How to Clean Trail Running Shoes

How to Clean Trail Running Shoes

What trail runner has never cursed when looking at the condition of their shoes at the end of a run? In trail running, you have to run in the ground (sometimes even in the mud), so good maintenance is therefore essential!

In this article, I will give you some tips on how to clean trail running shoes and maintain your trail shoes so that you can increase their lifespan…

How to Clean Trail Running Shoes: Exit the Washing Machine!

Admittedly, washing your shoes isn’t the most fun part of trail running, but it’s still necessary! Dirty sneakers can indeed wear out more quickly and lose performance. So we roll up our sleeves, we team up, and we attack!

Cleaning trail running shoes is nothing really rocket science: a basin of hot water, soap and a soft brush (or an old toothbrush) and off you go! Note that it is best to wash the laces separately. Start by diving both trail shoes.

  • Remove the bulk with soapy water: dried mud, pebbles, etc. If the dirt is particularly stubborn, don’t hesitate to leave them in the water for a few minutes. Once the shoes are sufficiently soaked, it’s time for the brush!
  • But be careful don’t brush too hard so as not to damage the mesh. We go slowly, insisting a little more on the coarse dirt that may have lodged on the seams or between the sole and the mesh.
  • For drying, leave the sneakers quietly for 12 to 24 hours to dry in the open air. For those who train daily, I advise you to have a second pair. Stuff the shoes with newspaper while drying. It is an effective way to absorb residual moisture and maintain the shape of shoes while drying.

After you thoroughly clean trail running shoes and rinse your sneakers, remove the sockliner and stuff them with newspaper.

What About Machine Washing?

It’s true that it’s tempting to put your trail running shoes in the washing machine, and yet… I strongly advise against it! Hot washing risks melting the glue or deforming the plastic. It is the guarantee of wearing out or even prematurely destroying your favorite pair.

As for cold washing, no melting or deformation due to heat, but on the one hand the washing will only be ineffective, and on the other hand the shocks against the drum during the cycle risk damaging the shoe and also the machine. In short, the best method is elbow grease!

Shoe Care: Dusting, Airing, Waterproofing

Unlike trail clothing, you don’t need to clean trail running shoes after each outing. There is still a minimum to do between two runs! The simplest reflex to adopt is to tap the two shoes against each other or against the ground to loosen the dried mud and dust.

As you can imagine, you have to hit the sole well so as not to damage the mesh. If the stuck earth is still too wet to come off on its own, rinsing the sole with water will do just fine. A quick brush stroke is also always welcome!

To eliminate humidity and unpleasant odors, another important step is ventilation. Nothing very complex for that: loosen the laces to lift the tongue as much as possible and widen the opening, then leave the sneakers in the open air for a few hours (protected from the rain).

To go further in the maintenance of the inside of the shoes, the ideal is to wear insoles that will be easier to remove and clean than the original insoles as well being able to improve comfort.

Finally, if moisture tends to infiltrate during a trail run in the rain, it is time to think about (re)waterproofing your shoes. Take a waterproofing spray and spray it all over the mesh. This is an operation to be repeated regularly, especially if your model is not waterproof. There you go, you know everything to get off to a good start..!


Nice and clean, your well-maintained trail shoes will be a treat to wear. In addition to the good look, it is above all hygiene that counts to combat bad odors and limiting the risk of infection.

The three key points to remember to clean trail running shoes:

  • Trail running shoes need regular maintenance.
  • Wash your trail shoes by hand with water and Marseille soap.
  • They must be allowed to dry in the open air, away from a direct heat source.


Can I put sneakers in the washing machine or the dryer?

If household appliances are there to help us, they are not really compatible with the materials used to make running shoes.

The problem with the washing machine and the dryer is twofold. These devices subject running shoes to high temperatures that can melt certain plastics, warp the sole or loosen the glue that holds the structure together. On the other hand, the rolling of the drum produces shocks that are harmful to the shape of the shoes.

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