If you’ve ever wondered: “Can you put shoes in the dryer?” then you’re not the only one.
The temptation is to chuck your running shoes in the washer and dryer without giving a second thought, but in doing so, you could be inadvertently damaging your running shoes.
Running shoes require some TLC every now and again, especially if you’re clocking up the miles each week.
Washing, drying and maintaining your running shoes is really important if you want to keep them fresh for longer.
Cleaning your running shoes is all the more important if you regularly go trail running. Running shoes caked in mud are not good for traction!
But how exactly do you clean running shoes? What’s the best method? We’ll answer all your common questions in this guide.
In this guide we’ll explore:
- The benefits of cleaning your running shoes
- How to clean running shoes
- Can you put shoes in the washer?
- Can you put shoes in the dryer?
- Running shoe cleaning Q&A
- 7 running shoe cleaning do’s and don’ts
The benefits of cleaning your running shoes
Cleaning your running shoes may sound like another chore on your ever-growing to-do list, but cleaning them on a fairly regular basis will help them last longer.
After all, if you’ve spent over $100 on a pair of decent running shoes, you want them to last, right?
The bottom line? Better care in the long term = stronger and longer lasting running shoes.
Related: How to find the right running shoes: A complete guide
How to clean running shoes
If you’ve got a pair of muddy shoes, or if you’re shoes just need a freshen up, then the first step is to clean them.
The best way to do this is to use the old-fashioned, hard wash method using lukewarm soapy water and an old toothbrush.
Here is what you’ll need to clean your running shoes:
- A sink or tub for the lukewarm water
- An old washcloth
- An old toothbrush with soft bristles
- A toothpick
- Mild soap (a small amount of eco-friendly laundry detergent mixed with warm water will do fine)
- An old pillowcase
- Old sheets of newspaper
Once you have all these items to hand, follow the below steps to clean your running shoes:
#1 Wipe away any dirt and grime using the toothbrush.
Use the toothbrush to wipe/brush away any dirt, mud, grass etc.
If the mud and dirt has already dried and is stuck to your shoes, then use a dry toothbrush to wipe it away.
Use the toothbrush to get in all the nooks and crannies. If your shoes have a mesh fabric, you can use a toothpick to get into the small grooves and holes.
#2 Remove shoe laces and insoles and put inside a pillowcase
Remove the shoe laces and insoles and put them inside the pillowcase.
Stick the pillowcase in the washing machine and wash using a cold, delicate wash.
Washing these will help to get rid of stains and remove odors.
#3 Scrub away stains using soapy lukewarm water
Now you’ll want to use the soapy lukewarm water with the eco-friendly detergent to scrub away stains.
After all, you want to be kind to your hands as well as your shoes!
Dip the toothbrush into the soapy water then apply to the shoe and start scrubbing.
You want to avoid getting your shoe completely soaked during this process – only apply as much soapy water as needed.
#5 Rinse with a warm washcloth
Use the washcloth to rinse away any remaining suds and grime.
Sometimes it’s useful to have a second clean, dry washcloth to pat dry the running shoes once you have rinsed away the dirt.
#6 Stuff old sheets of newspaper inside the shoe
Placing old sheets of newspaper inside the shoe will help to absorb any excess moisture.
#7 Dry naturally at room temperature
Place your clean running shoes (still with the newspaper inside) somewhere in your house where they can air-dry naturally at room temperature.
Don’t put your shoes in a heated airing cupboard as the heat can warp the shoes.
Avoid placing them outside in direct sunlight as sunlight can warp the shoes. Sunlight can also cause yellow stains to appear on the shoe.
Related: Runner’s toe: Causes + 6 ways to prevent it
Can you put shoes in the washer?
Technically, you can put running shoes in the washing machine, but this method is not recommended as it can damage them.
According to Running Shoe Guru: “Running shoes are just not made to withstand that kind of a beating for a 60 minute cycle.”
