The Definitive Guide to Clean Any Running Shoes

The Guide to Clean Running Shoes

Running shoes are designed for many activities. Most of them are related to athletic people who run every day or exercise. They are the most essential gear for your running activities. But Keeping them clean and bright appears to be one of the most challenging tasks of all – until now! You must clean them from time to time to get rid of any mud or dust.

If you have running sneakers, you know how difficult it can get to clean them. For every runner, a pair of good trainers is essential gear.

While the a-list may be able to get a new pair of shoes when they get theirs filthy, how can we make sure our shoes keep looking perfect – especially when we think of wearing them for years?

Well, Check out this step-by-step guide on how to clean your running shoes. There are many points to consider, for example, what material they’re made from (whether canvas, suede or leather ). But we’ve got methods to help you get rid of discoloration, cloudy air bubbles, grime, scuff marks, and much more for all types of running shoes so you can keep putting on those well-worn kicks for a long time.

That said, cleaning your shoes every time you go for a run is a pain. So it could well be a better plan to consider how often you wash your sneakers, for example, once per week.

Is Cleaning Process the Same for any Running Shoes?

The short answer is NO!
Most running shoes are a combination of leather, canvas, and sometimes mesh material. Though there are common steps you can apply when cleaning any running shoes, every shoe’s material needs extra-special tips to clean it effectively and not damage the fabrics. This article will discuss the cleaning process step by step and reveal the extra steps needed for each shoe’s material.

Maintaining your shoes is pretty easy; all you have to do is care for your shoe materials by following the steps explained in this guide, and you’ll be good to go.

Should I Wash My Running Shoes in the Washer?

It seems like a good idea, but actually, it’s not. While it could be easier to allow the washing machine to do all the work, this technique is a little bit risky for the fabrics and adhesives. It will probably leave your sneakers damaged or even destroyed. In addition, the repeated tumbling might jeopardize the integrity of the shoes.

  • The regular washing machine setting is too harsh for most runners and may deteriorate the fabric and adhesives. In addition, it affects the structure of the padding in providing a responsive feel or reliable cushioning.
  • The chemicals in detergent and the hot water pressure can melt down the glue that holds the footwear together, which will slowly break down the shoes.
  • Midsoles made out of the typical EVA foam, such as the Hoka One’s midsole or ASICS Flytefoam, are very sensitive to water. The technology of midsoles made out of thermoplastic polyurethane, such as the Saucony Everun or Adidas Boost is stronger, but it’s still not worth the risk.
  • The constant force of loose shoes may damage the washer’s drum, and mud-soaked soles may clog its drain.

Should I Wash The Running Sneakers in the Washer

So, if you would like to keep your washing machine and running shoes intact, keeping them away at all costs is best.

The Best Way to Clean Running Shoes Effectively

The best way to keep your running shoes clean and shiny is to wash them frequently by hand with a mild detergent or probably just rubbing a soap will do the job. Below we take you step-by-step through the whole process of cleaning your running shoes from gathering the needed supplies to cleaning and drying every part of your shoes and the essential tips to clean different shoe materials.

Related article: anatomy of running shoe

Step 1: Gathering the Needed Supplies

The first thing you need to do before cleaning your shoes is gathering all the needed supplies and place them in your work area.

You will need:

  • Stiff brush
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Five-gallon bucket
  • Soft brush
  • Small bowl
  • Sponge
  • Mild detergent
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Pillowcases

Note: You might not need all the above supplies to clean your running shoes. The above list contains supplies that will be necessary for different running shoe materials and parts. For example, some of the above supplies are used only to clean leather running shoes. If you have a non-leather shoe, you won’t need those supplies.

Step 2: Prepare Your Running Sneakers for Cleaning

You can do some simple and effective preliminary steps when cleaning your running shoes.

  • Take the laces and Insoles off so you can wash them separately.
  • Place a piece of cloth or newspaper inside your shoe to keep dirt from seeping into them when start brushing.
  • If running shoes in muddy, let them dry before brushing. They’ll be a lot easier to clean off.
  • Once the mud on your shoes is dried up, brush away any loose mud, dust, or grime.

Step 3: Clean The Laces

If you see that your laces are dirty, you have 2 options to clean them :

Clean Shoelaces Using Washing Machine

  1. Run the laces under a stream of water or use a soft shoe brush or toothbrush to remove any stuck-on grime or debris.
  2. Use a stain remover or laundry detergent to remove any bad stains.
  3. Toss the laces in a mesh lingerie bag or a knotted pillowcase to minimize the risk of getting tangled through the wash cycle
  4. Run through a cycle in your washing machine on a 30-degree wash.

