Why You Shouldn't Wash Your Running Shoes in the Washing Machine

Why You Shouldn't Wash Your Running Shoes in the Washing Machine

Posted by Morgan Goodchild on

In the life of a runner, running shoes are not just athletic equipment—they are the silent witnesses to every stride, sprint, and mile conquered. The wear and tear they endure are badges of honor, showcasing dedication and love for the sport. However, when it comes to keeping these treasured companions clean, the method matters as much as the intention.

The Case Against the Washing Machine

The convenience of tossing your running shoes into the washing machine with a load of laundry might be tempting, especially after a particularly muddy run or when an unpleasant odor begins to emerge. This approach, though seemingly efficient, can be detrimental to the very fabric of your running shoes.

Running shoes are engineered with a variety of materials designed to provide support, comfort, and durability. Exposing these materials to the rigors of a washing machine cycle—complete with water immersion and the heat of a dryer—can lead to irreversible damage. The glue that binds the different layers of the shoe can weaken, the midsole foam can compress or become misshapen, and the finely tuned structure that supports your foot's natural movement can be compromised.

Jason Angsuvarn, founder of Jason Markk, a premium shoe care brand, warns against the constant tumbling and potential jeopardy to the integrity of the shoes that a washing machine imposes. Likewise, Grant Bryant, RUN owner, notes the sensitivity of traditional EVA foam midsoles to water, emphasizing that even more resilient materials, like TPU, are not immune to the risks involved.

The Right Way to Clean Your Running Shoes

Preserving the life and performance of your running shoes requires a gentler approach—one that respects the delicate balance of materials and construction. Here's how you can effectively clean your running shoes without compromising their integrity:

Step 1: Prep and Dry Brush

Remove any loose dirt and debris by gently tapping the soles together. Then, use a soft-bristle brush to dry brush the entire shoe, paying special attention to the mesh and knit uppers that tend to catch more dirt.

Step 2: Spot Clean with a Gentle Solution

Prepare a cleaning mixture using mild soap and water. Dip a soft brush into the solution and gently scrub the affected areas. For tougher scuffs on the upper, Grant recommends a natural cleanser free from harsh chemicals. Stubborn grass stains can be tackled with a mix of vinegar and water, using a microfiber towel to blot and lift the stain.

Step 3: Air Dry

After cleaning, stuff your shoes with paper to maintain their shape and allow them to air dry in a well-ventilated area, away from direct heat and sunlight. Remember, the dryer is not an option—the heat can damage the foam and cause the shoes to misshape.

Maintaining White Running Shoes

For those sporting white running shoes and want to keep them that way, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can be your best friend. It's effective on white midsoles and outsoles, but caution is advised to avoid any bleaching effects on colored materials.

By adhering to these cleaning practices, you not only extend the life of your running shoes but also ensure they continue to provide the performance and comfort you rely on. So, next time your running shoes need a refresh, resist the urge to throw them in the washing machine. A little extra care goes a long way in keeping your faithful companions ready for the next run.

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