Can You Wash Running Shoes

When it comes to running, having a good pair of shoes is essential. But what happens when those shoes start to get dirty and smelly? Can you wash running shoes? As an avid runner myself, I’ve had my fair share of experience with this dilemma. In this article, I’ll be sharing my personal insights and diving deep into the topic of washing running shoes.

Why wash your running shoes?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of washing running shoes, let’s talk about why it’s important to keep them clean. Running shoes can accumulate dirt, mud, and sweat over time, which not only affects their appearance but also their performance. Dirty shoes can become heavy and less breathable, leading to discomfort and potential foot issues. Additionally, a build-up of bacteria can cause unpleasant odors that linger even after your run. By regularly washing your running shoes, you can maintain their condition, prolong their lifespan, and ensure a more pleasant running experience.

Understanding the materials

Before you start throwing your running shoes into the washing machine, it’s crucial to understand the materials they are made of. Different shoe brands and models may use varying materials, so always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions first. However, most modern running shoes have uppers made of breathable mesh or synthetic materials and rubber outsoles. These materials are typically safe to clean, but some caution is still advised.

Preparation and cleaning methods

When it comes to washing your running shoes, there are a few different methods you can try:

1. Handwashing:

The most gentle method is to handwash your running shoes. Start by removing the laces and insoles. Use a soft brush or cloth dipped in warm soapy water to gently scrub away dirt and stains from the uppers and outsoles. Pay extra attention to the areas that get the most wear. Rinse with clean water and allow them to air dry naturally.

2. Washing machine:

If your shoes are in need of a more thorough cleaning, you can use the washing machine. However, this method should be used with caution, as it can potentially damage the shoes or affect their performance. Remove the laces and insoles, place the shoes inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them, and wash them on a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using bleach or harsh detergents. After washing, allow them to air dry completely.

3. Spot cleaning:

If your shoes only have small stains or areas that need cleaning, spot cleaning is a great option. Use a mild detergent or a specialized shoe cleaner and a soft brush to gently scrub the affected areas. Rinse with clean water and air dry.

Additional tips

  • Never put your running shoes in the dryer, as the heat can cause damage.
  • Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can degrade the materials.
  • When drying, stuff the shoes with newspaper or paper towels to help them maintain their shape.
  • Regularly clean and replace your shoe insoles to prevent odor buildup.
  • If your shoes have a removable insole, wash it separately.


So, can you wash running shoes? Absolutely! Just remember to always check the manufacturer’s instructions and take the necessary precautions. By keeping your running shoes clean, you not only improve their longevity but also ensure a more enjoyable and hygienic running experience. Happy running!