New shoes, with their crisp lines and comfortingly odd smell, hold the promise of long miles and exciting adventures. For some runners (like me), maintaining a pair’s like-new-ish appearance translates to a sort of mental beacon to stay on the fitness path. But fresh shoes don’t only provide a psychological boost. As it turns out, keeping kicks clean helps to prolong their running life; when dirt works its way into the mesh upper, it can cause fabric to break down. The trick lies in cleaning them properly.
For starters, tossing shoes in the washer and the dryer is NOT the right way. The combination of water, agitation and heat breaks down the glues used for making running shoes, greatly reducing their lifespan.
If shoes get bogged down with mud during your run, it can affect traction (if the clumping is in the tread) and add extra weight. Clean them as you go by wiping them on grass or scraping them against rocks or sidewalk curbs. If buildup is really bad, swish the outsole in a puddle to help loosen the grime.
To restore the factory shine to dirty kicks, follow these steps:
Step 1: Begin by knocking off dirt and grime with an old toothbrush or a clean, dry scrub brush.
Step 2: Wipe stubborn areas and non-fabric zones with a damp cloth. All clean? Great! If your kicks are completely caked in mud, you’ll need to complete a few more steps to finish the job…
Step 3: Remove insoles and wash them separately or, if they’ve taken on a special odor, buy new ones.
Step 4: Wash or replace laces.
Step 5: After removing excess dirt, scrub shoes with the toothbrush or scrub brush, tepid water and a natural detergent, soap or sport wash.
Step 6: Use a damp cloth to remove extra soap and dirt.
Step 7: Once clean, stuff shoes with crumpled newspaper, and leave them to air dry. The newspaper helps to retain the shape and soak up moisture. Do not dry shoes near heat or in direct sunlight as it may affect the shape of the shoes.