Keeping your running shoes clean depends on several things: how dirty they are (and from what), the material of the shoes, and the method in which you wash them. Shoes should definitely not be over-washed, but leaving shoes muddy and sweaty after a run can damage the rubber and weaken stitching, as well as become a breeding ground for mold and other fun things.
There are two main types of “dirt” when it comes to running shoes. The first is from nature. The mud, the earth, the things you brush up against when out on the run like leaves and water. The second kind of dirt is from you: the runner. This is your sweat, blood, rubbing oils and anything else you have on you that rub onto and into your shoes. Remember that running is no clean sport, and as most running is done outside, there’s always going to be some level of dirt involved.
That said, looking after your shoes can prolong their life and give you support and function for far longer than those that have been mistreated. The two methods we recommend for washing your running shoes are listed below.
1. Rub down method
There’s nothing better for you than a rub down after a run, so what about one for your shoes too. After a run where the dirt has covered the shoe, use a “shoe brush” (an old tooth brush is perfect) and give the shoes a cleaning, removing the heaviest build ups of dirt and mud.
Clapping the shoes together sole to sole removes dirt easily and effectively, and after that, put them in a dry place (with laces undone and inner sole taken out if possible) and wait for the dirt to dry before using your (dry) shoe brush to remove the rest of the dirt.
This is the fastest way to have shoes ready for their next adventure, and requires only a few minutes after the run, once the shoes are dry.
2. Hand wash method
It can be tempting to throw your shoes into the washing machine after a hard run, but for the longevity of your shoes (and your machine), we recommend washing your running shoes by hand.
Give this method a go:
• Remove the insoles and laces.
• Wash off any debris, then put everything into the sink filled with warm water.
• Use a toothbrush or cloth to get into the gritty parts and lightly squeeze around the edges,
front and heels of the shoes.
• Rub the laces between your hands and give the insoles a gentle squeeze too.
• Let the shoes drain in the empty sink then re-squeeze to remove excess water.
• Dry in a warm airy place and put scrunched up paper inside the shoe to help speed up the process and hold the shape of the shoe.
Depending on where they are left to dry, they should be finished and dry within two to three days.