How To Wash Gym Shoes Like a Pro

    If you own gym shoes of any kind–and who doesn’t?– you know how quickly they can go from looking brand new to being dirty, smelly, and gross. You’ve got to clean them, but what’s the best way to do it? If you’re unsure, you’ve come to the right place. Our Pros break down why gym shoes need to be cleaned regularly, which products will do the best job of getting rid of dirt and odors, and walk you through the entire process, whether you’re cleaning shoes yourself, own a cleaning business, or you’re looking for someone to clean your home and belongings.

    Can You Wash Gym Shoes?

    Gym shoes can and should be washed regularly. Gym shoes might be designed to be breathable, but that doesn’t mean that sweat and dirt can’t accumulate on the surface and inside your shoes, and in the insoles.

    The material of the shoes you want to clean determines both the process and the products you’ll use to get them clean. Fabrics and certain synthetic materials can be washed in your washing machine. If your gym shoes are made of suede or leather, then you’ll need to keep them out of the washing machine and use other methods (which we’ll explain) to get them clean

    How To Wash Gym Shoes Like a Pro

    How Often Should You Wash Gym Shoes?

    Search for information about how often to wash athletic shoes and you’ll find a lot of conflicting information. Some sources say to wash them every six months, while the Nike website encourages customers to wash shoes every two weeks or whenever they look dirty.

    A good rule of thumb is to wash your gym shoes once every two to three months. You can wash them more frequently if they’re:

    • Looking dirty or stained
    • Smell bad
    • Need a refresh

    We should also note here that it’s a good idea to have two pairs of gym shoes and alternate wearing them to prolong their lifespan.

    How To Wash Gym Shoes Like a Pro

    Products to Use to Clean Gym Shoes

    You’ll need some basic cleaning products and equipment to clean your gym shoes. You may have all of these if you own a cleaning business, but here’s an overview, and then we’ll talk about what these products do.

    Cleaning Products
    Other Materials
    Heavy duty laundry detergent
    Mesh laundry bag
    White vinegar
    Washing machine
    Baking soda
    Clean cloth/paper towel
    Drying rack
    Shoe polish or conditioner
    Protective spray for shoes

    Starting with the products, here’s what each of the products we’ve listed does to help get your shoes looking like they just came out of the box.

    • Heavy duty detergent removes dirt and can help get rid of stains.
    • White vinegar and baking soda are both useful to remove odors from insoles and shoes.
    • Clean cloth and paper towels can help you get rid of heavy dirt and stains and speed up the drying process
    • Shoe polish, conditioner, and protective spray put the final touches on your shoes to make them look their best.

    The equipment listed here can help you do the following things.

    • The mesh laundry bag protects your shoes while they’re in the washing machine.
    • Your washing machine saturates your shoes with soap and detergent to get them clean.
    • Towels and drying racks dry your shoes.
    • A vacuum cleaner can be used to remove debris from the insides and soles of your shoes before they go into the washing machine.

    We’ll run through the special cleaning products you’ll need if you’re cleaning suede or leather shoes later.

    How To Wash Gym Shoes Like a Pro

      Steps to Wash Gym Shoes in the Washing Machine

      Here are the steps to follow if you want to clean your gym shoes in the washing machine.

      Step 1: Remove the shoelaces. It’s not a good idea to leave shoelaces in your shoes since they may not get clean and there’s a risk they could get tangled in your washing machine.

      Step 2: Remove and clean the insoles. Insoles shouldn’t be put into the washing machine. Instead, remove them and gently clean them with a mixture of one cup of warm water and one tablespoon of baking soda. Once you’ve wiped them down, let them air dry. If your insoles are stinky, you can also sprinkle them with baking soda, which will absorb odors the same way it does in your refrigerator!

      Step 3: Vacuum your shoes. One of the smaller attachments on your vacuum should get the job done. You should vacuum inside to grab any dirt or gravel there and vacuum the soles to make sure there’s nothing stuck in them.

      Step 4: Rinse your gym shoes. If there are stains or heavy dirt on the outside of your shoes, run them under water and brush away any debris that’s there. This step will give your washing machine the best chance of getting your shoes clean.

      Step 5: Place your shoes in a mesh bag and put them in the washer. The mesh bag will protect your shoes. The Spruce recommends washing athletic shoes with a load of similarly colored towels, which will muffle any thuds from washing your shoes and prevent your washer from becoming unbalanced during the cycle.

