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A guide on how to clean sneakers and running shoes

Read our simple guide for how to clean sneakers in the washing machine and by hand. Eliminate those hard-to-get-rid-of odors once and for all!


Reading Time: 2 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

person wearing trainers on a yellow background

Key steps

  • Remove the shoelaces and place your sneakers in a mesh laundry bag to wash in the washing machine.

  • Use a good quality detergent like Breeze.

  • Mix detergent with water and blot the surface of running shoes you can’t machine wash.

  • Always air dry.

  • Use baking soda to eliminate odors.

Although lots of washing machines these days come with a sports shoe setting, it's not always the best way to wash your much-loved sneakers or running shoes. In this article, we’ll tell you how to clean sneakers and what not to do.

Noticed a sports shoe setting on your washing machine? This doesn’t mean all trainers can be washed this way. Ensure you check the manufacturer’s care advice for your trainer brand.

How to clean running shoes: Can I use my washing machine?

Some brands, such as Adidas and Nike don’t recommend using the washing machine. Others, however, may allow machine washing. Here’s how to wash running shoes if this is the case:

  1. Remove the shoelaces. These should be washed separately.

  2. Put your sneakers into a mesh laundry bag. This will stop any parts becoming caught in the drum.

  3. Consider adding a few colourfast towels, to protect your sneakers during spin cycles.

  4. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions in regard to the temperature and wash setting. We recommend 86F on a gentle cycle.

  5. Don’t forget to use a good-quality laundry detergent, like Breeze.

  6. Allow your sneakers to dry naturally. To speed up the process, stuff newspaper inside to help absorb excess liquid.

How to clean inside of shoes, as well as the outside, in quick easy steps:

Whether you have white Nikes or soft Adidas sneakers, follow our step-by-step guide for how to clean canvas sneakers:

  1. Use a soft brush to remove loose dirt.

  2. Remove any insoles and air them to get rid of sweat and other liquids which may cause odors.

  3. Mix a few drops of a detergent like Breeze with warm water.

  4. Brush the soles of your running shoes using the solution.

  5. Use a soft, microfibre cloth to gently blot the surface of your sneakers.

  6. Repeat this process until your shoes are clean.

  7. Allow them to air-dry.

  8. If your sneakers smell, why not add a sprinkle of baking soda, or check out our other advice for how to remove odors from smelly shoes.

The Poll

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 What should I NOT do?

There are a few things that you need to ensure you avoid when it comes to cleaning your sneakers.

  • Avoid drying your sneakers on or near radiators. This may warp the shape.

  • Never put your running shoes in a tumble dryer.

  • Avoid using harsh chemicals like bleach which may damage your shoes.

  • Do not use any method not within the care instructions if your sneakers are still in warranty.

With these tips, you now have everything you need to enjoy your runs and long walks with the peace of mind that your feet are being protected by clean and nice smelling shoes.

Frequently asked questions on cleaning trainers

Do you have any advice for cleaning mesh sneakers?

When it comes to cleaning, mesh sneakers are similar enough to their non-mesh counterparts that the same advice for cleaning applies. However, where mesh wins in lightness and elasticity, it is also even more sensitive to rough-and-tumble washing than regular sneakers. Handwashing is therefore recommended over a gentle wash cycle in a washing machine. Drying is also a careful process too - never use a tumble dryer, and make sure that they air dry in a place with enough warmth and airflow: if mesh sneakers are too hot, or retain water, they risk losing their airiness and their shape.

How do you clean Nike insoles?

Insoles retain sweat and odor. Without cleaning, they can start to become particularly unpleasant. Luckily, it's home remedies to the rescue again! To clean them, remove them from your shoe, spray them with a 50/50 mix of water and distilled vinegar, and allow them to air dry completely. To remove odor, you can also use baking soda by placing the insoles in a bag of baking soda and leave them overnight.

How do you wash Nike flyknit shoes?

Nike Flyknit shoes are designed to be both light and comfortable, with the knitted yarns providing flexibility and 'give'. Like mesh, they can be washed by hand with mild soap and warm water but care must be taken to not tug at the yarns that make these shoes up. Catching them while scrubbing them will cause them to lose their look and their shape.

How do you care for your Nike Air Jordans?

Jordans are an iconic shoe, so you always want them to look their best! The above advice for washing can be followed to wash and clean Jordans, provided they don't contain leather or suede. If your Jordans have a suede or leather upper, then you will need to avoid getting them wet. Using a mild soap and water is fine, but only in tiny amounts to spot clean stains. You may want to invest in a water repellent to prevent water damage to these bits of fabric. You may also want to invest in some shoe trees, which are shoe-shaped inserts for your shoes that will stop them from losing their shape when unworn or travelling.

How do you unshrink Nike shoes?

Whether you want to unshrink shoes that have been dried under too much heat or expand a pair that fit too snugly, you'll be pleased to hear there are a number of methods to make your sneakers fit! You can use ice to your advantage by half-filling a plastic bag with water, popping it into your shoes, and freezing them overnight. The water will solidify into ice and push against snug spots, which, once thawed, should allow you to break in your shoes at your foot size. Alternatively, you can use the same heat that shrunk your shoes to your advantage. By wearing thick socks and blasting the tight-fitting areas at a medium-high heat for 30 seconds at a time until complete, you can expand the shoe around your foot until it fits. However, shoes that have shrunk too much may start to warp and deform, so care should be taken with both of these methods.

Originally published