One weekend, after taking part in my first ever cyclocross race I realised I needed an easy method to clean my trail running shoes. Because cyclocross (CX) is like the cycling version of OCR; it can be wet, muddy and messy.
Regardless of the mud and mess, it’s bucket loads of fun. I borrowed a friends mountain bike for my first race and she kindly changed the pedals to flat ones and informed to wear the kinda trainers I would for an OCR event.
When it got to the morning of the race and I was putting my kit on, I went to change my shoes and oh my gosh was it was struggle to get my feet into my trail shoes! Stiff with mud and a tonne of small stones still jammed inside I realised maybe I hadn’t done the best I could to clean or take care of them.
How To Clean Trail Running Shoes
The first time I wore them, I just threw them into the washing machine and they came out good as new. But I’m a bit wary of doing that every weekend as a new washing machine costs more than new trainers. Just about.
So this time, and probably a little too late after the event, I asked friends how they clean trail running shoes…
My exact question was:
“Post tough mudder and I’m like should I have let them dry first? then scrape off the mud, then washing machine?!”
…and all the advice seemed to be pretty similar so I’m putting it all here so I don’t have to dig out my Facebook posts next time I need the advice and for anyone other poor sod who Googles “how to clean my trail running shoes” or “getting mud off trainers”. We’ve all been there.
Is The Washing Machine Worth The Risk?
I did this and it worked a treat, but like I said, I don’t wanna ruin my washing machine. Also, the horror stories came in about having washed trail shoes and having them shrink and the warnings that washing them may damage the adhesive (but surely that’s if you wash them at some stupid high heat?!).
I’ll tell you what I did spot though, on ihateironing, they have a trainer cleaning service… I’m not sure if they know the state of shoes after an OCR but I might have to check it out.
To Remove The Mud, Or Not?
Apparently, when mud dries on shoes, it can damage them. Your best bet therefore, is to rinse them outside and try to get as much of the mud off as you can – someone even suggested using the jet wash at the car wash! Then they’re in much more reasonable shape to hand wash in hot soapy water in the shower.
Collect All Those Free Newspapers
“*goes to tube station and picks up all the metros not taken cos the central line isn’t working today*” actual comment from me when the tube strike was on
Pretty much everyone advised to let the shoes dry, naturally, stuffed with newspaper or kitchen roll. The newspaper helps them to keep their shape and reduce shrinkage (good idea!). Once dry, you can bang or brush any remaining mud from the shoes or walk around the block in them to let the mud fall off
And as someone rightly pointed out, remember, they’re only gonna get muddy again anyway!
TLDR; The Bullet Point Version:
- Collect newspaper in advance
- Rinse shoes outside after event to get as much mud off as possible
- Hand wash with hot soapy water in the shower (or risk the washing machine)
- Stuff with newspaper and allow to dry naturally
How do you clean & look after your trail shoes?!