Clean Shoelaces By Hand

  1. Mix four cups of warm water with 1/2 teaspoon of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent in a small bowl or bucket to create a cleaning solution. If the shoelaces are white, use bleach instead of laundry detergent.
  2. Place the laces in a mesh or knitted bag and fully submerge them into the solution for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the bag from the solution and take the laces out of the bag.
  4. Run the shoelaces under a stream of water to rinse them off.

Dry The Laces

Hang the laces to dry overnight. Don’t use a dryer as the high temperature might cause the aglets to melt and/or the laces to shrink.

Step 4: Clean The Insoles

We have 2 methods to clean the insoles. One method is for removable insoles, and the other method is for non-removable insoles.

How to Clean Running Shoe Insoles

Clean The Removable Insoles

  • Fill a small bucket, or container with hot water and add a few drops of mild detergent.
  • Take an old toothbrush or a soft close and dip it into the cleaning solution.
  • Scrub your running shoe insoles with circular motions.
  • Go over the insoles with a sponge or a clean cloth, taking out any residual soap.
  • Rinse them off thoroughly with cold water.

Dry The Removable Insoles

Place the insoles on a towel to allow them to air-dry for 7-8 hours.

If you applied all the above steps and your insoles are still smelly, you can apply the next steps to remove the bad odor.

  • Fill a plastic bag or box with baking soda.
  • Toss the insoles inside the container and be sure that the insoles are totally covered with baking soda.
  • Allow the insoles to sit in baking soda for at least 7-8 hours.
  • Take out the insoles, and use a sponge or a clean cloth to wipe off any excess baking soda.

Clean The Non-removable Insoles

  • Get a bowl or bucket and create a cleaning solution (one cup of water and a few drops of mild detergent).
  • Take a toothbrush and dip it into the cleaning solution.
  • Start scrubbing the insoles inside the shoes until they are clean.
  • Use your mobile flashlight to check inside the shoe and make sure that every spot is clean,
  • Wipe off the soap on the insoles using a sponge or a clean cloth.

Dry The Non-removable Insoles

Place your shoes in a shaded area at room temperature for 12 hours.

Extra step 

After you make sure that the insoles inside your shoes are dried, Sprinkle baking soda inside your sneakers and leave them for a few hours. Then, check the excess baking soda out of your shoes. Baking soda will help remove any smelly odors from the insoles of your running shoes.

Step 5: Clean The Outsole

Outsoles are usually made of rubber, so using a brush with hard or stiff bristles will effectively clean off all the dirt stuck in the bottom of your running sneakers. First, dip the brush in a cleaning solution ( a small bowl with warm water and a few drops of laundry detergent), then start scrubbing the bottom of your shoes.

Some running sneakers have outsoles with particularly challenging rubber treads that could be tricky to clean. In this case, you can use Deglazer; it works very well – put a few drops on a clean cloth and work your way at it.

Note**  If the mud or dirt is wet, it won’t be easy to clean off. So, make sure to give it some time until the mud and dirt get hardened then start cleaning the outsoles.

Note** If you have gum stuck in the bottom of your shoe, it will need you to dip a piece of clean microfiber cloth into very hot water and start rubbing your shoe’s bottom. It will take some time until the gum gets softened. If residual gum is stuck in the outsole and you can’t remove it, using tweezers could be a great solution to take it out.

Step 6: Clean The Midsole

This section of the running shoes is clearly visible and is often designed to be shiny, so it’s crucial to clean it on a regular basis.

An easy solution is to take a Magic Eraser to it. It is probably not the most effective solution, but it helps decrease grime along the edges. It also makes light work of stains and dirt, but if you feel you want a better clean, move to the next solutions:

  • Midsoles are crafted from rubber or foam, so you can use a stiff brush. Dip the brush into the cleaning solution, then scrub the midsoles.
  • If that doesn’t take it out, you can use a “strong” solution on a microfiber cloth.
  • If something isn’t getting out, you can use a little bit of Deglazer on a microfiber towel or cloth.
  • If that doesn’t get the desired result, use a midsole pen or paint.
  • Finally, use the microfiber cloth to dry the midsoles partially.

Note** If your midsole has cloudy air bubbles, use a hairdryer heat. Move the hairdryer back and forth. You’ll see the air bubbles magically disappear.

Step 7: Clean The Upper

Start by gently brushing away any mud or caked-on grime from the upper portion of your running shoes using a soft brush or a microfiber towel. Mesh uppers may require several cleaning sessions to remove stains.

Brush over the stain in a circular motion after dipping it in your mild soap. Continue until it starts to revert to its previous state; this may take a few tries. Nevertheless, make sure you’re washing your sneakers with a specific solution if they have a waterproof liner or membrane.

The upper of your shoe should be scrubbed and thoroughly cleaned before being rinsed with clean water in a bowl. During this period, you can also reapply any waterproofing that you personally applied to the shoes.

