How To Clean Running Shoes: Step By Step Guide


If you're trying to figure out how to clean running shoes, you've come to the right place.

We've put together a step-by-step guide to lead you through the process, highlighting a few top tips along the way to ensure your sneakers come away spotless.

There are many reasons why it's important to clean your trainers, protecting the delicate materials from sweat being one. However, perhaps most importantly of all, it's crucial you clean your shoes in order to maximise grip.

Outsoles caked in any dirt will ultimately lose traction which, in turn, will likely mean you'll be working harder to stay balanced with each step, something we've previously touched on in our guide to cleaning Jordan 1s.

Therefore, grab your best pair of running shoes and follow along with our guide to cleaning them right here.

How To Clean Running Shoes

The following is what we believe to be one of the most effective ways of cleaning a pair of fabric running shoes like these adidas Ultraboost 4.0 DNA Trail shoes.

adidas product image of a solar red and black Ultraboost.
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Credit: adidas

For different kinds of materials though, make sure you check out our guides to cleaning leather, suede, and canvas shoes right here.

What You'll Need:

  • Soft-bristled Brush or Toothbrush
  • Large Bowl
  • Mild Soap
  • Cloth
  • Shoe Cleaner
  • Newspaper

Optional:

  • Baking Soda
  • Shoe Protector

Step 1: Remove the shoelaces from your shoes and leave them to soak in a large bowl filled with warm water and a mild soap or laundry detergent.

Top Tip: Adding a small amount of baking soda can be handy if you're trying to clean white laces.

Nike product image of a white and pink unlaced Infinity React sneaker.
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Credit: Nike

Step 2: Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any surface dirt from the uppers and outsoles of your shoes. We'd recommend using an old toothbrush to get into every tiny crevis.

Step 3: Mix a small amount of shoe cleaner into another bowl of warm water. We'd recommend a product such as Angelus Easy Cleaner, although make sure you use it per the manufacturer's instructions.

Top Top: Using a mild laundry detergent or soap can also work here. Also, adding baking soda to warm water might help you remove stains from white shoes.

Angelus Easy Cleaner product image of a clear bottle containing light green shoe cleaner.
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Credit: Angelus

Step 4: Take your cloth, dip it into the solution, then begin to scrub away any stains across all areas of your shoes, including the insoles.

Step 5: Once your shoes are clean, leave them to dry naturally and away from direct sunlight with your shoelaces. Fill your shoes with newspaper first to help absorb some of the water and to ensure your sneakers keep their shape.

Step 6: At this point, we'd recommend applying a protective shoe spray like Crep Protect to your sneakers to minimise how often you need to clean them. Again, use per the instructions.

Crep Protect product image of a purple and black spray can with yellow details.
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Credit: Crep Protect

Step 7: If a shoe protector has been applied, leave them to dry completely so they're ready for your next run.

When Should You Clean Your Running Shoes?

There isn't really a set timeframe as to when you should be cleaning your trainers, it more depends on the types of runs you're going on.

According to Brooks, a brand we've featured before with the Brooks Revel 5's in our list of the best running shoes under 100, trail running shoes should be cleaned regularly, perhaps even after every use, as you're bound to pick up a ton of dirt that will affect their traction.

Brooks product image of a white, black, and neon yellow pair of Revel 5's.
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Credit: Believe In The Run

However, if you're sticking to roads, then you're probably only really cleaning them to improve the smell and to remove any light marks from their surface. Therefore, they may not require cleaning as often.

A good rule to follow is to clean your running shoes once you notice a difference in the way they feel.

Things To Avoid When Cleaning Running Shoes

When it comes to cleaning running shoes, there are definitely several things you'll want to avoid doing to ensure you don't damage the delicate fabrics.

Firstly, leading running shoe manufacturer Asics suggests you avoid putting your shoes in a washing machine or tumble dryer.

The reason for this is that soaking your shoes in water, along with the extreme heat, can damage the fabric and adhesives.

The brand also recommends you avoid using harsh cleaning products, most notably bleach, sticking primarily to clothing-safe options instead.

We touched on it earlier, but make sure you dry your shoes naturally because any direct heat or sunlight can sometimes cause your shoes to warp and lose their shape.

Finally, avoid using wired brushes or rough sponges because they can sometimes pull apart the threaded fabric and stitching which is difficult to fix thereafter.

Read More: Best Marathon Shoes Available Now

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