Cleaning Secrets: Running Shoes (How to get your Sneakers Cleaner, Brighter & Whiter!)


White-soled sneakers are all the rage in the fashion world, forget about people who actually exercise.  The issue is, white-soled sneakers are hard to keep in near-new condition, which means pretty much as soon as you get them out of the box, you’ll be committing a fashion faux pas.  Even if you wear your running shoes for working out, you still want them to look on point.

So, here’s how to maintain your running shoes and clean those white soles!  With little effort, your running shoes will look new in no time.

When your Rubber Soles Need Cleaning

Use a dry brush (a nylon bristle nail brush, old paint brush, old toothbrush, whatever you have) to brush off dirt.  There’s no need to clean extra dirt – save your energy!  Once that’s done, simply create a paste of one part baking soda to one part laundry detergent.  Swirl this around and apply to affected (dirty) areas with a cleaning toothbrush, and well, brush the areas until they are clean!  Then, take a clean sponge or cloth and dip it in water, clean the soapy areas and ensure all of the solution comes off.  This is important since you want your soles to have no left over soap (or else things will get slippery).  Dry with a cloth.  A lot of people say you can use a Magic Eraser to do this.  I haven’t since I don’t want to potentially ruin the soles.  If you want to try this, just test it in an inconspicuous area first.

For Quick Spot Cleans on the Go

Keep a white art eraser in your bag and clean as you go. You can get this at a craft store or office supply store.  Simply rub on the area with a dirt mark and blow the eraser shavings off (ahh, memories of calculus class).  This gives you something else to do aside from checking your phone while you’re waiting for something or in transit (think: flight, Uber, streetcar).  Guaranteed someone will ask you what you’re doing and you’ll be all to pleased to share this tip with them!

Never Have Smelly Shoes Again

There are a couple of things you can do to prevent this from happening.  First, always wear socks, even those little ankle socks.  Bare feet in shoes is the perfect recipe for smelly shoes.  Bacteria festers in damp, dark environments and your shoe is the perfect place for that to happen.  A sock provides an absorbent barrier between the foot and the sock liner of the shoe.  Now, to further prevent odours, especially if you sweat through the socks, is to sprinkle in some foot powder before lacing up.  This helps keep the foot dry and eat away at odours.  Your shoes will never smell and your feet will be dry.  You can even make your own, I’ve got a video on it and here it is!  Finally, leaving your shoes out in sunlight for a day is a great way to let the sun naturally deodorize the shoe – for whatever reason, the sun has the ability to deodorize! Video link DIY Shoe Powder! Keep Your Shoes Smelling Fresh! Shoe & Footwear Cleaning Ideas! (Clean My Space)

Lovely Laces

Clean shoes are one thing, but dirty laces can ruin the whole look.  To clean your laces, simply remove them and pretreat by dabbing laundry detergent over the stained areas.  Then, place the laces in a delicates bag and launder normally.  Allow them to air dry and then restring.  While the laces are off, be sure to use your cleaning toothbrush to clean the areas surrounding the laces (see next step for details), since that area can get grimy too.

Cleaning your Running Shoes

Because there are so many brands and styles there are lots of different rules about cleaning your shoes.  The first step is to find out what the manufacturer of your shoes specifically recommends for that model (mesh, leather, foam, etc.).  Some materials simply cannot get wet, so cleaning them may not be an option!  Here are some general guidelines on how to clean running shoes.  Begin by removing dirt.  Choose a dry brush with softish bristles, tip your shoe down and start to brush the dirt off, letting it fall to the ground.   Then, mix up a solution of a teaspoon of laundry detergent to a cup of water.  Dip a cleaning toothbrush into this solution and begin to clean the mesh, fabric  and rubber areas by simply brushing in the solution.  Avoid getting leather and foam wet.  When done, take a clean sponge or cloth dipped in water and wipe off suds.  Allow to air dry naturally, not close to any heat source.

So now you know how to keep your sneakers looking and smelling on point! 

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


    • You will probably need something with a little more scrubbing power like the toothbrush used in the video. You can always grab one (or a few) at your dentist’s office the next time you go in. That’s what I do!

  1. Melissa … I have 3 pair of Running Shoes : 1 For Gardening., 1 for the other things outside (such as shopping) & finally 1 for indoor wear. I have very advanced Arthritis & must wear all three of them. I switch them around when one gets Dirty. All I do with the dirty ones is throw them in the washing machine : They come out nice & white with a lot less fuss & even the white Leather comes out sparkling!!! All 3 pair are either Dr. Scholl or Nike Air ~~~

  2. Melissa, your my go-to-gal when it comes to cleaning! Please keep up us in the know! You are teaching some young and some who’ve been atemoving the cleaning thing much longer. Hope it helps to know “old dogs can learn new methods”!

  3. I just cleaned my white converse using detergent and wc-cleaner. worked like a charm. Also used a brush to get darker stains out. Love multi purpose things!


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