It’s almost impossible to avoid getting your running shoes soaked through and covered in mud at some point. As tempting as it may be to chuck them in the washing machine when you get home, that’s sadly not the answer to keeping your lovely running shoes clean and in one piece.
“Avoid the washing machine like the plague,” says Michael Moore from ASICS. “The hot water will get into the glue, start dissolving that over time, and some parts like the GEL in our shoes will start to break down after being beaten up in the tumble dryer. That’s naturally going to affect the performance of the shoe very quickly.” We asked Michael what he recommends as an alterative. Here’s what he told us:
Michael’s number one shoe care tip is to act fast. “Treat it as soon as it’s ready to be treated,” he says. “Don’t let it dry out. I think I’ve learnt this from my father giving me numerous telling offs with my football boots: if you look after them, they’ll last longer.”
“Scrub your shoes down as soon as you can after a run,” says Michael. “Use lukewarm water, a brush, and get all the mud off – it doesn’t have to be perfect as long as the core shoe itself around the sole and the laces are fine, that’s the priority.”
Letting your shoes get completely soaked through isn’t a great idea, in terms of keeping them performing properly for months on end, but it sometimes can’t be helped. Michael says you should do all you can to dry them out quickly, but keep them away from radiators and tumble dryers. “Take the insoles out, loosen up the laces, and then shove newspaper or tea towels in – very good for absorbing all the moisture.” You can put them in a gently warm area such as the airing cupboard to help speed up the process.
One day, even the best cared for shoes will need replacing. But how do you know when their running days are over? “There’s a simple test called the squash test,” says Michael. “If you get a brand new pair of shoes and squash them from one end to the other it shouldn’t give that much under a certain amount of pressure, but an old shoe will split straight away. Aesthetically it may look fine but it’s the performance within the shoe – the GEL, the sole, the midsole – that gets tired.” Replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles, or at least every nine to 12 months.