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How to Clean & Deodorize Running Shoes

January 10, 2024

Running shoes are a must if you plan on running. Unlike regular shoes, they’re designed to reduce the amount of stress that is placed on the ankles, heels, and toes.

Not only that but they’re also made of lightweight materials, which means you’ll be able to run much faster with less effort.

How to Choose a Pair of Running Shoes

how to choose the right running shoesChoosing a good pair of running shoes can be tricky. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re choosing a pair:

  • Make sure there is enough room for your toes; there should be a thumb’s width between the shoe and the top of your toe
  • Check the shoe’s width; you want to have enough space so that you can spread out your feet
  • The shoe should comfortably wrap around your foot
  • Check for any irritation spots – these can easily lead to blisters.

Remember, an ill-fitting running shoe can lead to potential injury.

These are some of the top brands of running shoes that we recommend:

  • Asics
  • Brooks
  • Saucony
  • Salomon
  • Mizuno
  • Altra
  • New Balance
  • Newton
  • Nike
  • Reebok
  • Adidas
  • Jsleap

Caring for Running Shoes

Running shoes take quite a beating on the road, which makes sense, seeing as how they come into contact with a variety of surfaces from cement to grass.

Given that, it only makes sense that they’d get dirty.

Unless you want mud-stained shoes, it’s best to wash running shoes every once in a while, ideally once every six months. This goes for all shoe brands, including Adidas running shoes.

How to Clean Running Shoes

how to clean running shoesThe best way to wash a pair of running shoes is to do so by hand.

1. Get rid of some of the dirt and mud on the surface. You can do this using an old toothbrush or a soft brush; you can also hit the shoes gently against themselves.

2. Dampen a clean cloth and use it to wipe the outer surface of the shoe. Baby wipes and damp paper towels work too.

3. Remove the insoles and liners and wash them separately; the shoelaces can be removed as well. Wash them either by hand or put them in the washing machine.

4. Mix a scoop of ACTIVE Detergent with water in a tub or a container. Dampen a soft-bristled brush with the solution and use it to get rid of the grime on the surface of the shoe. Rinse off the brush with water before using it to clean the sole.

5. Wipe the surface and sole dry with a damp soft cloth. Stuff the shoes with crumpled newspaper when you’re finished; the paper will help to prevent the build-up of moisture.

Pro-tip: Do not put your running shoes under direct sunlight—the UV rays can damage the fabric.

Can You Put Running Shoes in the Washing Machine?

washing instructions for running shoesIt’s best to hand wash your running shoes. With that said, you can machine wash them if you take the proper steps.

Here are the steps for machine washing:

1. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda in each shoe the night before – that will help eliminate any odors. Remove the powder in the morning.

2. Take out the shoelaces and put them in a mesh bag – that will keep them together and prevent them from becoming tangled.

3. Wipe off as much dirt and mud as possible from the surface using an old toothbrush or a soft bristle brush. Do the same with the sole of the shoe.

4. Place the running shoes in their own mesh laundry bag before loading them into the machine.

5. Add a few towels to the washer. They will not only balance the load but will also prevent the shoes from slamming against the inside, which can damage the washer.

6. Add half a scoop of ACTIVE Detergent and run a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using hot or warm water.

7. Remove the running shoes from the machine once the cycle is finished. Place them on a clean surface and allow them to air dry.

Never put them in the dryer – the heat will likely damage the glue that keeps it together.

The Best Ways to Remove Stains From Your Running Shoes

Here are a few ways to tackle stubborn stains:

Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

removing stains from running shoesGently scrub off any dried stains with an old toothbrush. Be gentle; you don’t want to damage the surface of the shoe.

Create a paste by mixing one part vinegar with one part baking soda. Apply a small amount of the paste onto the stain using a clean cloth or paper towel.

Leave the mixture on for at least 15 minutes (longer if necessary) and wipe off with a cloth afterward.

Use a Magic Eraser

Most running shoes can be cleaned with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Start by wetting the product to activate the inner micro-scrubbers. Gently squeeze out the extra water before using it on scuffs and stuck-on dirt.

Simply swipe the eraser across the area – the stains should come out easily

Note: Always test the product with an inconspicuous area first. Do not use it with other types of household cleaners.

Use Laundry Detergent and Water

In a small bowl, mix a bit of ACTIVE Detergent with water. Dish soap will also work in a pinch.

Using a soft brush or cloth, apply the solution to the stain. If necessary, you can brush the area gently with the brush.

Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. Blot it dry with a cloth or a paper towel and allow the shoe to dry.

Use a Commercial Stain Remover

In some cases, you might need a commercial stain remover.

Just make sure that it is compatible with your running shoes or trail runners before applying. Depending on the product, you might need to rinse off the cleaning solution with water afterward.

How to Deodorize Dirty Running Shoes – Remove Stinky Odors

It’s not uncommon for running shoes to develop odors, especially if you’ve worn them for a long time. Here are a few ways to get the stink out:

Put them in the Freezer

how to deodorize running shoesThe cold temperatures in the freezer will kill off many odor-causing contaminants that are on your shoes. Simply slip them into a pillowcase and leave them inside overnight.

The smell should be gone by the morning.

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great deodorizing agent that most of us already have in the kitchen. S

Simply sprinkle a small amount inside your shoes and leave it in overnight; the smell should be gone by the next morning. Remove the powder before wearing your running shoes.

Use a Commercial Odor-Removing Spray

There are a variety of deodorizing sprays that you can get in stores. They are specially formulated for tackling odors, with many containing special ingredients such as enzymes, which can eat away at the odor-causing contaminants.

Simply follow the instructions on the bottle and apply them to your shoes.

Use Cedar Wood Insoles

Cedar wood is naturally anti-fungal; it also smells fresh and light, which makes it a great deodorizing agent.

If the smell is a recurrent issue, you might want to consider investing in a pair of cedar wood insoles. Simply put them inside your running shoes and they will smell fresh for longer.

Use Cat Litter

Stuff a sock with unused kitty litter. Seal the sock with a knot and stuff them inside your running shoes. Leave them in overnight.

Remove them the next morning; the odor should be gone by then.

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Picture of Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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