How Often to Clean Running and Cycling Shoes? How To Wash Them!

Buying shoes that work well for your feet and style is no small, well, feat. That’s why you’ll want to keep them in great condition for as long as you can. A big part of shoe maintenance is cleaning them, but you don’t want to overdo it.

So how often should you clean your running or cycling shoes?

Ideally, one would want to wash his or her shoes every two weeks, but at least once a month. This is true for both running and cycling shoes.

Let’s dive into the ways to clean your shoes and some signs that they need to be replaced.

Is It Bad to Wash Your Shoes?

No, it’s not bad to wash your shoes, but there is such a thing as over-washing shoes. In addition, you will have to be extra careful with drying, though, and you’ll want to avoid harsh products that could cause damage.

It can be super tempting to chuck your running shoes right in the washer, but this will seriously damage the shoes. Instead, you should plan on handwashing your shoes. This will get them clean without damaging any of the material (or damaging your washer). You’ll need to remove the insoles and the laces first – this will allow for a more thorough cleaning.

Most laundry detergents are made for clothes, so you can opt to either buy a specialty shoe wash (Amazon Link) or just take your chances with the detergent.

Mix the soap with a bit of water and use a lint-free or microfiber cloth to work the solution into the shoe. Don’t add too much water or soap, though. The goal is to get the gunk off without oversaturating the shoe. If you do this regularly (say, once a month, depending on how often you run), you can expand the lifespan of your shoes (Source).

The same general process can be used for cleaning your cycling shoes, too. You’ll want to clean or dust them off after especially muddy rides to make sure the shoes won’t wear down as quickly. Like with running shoes, you’ll want to remove the insoles (and laces, if any).

Loosen the straps and buckles, then submerge them in water that’s been mixed with a small amount of mild dishwashing soap. Take them out and scrub them gently but thoroughly with a soft brush (like an old toothbrush). You’ll want to pay special attention to the buckles and cleats. Once you’re done you can give them a quick rinse in cold water (Source).

IMPORTANT: You should never dry-running or cycling shoes in the dryer or use direct heat. Instead, let them air out, ideally with some newspaper bunched inside of them to absorb any excess water. Periodically replace the newspaper until your shoes are completely dry.

How Often Should You Clean Shoes?

A good general timeline is to clean your shoes once every two weeks and at the very least once a month. Of course, this depends on a variety of factors, including how often you run and the conditions you’re running or cycling in. If your shoes get particularly dirty after a run or bike ride, you should wash them right away to avoid any staining or damage to the material on the shoe.

You can use the methods above to do a thorough cleaning of your shoes. The more often you clean your shoes, the less work it’ll be overall. That’s because they’re consistently being kept in good condition, which will prevent them from eroding as quickly (especially those crucial metal components on cycling shoes).

You’ve spent good money on these shoes so you should want to make them last as long as possible.

How Often Should You Clean White Shoes?

White shoes will have to be cleaned more often than other shoes, at least if you want to keep them looking sharp. In fact, your best bet may be to make sure you give them a protective layer when they’re fresh out of the box. This will make it so that dirt won’t penetrate quite as deeply, making it easier to clean overall (Source).

If you didn’t put on a protective layer, don’t fret. You can still clean them with the method mentioned above, but you’ll probably want to opt for a water-based cleaner meant for shoes to limit the chance of any stains. You’ll also likely need to clean them more frequently, possibly up to once a week.

Cycling shoes will likely stay a little bit nicer than running shoes, especially if you mostly ride in clear and dry conditions. Of course, no white shoe is immune to stains, so at some point, you may need to accept a bit of a “lived-in” look.

How Long Should You Keep Using Your Running and Cycling Shoes?

You should expect to replace your running shoes every four to six months. Cycling shoes can last significantly longer, sometimes even up to 15 years.

When to replace running shoes?

Running shoes generally last anywhere from 300 to 500 miles (500 to 750 kilometers). Lighter weight or minimalist designed shoes should be replaced even more often, around 250-300 miles. The environment can wear shoes down even faster, especially if you’re frequently running on rocky terrain. Even body type can have an impact on how long shoes will last.

A heavier runner may wear out shoes more quickly, and the same with someone who overpronates (leading the shoe to twist a bit and wear out faster). (Source)

The range between 300 miles and 500 miles is a lot, though, so you’ll want to watch out for signs that your shoes are ready to bite the dust. The most noticeable sign is any new ache or pain, including overall foot discomfort. Unexplained pain in the ankles, hips, knees and feet can be a sign that the cushioning on your shoes has worn down.

You might even start getting blisters in shoes that never caused an issue before. This is because the shape of the shoe has altered after putting them through consistent mileage. Finally, if you notice the tread on your shoes has worn down, that’s a sure sign it’s time to replace them.

When to replace cycling shoes?

Cycling shoes can last significantly longer than running shoes because they aren’t put through as much impact. They’re also designed to last a long time and exist solely for a single activity, which makes them less prone to wear. They don’t come in contact with the ground very often. This is why they are so rigid and tend to stay that way regardless of how much you try to break them in.

You can maintain your cycling shoes for years by keeping up a basic shoe maintenance routine, including:

  • Waterproofing your shoes
  • Regularly cleaning your shoes, especially after particularly messy rides
  • Replacing the cleats as needed
  • Changing out the laces/BOA system as needed

The shoes themselves will last a long time because it’s typically the components that wear out more quickly. You’ll need to replace them once it’s no longer possible to swap out the components due to overall wear and tear in the shoes. (Source)

Final Thoughts

As long as you regularly clean your shoes and replace any worn-out components, you’ll be able to squeeze as many miles out of them as possible.

Aprill Emig

Based out of Duluth, MN Aprill loves to write about the outdoors, education, and all forms of adventure. You can find her mountain biking, running, or playing roller derby.

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