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True Grime: How to Clean Your Running Shoes

Posted by Orange Insoles on

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Our running shoes take us far and wide, and all over different types of terrain- depending on how adventurous you are! Though it’s a great feeling to run off the beaten path, you definitely don’t want these excursions to be taking the life out of your best support system. Here are some essential must-knows about how you can get tough grime out of your shoes and extend their life. 

What You’ll Need

Though there are a few different ways to clean your shoes, there are a few tried and true methods. The basic items you’ll need are: 
  • Mild laundry detergent or another soap safe for clothing 
  • A soft toothbrush
  • Paper towels or a washcloth 
  • A small tub of warm water 
  • Pillow case (optional) 
How you approach washing your shoelaces is up to you; you can either put them in a pillow case for a cold, delicate cycle in the washing machine or hand wash them along with the shoes themselves. Keep in mind that if you do the pillow case method, you’ll need to tie it closed so they don’t get tangled in the machine. 

Let the Cleaning Begin 

Obviously, how deep you clean your shoes depends on how dirty they are. Sometimes, you might just want to reduce odor while other times, they may be caked with mud. Consider going through all of these steps for a completely fresh start: 
  1. Start by using a washcloth to wipe away larger chunks of dirt, grass and pebbles that may have accumulated in the soles. 
  2. Remove the shoe laces and place them in the soapy mixture while your fingers rub the dirt off. 
  3. Mix the mild soap with the warm water and wet your toothbrush. You can start gently scrubbing away at the soles and uppers of the shoes. 
  4. Take the insoles out and scrub those with the toothbrush. Always hand wash insoles. You can also mix 50% water and 50% white distilled vinegar to further disinfect them. Adding a drop of essential oil can be a nice touch to keep them smelling nice!
  5. Rinse everything carefully with just water. Don’t submerge your shoes or insoles; they may lose their structure. 
  6. Allow the insoles, laces and shoes to dry separately. The sun and machine dryers can make shoes shrink, so it’s best to place it somewhere outside in the shade. Placing newspaper inside the shoes is helpful for speeding up the drying process, especially if you replace it every few hours. 
  7. Feel free to add some baking soda on your insoles to eliminate odors and absorb moisture. 

Machine washable shoes

If you see a label that says “machine-washable,” this means that the shoes will tolerate a gentle, cold cycle. Usually, this means the fabric is made of canvas or something similar. No matter what, feet insoles need to be hand washed; they can easily get distorted in the washer and lose their effectiveness and support. 
Avoid making these mistakes
  • Using bleach or other harsh cleaning supplies 
  • Using heat to dry them faster 
  • Submerging your insoles and shoes
So, there you have it, a guide to keeping your running shoes looking as good as new. Remember that around the 500 mile mark is when they begin to show signs of wear and tear and you may need to consider a new pair, no matter how clean you can get them! 

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you experience persistent pain, consult your healthcare provider.


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