Washing Your Running Shoes

First, let me say that I never wash my running shoes.

I run mostly on roads or fairly easy trails, so even at their filthiest, they look fairly presentable:
OK, maybe not. But so what? Let them be dirty!

I’d rather run in filthy shoes than damaged ones, and I haven’t yet found solid proof that washing them does absolutely no damage to the shoes’ cushioning, structure and all that stuff for which we shell out the big bucks at the specialty running shoe stores.

But once I’ve squeezed 600 miles out of a pair, and if I plan to continue wearing them – to bike, hike or walk around – then yes, please. The dirt must go.

My Tiffany blue Nike shoes are a whole other story. It was love at first sight with those babies and our romance is still going strong. But after six months of love and affection, they were starting to lose their sparkle:
I don’t run in them, so I figured, no harm in testing some shoe-washing advice I found online. I mean, if it’s on the Internet, it must be legit, right? Right?

What I did:

Took the insoles out of the shoes; found two pillowcases we no longer use

Random: notice my footprints; those are some high arches, huh?

Put each shoe in a pillowcase; tied a knot on top so it won’t fall out

If you ever try this at home, do the knot on the left (using both corners of the pillowcase). The knot on the right, once the pillowcase is all wet, is very difficult to undo.

In the wash they go

Line up the bottom and sides of your washing machine with a towel or two, so the shoes don’t get too banged up during the spin cycle. Insoles can go in separately.

I used regular detergent and a warm/ cold cycle, which is recommended for color clothes. The result:I know. I wasn’t impressed, either.

While the shoelaces looked much cleaner, the shoes did not. So it was time for Plan B:

Grab the heavy-duty detergent

Then, using an old toothbrush, scrub that dirt like you hate it

After ten or so minutes of hard work, the shoes looked much cleaner, so I announced the project a wrap and put them out in the sun to dry:In hindsight, I should have done this the other way around: hand-scrub the dirtiest parts first, then throw the shoes in the wash. Oh well. You live, you learn. (Or, in your case: you read my blog, you learn.)

How about you: Do you wash your running shoes? Any strategies I should try next time around?

Today’s run: I was supposed to rest today, but there was a run in me that just had to get out – so I let it.

It was a great run. Warm enough for my pink racer-back dress (test-running the LA Marathon outfit!), but slightly overcast so I didn’t need to worry about getting a sunburn. (I know… in March. What can I say, California problems.)

But I’m not sure if the thin cloud cover was enough of an excuse for RunKeeper to do this?I knew the GPS was wrong the minute it ticked off my first mile as a 10-minute one, and at a farther point than it should be, so when I came back home, I mapped out my run manually (MapMyRun is great for that, because you can set it to automatically snap to roads). The result, my actual distance and pace:

Yesterday:This was broken down as:
2 miles warmup
a bunch of exercises with a BOSU (burpees, squats while balancing on top, pushups, lunges, mountain climbers… the usual)
0.5 mile sprint
another set of the above BOSU torture
1.25 miles tempo run with a pick-up in pace for the last quarter of a mile (sub-7 min miles)
Fun stuff!

7 thoughts on “Washing Your Running Shoes

  1. You may want to try iSmoothRun instead of RunKeeper. I find it to be much more accurate. Also, iSmoothRun can track your cadence, which I find to be useful for making sure my form is good. After your run, iSmoothRun syncs with RunKeeper, so all your data can stay there.

    • Oh funny – I did switch to iSmoothRun the day after I wrote this blog post [wrote up a review here] :) But in short, yes — I LOVE IT! My absolute favorite feature is the cadence tracking and I wish I had paid for that app ages ago (I got it for free when they had a special).

    • I think of the dirt on my running shoes as a badge of honor :) But those Nikes are just too pretty to be dirty, so I had to try!

  2. Love this post because I too have the same shoes and they are not looking as gorgeous as they once did, as I believe they must look because they are just so darn pretty. I am going to do this tonight, thanks for the advice.

    • Aren’t they the prettiest thing? I love them so much, I plan (hope!) to wear them for many years to come! Let me know how it goes, mine are looking brand-spanking new right now!