the Right Way

POPSUGAR Photography | Ashley Batz
POPSUGAR Photography | Ashley Batz

Now that we're in the midst of Spring cleaning everything possible, it's time to set our sights on our running shoes.

It's important to note that although the washing machine may be an alluring avenue, the regular cycle is typically not gentle enough for performance footwear, and can damage if not destroy your expensive and well-loved shoes.

If your shoes are machine-washable, make sure you put your shoes in some kind of encasing for added protection, like a shoe bag, washable laundry bag, or pillow case. Use a gentle cycle and cold water, wash with deodorizing pellets or sport-specific laundry detergent, and let them air dry.

Here are some options on getting your sneaks squeaky clean:

  • Air 'em out! Remove the insoles if possible, and leave them outside to get some fresh air.
  • Deodorize. Fill the shoes with baking soda, and set them outside overnight. The powder should absorb the odor, and can give you a cleaner slate to work with for the rest of the washing process. You can also try Odor-Eaters spray or Febreze fabric refresher.
  • Hand wash laces. It's easy to take the laces out, give em a soapy scrub by hand, and air dry them before lacing back up.
  • Prep for washing. Use a shoe brush or toothbrush with a bit of soapy liquid to brush off mud, dirt, or other stains.
  • Give your shoes a soak. Place your sneaks in a bucket of warm, soapy water. Use gentle laundry soap, dish soap, or OxiClean (sometimes I use a combo). After letting them soak overnight, rinse them off in cold water and let them air dry.
  • Wash your soles. If you have removable insoles, take them out and toss 'em in the wash on a gentle cycle. You can also hand wash them to ensure a gentler cleanse.
  • Spot clean. Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (I swear by them), a Tide To-Go pen, or a Clorox wipe to spot clean, depending on which area of the shoe you're cleaning. Few things have been as effective (for me) as the Magic Eraser when it comes to cleaning rubber or plastic outsoles.
  • Maintain the clean! After you've cleaned your shoes, make sure you're wearing fresh, clean socks on every run to prevent odor build up. After you run, try placing dryer sheets in each shoe to keep them fresh and odor-free.

Tip: Never leave damp shoes inside, or enclosed for too long. It builds mildew, mold, and icky smells.