If you’re anything like me, by the time you’ve really started to get to know a pair of running shoes, they’re probably getting pretty funky. Hours and hours of sweat have poured into them, soaking into pretty much every inch of fabric. So you need to know how to wash running shoes.
And if you’re really like me, you’re concerned about the footstink you’re putting off mile after mile, but you’re even more concerned about ruining your expensive trainers by throwing them in the washing machine.
As much as I hate funky, wonky footstink, I hate the idea of ruining my running shoes even more.
The good news is this: running shoes are made to be durable and put up with some punishment. Even the kind that comes from the washing machine (just not the dryer!).
How to wash running shoes
In my experience, there are two solid ways how to wash running shoes (outside of just barely wiping the grime off the outside with a washcloth, which doesn’t really help with the smell, just the appearance).
1. Wash running shoes in the laundry
So if you really wanna wash tennis shoes, the first and most obvious way is to throw the suckers in the washing machine. That’s what I do when my trainers get stanknasty. I know what you’re thinking: “My precious running shoes! They’ll be ruined!”
No, they won’t. Really.
It’s actually pretty hard to hurt your shoes in the washing machine. (The dryer on the other hand…that’s a big no-no.) As long as you follow the right steps and take the right precautions:
- remove any inserts such as in-soles or orthotics
- use Woolite or another non-abrasive cleaner
- fill the washer with cold water
- do a single cycle on the gentle setting.
Some people remove the laces, but I don’t. I do, however, throw in a couple of small hand towels or a bath towel to absorb some of the shock of being tossed around.
When the gentle cycle has finished washing your running shoes, let them air dry.
This is very important: when you wash tennis shoes or any kind of athletic shoe, make sure you absolutely do not put them in the dryer or apply any kind of heat.
That is one of the only ways I know of to straight-up ruin them. Heat can deform the shoe’s upper, and it won’t even look the same (much less fit right), and it can cause serious degradation of the technical material in the midsole and outsole.
2. Wash running shoes in the dishwasher
The second method to wash running shoes is pretty similar: take out the insole and throw them on the top rack of your dishwasher.
You do want to remove the laces this time or they will get caught in the moving parts. Set the dishwasher on a short cycle and just let it run.
I caution you on this method because of the harshness of dish soap and the heat. Those two reasons are why I haven’t personally used this way to wash my running shoes, but I know a lot about people who swear by it. You may love it, and it may rock all the stank from your feet right down the drain.
How to Dry Running Shoes…
Regardless of which way you wash running shoes, you’ll want to let them passively dry. You do not want to throw them in the dryer. Never. Never put running shoes in the dryer.
They can (and likely will) get totally ruined. It will be ugly, too.
If you want to, you can place them near a vent or a fan. But I wouldn’t suggest putting them directly on a heating vent. Because, you know…heat will warp them. I just put mine on a shelf for a few days and let them sit.
If you’re worried about your shoes losing their shape, take some old newspaper (because it’s incredibly porous and absorbs a lot more than other kinds of paper), ball it up, and stuff it inside of your shoe until it’s full.
That will draw out some water and not let your precious, expensive running shoes lose their shape.
For me, the newspaper is optional. I’ve done it a couple of times, and this last time I didn’t. I wear pretty stiff and rigid shoes, though (Asics Nimbus), so if I were in something like the Saucony Kinvaras or a Nike Flyknit, I’d probably opt for the newspaper option.
Regardless, now you know how to wash running shoes. For some reason, we all tend to be a little scared of it, but it’s pretty simple and easy to deal with. Nothing to be scared of at all.
Good luck with your stinky feet, folks!