Note** You should avoid soaking your running shoes in water completely as this could harm the components in them. Additionally, it can weaken the adhesives that keep your shoes together. You must quit using bleach because of how abrasive it is because it can damage your sneakers.

Step 8: Clean The Tongue

Cleaning the tongue can boost your running shoe’s overall look, so never miss it during the cleaning routine. For the tongue, just apply the fabric-specific methods we mentioned above according to its material make-up: A canvas tongue gets the soap while a suede one gets the brush.

Tips to Clean White or Light-colored Running Shoes

Buying a pair of pristine white or light-colored shoes is super exciting for a lot of runners. However, people usually have many second thoughts about the idea when it comes to buying a white shoe. Once you get your shoe on the floor, it no sooner gets spoilt by the dirt and mud your feet encounter while walking or running. However, people are still mesmerized by the white shoe brands and always seek new effective ways to clean them, and that’s what we will tackle in this article. So, here is how to get your white sneakers super pristine as it was the moment you took them out of the box!

Clean White Running Shoes

Why do People Love White Shoes?

People admire white running shoes for their versatility as they can be coupled with almost any outfit and sound super fashionable! In the 1980s, white shoes managed to have the lead when people teamed them up with denim. White shoes are stylish and can give you the practicality you look for with a little bit of regular washing. Also, you don’t need to buy luxurious washing supplies to get your shoe cleaned.

What is the Most Challenging thing about Cleaning White Running Shoes?

Oily, ink and alcohol stains are the worst stains you can get since they should be removed with a super tough brush, unlike food stains that can easily be cleaned. The following six methods will help you make it quick and straightforward.

6 Methods to Clean White Running Shoes

Below are 6 effective ways to clean your pair of white or light-colored running sneakers.

Soap and Water

We all use this method; however, not all of us employ it properly. So, here is our recommended way of how you can use soap and water effectively.

  • Bring 240 ml of hot water and add two teaspoons of dish soap.
  • Mix the two elements till your water becomes bubbly and clear.
  • Use a toothbrush to clean the dirt by immersing the brush in water and then using it to clean your shoe.
  • Keep brushing till the stain is removed away.

Magic Eraser

Magic Eraser is a fancy name for Melamine or resin foam that can be used with some water to rub the dirt away. This tool is deemed very effective and flexible among users, so consider having an eraser as soon as possible. The only criticism that can be said against the eraser is that it is not fit for women’s sneakers. Women’s shoes are generally less robust than those of men, so they might get affected or scratched by the eraser’s sturdy texture.

Baking Soda and Detergent

Baking soda is one of the most effective cleaning supplies that can be used to clean a wide range of belongings, such as clothes, carpets, refrigerators, and white sneakers.

  • Add some of the soda powder to the detergent powder and stir without adding water.
  • The percentage should be one-third of the soda to two-thirds of the detergent.
  • Put the mixed powder on the shoe and leave the shoe for at least one hour
  • Stir the shoe with a brush till the stains fade away.
  • Clean the shoe with warm water and leave it to dry.

If the shoe you are cleaning is vegan waterproof, make sure to remove the laces and the insoles before starting cleaning. Moreover, although you can use the washing machine to clean your white sneakers with vegan, waterproof footwear, it is recommended to dry your shoe with air only.

Use Bleach (For Difficult Stains)

Bleach is a heavy chemical that should be used carefully and cautiously since it can cause skin inflammation and might suffocate you if the room you are in is not breathable enough. That is why it is recommended that you wear gloves while using bleach.

  • Blend one part of bleach into five parts of water
  • Clean the shoe with a toothbrush or a sponge
  • Bring a towel, soak it in water, and squeeze the towel not to be too watery.
  • Clean the shoe and leave it to dry in an airy room.
  • If your shoe is strong enough, you might need to put it under the water tap.

Micellar Water

Women use micellar water to remove their make-up. However, micellar water has proven effective in cleaning white sneakers though it doesn’t work correctly for oily and inky stains. To use micellar water, get a cloth, dampen it with micellar water, and use it to rub against your shoe strains. This method will work for white leather, suede, and rubber shoes.

White Toothpaste

Utilizing white toothpaste for cleaning white shoes is a conventional method that people have been employing for years. It’s super easy: Brush your shoe with some white toothpaste (be warned that colored toothpaste can stain your shoe). Afterward, let the shoe dry for 20 minutes and get a wet cloth to remove the toothpaste away.

Tips to Clean Suede Running Shoes

The most important piece of advice is to stay away from water. Despite having a similar appearance to leather, suede is more prone to water damage. As a result, it is advised that you clean suede while it is still dry using distilled vinegar or a cleaner designed specifically for suede.
Clean Suede Running Shoes

Bring the necessary supplies, including a suede brush or a brush with soft bristles, an eraser, distilled vinegar or suede cleaner, and a towel, as the first step. The laces should then be untied and taken off. Use the eraser for light stains and flimsier areas, and the brush to remove any stains.