      Step 6: Air dry your shoes. After the wash cycle is complete, take the mesh bag out of the washing machine. We don’t recommend putting them in the dryer because the heat may destroy the structure of the shoe. You can stuff the shoes with a dry cloth or paper towels to absorb the moisture. Replace the paper after it becomes wet and don’t use newspaper, which will stain the insides of your shoes..

      Step 7: Treat your shoes. After shoes are dry, you can treat fabric with a protective spray. Use white or black shoe polish if there are stains on the midsole, but be careful to avoid staining the rest of your shoe.

      The process is simple and should only take an hour or so at most. Anybody who’s interested in how to wash running shoes can use the same method. Keep in mind that this method is not the right way to take care of leather or suede shoes.

      How To Wash Gym Shoes Like a Pro

      Should You Use Bleach on White Shoes?

      What about using bleach to clean white shoes? In some cases, bleach might be a good idea, but you should know about the risks.

      You may be able to make white shoes look like new with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, both of which have the ability to remove stains. For particularly stubborn stains (or super dirty shoes), you can use a mixture of one part bleach and five parts water. If you use bleach, be careful! Using too much may turn your shoes yellow.

      How to Wash Gym Shoes by Hand

      If you don’t want to put your gym shoes into the washing machine, or you’re not sure whether they can survive the spin cycle, here’s a quick breakdown of the steps to wash your gym shoes by hand.

      Step 1: Use a brush or vacuum to remove heavy dirt and debris

      Step 2: Fill a sink or tub with warm water and heavy duty detergent

      Step 3: Soak shoes

      Step 4: Use a soft brush to remove stubborn stains

      Step 5: Rinse shoes thoroughly

      Step 6: Air dry shoes as above

      Anybody who’s concerned about the washing machine being too rough on shoes can use this method.

      Tips for Washing Leather/Mixed Material Shoes

      Washing leather or suede shoes (or shoes with leather parts) requires a different method than washing regular gym shoes. Leather can’t go in the washing machine. Here’s a quick rundown, and then you can watch the video below to see the whole process.

      Step 1: Fill a bowl with warm water and one scoop of detergent.

      Step 2: Remove the laces and place in the bowl to soak.

      Step 3: Use a damp cloth to remove heavy dirt and debris.

      Step 4: Dip a soft scrubbing brush in the soapy water and using circular motions, gently clean the entire leather surface of the shoe.

      Step 5: Remove suds with a dry cloth.

      Step 6: If any stains remain, use a toothbrush and toothpaste to remove them. You can use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser if you prefer.

      Step 7: Wipe residue away with a clean, dry cloth.

      Step 8: After the laces are dry, re-lace the shoes.

      Step 9: Treat the leather surface with a leather spray to protect them. 

      Products to buy include:

      • Laundry detergent
      • Toothpaste
      • Toothbrush
      • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
      • Leather spray

      Watch the process in the following video:

      FAQ About Cleaning Gym Shoes

      Here are some of the most commonly asked questions asked about the process of cleaning gym shoes.

      Can I wash shoes in the washing machine without a mesh bag?
      Yes, but we don’t recommend it. The mesh bag protects your shoes. If you send fabric shoes out to be washed or entrust cleaning them to a housekeeper, put them in a mesh bag beforehand.
      Does putting gym shoes in the washing machine damage them?
      No, but if you’re worried about it you can use a gentle cycle to minimize the risk of your shoes being damaged. Be wary of putting any shoe with a loose sole or exposed adhesive into the washing machine.
      How can I remove odors from my gym shoes?
      Baking soda is absorbent and can be used to deodorize shoes and insoles.You can also place shoes and insoles in direct sunlight to kill bacteria and reduce odor.
      How do you clean sweaty gym shoes?
      It’s fine to clean gym shoes while they’re sweaty. We do suggest letting shoes dry overnight before washing them, but if you’re in a hurry, go ahead and do it while they’re still sweaty!

      Make Your Gym Shoes Look Like New With Help from the Pros

      Now you know exactly what to do to clean gym shoes, whether they’re yours or they belong to someone else. The method we’ve explained here will work for fabric, leather, or combination shoes, and make them look like they’re brand new. With the right products and the simple steps we’ve outlined here, you’ll always feel confident that when you clean gym shoes, they’ll end up looking their best!