Tips for keeping your running shoes smelling fresh

Running shoes are probably the most important and most expensive part of your running kit but we probably don’t look after them as well as we should.

There’s no avoiding mud and sweat and they can get pretty dirty and smelly over time if you don’t look after them right, but here are our top tips for clean running shoes, keeping your running gear in top shape, stopping smells, prolonging lifespan, and ensuring optimal performance.

Don’t just kick them in a corner

After a wet and dirty run it can be tempting to just kick your shoes off into a corner, head to the shower, and forget about them, but you really don’t want to do this. You will want to give them a clean.

Please don’t be tempted to put trainers in the washing machine, even though it sounds super tempting. It will degrade the shoe, melt the glues, and could also damage your machine so stick to hand washing.

Get your shoes ready to be cleaned

Before you actually get down to washing your shoes you will want to remove excess mud with a brush. A top tip is to keep one near your door at home for when you get back from a run, or you could keep one in your car boot to use at the end of races or events.

Cleaning your trainers

I wear Brooks trainers and they’ve put together a handy guide on how to clean running shoes

My simplified takeaways from the guide are as follows:

  1. Remove excess mud, as mentioned in the previous section.
  2. Remove the shoelaces.
  3. Use lukewarm water with a few drops of mild soap or detergent and clean with a damp cloth or brush.
  4. Give them a rinse.

It’s really that simple but do have a look at the guide for more thorough tips and advice.

Drying your shoes

Now that you’ve cleaned your shoes, you’re going to have to get them dry but rule number one is resist the tumble dryer as it can cause the glues to degrade, the shoes to lose shape, and ultimately come apart. Not a good thing. Putting them directly on the radiator is a no-go too.

What you need to do is let them dry naturally. This can be speeded up by ensuring your shoes laces and insoles are dried separately and using screwed-up newspaper inside the shoes.

  1. Open your shoes right up by taking out the laces and insoles.
  2. Screw up newspaper inside the shoes. If your shoes are particularly wet then you may find the paper gets moist quite quickly, so take that out and replace when needed with a new lot..
  3. Put the shoes somewhere warm like an airing cupboard or under a radiator. Remember don’t put them on top as the heat can cause damage to the shoes but the ambient temperature below a radiator will be fine.

It may still take a few days for them to dry out, so it’s good practice to alternate between a couple of pairs of trainers so you can still go running and be comfortable in what you’re wearing.

Tips for keeping your running shoes smelling fresh 1

Keeping them smelling fresh

What can you do if your shoes are a bit smelly? It happens to the best of us and a well used option is to put some baking powder or bicarbonate of soda in your trainers. These are alkaline powders and they can help neutralise the acidic sweat. Baking powder also has antibacterial properties and can act as a fungicide.

A green alternative to keep your shoes smelling nice is to put your orange peel in there. Any citrus peel will not only add a nice smell, but their essential oils can help neutralise any odours if you leave them in overnight.

Give them some TLC

It really is that simple but being kind and giving a little TLC will do wonders for the lifespan of your running shoes and also keep them looking great.

Adem Djemil
I only started running at the age of 37, completing the Couch to 5k course, and since then I've been hooked, running 4 times a week and even completing several marathons and an ultra!