You can use a suede cleaner to follow the manufacturer’s directions for watermarks and debris. Or you can use a cloth and vinegar. After that, let your shoe air dry. Before putting the shoe in its box, clean the rubber soles with wipes to get rid of any debris.

Read more: a detailed guide to clean suede running shoes

Tips to Clean Leather Running Shoes

Leather is one of the most admired among wearers since it fits the feet snugly and looks fashionable. However, cleaning leather always causes a fuss: Buyers usually consult their shoe creator on how to get their shoes cleaned or even opt for a specialized shop to clean their shoes for them. That’s why we brought you this method that will save you lots of money and effort.

How to Clean Leather Running Shoes

  • Remove the shoelaces and insoles.
  • Get a brush and rub against dirt and stains all over your shoe, up and down. It is recommended that you use suede brushes.
  • If your shoe is eligible for being put in a washing machine, put it in a bag to ensure it is protected. Avoid putting the shoe in dryers
  • Instead of the dryer, utilize some paper or towels to keep your shoe well-shaped.
  • Use distilled vinegar and water to clean the shoe and leave it for a day to dry off.

How to fill in a Scratch (Leather Running shoes)?

If you think that scratching your leather is fatal, you are mistaken. Leather fillers are designed to redeem your mistake by filling in the gap and making the leather more versatile. Although they were created for furniture in the first place, leather fillers can be colored and used for scratched leather shoes. So, with a smart idea, you can restore your shoes without paying lots of money.

Tips to Clean Canvas & Coated Canvas Running Shoes

Canvas shoes are admired for the classy outfit they maintain. Moreover, cleaning them is not a challenging task at all, for they accept washing machines. Just remember to remove their insoles. When it comes to drying the shoe, refrain from using intensified heat not to destroy your shoes. If you don’t have to wait for your shoe to dry, use some detergent or dish soap, warm water, and a toothbrush.

Clean Canvas Running Shoes

The coated canvas is distinguished by resisting water, which will make its cleaning process super easy. Just by using a pencil eraser or a bar of soap and water, you can clean your canvas in no time.

Tips to Clean Knit Running Shoes

Cleaning a pair of shoes tailored with mesh or knit upper is a piece of cake. Knit can be washed in a washing machine after removing the insoles away. Refrain from using a dryer since it can completely harm your shoe. Knit can also be cleaned with warm water and detergent or dish soap. Use the mixture to wipe out the stains and dirty spots.

Clean Knit Running Shoes

How to Dry Your Running Shoes?

You can use paper and towels and leave your shoe until it dries. Using a fan to dry your shoes can be effective but can make you exhausted. If you are in summer, you can leave your shoes to dry under the sun’s rays. But the sun won’t be an effective solution in the other seasons.

Using the dry is not a recommended option since it squeezes your shoe and reduces its sturdiness. Some dries are equipped with a shoe rack. These can only be used. However, according to experts, the most reliable way is using newspapers to dry the shoe from the inside and the outside. It is neither pricy nor exhausting. Regarding the laces, you can hang them till they dry and try to keep their plastic endings safe and away from heat.

What to Avoid When Cleaning Running Shoes

There are some crucial guidelines for clean running shoes to ensure you don’t damage the shoes themselves:

  • Never use strong chemicals – Cleaners like surface cleaners or bleach can easily damage the gentle materials used in trainers; if you wouldn’t use them on your skin, don’t use them on your sneakers.
  • Don’t use the tumble dryer – The dry heat can twist the shoes. It also may damage the tumble dryer. Many customers reported that their shoe size changed after they tried to clean them in a tumble dryer.
  • Don’t use a washing machine – Not only can it damage your running shoes, but it may also cause damage to your washing machine. While we don’t suggest this technique, we know of numerous clients who still toss the sneakers in a pillowcase with some old towels to help stabilize the machine and wash them at a low temperature.
  • Avoid any forced drying – The same goes for the hairdryer, radiator, or any forced drying. All of these options may wrap the midsoles.
  • Avoid a pressure washer – Yes, it doesn’t seem logical, but it has been tested out! Pressure washers will tear through running sneakers, so don’t be tempted regardless of how dirty they are.

How to Deodorize your Running Shoes?

Whether your trainers are relatively new or don’t look that filthy,! Even if the surface looks clean, running shoes will take in more sweat than regular shoes. Getting rid of sweat stops mold and bacteria growth and helps extend your sneakers’ lifespan.

Bottom Line

If you have enough awareness of how to clean your running shoes properly, you’ll save a lot of money through the years by increasing the lifespan of your current running sneakers.

Cleaning your shoes regularly will help runners to be relaxed. Also, it will also help you to run more comfortably by preserving their traction.

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