Sweet Smelling Sneaks

>> Tuesday, July 19, 2011

We have a bit of a dirty secret to share with you today. But I'm not ashamed to admit it because I think it's something a lot of runners deal with. After months upon months of running through the rain, sleet, snow, and heat in the same Vibrams (Stephen) and Nike Frees (Ashley), our shoes STINK.

But it isn't time to buy new just yet.

It's so bad that we actually keep our sneaks outdoors when we're not wearing 'em. I'm a bit worried, though, that doing so only compounds the problem.

It doesn't help that neither of us wears socks. Not when we're running . . . not EVER.

The problem: STINKY SHOES

The solution(s):

a.) Hope the stench goes away on its own. (Tried. Doesn't happen.)
b.) Burn them and buy new. (Too expensive. Potential fire code violation.)
c.) Spray with perfume. (Will only mask and make worse.)
d.) Wash them.

Of course washing them is the only practical choice. But HOW? It's something we struggled with for a while before coming up with a good system. First, I never knew you COULD wash sneakers in the machine. Then I didn't know what suds would be best to get rid of odors (while also being safe for the performance rubbers and other materials). Last, the drying part. To dry in the machine or not? What works best?

Here's what we do -- about once a month -- to keep our sneaks (or toe gloves, in Stephen's case) smelling sweet.
  • If your shoes are particularly muddy or cruddy, pre-rinse with your outdoor hose. The more loose dirt you can get off the better.
  • We wash our shoes one pair at a time. I don't know if it matters, and I imagine two pairs might be OK, but a smaller load -- we believe -- works best.
  • Set your washing machine to small load. Regular cycle. With COLD water only. If you have the option, we set ours to wash for a longer cycle. 14 minutes versus the usual 10-12.
  • Before tossing your shoes in the machine, take out the inserts. You'll wash them, too (go ahead and throw them in) -- just not while they're in the shoes.
  • Note: You may wish to remove your shoe laces. We haven't had a problem, but there is a potential they could get snagged in the machine. If you're concerned, play it safe.
  • Toss in 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of vinegar. Let the washing begin. Maybe make some peanut butter-chocolate chip cookie dough.
  • We have used detergent on occasion -- but I've read mixed reviews on that. The only kind I feel "safe" using is this kind we bought at our local sporting goods store.
  • TO DRY: Don't -- I repeat -- DON'T -- place your shoes in your dryer. Let air dry. The best way is in the sun on a hot day. Otherwise, a fan can help. Maybe even some newspaper crumbled up to absorb the moisture.
This process will get them looking almost new. Notice, though, that my dirty hippie feet still leave their mark on my inserts.

How do you keep your active feet smelling sweet? Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

And if you're looking for tips on how to keep the rest of your workout gear fresh, check out our Take the Stink Out of Your Workout Gear post.

Remember that giveaway we promised you last week? We'll be posting it later today, so don't forget to check back!

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