Washable trainers might look clean when you wear them dry, but they might still be coated in sweat, dirt and grime that can harmful if you don’t give them a proper clean.
There is some debate about whether it’s better to wash trainers before or after exercise. “Wash your trainers either after a gym session,” advises Andrew Jacques, who works in the Liverpool City Region Leisure and Culture team. “Or, to use a less heavy-duty cycle, before you go to work.”
Rebecca Boyd is manager of a London based Leisure Centre. She recommends washing trainers after exercising. “If you clean them in the gym, they’ll stay clean until you do your next workout,” she says. “But if you don’t, they’ll come out of the machine with bits of residue on them.”
“But”, says Ms Boyd, “if you get out of the shower and run them under a tap, they should come out shiny and clean.” There is also a misconception that trainers will instantly lose their waterproof properties when cleaned. That’s not the case. “Water helps with sweat marks,” says Ms Boyd. “But your trainers should still be good for swimming, running and cycling.”
How to wash trainers
Wash in a sink, kitchen sink or bathroom sink with soap and a little hot water (as long as the area is still damp when you take it off).
Pick your trainers with tags off, don’t use wet wipes. Wash trainers using either liquid detergent (dishwasher safe) or washing powder.
Use washing powder or liquid dishwashing soap and rinse with hot water.
Leave them to air dry.
Don’t soak trainers.
The washing method you choose will depend on the trainer and how it’s worn. For example, while trainers are soaked in water, trainers can be covered in chemicals from the cleaner. This can damage your trainers.
Once you have completed your workout, don’t put your trainers on straight away. Instead, leave them in a sock or sports bra. Then, take them off and let them air dry. You can hang them up on a radiator or under a fan, but never leave them in a washing machine.
To keep the smell at bay, wipe trainers clean with a clean, damp cotton sock before you put them away. Don’t use a cleaning product, as this can damage the protective coating on the surface of the insole. “Make sure you let them air dry,” advises Ms Boyd.
Clean trainers for the sake of the insoles
Drying trainers will not remove all the dirt and sweat from the insoles. If you find your insoles to be greasy, don’t throw them out. Cleaning them with a damp cloth will at least remove excess oil, but doing this too often will wear down the insole’s protective coating. So, check out our guide to insoles first.
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