adidas / July 2023

How to Clean Running Shoes

Lengthen the life of your running shoes and trail runners with our best tips and tricks on how to clean adidas running shoes.

Running is tough on your shoes. Trail runners end up with dirt-caked outsoles, reducing traction. Pavement runners constantly battle dirt, grime and debris that can work into a shoe’s fabric and grind away at your foot like sandpaper. And that’s not even mentioning the damage from weather, sweat and the wear of countless miles.

Knowing how to clean your running shoes is essential for keeping them fresh and prolonging their lifespan. We asked Emily Gokita, a fitness trainer at adidas and member of Rose City Track Club, to share how to wash running shoes so you can keep them clean and maintained for many more runs to come. 

How To Wash Running Shoes

The six easy steps to cleaning your running shoes are:
1. Gather your supplies
2. Brush the dirt off
3. Scrub the outsole and midsole
4. Scrub the upper
5. Soak
6. Air dry
Follow the sections below for a detailed breakdown.

Gather Your Supplies

  • Soft bristle brush (for the shoe’s upper)
  • Firm bristle brush (for the shoe’s midsole and outsole)
  • Dirt pick (toothpicks or skewers also work)
  • Towels
  • A bowl
  • A sink or bucket
  • 1 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 4 tablespoons laundry detergent
  • Water

Step 1: Brush Off The Dirt

Start by brushing away dirt, grass and mud with a soft bristle brush on the upper. Move with gentle strokes to protect the knit fabric of the shoe. Once the dirt is mostly gone, pick up the firm bristle brush and wipe away the dirt from the midsole and the outsole. Use the dirt pick to get into the tread of the shoe to get any rocks and debris that are stuck. 

Step 2: Mix Up The Scrub

In the bowl, combine ½ cup warm water, ½ cup hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup washing soda, and 2 tablespoons laundry detergent. Stir to combine.

Step 3: Scrub The Outsole and Midsole

Grab the firm bristle brush and dip it in the scrub solution. Brush the outsole and midsole to wash the dirt away. You can grab a damp towel and wipe away any debris as you go. We start with the bottom of the shoe since that’s where most of the dirt lives.

Step 4: Scrub The Upper And The Laces

Remove the laces and set them aside. Grab the soft bristle brush and dip it in the scrub solution, then scrub the upper of the shoe in circular motions. Rinse off the brush before dipping it back into the scrub so it stays clean. Pay extra attention to the toe box area which is often the dirtiest part of the upper.
Lay the laces flat on the table and scrub along each side with the soft bristle brush.
If your shoes are looking pretty clean after scrubbing, you can rinse them off with clean water and let them air dry. For an extra deep clean, move on to the soaking step.

Step 5: Soak

Fill a bucket or a clean, stopped sink with warm water. Add the ½ cup hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup washing soda, and 2 tablespoons laundry detergent and stir to combine. Place the laces and the shoes upside down in the water so the outsoles are facing the ceiling and the upper is fully submerged. Place something heavy on top if they need help staying submerged. Let the shoes soak for at least an hour, or up to 8 hours.

Step 6: Air Dry

Pull the shoes and laces out of the sink and rinse them under clean water. Place them on a clean towel to air dry, which could take a full day. Do not put them in the dryer, and avoid placing them in direct sunlight because the intense heat can melt or curl the shoe.

Can I Put My Running Shoes In The Washing Machine?

Yes, you can put your running shoes in the washing machine. You may wish to still brush the dirt off, then remove the laces and insoles and place it all in a garment bag or a pillowcase. Wash in the washing machine on cold and a gentle cycle. Let them air dry.

How Do You Wash Your Running Shoes Without Ruining Them?

While the washing machine works, using a hand-washing method like we described above will be gentler on your shoes and help them last longer. You might even get them cleaner by hand too from the manual scrubbing.
Clean shoes are an important way to keep your shoes maintained for as long as possible. Learn from our other cleaning guides, like how to clean sneakers, canvas and leather shoes, cleats and more.
adidas / July 2023