How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)

How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)

Love running but hate cleaning shoes? If you love running, you probably have a few sets of running shoes, and the white ones happen to be the most notorious ones among them. It gets dirty so easily! All kinds and colors of running shoes get dirty after a good run, and just the thought of having to clean them can make you tired.

Here, you are going to find a bunch of easy ways to wash your running shoes and make them perfect and tidy as if it is new. The methods will also help you eliminate the intolerable odor that comes from all the sweat after a long run. Clean and fresh shoes can be a great motivation for running nonetheless. You will also learn how to dry your running shoes the right way and how to take care of them to make them last longer.

You can wash your running shoes either by using your hands or a washing machine. Although it is not safe to pass them randomly in a washing machine, a few techniques will help you avoid any mess up when you are using the machine.

The initial step

Before trying any method:

  1. Make sure all the excess dirt is off of the shoes. If your shoes are wet because of mud or rain, let them dry first.
  2. Clap your shoes together to let the dirt fall out.
  3. Use a dry brush or a scrubber to brush off all the extra mud and grass clamped into the outsoles and other parts of your shoes. 

Once all the excess dirt is removed, you can use one of the following methods to remove the stubborn stains and odor.

Remove the shoelaces and insoles (if removable) of your shoes. For thorough cleaning, you need to clean everything separately.

Methods that include rinsing should be carried on in a comfortable place with enough access to water. It makes the process much easier and efficient.

How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)


Cleaning By Hand

Cleaning your running shoes by hand is the best way to do it. You can be gentle enough to avoid degrading and wearing off the material and reach detailed places to accomplish a thorough cleaning. There are a lot of techniques you can use for washing your running shoes by hand. Try any one of the following to achieve the best results:

Using soap/laundry detergent

This one is the most classic and traditional method. It is also very convenient. But are you sure you are doing it right? A few easy tips should be followed during this procedure to get promising results.

Things you will need:

  • Mild soap/laundry detergent
  • Shoe brush/toothbrush
  • Lukewarm water
How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)

Step 1: 

Use a shoe brush to put soap/detergent all over the shoelaces, insoles, and shoes. You can use a toothbrush if you want to reach into the detailed spots. Liquid mild detergent is recommended to avoid residue of powder detergent stuck in your shoes.

Step 2: 

Start giving them a good scrub in circular motions. Avoid harsh scrubbing to prevent wearing off of the shoe materials.

Step 3: 

Rinse them thoroughly using lukewarm water. Or you can take a napkin, dampen it with warm water and wipe the shoes.

NOTE:  Avoid using hot water directly onto the shoes. It can melt the glue holding the shoe and cause it to deteriorate. It can also cause the shoes to shrink and lose integrity.

  • Using baking soda
How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)

If you are wondering, “Is it safe to use baking soda to clean running shoes?” then don’t worry at all. Baking soda is one of the best cleaning agents. It helps all the dirt and grease to dissolve in water to remove them easily. It also helps to deodorize your shoes and keep them fresh. Following the steps below correctly can easily teach you how to clean running shoes with baking soda without any damage.

Things you will need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar 
  • Toothbrush 
  • Cloth/napkin
  • Lukewarm water

Step 1:

Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of white vinegar and, one tablespoon of lukewarm water to make a paste.

Step 2: 

Use a toothbrush to apply the paste all over the shoes, shoelaces, and insoles. Please give it a gentle scrub in circular motions.

Step 3: 

Let it dry for 10 minutes. The baking soda will get rid of all the stains and make your shoes odorless.

Step 4:

 Clap your shoes to get rid of excess powder, if there is any. Wipe all the dried-up powder using a damp cloth. You can rinse the shoes gently with lukewarm water for better cleaning.

  • Using foaming cleaner

If you are looking for a quick method to avoid any messy rinsing and washing, try using a foam cleaner for your runners. It is quick and efficient.

Things you will need:

  • Foam cleaner
  • Toothbrush
  • Cloth/napkin

Step 1

Apply the foam cleaner on the stains or all over.

Step 2:

 Use a toothbrush to give a good scrub for a few minutes. You will see the stains starting to come off.

Step 3:

 Use a damp cloth or napkin to wipe off all the excess cleaner, and you are good to go.

Cleaning Process In Washing Machine

You can often see that it is told to avoid washing your running shoes in the washing machine. If not done in the right way, it can do more harm than good. You need to follow a few simple tips and tricks to learn how to clean your running shoes in the washing machine without causing any damage.

Things you will need:

  • Liquid detergent 
  • Pillowcase/mesh laundry bag
  • Old towels
  • Of course, a washing machine 
How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)

Step 1:

Put your shoelaces separately in a pillowcase or a laundry bag to avoid the annoying tangling. You can put your shoes in a separate mesh laundry bag as a precaution.

