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Your Guide to Washing, Drying and Replacing Running Shoes

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When your activity of choice involves running, walking, hiking or otherwise propelling yourself forward, choosing the right shoes could be the single most important factor in making sure your exercise program starts off on the right foot. In choosing the perfect shoes, you may have visited a specialty store, consulted with an expert and shelled out more money than you’ve ever spent on footwear before, all of which adds up to a sizable time and cost investment in your health and fitness goals.
However, once you’ve purchased the perfect shoes to pound the pavement (or the treadmill), it’s important to take steps to protect your investment. We asked some experts to share their tips for cleaning, caring for and protecting what constitutes the foundation of your workouts.

To Wash or Not to Wash?

If you’ve ever tossed a pair of muddy running shoes in the washer, you might have found that they came out clean, but never quite fit the same. Jason Karp, running trainer, author and owner of Run-Fit, says you should never put running shoes in the washing machine or dryer, as that can ruin the shock-absorbing materials in the shoe, not to mention the shape.
If you must clean your running shoes, Brett Rubin, store manager and running expert at Jackrabbit/Bob Roncker’s Running Spot, says it’s best to use warm water and mild soap. “Most shoes have liners that you can take out and hand wash,” he says.
After running in very hot, humid conditions, running coach Kyle Kranz has been known to go straight from outside into the shower, shoes and all. “When you train in conditions where your shoes get saturated with sweat, there's nothing you can do to better ward off stench than to shower with them,” he says.

The Right Way to Dry

What should you do if you get caught in a rainstorm halfway through your running route? First off, resist the urge to toss those sopping-wet sneakers into the damaging dryer. Karp says it’s best to simply air-dry, but to remove the inserts first so they dry more quickly.
Another trick of Rubin’s to help shoes dry faster is to stuff them with newspaper to absorb more moisture. Also, he recommends loosening the laces to open up the shoes.

Eliminating Stinky Feet Syndrome

After a few sweaty running sessions or a thorough rain soaking, running shoes can take on an unpleasant odor. Before you banish them to the doorstep for good, try these strategies for freshening up your sneakers.
Rubin uses a product called StinkFree by 2Toms to get the stink out of shoes. And to help prevent the funk in the first place, he suggests wearing wicking socks (made from polyester or a synthetic fabric) instead of cotton. “Cotton is like a towel and stays wet, which can not only stink but could cause blisters,” he says.
Karp also suggests sticking some shoe deodorizers inside your shoes in between runs.

When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Even with all the proper care and maintenance, every pair of shoes will eventually run its last mile. How do you know when it’s time to tell your sneakers to hit the road?
Karp’s rule of thumb is when you notice that you can feel little pebbles or debris underneath your feet while running, it’s probably time to trade in your trainers. He says that most running shoes have a shelf life of around 300 to 500 miles. Track your mileage so you’ll know when to start watching for warning signs.
To help extend the life of your running shoes, Rubin suggests investing in two pairs and rotating them between runs. “Your feet will hit different pressure points each time you use a different shoe, which means they’ll wear down slower and you’ll get more use out of them,” he says. It’s best to wear the older pair on the shorter runs—as you start to feel the ground more under your feet, and perhaps some aggravation in your feet and knees, you’ll know it’s time to hang up that pair for good.
Kranz agrees that rotating footwear throughout the week can extend how many miles you can run in each pair. “This has nothing to do with the shoes, but more to do with your feet not adapting to a single pair,” he says. “If you only run in the same pair, over time your supination and pronation will become exaggerated with every footstep due to the wear on the shoe sole.

But if you're constantly running in a different pair of shoes, you're not exposing your feet to that same exaggerated foot movement.” There is even some research to suggest that this variation in training can be a protective mechanism against injury.
Also, says Kranz, when you have a couple pairs of shoes in your rotation, it becomes easier to retire a worn-out pair—so you don't have to quit them cold turkey, as you’ll have another pair at the ready with half or a third of the mileage of the older pair.
How do you care for your running shoes? Do you rotate multiple pairs?

