Runners Need footwear buyer Lisandra shares her views on whether you should wash your running shoes in the washing machine.

Who has not taken the insoles out of their running shoe and put their beloved shoes inside a pillowcase, often with some old towels, to wash them in cold water in their washing machine? I am sure many runners have done exactly that.

Well, I have also done it myself – many times in the past when I cared more about the looks of my running shoes than how they felt when running. Running is not exactly the cleanest of sports. You may run in the rain, on a muddy trail and through dust – so keeping your running shoes nice and clean can be challenging. When I say clean, I do not mean only on the outside – the inside can get quite dirty as well.  

Now that I understand a bit more about running shoes, I would not even dare placing them near our washing machine – and take the risk that someone would toss them inside and wash them for me. Some materials in a running shoe should not be exposed to heat or submerged in water – this could prove to be too aggressive and can cause the shoe to stretch.

Some footwear brands will also tell you that the upper of the shoe could shrink and therefore lose its shape. The washing machine could also damage the glue which attaches the midsole to the upper.

So, when I’m often asked the question of “Should you wash running shoes in the washing machine?”, my answer is no.   I don’t wash my shoes in the washing machine and wouldn’t advise you too either. This is not to say I keep my shoes dirty – I do clean them by following each brand’s instructions on how to clean a specific running shoe and hand wash them.

Looking after your shoes can prolong their life significantly, but this does not include washing them in a washing machine. Treat your running shoes well and they will look after you, enjoy your running and remember that every so often it’s nice to treat yourself to a clean, new pair!

Lisandra Carboni - Footwear Buyer, Runners Need


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