It is safe to say that there are some runners who are so passionate about their pastime, that they spend more care, time and attention to their running kit and equipment than they do their car. This includes running shoes, and whether you do it after every run or not, keeping them as clean as possible is both advised and desirable.
What’s the Point in Cleaning Running Shoes?
There may be some of you who don’t see the point in cleaning your running shoes, especially if you sometimes go trail running where you are likely to encounter mud, dust and dirt. There is an argument to say they are going to get just as dirty the next time you go running, so why bother?
While this may seem to be a logical viewpoint, it is only valid with regards to how your running shoes look. What not cleaning them fails to do is keep your running shoes functioning properly, and this applies to their flexibility, breathability, cushioning, and strength, which all contribute to the stability and comfort that your running shoes should provide.
Benefits of Cleaning Running Shoes
As with any item which can be cleaned, running shoes will benefit from regular cleaning, and even more so if you clean them after every run. This will apply even more so to trail running shoes, which are going to encounter things like mud, muddy water, grass and dust, which running shoes which are used solely on the athletics track or sidewalk are not going to.
Benefit number one is the most obvious, because it can be seen, and that is the appearance of your running shoes. If they are cleaned regularly they’ll look better, and there is less chance of any coloring in the materials fading or bleaching.
This is a no-brainer, but we must still mention it just in case there is anyone in any doubt. It stands to reason that if you care for any item you own properly, including keeping it clean, then it will last a lot longer than if you leave it to degrade.
For those running shoes which have breathable materials to help keep your feet cool, this benefit will be severely compromised if your running shoes are constantly caked in dried mud and other assorted debris. Even if your running shoes look clean, it does not mean that much of the material’s ability to let in the air hasn’t been diminished due to the buildup of small deposits and dust.
Before You Do Anything
The first thing you need to do before you so much as turn on the faucet, is to check the running shoe manufacturer’s advice. This may be on a label, on a leaflet in the box, or in the advice section of their website. It is essential you do this, as there may be materials used that are not suitable for certain cleaning techniques or substances, with the danger that you could damage your running shoes beyond use if you use any of them.
To start cleaning running shoes which have mesh, you first need to get rid of any surface mud or debris. This can be done by using a brush which has stiff bristles, with one of the best options being an old toothbrush. Make sure you do this for the sole area as well as the upper.
Cleaning Running Shoes with Mesh Manually
To do this you need a basin of lukewarm water, and some mild laundry soap or liquid detergent. Place each running shoe in the basin and allow them to soak. Often this will be enough to remove any dirt or grime. If some dirt remains you can then gently scrub the running shoes using a brush or cloth.
Once you are happy they are clean, thoroughly rinse the shoes using a clean cloth and some warm water. Always ensure that any detergent has been removed from the inside and outside surfaces of the running shoes.
Finally, allow your running shoes to air dry. It may help if you place some paper towels inside the shoe to speed up drying and retain their shape.
Using a Washing Machine
A very common question asked regarding cleaning running shoes is whether it can be done using a washing machine. We must emphasize that not every running shoe can be, so that is why we placed a lot of emphasis on the paragraph about checking the manufacturer’s advice.
If your running shoe can be placed in the washing machine, our advice is that you put it in on a very low temperature for two reasons. One is to avoid any color fade, and the second is very hot water can melt some of the adhesives used within the construction of the running shoe. Do not tumble dry, but instead air dry as in the previous section.