Written by Bonnie Roberts (last updated May 21, 2018)
After your hot, sweaty workout, you throw your clothes into the laundry basket and hit the shower. Everything gets clean, except ... your shoes. Most people don't clean their shoes unless they're covered in mud or otherwise visibly soiled. Is that because the shoes don't really need to be cleaned? Of course not. If your socks were soaked in sweat, some of that certainly got into the shoes. Take a good whiff of your athletic shoes. Still think they don't need to be cleaned? I'm betting that the real reason you haven't cleaned your shoes is that you don't know how to do it properly. Shoes are expensive, and you don't want to damage them. This article will help you solve that problem.
First of all, here's what not to do. Don't put your shoes through the washing machine. Shoes weren't meant to be immersed in water, nor were they meant to endure that kind of motion. Sure, they may come out of the machine looking and smelling great, but they will break down and fall apart much sooner than they should. Also, don't use bleach to clean your shoes. It's too harsh and will "burn" the material. It might also cause discoloration.
Now for some quick fixes. If your shoes smell bad but aren't dirty, here are some simple solutions:
To clean the inside of your athletic shoes, remove the laces and either wash them with a load of laundry or throw them away, to be replaced with new ones. Remove the footbed inserts. Scrub the interiors of the shoes and the inserts with a soft brush and dish soap diluted with water. Wipe out the shoes with a damp rag and dry them with a towel. Let them air dry for several more hours before you replace the inserts and laces.
To clean the outside of white leather tennis shoes, obtain an old toothbrush and whitening toothpaste. Scrub a good amount of toothpaste onto the shoes using the toothbrush. Use a damp rag to wipe them clean and dry them with a towel. This will have your shoes looking like new and smelling very fresh.
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