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Did you just finish a mud run, leaving your shoes completely covered in mud? Or maybe you went for a run on the path after a rain, and there were too many puddles. Read this article for advice on how to clean your shoes and get back to pounding the pavement in no time.

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    Leave the mud at the door and put your shoes in a plastic bag. Put your shoes in a trash bag or shopping bag if you don't want to clean mud off your car seats as well.

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    Put your feet up until the muck dries. Trying to wipe the mud off your shoes before it has dried can actually stain the fibers of your shoe, despite your best intentions. You should leave your shoes in the sun, or another warm, dry place, if at all possible.
    • Avoid drying your shoes next to a radiator or other direct heat source; doing so may cause the plastic to melt and cause the shoes to lose their original form. [1]1
    • To dry your shoes in the event of high humidity, rain, or a lack of sunlight, you can use a standard household fan. Hang the shoes on the fan's grill using an over-the-door hook (or "S" shaped hook) or place them on a towel or plastic tray with the top facing the fan (so air gets inside the shoe). [2]1
    • Don't sleep with your shoes on the porch Simply put, they'll become wet once more.


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    Removing dried mud from your shoes is as simple as beating them together or against a hard surface. Mud can be easily removed from shoes by chipping and flaking it.

    • If you manage to get your shoes on, stomping on them will knock the mud off the uppers. But if the mud has dried inside your shoes, you might not be able to put them on at all.
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    The shoe should be cleaned with a dry paper towel. If you use a wet paper towel, the dirt could be ground into the fabric of your shoes. After the larger pieces of dirt have fallen off, the fine, powdery dirt should be easily removed with a dry paper towel.

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    Take out the insoles and untie the shoes. For easier access to tight spaces, take out the laces and pull the tongue up to open the shoe. Having mud build up under the inserts of your shoes can lead to a musty odor.

    • However, there are times when taking out the insert would cause irreparable damage to the shoe. Keep them inside and focus on making them as spotless as possible if this is the case.
    • If your shoelaces become entangled and won't untangle, you can simply cut them and replace them with a fresh pair of laces from any store selling footwear.
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    Use a gentle toothbrush to clean your footwear. Clean the outside and inside of your shoes thoroughly with water and some dish detergent. Scrub every nook and cranny where mud could be hiding.

    • When cleaning, dry the area with a rag or paper towel to prevent the spread of germs.
    • It is recommended that you use a nail brush or a shoe polishing brush in place of a regular toothbrush. [3]1
    • If the inserts have been taken out, be sure to clean them as well.


    Marc Sigal

    The Work of Marc Sigal

    Expert in the Care of Shoes
    The Los Angeles-based dry cleaning and shoe care service ButlerBox was founded by Marc Sigal. You can access your ButlerBox locker at any time, day or night, in a wide variety of locations including high-end apartment complexes, executive office towers, retail centers, and more. Marc attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated with a degree in International Studies.

    Marc Sigal

    According to our resident shoe cleaning guru, you should use a toothbrush dipped in a solution of water and detergent to scrub the dirty areas of your shoes. Soak up all the soapy water with a microfiber towel. After you're done, store the footwear somewhere dry and airy.

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    If your shoes are still dirty, throw them in the washer. You shouldn't have to do this too often—you should try brushing the shoes clean whenever possible—but after a mud run, you will likely need the strength of the washing machine to thoroughly clean your shoes. To prevent the washing machine and your shoes from getting dirty, you can wash them with some towels or sheets. [4]1

    • Cold water only, and use the "gentle" or "delicate" cycle when washing the shoes.
    • The inserts can also be washed in the machine, but only if they are removed from the shoe.
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    Get your shoes out of the rain. Put newspaper or paper towels inside your shoes to soak up moisture. [5]1 The same guidelines apply as before: don't leave your shoes outside overnight and try to let them "bake" in direct sunlight. The shoe (and the dryer) will be ruined if you put them near a radiator or in the dryer.

    • In about 12 hours, your shoes will be dry. [6]
    • If you really need to dry your shoes in the dryer, do so by lacing them back up and tying the laces to something heavy. Put the weight of the laces on the outside of the dryer door and hang them over the door. Keeps shoes from rattling around in a bag. It is also possible to try drying the shoes by placing them individually in pillowcases.
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    You can eliminate any lingering odor in your dry shoes by sprinkling them with baking soda. Even if your shoes don't smell bad, that doesn't mean they aren't dirty. Put some baking soda in there, and after an hour or two, the odor should disappear. [7]1

    • Take out the baking soda and let it sit for a while before putting on your shoes again. Flip them over and give them a whack, or use a hose attachment on your vacuum.


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    Shoe cleaning: just the soles Even if your shoes aren't filthy, removing small stains as soon as they appear can extend their clean appearance. Scuff marks and dirt can be erased with a cleaning pad like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. [8]1

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    As soon as the mud dries, wipe it off your shoes. When bacteria is allowed to multiply in the materials of your sneakers, the result is an unpleasant odor. Further, the longer a stain is allowed to remain, the more deeply it is embedded, making removal much more difficult. [9]

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    When not in use, remove the tongues. Before you go for a run, let your shoes air out and dry by unlacing them and pronouncing the tongues forward. [10]1

    • Loosen the laces and lift the tongue a little to increase air flow if you don't have time to unlace and re-lace your shoes after every run.
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    Use a cedar shoe block to keep odors at bay Having cedar in your closet serves two purposes: it eliminates the odor from shoes and it deters moths from destroying your clothing. [11]1 Win/win

    • Mini deodorizers (like Sneaker Balls) can be useful if you store your shoes in a gym bag or a locker. [12]1


Questions Not Listed
  • Question

    I have these brand new shoes, so I can still play in the mud if I want to.

    Community Answer

    Play in the mud with an old pair. If you destroy a new pair, your parents won't buy you another. It's fine to walk around barefoot in the mud if you've verified that there are no sharp objects lurking about.

  • Question

    Some of the mud came off in the wash, but not all of it. My shoes, however, still bear the telltale marks of a muddy walk. Please help me figure this out.

    Community Answer

    You could either rewash them with some bleach or let them soak in some warm water with some stain-removing detergent.

  • Question

    How do I get the mud off my white shoes?

    Community Answer

    If you have a pair of white shoes that got muddy, you can clean the stain by pouring club soda on it and leaving it on for 5 minutes. After that, give it a quick dunk in the sink.

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  • Sports footwear
  • Water
  • Wet wipes/paper towel
  • Dish soap
  • Machine for doing laundry (not required)
  • A gentle brush (like one used for cleaning shoes)
  • Carbon dioxide bicarbonate
  • Newspaper

Marc Sigal

Marc Sigal contributed to this article. California-based dry cleaning and shoe care company ButlerBox was founded by Marc Sigal. Pick up and drop off your belongings at any time, day or night, from anywhere with ButlerBox's wrinkle-resistant lockers. These lockers can be found in high-end apartment complexes, executive office towers, and retail centers. Marc attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and earned a bachelor's degree in global and international studies. To date, there have been 378,770 views of this article.

Co-authors: 11

Updated: Date: October 21, 2021

Views:  378,770

Categories: Inspecting and Cleaning Footwear | Running

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  • Hannah McCorvey
    I can't thank you enough for this article. The mud completely dried out of my shoes, and they almost looked brand new! I appreciate this. post, WikiHow " " more1
Explain what happened.