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As an avid runner, your Brooks running shoes are one of your most important pieces of gear.
They provide the traction, support, and comfort to log miles daily.
However, over time, dirt, debris, sweat, and odor can build up, compromising the performance and lifespan of your shoes.
Implementing a regular cleaning routine is vital to keeping your Brooks kicks feeling fresh.
Luckily, with some basic supplies and a little time invested, cleaning your Brooks running shoes is relatively straightforward.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through simple step-by-step instructions to safely clean both the exterior and interior of your shoes.
We’ll also provide tips to remove stubborn stains, eliminate odor, whiten midsoles, and more.
-Mild dish soap
An old toothbrush
washing machine or large container
-Shoe trees (optional)
Step 1: Empty Out Debris
Before wetting your shoes, tap out any rocks, mulch, dirt, or other debris trapped on the outsole or lodged inside.
This will prevent debris from spreading during the cleaning process.
Use a blunt tool if needed to carefully dislodge any bits.
Step 2: Scrub the Soles
In a large container, sink, or washing machine basin, combine a small amount of dish soap, such as Dawn or Ivory, with warm water.
Use an old toothbrush, nail brush, or shoe brush with short, stiff bristles to vigorously scrub the soles and sides.
Pay extra attention to the crevices and grooves that trap the most grime.
Let the shoes soak for 10–20 minutes if needed to remove stains.
Use an old washcloth to wipe away any loose residue that surfaces.
Thoroughly rinse until the water runs clear.
Do not submerge any Brooks shoes with Gore-Tex lining to avoid damaging the waterproof membrane.
Step 3. Clean the upper
Make a cleaning solution of dish soap and warm water for mesh or fabric uppers in a small bowl.
Dip an old toothbrush in and gently scrub the material using small circular motions to lift dirt from the weave.
For leather, nubuck, suede, or other delicate materials, use a specialized shoe cleaner and soft brush to avoid scuffing or abrasions.
Carefully dab away any marks or stains.
Rinse the upper well with clean water and pat dry with a lint-free cloth.
Stuff them with paper or towels overnight, allowing them to fully air dry.
Step 4: Sanitize the Interior
Sweat and moisture that build up inside over months of use let odor-causing bacteria thrive.
Disinfect and deodorize the lining and footbed with these simple steps:
Sprinkle two teaspoons of baking soda evenly into each shoe.
Leave it overnight before shaking out the excess powder.
The baking soda will absorb foul odors without leaving any scent behind.
Use cotton balls to swab the lining and footbed with distilled white vinegar.
Its acetic acid kills bacteria on contact.
Allow 20 minutes of contact time before wiping dry with a clean cloth.
Crumple newspaper into balls and stuff them in shoes overnight to wick moisture.
The paper will helpfully dry out the interior.
Step 5. Whiten midsoles
For running shoes, the foam midsole is often the first part to show dirt and yellowing.
To brighten up dingy edges, create a paste from first part water to third parts baking soda.
Gently scrub the midsole using an old toothbrush.
Once the bubbling has stopped, wipe thoroughly with a wet towel.
Step 6. Remove salt stains.
Road salt and chloride compounds leave unsightly white marks on shoes in snowy winter weather.
Tackle these stubborn stains by mixing equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.
Spritz the salt residue lightly, then scrub the paste that forms using an old nail brush or toothbrush before wiping clean with a damp cloth.
Repeat if needed.
Step 7. Touch-up Scuffs and Scrapes
Use matte or acrylic paint in matching colors to disguise any shoe damage on the midsole, outsole, or upper.
Lightly buff the area first with fine-grit sandpaper so the paint will properly adhere.
Use thin coats, allowing full drying in between, and finish by sealing with clear enamel spray paint.
Step 8. Maintain Shape and Dryness
After fully drying per the previous steps, fill shoes with shoe trees, rolled socks, or crumpled paper when not being worn.
This will help the inner lining and padding maintain their proper shape.
Moisture-wicking shoe powder sprinkled inside after each wear will keep moisture and odor at bay between more thorough cleanings.
Tips for Keeping Shoes Cleaner and Longer
Spray shoe exteriors with a protective waterproofing spray that also repels dirt and debris.
Use gaiters in muddy or dusty conditions to keep grime off the uppers.
-Immediately spot clean stains after runs instead of letting them set in.
Remove insoles and clean them separately every few weeks with soap and water.
Replace insoles every 300–500 miles as cushioning breaks down.
Use multiple pairs of running shoes in rotation to increase their lifespan.
With the proper cleaning, there’s no reason you can’t get hundreds of comfortable miles out of your Brooks running shoes.
Implement these cleaning tips as soon as you notice dirt or odors building up.
Keeping your shoes consistently fresh means more enjoyable runs and injury-free training.