How To Wash Your Running Shoes Without Damaging It

Running shoes are not exactly as clean as your casual shoes. Not only do they get mud and dirt from various outdoor elements, but they also build up bacteria from your sweat. Which raises the question How to wash your running shoes?

Back then, I didn’t know how to properly wash my shoes. So I did what was easiest, put them in the washing machine. It didn’t damage them, but while I was doing my research, I found out that doing so actually risks damaging the shoe and the washing machine.

Running shoes has to be washed by hand. First, remove dirt by rinsing and brushing the shoe. Next, brush it with soap to eliminate bacteria and further remove dirt. Lastly, rinse it for the last time and let it air-dry.

Ahead, we will go into detail about each step and I will provide you with photos to show you exactly how I do it.

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Your Running Shoes

Though it might be quicker to just throw your running shoes inside the washing machine and let it do its job of washing things, doing so will not only damage the shoes but also the washing machine.

Running shoes are a very precious type of shoes. They’re equipped with top-of-the-line technology that helps improve your running performance.

They fit better than any other shoe, they have a very high-tech cushioned midsole and they use special glue to give you the best running experience. Therefore, it is only right and just to handle them with care.

The washing technique I’m about to show you have been done countless times to my shoes. I never had any problem of discoloration or any damage in the midsoles and upper whatsoever so I can guarantee you can wash your running shoes this way without damaging it.

What You’ll Need

For washing your running shoe, you’re gonna need:

  • A mild detergent
  • A bucket of warm water
  • Soft brush/old toothbrush/sponge
  • Newspaper/paper towels

Step 1: Remove Loose Dirt by Clapping The Shoes Together

Loose dirt is very common after running on muddy trails. Before you hose your shoes with water and turn the loose dirt back to mud, it’s better to clap your shoes 4-5 times before you get them wet.

Step 2: Rinse Your Shoes and Brush Off Dirt

I see a lot of people soaking the shoes in water and detergent. But according to an article published by ASICS, one of the leading manufacturers of running shoes, you shouldn’t submerge them in soap and water.

I usually wash off the mud/dirt with a simple pressurized hose for a few seconds. If you don’t have one, you can buy a hose similar to mine on Amazon.

If there’s too much mud on your shoes (like mine), you can brush them off using an old toothbrush or any soft brush under running water.

This step will remove the gritty mud so they don’t mix up with your soap.

Step 3: Dismantle Your Shoes

To make your job easier and make sure you’re able to clean them thoroughly, remove the lace and the sockliner so you can wash them separately.

Step 4: Brush With Warm Water And Mild Detergent

Using an old toothbrush or any brush with soft bristles, brush the entire shoe with soap mixed with warm water.

Start with the midsole and the upper. Then, make sure you brush the inside of the shoe as well. The dirt inside may not be visible but they are usually a site for bacterial build-up that causes odor.

Lastly, brush the outsole with a brush with strong bristles to make sure you get all the dirt out.

As for the type of soap, you don’t have to overcomplicate things. I’ve tried many times over that simply using a regular laundry detergent as Tide works fine. I never experienced any discoloration and it effectively removes the odor.

Step 5: Rinse

Hose your shoe with water while squeezing the foam to remove excess soap.

Use your hose to wash off the soap inside and outside of the shoe. Make sure to press the cushioned linings of the upper to remove the soap absorbed by the foam.

Step 6: Dry them

Though it might be tempting to throw them inside the dryer, put them under the scourging heat of the sun or at the top of the radiator, doing so may damage the technologies in the midsole, or affect the size of the shoe.

Too much heat may damage the shoe.

Instead, the best way to dry them is to gently squeeze the upper to remove water build-up from the inner linings, insert crumpled newspapers inside the shoe (this will also help retain its shape), and then, leave them out in an airy shaded area, preferably outdoor.

Why outdoor? Just like your clothes, leaving them to dry in a closed space can cause odor build-up. Now, you wouldn’t like that for your shoe, do you?

How Long Will Your Shoe Take To Dry After Washing Them?

If you’re getting enough air movement in your area, they should dry out in about 24-48 hours. But when it doesn’t get proper air movement or when it’s cold, it may take you up to 3 days.

This is why I highly recommend having at least 2 running shoes in your rotation.

But if you can’t afford to buy a second pair just yet, you can speed up the process by putting it in front of a fan.

How Often Should You Wash Your Running Shoes

Running shoes often get dirty from a lot of natural elements including dirt, mud, and a dirty puddle of water. Not to mention, the inside of your running shoe builds up bacteria from your sweat, dead skin, and sometimes, blood too. So I highly recommend washing them at least twice a month.

That’s one of the reasons I decided to invest in a second pair of daily trainers. I currently have the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21, but I decided to buy pair of ASICS Gel-Kayano Lite so I won’t have to wash my daily trainers as often.

I highly recommend both shoes. But the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 remains my favorite. If you’re in need of a stability shoe, you should try the Brooks Adrenaline 21. You can buy them from Amazon.

How To Remove Hard Stains on Your Running Shoes?

Though a stain won’t ever affect the running shoe’s performance, there’s nothing wrong with wanting your running shoes to look clean.

If there are stains on your shoe that washing failed to remove, you can try the things listed below.

Baking Soda Paste Method

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of warm water
  • Apply them directly into the stain and let it dry for 3-4 hours
  • Remove the hardened baking soda paste, the stain should be gone by now

Toothpaste Method

  • Wipe a generous amount of whitening toothpaste directly to the stain using a piece of cloth
  • Continue wiping in a circular motion until the whole area is covered
  • Let it sit for 15 mins
  • Wipe it down with a damp towel
  • Repeat the process until the stain is gone or lightened

These things are not guaranteed to work. But in some cases or types of stains, they do. I’ve done them many times and they worked like magic in most cases.

Do’s and Don’t of Washing a Running Shoe


  • Use a mild detergent
  • Be gentle in brushing
  • Clean the inside of the shoe with soap
  • Wash your running shoes at least 2 times a month
  • Handwash your running shoe with care


  • Use bleach
  • Submerge the shoes in water
  • Use a washing machine to wash them
  • Dry them in direct sunlight or dryer

Key Takeaways

Since running shoes are built to perform, washing them requires gentleness and care.

It is highly recommended that you wash your running shoes at least twice a month to prevent bacterial build-up and keep it looking nice.

Normally, it takes about 2 days to air-dry your running shoes but can take up to 3 days under cold conditions.

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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