This is because soaking your running shoes in water can damage the adhesives that hold the shoe together.
It can also cause certain fabrics in the shoe to shrink and warp.
The key takeaway? Stick with the old fashioned, hard washing method using warm soapy water and a toothbrush to clean your running shoes.
Related: What to bring to the gym: 15 workout essentials
Can you put shoes in the dryer?
You can put running shoes in the dryer, but again it is not recommended as the high temperatures can damage the adhesives that hold the shoe together.
As with washing machines, dryers can also shrink and warp running shoes, causing permanent damage to the shoe.
Air drying naturally is much better for your shoes, and for the environment!
Related: The best running shoes: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 running shoe review
Running shoe cleaning Q&A
Q: How do you clean muddy shoes?
A: Shoes that are caked in mud or dirt will need that extra level of TLC to ensure they are kept well maintained.
If your shoes are covered in mud, then this can affect the shoe performance in terms of traction.
Use an old toothbrush to wipe away the dirt and grime before cleaning your shoes using soapy water.
Q: How do you clean mesh shoes?
A: Many running shoes nowadays come with a fabric mesh. While this mesh looks great, it can oftentimes be hard to clean.
It’s wise to keep the mesh clean as a build up of grime could affect the breathability of your running shoes.
A build up of grime = more sweat and bacteria – ew!
Use the soft bristles of an old toothbrush to wipe away any dirt and grime in the mesh.
If the toothbrush doesn’t quite do the job, use a toothpick to dig grime out of any tiny holes.
Q: How do you clean shoe soles?
A: Your shoe soles absorb a lot of sweat on your run which bacteria loves!
Bacteria = smelly shoes
Put your soles in an old pillowcase and chuck in the washer on a cold/delicate wash.
This will leave them smelling minty fresh!
Q: How do you clean the bottom of shoes?
A: The bottom of your shoes will pick up the most mud, dirt and grime so use a brush to wipe away excess dirt before cleaning with a damp washcloth.
Avoid getting the shoe soaked when removing dirt and grime.
Q: How do you clean Gore-Tex running shoes?
A: Use a specialist footwear cleaner for running shoes with a breathable membrane like Gore-Tex.
This is because soapy water can make the Gore-Tex gummy.
Related: The best recovery shoes for runners: Oofos slides vs Hoka slides
7 running shoe cleaning do’s and don’ts
Now you know the answer to questions like: “Can you put shoes in the dryer?” here are 7 running shoe cleaning do’s and don’ts.
#1 Do: Use warm soapy water
Warm water with an eco-friendly detergent will do fine. Avoid any detergents with harsh chemicals and avoid using bleach.
#2 Do: Use an old toothbrush with soft bristles
A toothbrush with soft bristles will be kinder to your shoes.
Some of the fabrics on running shoes can be quite delicate, so avoid using brushes with thick, strong bristles.
#3 Do: Air dry your running shoes
Always air dry your shoes and avoid putting them in direct sunlight.
The sun can cause yellow discoloration to appear on your shoes, especially if they’re white.
You can also stuff old sheets of newspaper inside your shoes to absorb some of the excess moisture.
#4: Do: Check the manufacturer’s guidelines
Before cleaning your running shoes, check what the manufacturer recommends.
If you have shoes that are made of leather or Gore-Tex, then the manufacturer may advise you follow specialist footwear instructions.
#5 Don’t: Soak your running shoes
When cleaning your running shoes, the temptation is to hose them down with water, but by doing so you could damage the shoe.
Instead, use a damp washcloth to clean your shoes.
#6 Don’t: Put your running shoes in the washer
A washing machine can damage your running shoes and cause them to shrink or warp.
Soaking the shoe can also damage the fabric and adhesive that holds the shoe together.
#7 Don’t: Put your running shoes in the dryer
A dryer can also damage your running shoes by damaging the fabric and glue that holds your shoe together.