dirty and clean shoes

How to Clean Running Shoes

Running shoes are exposed to a lot of wear and tear, and they can become dirty and smelly over time.

Regular cleaning is necessary to remove dirt, sweat and other debris that can accumulate over time.

But with so many different materials and styles of running shoes available, it can be challenging to know how to clean them effectively.

In this guide, we will provide step-by-step instructions for both hand-washing and machine-washing running shoes, as well as tips for keeping them clean and in good condition.


Before You Wash Your Running Shoes…

shoes with no laces

Before you begin cleaning your trainers, there are a few essential steps to take to prepare them for cleaning.

These steps will help protect your shoes from damage and ensure that they are thoroughly cleaned.

1. Remove laces and insoles

Start by removing the laces and insoles from your running shoes. This will make it easier to clean all parts of the shoe and prevent damage to the delicate materials.


2. Brush off loose dirt and debris

Use a soft-bristled brush or a dry cloth to remove any loose dirt, dust, or debris from the surface of your shoes.

This will help prevent the dirt from becoming embedded in the fabric during the washing process.


3. Check the care label

Before washing your running shoes, it’s essential to check the care label to determine the recommended cleaning method.

Some shoes may require hand washing, while others may be suitable for machine washing.

The care label will also provide guidance on water temperature, laundry detergent type, and any other special instructions.


How To Hand-Wash Running Shoes

Hand washing is a gentle and effective way to clean running shoes, particularly if they are made from delicate materials or have intricate designs.

Here’s how we like to hand wash our running shoes:

Step 1: Fill a basin with lukewarm water

Fill a basin with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild laundry detergent. Swirl the water to create suds.


Step 2: Scrub the shoes gently

cleaning running shoes with brush

Dip a soft-bristled brush or a clean cloth into the soapy water and use it to gently scrub the surface of your shoes. 

Pay attention to areas with visible dirt or stains, and be careful not to scrub too hard, as this can damage the fabric.


Step 3: Rinse thoroughly

Once you have finished scrubbing, rinse your shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue. Use a clean cloth to wipe away excess water.


Step 4: Stuff with towels or newspaper

dry trainers with newspaper

To help your shoes retain their shape as they dry, stuff them with clean towels or newspaper. This will also help absorb excess moisture and speed up the drying process.


Step 5: Air dry

drying trainers

Place your shoes in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or heat sources, and allow them to air dry completely before wearing them again.

Hand washing your running shoes is a gentle and effective way to keep them clean without causing damage.

Just remember to use a mild laundry detergent and avoid hot water to keep your shoes in the best possible condition.


How to Machine-Wash Running Shoes

shoes inside tumble dryer

For the those who want an easier option, machine washing is a convenient way to clean running shoes quickly and efficiently.

However, it’s important to follow the care label instructions carefully and use a gentle cycle to avoid damaging the shoes.

Avoid using a dryer, as the high heat can damage the shoes or cause them to shrink.

Keep in mind that not all running shoes can be machine washed, so it’s important to check the care label before proceeding.

For some shoes, machine washing them will ruin the fabric and adhesives, and the high heat might melt the glue.

On top of that, if your shoes have any special features, such as built-in electronics, it’s best to avoid machine washing them altogether.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean your running shoes without causing any damage.

Here’s a guide to machine washing your trainers:

Step 1: Remove laces and insoles

Just like with hand washing, start by removing the laces and insoles from your shoes before placing them in the washing machine. This will prevent them from becoming tangled or damaged during the washing process.

shoes in a mesh laundry bag for washing


Step 2: Place shoes in a laundry bag

To protect your shoes from being knocked around in the washing machine, place them inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase.


Step 3: Use the correct machine settings

Add a small amount of mild laundry detergent to the washing machine and set it to a gentle cycle. Use cold water, as hot water can cause some materials to shrink or warp.

air drying shoes


Step 4: Air dry

After the washing cycle is complete, remove your shoes from the laundry bag and let them air dry completely.


How to Remove Stains from Running Shoes

No matter how careful you are, running shoes are bound to get stained at some point.

From mud and grass stains to scuff marks and grease, there are a variety of stains that can be tough to remove from your running shoes.

Fortunately, with the right techniques and products, you can often get rid of these stains and keep your shoes looking their best. Here are some common stains and how to remove them:

Mud and grass stains

muddy shoes

Allow the mud or dirt to dry completely before attempting to remove it.

Then, use a soft brush or toothbrush to gently scrub the stain.

Mix some water with a mild laundry detergent or stain remover, and gently rub the solution onto the stain with a clean cloth. Rinse the shoes thoroughly and allow them to air dry.

cleaning shoes with toothbrush


Scuff marks

Scuff marks can be removed with a soft eraser or toothbrush. Simply rub the eraser or brush over the marks until they disappear.

For tougher scuffs, try using a small amount of nail polish remover on a cotton ball or swab. Be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area first, as nail polish remover can damage some shoe materials.


Grease and oil stains

Apply a small amount of dish soap or laundry detergent to the stain, and use a soft brush or toothbrush to gently scrub the area.

Rinse the shoes thoroughly and allow them to air dry. For stubborn grease stains, you may need to use a commercial stain remover or degreaser.

Remember to always check the care label on your running shoes before attempting to remove stains, as certain materials may require special treatment.

With a little patience and the right techniques, you can often get rid of stubborn stains and keep your running shoes looking their best.


Tips for Keeping Running Shoes Clean

running shoes

Proper cleaning is essential to maintaining the appearance and longevity of your running shoes, but there are other steps you can take to keep them clean and in good condition.

Here are some tips to help you keep your running shoes looking and feeling great:

Rotate your shoes

Wearing the same pair of running shoes every day can cause them to wear out more quickly. Rotate between two or three pairs of shoes to help extend their lifespan.


Use a protective spray

woman spraying on shoes

Applying a protective spray, such as a water repellent or stain guard, can help prevent dirt and water from staining your shoes.


Spot clean as needed

If you notice a small stain or mark on your shoes, spot clean it immediately to prevent it from setting in.


Store your shoes properly

storing shoes in cabinet

When you’re not wearing your running shoes, store them in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

This will help prevent the materials from breaking down or becoming discoloured.



blue running shoes with orange lace

Washing running shoes is an essential part of keeping them clean and in good condition.

Whether you choose to hand wash or machine wash your shoes, following the proper care label instructions and using a gentle cleaning method will help ensure that your shoes last as long as possible.

By taking the time to prepare your shoes for cleaning, using the right cleaning method, and following up with proper care and maintenance, you can keep your running shoes looking and feeling great for many miles to come.