Updated 03/07/2021

Cleaning muddy trail shoes is the last thing you want to do after a muddy trail run. Let’s face it, the next time you hit the trails they are just going to get filthy again however, a little bit of tlc will ensure that you prolong the life of your trail shoes and stop them festering and stinking the house out between runs. It is also necessary to maintain good hygiene. But what’s the best way to clean your most essential piece of running gear? We take a look at how to clean muddy trail shoes (and how not to)

Here’s what not to do! 

  • DO NOT put them in the washing machine or tumble dryer – trail shoes are not designed for either. 
  • DO NOT dry them with hairdryer (guilty as charged) – it burns holes in them 
  • DO NOT leave them in a carrier bag after your run or the boot of your car – they will stink after a couple of days
  • DO NOT clean them over the kitchen sink right in the middle of Sunday dinner preparation
  • DO NOT throw them in the bin! I once did this with a pair right after a race (they were cheap, painful and I couldn’t bear the prospect of cleaning them!)

How to Clean Muddy Trail Shoes the Right Way

Rinse them off

First of all you need to rinse the shoes off. This is not absolutely necessary but if your shoes are incredibly wet and stinky and clogged with half of the trail that you’ve just run on then you may want to. Often, it’s not just mud on the bottom go your shoes, rather than the exertions of ruminating animals. This is where an outdoor tap comes in really handy! Remember, if you are going to rinse your trail shoes, make sure you have another pair on standby – especially if you are planning on running again the following day.

dirty trail shoes

Remove the Insoles 

Starting from the heel, carefully lift out the insoles of your shoes. Give them a brush off and empty any debris or small stones, loose mud from the shoe. Often, we forget this part and are reminded when we have to stop early on in our next run to remove a small stone that has become embedded.

Loosen the Laces

Loosening the laces will open up the shoe which means greater airflow, quicker drying and it will also unclog the lace holes. You don’t need to remove the laces completely – just loosen them off. Remember to tighten them back again or adjust to how you like them before your next run.

Leave the Trail Shoes to Dry  

I lay my wet trail shoes on a tray or a piece of cardboard. I have an entrance hall that would give the nearest sauna and steam room a run for its money if I have the heating on. I tend to whack the heating up and leave the shoes beneath the radiator until they are dry. This happens extremely fast. You can find a warm area like an airing cupboard and leave the shoes there – anywhere that will speed up the drying – not direct sunlight though. 

Alternatively, and this has only come to light since we shared this article on Facebook, you can get a Shoe Dryer! Who knew? How did we not know this already? One of our readers shared this with us and we have to say, we are sorely tempted to buy one. Not just in the interests of reviewing but because we feel, as avid runners that we need this in our kit cupboard!

trail shoes dryer

Once the shoes are dry, simply brush off the dried dirt. A small scrubbing brush will do. Clap them together as well to remove any mud trapped in the lugs.

Voila – your shoes are ready for their next outing – run, rinse repeat!

And When They Are Past the Point of No Return?

Once your trainers have seen a few hundred miles, are beyond help and really do get relegated to the garage because they stink, it might be time to check out some new ones. I mean, who doesn’t love new trail shoes?

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links which may provide a small commission to me at no cost to you. The products we recommend are either those that we’ve used or that our fellow runners have used.