You can clean and maintain your running shoes just fine with everyday household items, even if they’re drenched or muddy. The process can be a bit labor-intensive, but your shoes will last significantly longer with proper cleaning. Remember that using a washing machine or dryer for your running shoes will age them rapidly, and take the following steps:
Removing liners, insoles and laces will speed up the process.
You can throw laces into the laundry with your running clothes, and wash on the cold setting with your regular detergent (pro tip: stuff them into a sock so they don’t get lost or tangled). Just remember to remove them from the load before you transfer to the dryer.
First with a dry paper towel then with a dry toothbrush for greater detail, remove mud and dirt from all outer areas of your shoes; if your shoes are exceptionally muddy, you might want to let the mud dry before wiping, as caked mud comes off easier in clumps (skip to step 6 to see how best to dry your shoes).
Mix a small dab of your chosen soaping agent (natural dye-free detergent, dish soap, or even dandruff shampoo can all work fine) into cool water, and gently work into dirty areas of the shoes and insoles with the toothbrush until there’s a lather; keep going until the dirt is gone, and remove dirty water with a dry towel or rag as you go.
Now wipe off all remaining soap lather with a towel or rag dampened with cold water.
Your shoes (including insoles) should now be dirt-free, if somewhat wet; blot them with a dry cloth until they’re no longer sopping and stuff your shoes with newsprint to let them dry overnight (tip: keep your insoles separate, and don’t leave your shoes to dry outdoors or try to speed the process with a heat source - both sunlight and direct heat can warp them); for added odor protection, include a dryer sheet or a light dusting of baking soda with your wadding.
If for some reason you absolutely have to fully clean and dry your shoes in less than 12 hours, follow the above steps to clean them, but use the final “spin” setting on your washing machine a few times to dry your shoes using centrifugal force. Brief, selective uses of “air dry” or “gentle” setting on a dryer can work in a pinch as well.
Not all HOKA running shoes are made of the same material. While the above “how to” works well enough with nearly all shoe materials, you might want to introduce a few modifications based on the materials your HOKA shoes are made of. Keep the following in mind:
Mesh is light, breathable and quick-drying, but also vulnerable to fraying under harsh scrubbing. To avoid this, apply minimal force (think repetitive dabbing rather than wiping), and use a softer-bristle toothbrush if possible.
Suede and nubuck are durable premium “untreated” leather types that are vulnerable to moisture. For this reason, suede and nubuck areas are best cleaned once the shoe is fully dried. Blot aggressively with a dry towel or rag, then after the suede or nubuck dries fully, use a dry brush to remove dirt, followed by a direct stain treatment application, followed by another round of blotting. You may also want to buy suede- or nubuck-specific cleaning solutions or waterproofing agents.
Standard leather is a durable material option that’s great at keeping water out of running shoes and boots, and is a breeze to clean. Just follow the above-listed method, wipe your shoes down when you’re done, and make sure to introduce an odor-fighting agent like baking soda or a dryer sheet to the dry wadding you stuff into them.
Use lukewarm rather than cold water along with your mild detergent option, with enough held in a large bowl or basin to submerge your shoes or boots if you want to clean the inners as well as the outers. After cleaning, lie both shoes upside down with tongue out over an absorbent cloth to air dry. Once fully dry, test the waterproofing and reapply DWR if water does not bead up and run off of each shoe’s outer.
Most running shoes are made with synthetic fabrics to avoid the danger of shrinking, but if areas of your shoes have natural fabric, you can scrub them clean with a soft bristle brush. Dip it into a warm water and baking soda mixture (1:1 is fine, it won’t take much).
In all cases, remember that the wadding you use to help dry your shoes has more than one purpose - not only does it dry the fabric and soak up odor, it also helps your shoes maintain their shape as they dry.
Preventative care options such as weatherproofing can extend the life of your HOKA footwear. Look into the following:
Once your shoes are fully dry, spray them with a trusted waterproofing solution. You’ll need to let the spray itself dry before your shoes can be regarded as weather proofed, but once you do, water and mud should be a lot easier to clean. Repeat as necessary. If you live in an area such as the Pacific Northwest where it rains often, you might want to rotate two pairs into a run-clean-spray cycle.
Rain water and mud puddles will accelerate the mold, mildew and stink caused by bacteria. Your own foot sweat can also cause odor. Try an occasional light dusting of baking soda even on dry shoes.
Flinging your running shoe into a pile by the door can put premature wear on them. Simply placing your shoes sole-down after each run can add to their lifespan by reducing stress placed on the join points between differing shoe materials and features. It can also help to loosen your laces and pull out the tongue overnight to avoid having separate sections touch. Bad things happen when shoe materials dry more slowly due to the fact that they’re touching.
While not at all necessary, rotating multiple pairs of running shoes with proper care can help prolong the use you get out of each. If at all possible, avoid running in shoes that are still wet from the last use.