Can I Wash My Running Shoes in a Washing Machine?

Avid runners will run in summer, winter, rain, shine or snow.  And their shoes take a beating.  Sometimes the shoes get so dirty that they really must be brushed off and cleaned but for the most part the shoes don’t get dirty enough to really thoroughly wash before the internal mid-sole has worn out and the shoes must be thrown out.  Many runners still ask how to wash running shoes without ruining them.

The cushioning in a running shoe from the mid-sole lasts about 300-400 miles.  But, even if you aren’t wearing the shoes consistently for running the mid-sole will continue to break down over time.  Your feet and body should be able to feel the difference in the cushioning and know when you need to replace the shoe.

If brushing the shoes off after the dirt has dried just doesn’t do the trick for you and you feel compelled to wash them, there are a few tips and tricks that will help the shoes to last as long and not break down quickly.  Can I wash my shoes in a washing machine?  The answer may surprise you!

First, NEVER immerse them in water!  Use a damp cloth, spot remover, old toothbrush and let them air dry.  So a washing machine won’t work at all.  This totally soaks the shoe and may cause separation of the shoe.

If you are trying to get rid of some old sneaker smell in your running shoes then use dryer sheets, or shoe deodorizer.  Immersing your shoes into water will only change the shape of the shoe and therefore change the support that is available to the foot.

Keep your shoes away from a heat source, which means dryers, radiators, heating vents, and even direct sunlight.  Don’t nuke them in the microwave or bake them in the oven.  Don’t leave them in the car.  Using heat to dry out the cushion of the shoes can cause the shoe to separate by hardening the glue that holds them together.  Using a clothes dryer will also change the shape of the shoe and ruin the support that the shoes offer your foot.

If you are out running in the rain and the shoes get soaked through you can dry the interior quickly, without separation or without the shoe losing it’s shape.  Using either newspaper without colored pictures or paper towel stuff the shoe to help it retain the shape and absorb the moisture.  Change the paper out after several hours and your shoes should be dry before your next run.

Other tips to taking care of your running shoes, aside from how to wash running shoes, are to always untie them after a run instead of kicking them off at the end.  This destroys the heel counter of the shoes and you’ll be replacing them sooner than you want.  Don’t run in wet shoes because a wet midsole will have 40-50% less shock absorbency.

So can I wash running shoes in a washing machine?  The answer is no!  And certainly don’t put them in the dryer.  Taking care of your shoes will give you hundreds of miles of running pleasure.  And remember – these are running shoes, not dress shoes.  A few spots on the outside won’t change the cushioning or shape of the shoe!


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