How To Wash Your Running Shoes (And How Often)

How To Wash Your Running Shoes (And How Often)

When was the last time you washed your running or workout shoes? Basically never? You’re not alone.

Most people, even the most do-or-die runners, rarely wash their running shoes, if ever. Whether you’re wanting to avoid them being wet and unusable for a day or two, you’re worried about ruining your shoes, or it just doesn’t cross your mind, it’s common to skip the wash.

How often should I wash my running shoes?

In general, it’s a good idea to wash your running shoes (or any fitness shoes), once every 6 months or once every 200 miles. Of course, this depends on how many miles you log per week and how dirty your shoes tend to get—whether from sweat or from the elements. If you’ve just conquered a particularly muddy trail, you’ll actually increase the longevity of your shoes if you wash them (just brush off as much mud as possible first).

Can I wash running shoes in the washing machine?

Most athletic shoes can be washed in the washing machine on a gentle setting. Remove the laces and the insoles first, and skip the dryer altogether. Instead, let them air dry. Allbirds shoes are made to be washed, and won’t lose their shape or fit after a wash, so you can feel confident tossing them into the next load. Want to know how to wash your other pair of Allbirds? Check it out here.

How do I wash running shoes in the washing machine?

If you’re wearing Allbirds, we recommend these steps for washing your shoes in the machine:

  • Remove the laces and insoles and set them aside. Brush off excessive dirt or mud using a soft brush.

  • Place shoes in a delicates bag (pro tip: a pillowcase works too).

  • Choose a gentle cycle with cold water & a small amount of mild detergent. (Don’t use fabric softener.)

  • Shake out any excess water & set aside to air dry. Don’t use the dryer. Pick a spot that is dry and preferably has air movement, like outside, in front of a window, or under a fan.

  • Shoes will regain their original shape with one or two wears.

For front-loading washers, wash them as you would in a top-loading washer.

Washing on cold isn’t just better for your shoes, it uses less energy.

When you wash on cold rather than hot, you can shrink your carbon footprint by about 10 kg CO2e per year—the equivalent of driving your car 25 miles. So consider washing on cold not just for your sneaks, but for any load of laundry.

Then air dry to minimize your carbon footprint & maximize your product’s lifetime. (Do not bleach or dry clean.)

Want a full refresh? Swap in some new laces and insoles.

The cause of that wafting smelly-shoe odor is probably your insoles. Made to be absorbent, they’re soaking in sweat and moisture every day if they’re doing their job.

Try swapping in new insoles and new laces before throwing out your favorite shoes. It not only saves your budget, it reduces the amount of waste going into landfills.

Because we want you to wear your Allbirds for a long time and reduce the waste that comes with replacing shoes needlessly, we offer premium insoles for men and insoles for women—high cushion and lined with our merino fabric—at a fraction of other replacement insoles on the market. Pick up new replacement laces too, which are made with post-consumer plastic bottles. (One pair of shoelaces equals 1 recycled water bottle!)

What’s the proper way to hand wash your running shoes?

When you want to go even gentler on your favorite sneakers, try the hand wash method.

  • Remove the insoles and laces. Fill a sink or bucket with warm soapy water and toss in the laces. Set aside your insoles.

  • Brush off any chunks of mud or do the classic bang-together-method to get the worst bits of dirt off.

  • Dip a scrub brush or toothbrush into the soapy water and get to work, starting by scrubbing the soles of your shoes and moving up to the uppers (the fabric part of the shoe). If your shoes are mostly suede or leather, water may damage them, so you may want to use leather-specific cleaning products.

  • Wipe down your shoes with a wet cloth to make sure any soapiness is cleaned off.

  • Rinse your laces and insoles with warm water, and set all of your shoe components out to dry.

What’s the Rub-Down Method for cleaning shoes?

If you’re in a hurry or just want to prep your shoes for the next day’s adventure, use a scrub brush or sturdy, wet cloth to rub down your shoes. When the mud or grime is especially nasty, this can be the fastest way to bring them back to life.

What’s the benefit of washing sneakers?

We understand; it’s one of those tasks that may not even cross your mind. Here’s why washing your running shoes is smart.

  • They probably smell bad. Need more reasons? Ok, keep reading.

  • Leaving shoes muddy can actually be detrimental to the stitching and the material in most cases. Best to brush them off, spot-clean them, or toss them in the washing machine.

  • The more you can prolong the life of your shoes, the fewer shoes end up thrown away. At Allbirds, we want you to love and care for your shoes as long as possible. (Want to lower your impact on the planet even more? Shop Allbirds ReRun for gently used or slightly imperfect Allbirds products.)

  • Moisture breeds bacteria and mold, and if you’re running in some questionable puddles or urban jungle streets, you never know what may be on your shoes. If you wear your shoes in the house, even more reason to wash them.

Allbirds products are made from natural, renewable materials, which is one of the reasons they’re so easy to care for. Compare that to the fact that 57% of footwear out there is made from synthetic materials. It’s our goal to move away from petroleum-based synthetics to natural alternatives, like merino wool and a eucalyptus tree fiber material called TENCEL™ Lyocell. Pretty cool, right?

So, no matter where your tread takes you or what shoes are on your feet, it may be time to wash your favorite running shoes. Yes, you can use the washing machine, and yes, you will still be able to wear them comfortably after a wash–especially if you’re wearing Allbirds. Our products are machine washable, and we encourage you to wash on cold and air dry to minimize your carbon footprint and maximize your product’s lifetime.

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