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Should You Wash Your Running Shoes?

My shoes stink.

It hasn’t been true for all my running shoes but this pair of Brooks Adrenaline GT-7 has picked up a stench and held it with the tenacity of a barnacle on a ship hull. If you have a similarly stinky pair you might wonder a couple of things.

Why do my running shoes smell?

There are a number of things that can cause your shoes to smell. For example, you could step in something foul-smelling like dog doo doo or vomit. (These are the things an urban joggler has to look out for.) But these things are avoidable. The number one thing that causes your running shoes to smell is the mixture of water & bacteria.

You see when you sweat you not only produce water to cool your body but you also excrete some fats and protein. Bacteria that occurs naturally on your skin, feast on this sweat cocktail and in the process produce ammonia-containing chemicals that smell bad. When you sweat on your shoes, the bacteria can get trapped there and start producing their smelly chemical excretions. Then every time your shoes get a little wet the bacteria have a party and your shoes stink.

The shoes I’m using right now are particularly bad because they got wet in the rain and bacteria made them their permanent home. Now, even the slightest bit of moisture prompts the putridity.

How to clean smelly running shoes

Now that you’ve got smelly shoes, what should you do about them? Experts naturally disagree. Phil Vochon (one of the experts at Runner’s World) says you should throw your shoes in the washing machine once a month. Naturally, the folks at Fleet Feet say never wash your running shoes in the washing machine. I rarely wash my shoes in the machine but if you want to it’s fine. Just don’t dry them in the dryer too often. This can cause them to shrink. Instead, try these tips.

According to Fleet Feet experts, after washing them…

1. Squeeze as much water out of your shoes as possible.
2. Take out your insoles and let them air dry.
3. Put balled up newspaper in the toes of your shoes.
4. Keep it in for an hour and then replace it.
5. Let them dry overnight, remove paper, go run!

Incidentally, I’m on vacation tis week so updating is a bit erratic.

Joggle on.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Hope your vacation was a good one and you found some great places to joggle in Hilton Head. I’m sure you’ve already built up a fan base out there. Anyway, so true about the running shoes, but it was my dad’s job to shove newspaper in them!

  2. I have been trying to figure out this issue for the last week and found a bunch of tips and now yours -thanks for passing them along.

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