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Here’s How To Dry Running Shoes (Without Wrecking Them)

Check out the best methods to dry your shoes quickly for your next workout.

Almost every dedicated runner has gone running in the rain, only to end up with soaking-wet running shoes.

Particularly if you only have one pair of running shoes, you will need to dry them so that they are not still wet by your next workout.

Moreover, athletic shoes that get wet or muddy and sit around with all that moisture are prone to develop a bad odor because the moisture will mix with the sweat and bacteria in the shoes, causing mildew or a moldy funk to grow.

There are a couple of methods for how to dry running shoes fast that will hopefully sidestep the odor and lingering dampness that would otherwise persist if you were to just air dry the shoes and hope for the best.

In this guide to how to dry running shoes, we will give you the dos and don’ts to keep your running shoes dry without ruining them.

People lining up on a track start line.

Do I Need to Dry My Running Shoes If They Get Wet?

Yes, you do!

There are several reasons why it is important to dry wet running shoes quickly, including the following:

  • Running in wet running shoes increases the risk of blisters.
  • Running in wet shoes is uncomfortable, and it can be unmotivated to do your workout the next day, especially in cold weather.
  • Wet running shoes will grow mildew or otherwise start to stink.
  • Allowing wet running shoes to air dry over time slowly allows the excess moisture to stay in the materials. This can degrade the running shoes more quickly, breaking down the EVA foam and other cushioning materials such that you will need to replace your running shoes sooner.

Running shoes and athletic shoes can get wet if you run in the rain, run through puddles, or run in deep snow.

Additionally, if you go trail running or run on muddy grass, you may want to wash your running shoes, and then you will need to dry them.

A variety of running shoes.

Can I Put My Running Shoes In the Dryer?

Although you can put running shoes in the washing machine or hand wash them with a damp cloth or bristle brush, it is not advisable to put running shoes in the clothes dryer.

The clothes dryer on high heat is too hot and can deform the cushioning materials in the midsole, damage the foam cells of the insole, and even melt the glues and adhesives that hold parts of the shoes together.

Depending on the type of shoes you are trying to dry, putting your shoes in the dryer can also pose a fire hazard.

Moreover, suede and leather shoes are prone to shrinking if they get wet and then are dried on high heat.

Finally, if you have a front-loading clothes dryer, the running shoes will keep tumbling and banging into the dryer door and popping it open, halting the drying cycle.

All this is to say, we do not recommend putting wet running shoes in the dryer.

A person tying their running shoe on a beach.

Use a Hair Dryer (If It’s The Only Option!)

If you have the time, you can use a hairdryer on the inside of the shoes and all around the outside.

Do NOT use a high heat setting. This poses a fire hazard and can melt adhesives and foams in your running shoes.

You must use low heat, which is why this can take quite a bit of drying time.

That said, this is definitely not one of the best drying methods because it is not only time-consuming, but even the low heat setting runs the risk of damaging your shoes. 

Do Not Put Your Shoes In the Oven

Similarly, do not dry wet running shoes in the oven. It will damage the shoes.

A person trail running.

How To Dry Running Shoes: The Best Methods

There isn’t necessarily a single best way to dry wet running shoes.

Rather, there are a couple of effective methods, the best depending on how quickly you need to dry your shoes, the conditions regarding air flow and direct sunlight, and how wet your shoes are.

Here are the best options for how to dry your running shoes quickly:

#1: Stuff Your Running Shoes With Newspapers 

When I was a young runner, I ran cross country and seemed to constantly have wet running shoes or muddy running shoes that needed to be cleaned and dried quickly to be ready for practice the next day.

I would almost always use newspaper rather than other shoe-drying methods because I didn’t have any of the fancier technology to dry running shoes, such as a dedicated shoe dryer, and the newspaper method actually works pretty well.

To dry your running shoes with newspapers, you want to loosen the shoelaces as much as possible to promote airflow and remove the insoles from the running shoes.

Then, stuff the running shoes with dry newspapers that you ball up and squeeze into all of the crevices inside the shoe.

If possible, place the stuffed running shoes in direct sunlight or in a well-ventilated area to expedite the drying process.

The newspaper helps absorb all of the moisture inside your running shoes.

Depending on how wet your running shoes are, you may need to swap out the newspaper once it gets damp with dry newspaper. This may be every few hours or just once halfway through the 24-hour process until you plan to wear the running shoes again.

A pair of blue running shoes.

#2: Put Your Running Shoes In the Sun

If you don’t have newspapers, paper towels, or anything absorbent to stuff inside the shoes to absorb excess water, the single best way to dry shoes is to place them in direct sunlight.

The sunlight helps evaporate excess water.

Plus, what is good about drying your running shoes in the sun is that ultraviolet light kills bacteria,1Rezaie, A., Leite, G. G. S., Melmed, G. Y., Mathur, R., Villanueva-Millan, M. J., Parodi, G., Sin, J., Germano, J. F., Morales, W., Weitsman, S., Kim, S. Y., Park, J. H., Sakhaie, S., & Pimentel, M. (2020). Ultraviolet A light effectively reduces bacteria and viruses including coronavirus. PLOS ONE15(7), e0236199. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236199 so you won’t get smelly shoes or need to use shoe deodorizers due to the odor that has built up from your running shoes being damp for several days without fully drying.

Just make sure that you don’t keep your running shoes in direct sunlight on your driveway for a long time because the sunlight will radiate off the black asphalt and can melt the adhesives in the shoes. 

Check on them periodically and make sure they aren’t getting too hot.

#3: Use a Fan

If you stuff your running shoes with paper towels or newspapers, it helps to place the shoes in front of a fan to increase airflow around the shoes.

Even if you don’t have an absorbent material, you should still place your running shoes in a well-ventilated area or directly in front of a fan to expedite the drying time.

Take out the inserts and place them next to the shoes and loosen the laces as much as possible to open up the tongue so that the airflow can get into the inside of the shoes.

I sometimes hang wet shoes on a clothes hanger and then set up a high-powered fan in front of the dangling shoes because it is difficult to angle the fan’s airflow into the inside of the shoes if you just place them on the floor in front of the fan.

People running a marathon.

#4: Use a Shoe Drying Rack

I now use a shoe dryer as my primary way to dry shoes fast. I bought it on Amazon and it can dry two pairs of shoes simultaneously.

It blows low heat into the shoes, and all I have to do is loosen the laces and my wet running shoes dry fast without me needing to check on them.

There are now lots of different options for shoe dryers and most aren’t that expensive.

Overall, it’s definitely worth trying to dry wet running shoes rather than hope they air dry by the next day after running in the rain. 

Drying wet running shoes prolongs the lifespan of your shoes, prevents them from getting stinky, and can prevent blisters the next day.  

If you enjoyed this guide, check out our article on a running shoe rotation:

References

  • 1
    Rezaie, A., Leite, G. G. S., Melmed, G. Y., Mathur, R., Villanueva-Millan, M. J., Parodi, G., Sin, J., Germano, J. F., Morales, W., Weitsman, S., Kim, S. Y., Park, J. H., Sakhaie, S., & Pimentel, M. (2020). Ultraviolet A light effectively reduces bacteria and viruses including coronavirus. PLOS ONE15(7), e0236199. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236199
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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