Written by: Shannon Polk, Kudos Team Contributor
If you run outside regularly, it may seem silly to clean your running shoes only to dirty them on your next run. However, cleaning your shoes regularly will not only improve the way they feel on your feet but can also extend their lifespan. If you let your muddy, damp shoes sit overnight, they won’t dry very quickly and could become a prime location for mold to grow. Dirt and water can also damage the shoe fabric and weaken stitching, which means your shoes will become tattered and eventually unusable.
Okay, so what about the bottom of the shoes? Won’t the dirt fall off on your next run? Maybe, but mud-caked soles means heavier shoes and less traction, which is especially important for trail runners. Rocks caught in between the lugs of the outsole can also leave you feeling unbalanced on a run.
To keep your shoes clean, you can’t simply throw them in the washing machine. In fact, running shoes are delicate, and the washing machine will actually destroy the fabric. Fortunately, cleaning them by hand is fairly easy with some soapy water, a scrub brush or toothbrush, sponge and towels. So keep your shoes feeling fresh and clean by following these steps:
1) Identify a place in which to clean your shoes (outside, garage, sink, tub).
2) Remove the laces and insoles/liners from your shoes and set them aside.
3) Clean the bottoms of your shoes (they should be dry to start) by scrubbing them with a dry scrub brush or toothbrush. If you can’t remove all of the mud, dip the scrub brush/toothbrush in some warm water and scrub out the dirt. Rinse clean with warm water.
4) Clean the upper fabric of your shoes by gently removing dirt with a scrub brush or toothbrush. Then use a sponge or wet towel to scrub the fabric with a warm-water and mild soap solution. Rinse clean with warm water.
5) Clean the insoles and shoelaces by scrubbing them with a sponge or wet towel dipped in the warm water and mild soap solution. Rinse clean with warm water.
6) Air-dry the shoes in an area with a mild temperature and low humidity. Do not place them next to a heater or use a hairdryer. You can use a fan and stuff the shoes with newspaper to speed up the drying process.