NOTE: Insoles are supposed to be washed separately by hand. It helps to get rid of the odor thoroughly. Just soak them in water and detergent and use a brush to remove any stain. Rinse them with clean water and let them air-dry.

Step 2:

While using a detergent, make sure it is a liquid detergent. Powdered detergent often fails to dissolve well and ends up sticking inside the shoes. Coldwater and liquid detergent are a highly recommended combination when you are washing shoes in the washing machine.

Step 3:

Set your washing machine cycle to a low spin speed to avoid damaging or deforming the shoes. You should put a few old towels with the shoes to prevent the banging of shoes.

How To Clean White Running Shoes?

How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)

No matter how elegant a white pair of running shoes are, they are always a stressful choice because they get dirty quickly. The stains they collect from all the long and heavy running seem to be a real trouble to get rid of. But you still buy them because it is impossible to miss out on the feeling of owning a pair of beautiful white shoes for running.

Cleaning white running shoes may sound like a difficult job. However, it will be a breeze if you follow the right technique. Here are some easy methods to clean your white runners:

Using Bleach

Using bleach to clean shoes can be a bit tricky. You need to be cautious while using bleach for cleaning purposes. Bleach happens to be a powerful disinfectant. Carefully following the right method will make the process easy, giving a flawless result.

Things you will need: 

  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Toothbrush
  • Bleach pen (optional)

Step 1

Make a solution of one-part bleach with five parts of water. The bleach needs to be diluted enough for a safe application. Wear gloves during the process for safety.

Step 2

Use a toothbrush to scrub all over the stains on the shoes, shoelaces, and insoles using the solution. Make sure you’re scrubbing very gently.

NOTE: It is essential to carry on this process in a well-ventilated area.

How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)

Step 3

Rinse the shoes and the other parts using lukewarm water lightly. Try to wash off all the bleach solution properly.

Step 4

This step is optional. You can use a bleach pen if there is still any kind of stain. Cover the spots using a bleach pen and wait for a few minutes before rinsing it with water.

NOTE: If you are wondering how to clean white runners without bleach, you can try the baking soda method. It will work just fine. Many people want to avoid bleaching. You can simply try the baking soda procedure, or you can try the following method.

  • Using Toothpaste

Who knew toothpaste could be a lifesaver when it comes to cleaning your white shoes? Toothpaste contains cleaning agents that help to remove dental plaque. Those elements are also great for cleaning stains off the shoes and other hard surfaces. You can get unbelievable results with the following technique.

Things you will need:

  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Cloth/napkin
  • Lukewarm water

Step 1

Use a non-gel whitening toothpaste. Squeeze a good amount on a toothbrush to apply it to the stains.

Step 2

Give a good scrub in circular motions. Cover the stains properly.

How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)

Step 3

Wait for it to dry. It takes about 10-15 minutes.

Step 4

Use a damp cloth to wipe the dried-up toothpaste and then rinse it with lukewarm water. You can use a mild detergent for extra cleaning.

Drying Process for Your Running Shoes

Use newspapers or paper towels to stuff inside your wet shoes. It will help you to keep the shape of your shoes perfect. They are also great for absorbing the water inside.

It is best to air-dry your shoes. DO NOT use a dryer because of the same reason mentioned above that it can melt the glue holding your shoes. Simply keep your shoes somewhere under the shade and let them dry on their own. Avoid putting them under the sun. It can shrink and discolor your beautiful shoes. For proper drying, you can just leave them overnight to dry before wearing them again.


How to Tell if Your Running Shoes Are Worn Out?

The following sign indicates that your running shoes are worn out.

How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)

Pain When Running:

Pain in your feet or legs when you run may signify that your running shoes are worn out. This pain is a symptom of the foot not having enough support and provides less shock absorption. Bunion pain, shin splints, and knee pain may also be a sign that your running shoes are worn out.

Poor Shock Absorption:

Poor shock absorption is also a sign that your running shoes are worn out. Pre-mature cushioning can lead to aches and pain in the body during running. If your shoes don’t have good shock absorption, you will feel like every step of your walk impacts the ground.

Poor Fit:

If your running shoes don’t fit well, they are probably worn out. When the shoe is too tight in one area of your foot or slips around when you’re walking, it’s time to get a new pair of running shoes. Poorly fitting shoes will lead to blisters, calluses, and corns. These problems can be difficult to deal with in the long run because of the discomfort they cause.

Tread Wear:

The soles of your running shoes wear down over time. The tread shows the amount of wear on your shoe. If there is little or no tread left, then it is probably time for another pair of running shoes because this will affect how you walk/run and could injure you.