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MNABOY 3/20/2018
Thanks Report
NIOMIW 3/8/2018
Having at least two pairs of shoes to rotate was one of the more helpful pieces of advice I got as a beginning runner. I appreciate the tip about feeling pebbles while wearing the shoes as an indicator that their wearing out.
Thank you! Report
SHOAPIE 3/1/2018
Thank you . Report
SHOAPIE 3/1/2018
Thank you . Report
Good article Report
DWROBERGE 2/28/2018
Great Report
BIKE4HEALTH 2/28/2018
thanks Report
DJ4HEALTH 2/28/2018
Finding ones that fit your feet is hard. Report
BOLEBRON 2/28/2018
It is hard to get new shoes because they change the models often. So if you get one that you like and they are comfortable for your feet, buy more that one pair. Report
STARDUST53 2/28/2018
Great article! Report
ARMY_MOM17 2/28/2018
...would throw the 'old' one's away and buy 'new' in this article will save me $$...thanks... Report
AJB121299 2/28/2018
nice Report
OBIESMOM2 2/28/2018
I do have 2 pairs of running shoes that I rotate and I'm keeping track of the miles on them.
My 'old' running shoes usually become my gym shoes once they have too many miles on them.
It's very much worth the investment to buy GOOD shoes! Report
GMAM48 2/28/2018
I am always willing to buy more shoes! These are great reasons to have a proper foot wardrobe! Report
SPARKLINGME176 2/28/2018
About my shoes: I have about 15 pairs of athletic shoes, (I wear a 11.5 to 12 narrow, BIG investment!) some for different training. I rotate several times between shoes for each training, never using the same pair 2 days in a row. I have cross trainers, Zumba & ballroom for dance, shoes for walking on pavement; performing; shopping; gym; hiking and trail shoes. Also, 2 pair of "ROCKERS", that feel great for short walks. CLEANING:I would NEVER clean them in the washer, if they changed shape & I couldn't use, it would cause me a hardship. Almost after every time I wear them, I clean them. 1 or 2 times a month. Some have white soles, (are the manufactures crazy, but they fit too great not to buy them?!) I take out the inner soles AND the arch supports I use & spray with a TINY bit of fabrise. Then I take a soft cloth & dip into white vinegar & clean the tops of spots & etc. The shoe laces, too. Then use cool clear water on the cloth to rinse. Then the soles get a deep vinegar rub down & rinse. It's funny, but I try NOT to use my shoes on black top. If I'm in a parking lot, I will follow the white lines to avoid the blackness on my shoes. Just my ideas on this subject! I had NO idea I am SO passionate about this subject! It IS the only exercise equipment I pay for.
Thanks for the SP article, YOUR GUIDE TO WASHING, DRYING YOUR RUNNING SHOES, article dated 2-28-18 Report
PICKIE98 2/28/2018
Shoe rotations is the way to go. While one pair is air-drying, you can use the others. Report
LIS193 2/28/2018
Great info! Report
-SHOREIDO- 2/28/2018
Thanks for all the good information!! Report
GETULLY 2/28/2018
Best reasons to purchase another pair of shoes. Report
_LINDA 2/28/2018
I have a shoe rack with three shelves full. This is because some shoes are for different training. I also rotate several times between shoes for each training. I have cross trainers, runners, dance and trail shoes. Because I tend to pronate inwards I wear them out faster so always on the lookout for sales from good running stores. Report
Thanks for the info. Report
AMYSUZEQ 2/28/2018
Thank you Report
AZMOMXTWO 2/28/2018
interesting info Report
AZMOMXTWO 2/28/2018
interesting info Report
NEPTUNE1939 2/28/2018
great Report
RO2BENT 2/28/2018
Can’t I just run in the rain and then let them sun dry Report
RAPUNZEL53 2/28/2018
Thanks. Report
TCANNO 2/28/2018
Mine don't last long enough to be wash Report
ETHELMERZ 2/28/2018
Rotating shoes makes a big difference and helps avoid foot problems, whether you walk or run. Report
Thanks Report
MCJULIEO 2/28/2018
When I need to dry my shoes, I usually place them right at the bottom of my refrigerator where the warm air exhaust comes out..... it's very gentle, but effective... Report
NUHUSKY95 2/27/2018
I think rotating shoes is a great way to extend the life of each pair, I've been doing it for years. Report
BOWANNA0503 2/27/2018
Here we go we are gonna do this. Report
Great article! Report
GEMINI1977NM 2/27/2018
thanks for the info! Report
MIRAGE727 2/26/2018
This is one of the most valuable articles I've read today! I'm posting it on two of my SparkPeople "Beginner" run teams. Last year I was Marathon training for 5 months. I went through 3 pairs of shoes and on my fourth to date. I did everything Melissa wrote here. She crushed it! ;-) Report
ARTJAC 2/25/2018
Interesting--thanks! Report
MAYIE53 2/25/2018
Lots of helpful information here. I've always just thrown my runners into the washing machine, although never the dryer. Thank you for the useful tips. Report
JIBBIE49 2/25/2018
I wash shoes in the bathtub. Report
Thanks for info Report
Thanks for info Report
Very good information that I did not know. Thank You. Report
Excellent information Report
SHADOWDRAGON19 2/23/2018
Helpful Report
STALBOTT48 2/23/2018
Clever Report
AJB121299 2/23/2018
Helpful Report
JUNETTA2002 2/23/2018
Thanks for sharing. Great information Report
I_ROBOT 2/23/2018
Excellent advice. I do rotate between 2 sets of running shoes and have noticed that it helps. Now, if I can only find a good article on how to find good running shoes at the lowest cost. Too many articles simply say, "just buy a good pair of running shoes". They all look good starting at $15 and go into the hundreds. Well, maybe someone could write an article on what to avoid and start there. Report
KHALIA2 2/23/2018
Great tips! Thank you! Report
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