Do your running shoes have a smell that resembles a closet full of angry skunks? Are you embarrassed by the overwhelming sweaty odor from your shoes? The smell results from bacteria and fungus racing on the sweat and dead skin particles left inside your shoes. The odor could lead to fungal infections on your feet (athlete's foot). This is why it is recommended that you allow your shoes to vent after each run and clean them periodically.
Like many runners, I was not someone who cleaned their running shoes because I feared that they would become permanently damaged. However, as an attempt to keep them fresh I have tried hand washing with soap and water, as recommended, yet I could not get rid of the smell. When I grew tired of the smell, I decided to try giving them a try in the wash machine and they came out surprisingly clean. The best part is the smell was gone and when I went for a run, washing them had not affected their performance. Therefore, I recommend that all runners first try this method on their older running shoes.
Turn your wash machine to a gentle cycle with cold water. Never use hot water because it will damage the adhesive and distort the shoes' shape.
Use an old toothbrush to remove built up mud and dirt before you place them in the washer.
Remove your shoe strings and insoles, these should be washed with your running clothes. The clothes will help muffle the annoying tumbling noise from the shoes. If you have more than one pair of running shoes only wash one pair per load to avoid damaging your machine.
If possible use a non-beach, fragrance free, organic washing detergent. Alternately, you could use a special sports detergent formulated for performance clothes. Sports detergent is supposed to remove odor without corrupt sweat wicking or water repellent fabric. Personally, I used plain liquid detergent with a a a cup of white vinegar and a a a cup baking soda. The vinegar kills the bacteria and fungi while the baking soda deodorizes and acts as a fabric softer. Make sure you do not overdo it with detergent to prevent stiff clothes.
When the load has finished make sure you air dry your shoes in the sun or in a warm area of your home. Do not try to put them in a dryer or use a hand dryer because the excess heat will warp your shoes. Add newspaper inside the shoes to help them maintain their shape and to soak up the extra moisture. After a few hours remove the newspaper and open up the shoe tongue to insure, your shoes dry completely. Keep in mind it can take ten to twelve hours for your running shoes to dry.
Most running shoe manufacturers like Nike, Asics and Brooks recommend that you just wipe off your shoes and avoid machine washing them. This method is only my suggestion on how to clean running shoes. It is the reader's responsibility to read the shoe manufactures cleaning instructions before cleaning their own shoes.
by Harvey Leon