How to wash gym shoes.
August 28, 2010 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Can I wash my suede gym shoes? I ruined an old pair of the same model previously in the washing machine in a last effort to salvage them so this time around I am looking at hand washing.

They don't just have 'shoe odor', they have absorbed sweat into every fiber and distinctly smell of sweat. Normally for shoe odor I leave them in the sun and use baking soda or shoe spray or what have you but this time I need water. Will this ruin these suede shoes and if not, how do I go about this?
posted by dino terror to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've had some success with suede cleaning sprays, but that was to get out deep surface stains not smells, so I'm not sure how well they would work for your situation.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:09 PM on August 28, 2010

Pro tip: google Shannon Lush (I know, great name, hey?!) and her book "Spotless" for all these kind of questions. She's Australia's home cleanerupperer guru.

She usually advocated vinegar and bi-carb soda for most things.... but this time she says

"Use a small amount of dry cleaning fluid to just dampen on a cloth and wipe over the suede, then sprinkle talcum powder all over suede and let dry completely. When dry, vacuum it off, putting a t-shirt over the end of the vacuum cleaner so you don't get metal marks on the suede."

Best of luck possum.
posted by taff at 8:52 PM on August 28, 2010

There's not much you can do. The suede may be recoverable, but the shoes probably aren't. Athletic shoes of this type have a finite lifespan: The foam breaks down and loses its cushioning capabilities, rendering them useless for their intended activity, and possibly harmful to your feet and legs (absolute worst-case scenario).

Also, the New Balance 993 isn't designed as a gym shoe. It's a luxury running shoe -- a Lincoln Town Car for your feet. Taking these to the gym is like taking a Town Car to a racetrack: It'll get you around the track in comfort and style, but it won't be able to keep up with even a beat-up Miata through the corners. If you only use them on the treadmill, that's fine, but there are much better choices if you're doing anything else with them.

Normally for shoe odor I leave them in the sun and use baking soda...

This will significantly shorten the lifespan of any athletic shoe, not just those with suede. UV rays do kill bacteria, but they also degrade foam and fabric and turn leather brittle. If your shoes are always wet and stinky after you work out in them, take out or loosen the laces and insoles, stuff them with clean, dry newspaper and leave them somewhere cool, dry, and dark (or at least not in the sun). Baking soda probably won't hurt, but it shouldn't be necessary.
posted by clorox at 9:06 PM on August 28, 2010

Response by poster: Well I have tried baking soda, Dr. Scholl's shoe deodorant, Febreze antibacterial, and the dry cleaners said they wouldn't be able to do anything. And I took out the insoles and machine washed them, they still smelled so I pre-treated them and washed them again and they still smell a little bit. My shoes still smell but I'm going to see if I can live with it. I found some shoe care guidelines on so if things get out of hand I will resume my quest there. Thanks for the help!
posted by dino terror at 7:08 PM on September 4, 2010

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