Thursday, December 13, 2012

My "Dirty Secrets" for keeping shoes clean

WARNING: I can be a bit nutty about having my shoes clean. 

Recently a friend was asking how to clean her running shoes.  (Looks like I am not the only one who runs FASTER in shiny, fresh shoes!) 

Is there a right/wrong way to detail the trainers/racers?   I think so...






Running wouldn't be as fun for me without a little slog through the puddles, or gravel or mud. It makes me a little sad, though, to see my brand new shoes looking like they aren't new any more. So, over the last couple of years, I have established my own shoe cleaning routine to keep them looking new as long as possible.
Here is my process:

1. Outdoors, use a hose with a spray nozzle and remove as much dirt as possible, so that you are bringing in as little as possible (no one wants a sink or tub filled with dirt!). Using a stiff outdoor car washing brush can help loosen what is in the cracks.

2. Once they are clean enough to bring indoors, take them to a sink or tub (preferably one with detachable spray faucet). 

3. Remove the sock liners, and laces if laces are especially dirty. 

4. Spray entire shoe with a stain remover (I like Spray 'N' Wash). If you don't have it, you can use liquid laundry soap and dab it on. 

5. Using an old toothbrush, scrub any spots or in the cracks where it was missed before. Go over the entire upper and sole of the shoe. You may wish to scrub the sock liner and laces as well.

6. Rinse all shoe parts under a sink faucet, or spray nozzle, until water runs fairly clean.

7. Second wash: Place shoes, laces and sock liners in a sink, half filled with lukewarm water and about 1 small load's worth of laundry soap. Let soak for 20 minutes. Remove shoes and try re-scrubbing any stubborn spots left from earlier.

8. Drain dirty water from sink. (Don't let the laces go down the drain!)

9. Rinse with faucet until water is clean.

Drying
  1. Using an old towel, loosen the tongue and put as much towel in the shoe as you can. 
  2. Wrap the shoe in the towel and press firmly on the upper, to blot as much water as possible. (Blot the sock liners and laces as well.)
  3. Set the shoes, tilted at an angle (to get as much airflow to the upper as possible), in front of a cool fan overnight. They should be dry by morning if you pressed out the water well.
A couple of things you shouldn't do
Don't use hot water
Don't place them in a dryer or in front of a heater.  (This will break down the glue and foam construction quickly and shorten the life of your shoes.)

Are you crazy about keeping your shoes clean? I clean mine before my races as a ritual and visualize my race while I am cleaning them!

Do you have any other tips for shoes? I'd love to hear them!


28 comments:

  1. Mud is such a big part of my life I gave up on cleaning my running shoes ever. But these are really great tips, thanks!

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    1. Sounds like we have some similar issues with mud! Hope this helps!

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  2. Those are great tips for getting your shoes as good as new! Since I run on dirt paths most of the time now, I use a hose on mine. If I'm traveling or racing in mine, I'll use a tooth brush, also.

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  3. This is awesome! I love that you take such good care of your shoes!

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    1. Thanks Allie! Wish I could say my car was as detailed :)

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  4. WOw you are serious about this cleaning thing! I have sprayed mud off with the hose before but that's really it. I kind of hate getting my shoes wet...

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    1. I don't like them wet with my feet inside :) But, if there's a goal to meet....

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  5. Thanks for the tips! I actually never clean my shoes because I feel nervous about breaking down the construction. By the time I've logged 500 miles they tend to be looking pretty lousy. If I've been to a place like central Oregon and gotten that powder fine dust in them then that really drives me crazy! I will have to give this method a try. I'm impressed they dry so quickly and are ready for a run the next day.

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    1. I used to feel the same way. After running in total downpours, I decided that if they could handle being soaked in a run, they could handle one more for a scrub. Give it a try! I think they will still last a long time for you :)

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  6. Wow, you really keep your shoes clean! =)
    I'm a "the more mud the better" kind of girl. =D

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    1. Yes, Keeley! I have seen that about you ;) ..Can't let a little mud stop us!

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  7. I never clean my shoes. Does that make me a bad runner? :)

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    1. Ha! No. Maybe you are just able to stay cleaner than I am!

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  8. Like Michael, I never clean my shoes... but I love the idea of cleaning them as a pre-race ritual while you visualize the race... maybe I''ll do that for Houston!

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    1. I am reluctant to race in brand new shoes, but I like to feel good before my races. If it's a marathon, my shoes are usually pretty darned new- so I might not need to wash them. But for the shorter races, after racing on bark, they really need it.

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  9. If by "cleaning" you mean beating the dried-on mud off of them before putting them on for my next run, yes I clean my shoes. :)

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    1. LOL Kate! For some of us, it's so frequent it can't be avoided.

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  10. Nice tips! Yea I'm like Kate and have never washed my shoes ever lol. Cleaning them more often would probably lengthen the life!

    Thanks for the knee injury tips, do you have any IT band exercises that you can think of? Generally I just do lower body exercises to strengthen the muscles around the IT band.

    Yea, you might be right about slowing down the pace on runs - I remember that I did do a couple fast treadmill runs either the week after the Eugene race, likely not the best thing to do. I probably need to run on the slow side on the treadmill if I'm going to run on it for now.

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    1. :) I left you a comment on your page. Hope that your knee starts feeling better!

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  11. great tips! I'm not too nutty about keeping mine clean, but we don't have the same muddy issues, either.

    Another good drying method : Stuff them with newspapers and set them in a cool, dry room. (usually ends up being my garage). They'll be dry by morning.

    I do this with the boys' shoes, too, if they get them wet. They don't even end up terribly stinky, as the newspaper absorbs the liquid pretty quickly.

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    1. The newspaper is a great suggestion! I have never tried that, but I have heard it works.

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  12. Perfect timing for this post as I stepped in a huge muddy grassy area today on my run. Before that my shoes were so pretty and after...well, it is just ugly! I will have to try your tips because I hate dirty looking running shoes or shoes in general!

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    1. Let me know if you do! I find that if I get them right away, they usually come out pretty well.

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  13. great idea to use a fan rather than heat. A fan dries faster than heat and does not damage the shoes..

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  14. Nice shoes! :-)
    If my shoes are really yucky I usually spray them with a hose outside and then wash them in my sink. I am a fanatic about having clean and pretty looking shoes too.

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    1. See, we are BOTH geniuses, with great taste in shoes!!

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