Most modern running shoes are made from synthetic materials, theoretically making them easier to clean. But does that mean we’ve finally got shoes we can put in the washing machine? Let’s find out.
Can You Put Running Shoes in the Washing Machine?
It’s best to not put your running shoes (or any shoes) in the washing machine.
While the materials are potentially fine to be washed, the issue comes from adhesives used to hold the shoe’s components together. Excess water and heat can affect the adhesive, causing it to lose its bond.
Excess water and heat can also damage rubber components, such as the shoe’s sole unit or other features.
The bottom line is that running shoes won’t take kindly to being put in the washing machine, especially if you need to clean them regularly.
How to Clean Running Shoes
All this makes it sound like you can’t get your shoes wet, but you can. It’s more about not soaking them in water and minimising the amount you use.
As you probably already know, washing machines can be a bit excessive with water.
If your shoes are made entirely of synthetic materials, do the following:
- Brush off any dirt or debris from the soles.
- Remove the insoles and laces.
- Fill a bowl with warm water and add up to 30 ml of laundry detergent.
- Use a soft brush (such as a toothbrush) to clean the soles. Rinse them using a damp cloth to wipe off any remaining grime.
- Tip away the water and replace it with clean water and more detergent.
- Clean the uppers (the fabric part) using a sponge. The materials should handle a bit of mild scrubbing, but avoid dunking your shoes in the water.
- Again, rinse by wiping down with a clean cloth.
- You can clean the insoles with either a brush or sponge, rinsing with a cloth.
- Soak the laces in warm water and rinse them under a tap.
- To dry, stuff the shoes with newspaper or similar to help them retain their shape. Place them somewhere warm (but away from direct heat and light), and they should dry fairly quickly.
Of course, if your running shoes have leather or suede components, you’ll need to be much more careful with your cleaning. Each shoe should have a label stitched inside the tongue that’ll tell you the materials used.
If you see the leather symbol, you’ll need to use a specialist product, such as TRG’s Saddle Soap.
Running shoes arguably need cleaning more than other shoes considering what we use them for. Luckily, the cleaning process isn’t too difficult, even if you can’t put them in the washing machine.
If you can’t be bothered to give them a full wash every time, and they’re smelling a bit, just sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) inside the shoes! It does a great job of removing light odours in no time.
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.