Visible Shoe Wrinkles:

Visible shoe wrinkles can be a sign that your running shoes are worn out. A lack of proper cushioning and arch support will cause the material to crumble and fold, leading to visible wrinkles. Excessive pressure on your feet will also cause visible shoe wrinkles. This is a symptom of an ill-fitting shoe and may lead to injuries such as plantar fasciitis, heel pain, and metatarsalgia.

Blisters in feet:

A blister in your feet is a sign that your running shoes are worn out. The friction from your shoes rubbing against your foot can lead to this injury. Blisters may form when the shoe doesn’t have enough cushioning or enough room for your foot. If you have a confirmed blister, it’s maybe time to get a new pair of running shoes to avoid the chance of infection taking place. Please understand that it is only relevant for the context of old shoes. 


Mileage of running shoes:

The mileage of your running shoes is another indicator of how worn down they are. Usually, shoes will last anywhere from 400-600 miles. If you run more than three times a week, your running shoes will wear down much faster and need to be replaced every three months or sooner, depending on how often you run.

What to do with your old running shoes?

Use Them for Different Purposes:

For some, the idea of throwing away old running shoes maybe just very distasteful. However, old running shoes can be repurposed into some useful items with a little creativity and ingenuity.

Some ideas for repurposing old running shoes:

-Wall decoration: Paint them and hang them on your wall as art

-Seat cushion: Cut them in half and fill them with stuffing to make a seat cushion for your bed or chair  

-Utensil holder: Use it to hold your utensils in the kitchen  

-Gardening tool holder: Use an old pair as holders for your gardening tools to keep them upright and together.

How to clean running shoes? (Complete Guide)

The Non-traditional Ways:

Some people have found other ways to reuse their old running shoes, which are not so traditional. For example, one runner turned an old pair of her running shoes into a guitar slide. What other creative ideas can you think of?

Give Your Shoes to Someone in Need

If you decide to throw away your old running shoes, you might consider giving them a second life by donating them. If your old shoe is not too worn out and still has some good shape left in it, there’s a chance that they can find a new home. Search for local donation outlets and organizations that recycle old clothes and shoes and give them away to children and adults in need.


A recycling company called TerraCycle takes old athletic shoes and breaks them down into smaller components. This program is not free, however. Some running groups purchase TerraCycle boxes and host donation events where the shoes are collected from members of their group to be recycled at TerraCycle

Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program gives you the opportunity to recycle your old shoes. This amazing organization grinds them up and turns that material into sports surfaces, performance products, etc.

ONE WORLD RUNNING collects running footwear like sneakers, walking boots, or other sports equipment to distribute them around Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Give your sole is an organization dedicated to helping those in need around the U.S with their used athletic shoes by collecting them at races and distributing them accordingly.

Best Tips and Tricks To Make Your Running Shoes Last Longer

It is essential to take care of your running shoes. No matter how much you clean them, you may see your favorite pair of shoes starting to wear off if you don’t pay a little extra attention to keep them safe. You should follow a few easy tips to extend the life of your shoes.

  • Don’t keep your running shoes wet after using them. Leave it in an open place to air dry. Stuffing your wet shoes in the rack will cause them to stink badly.
  • Don’t overuse a single pair of shoes. Your shoes need to breathe as well. If you keep using a single pair of shoes every time you go for a long run, they will wear off easily. The midsoles need a few hours to bounce back after being compressed throughout the whole run.
  • Don’t scrub your shoes too hard while cleaning. It will easily make the material wear off, leaving you with a damaged, sad pair of shoes. Try to use just enough pressure to remove the dirt and stains.
  • Don’t leave your shoes in the sun for days. Your running shoes are designed to withstand all the rough conditions, including the sun. That doesn’t mean you can leave them out in the sun for days letting the material get discolored and degraded.
  • Store your shoes in a cool, dry place where there is proper ventilation. It prevents bad odor and the formation of fungus. Avoid stacking your shoes one over another as it ruins the shape of your shoes.
  • You don’t have to wash your runners every time you get back from a run. Simply clap your shoes together to get rid of all the loose dirt before you store them.

Running is the most widely performed exercise throughout the world. But washing your shoes is something that many people neglect though it’s a vital process in the care of running shoes. If you neglect your shoes, they will rot and break down quickly. This means that you’ll need to replace them more often than if you took proper care of them.

Having clean and dry feet while you run can make all the difference in how well you perform. It will also contribute to the longevity of your running shoes. Use any of the methods described above to perfectly clean and maintain your canvas, suede, mesh, and so many more types of running shoes

It is also essential to know when to replace your favorite pair of running shoes because no matter how much you love them, there comes a time when you have to let them go. And if your running shoes are still working but you don’t want to use them any further, you can consider donating them in the ways mentioned above. We hope that this article answers some of some of the questions that you have in your mind regarding the procedure of washing running shoes and recycling old shoes. Happy running!

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