How to Clean Running Shoes

Product Care

Running shoes are bound to get dirty. Check out this simple, eight-step guide to spruce up your pair.

Last updated: July 20, 2022
3 min read
How to Clean Running Shoes
Time Required
30 min
Estimated Cost
$15

Supplies

  • Dish soap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Micellar water (optional)
  • White vinegar (optional)
  • Bleach (optional)

Tools

  • Shoe brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Wash cloth
  • Soft clean cloth
  • Mesh laundry bag (optional)

For many runners, there’s nothing better than a new pair of running shoes. But freshness doesn’t always last long. Whether you’re wearing them on the roads, track or trails, they’re bound to pick up some scuffs or dirt.

Follow these eight simple steps to clean running shoes — especially white ones. Your shoes will be looking and smelling fresh in 30 minutes or less. (Keep in mind, though, shoes need about eight hours to dry.)

How to Clean Running Shoes

  1. 1.Make a Mild Cleaning Solution

    You can create a DIY stain-removing solution with a few key household ingredients.

    For colorful running shoes (or shoes that aren’t white), mix warm water with a small amount of mild laundry detergent or dish soap.

    For white (or light-colored) running shoes, create a paste of equal parts baking soda and water. This solution tends to be effective on tougher stains.

    Micellar water is another option. This fluid is made of purified water, moisturizers and cleansing compounds that form spherical micelles, which pull dirt and oil away from surfaces.

  2. 2.Grab a Dry Brush and Scrub

    When you’re ready to clean, use a shoe brush or toothbrush to remove any dirt or debris that has accumulated on the outsole, midsole and uppers.

  3. 3.Remove and Wash the Laces

    Before you take the next steps to clean the shoe itself, hit the laces. Depending on how dirty the laces are — and how clean you want them — try these three steps:

    1. Remove the laces from the shoes and apply a small amount of mild cleaning solution with your hands or a brush. Rinse with water, then dab them dry with a soft cloth.
    2. If the laces still need some love after washing them with the mild cleaning solution, you can also place them in a mesh laundry bag and run them through a gentle cycle in the washing machine.
    3. To return white laces to their original state, use bleach. Wearing latex or other cleaning gloves, mix three tablespoons of bleach in a gallon of water. Then, place your laces in a mesh laundry bag before submerging them in the bleach solution. (If they float to the top, use something heavy to keep the bag down and secured.)

    Leave your shoelaces in the bleach solution for five minutes. Afterward, you can wash them again by hand or throw them in the washer (while inside the mesh bag) on a gentle cycle. Make sure to allow them to air dry, since heat can deform the plastic tips.

    (Related: How to Get Your White Shoes Looking Brand New)

  4. 4.Scrub the Soles

    Now it’s time to clean the outsoles and midsoles of your shoes. To do so, apply the mild cleaning solution or micellar water to a soft-bristled brush, toothbrush or washcloth. Thoroughly scrub the outsole and midsole. Dry with a soft cloth.

  5. 5.Remove and Clean the Insoles

    If your shoes aren’t smelling so great, give the insoles a wash, too. Remove them from your shoes and apply your solution with a gentle brush. Rinse them and leave them out to thoroughly dry.

    (Related: Smelly Shoes? How to Remove Odor From Shoes)

  6. 6.Wash the Uppers

    Next, it’s time to clean the shoes’ uppers. Gently scrub the mild solution into the fabric with your soft brush or cloth of choice — a soft-bristled brush, a toothbrush or a washcloth can all work.

  7. 7.Dry the Shoes With a Towel

    Once the running shoes are thoroughly cleaned, use a dry microfiber towel or soft cloth to blot and lift as much excess soapy moisture as possible. Repeat if necessary. The key is to try to avoid rubbing the material, which can wear down the shoe fabric.

  8. 8.Finally, Air Out Shoes to Finish Drying

    Finally, let your freshly washed shoes air dry at room temperature. For running shoes, it may take up to eight hours to fully dry. Once dry, put the laces and insoles back in the shoes and head out for your next run.

Words by Emily Shiffer

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