Answer Angel: Options abound for cleaning running shoesOctober 15, 2019 6:46pm

Oct. 08-- Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I run a lot in the woods and don't pay much attention to whether the trail is muddy or not. Of course, the shoes get dirty. Can I machine wash my running shoes?

-Katherine B.

Dear Katherine: Many running shoe manufacturers list cleaning instructions for their shoes on their website (,, etc.). Since high-quality running shoes can cost upwards of $125 a pair, use caution before tossing them in the wash.

Here's the consensus:

Better safe than sorry. Don't put them in the washing machine and NEVER in the dryer.

Brush off dirt with a dry brush all over. A used toothbrush or not-too-hard vegetable brush is fine.

Mix laundry detergent with warm water in a bowl sink or a bucket. You can add 2-4 tablespoons of baking soda to the mix or sprinkle the baking soda inside the shoe overnight before washing.

Remove the laces and hand wash in the cleaning solution. Air dry.

Remove the insoles and gently brush with the same solution. Air dry.

Wash the soles with the brush and detergent.

Gently scrub the uppers with the cleaning solution and a soft brush, sponge or cloth. Repeat if you don't think they're clean enough.

Blot dry.

Air dry the shoes overnight. Optional: Stuff them with crumpled newspaper to retain the shape.

OK, but let's say you're like me and can't be bothered and you're willing to take your chances with the washing machine:

Remove the insoles, and if they're dirty (or smelly) use the same detergent solution above and scrub gently with the brush. Air dry.

Remove as much mud from the shoe as possible with a dry brush.

Remove the laces, tie them together and throw them in a wash bag or pillowcase with the shoes. (I leave the laces in because I'm lazy.)

To balance the load, throw a half-dozen towels in with the shoes.

Wash with nonabrasive liquid detergent (not powder) on the cold/delicate cycle for about a half-hour.

Air dry shoes with or without stuffing them with newspaper. No dryer!

A final note: I wear cheapish athletic shoes (bought on sale or gently worn on eBay) just to walk around in. I toss them in with the rest of my sheets and towels in warm water and air dry them. They seem to be OK. That's probably not the best advice. But, it's easier.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Navy blue seems to be the new black. What color combinations go with navy blue?


Dear M.: In today's fashion world, pretty much anything goes with anything-even prints with checks and florals with stripes. But, traditionally, blues-aqua and turquoise-and brights like orange and lime green or yellow and coral go nicely with navy. There's always cream, white and ivory to add to the mix, and burgundy is a classic with navy. Any of those colors also would work for tights. Boots in brown, gray, black or even a colorful choice would be fine.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I wonder why some women wear sunglasses and baseball caps? Are they trying to be unrecognized? Not attractive at all.

-Helen B.

Dear Helen: If you're having a bad hair day, you're exhausted or you don't want to put on eye makeup-or all three-the cap and sunglasses hide all of that. Sure celebrities have adopted this look so they won't be recognized on the street and be bothered by fans and photographers. But another reason, a good one for all of us normal people, is that a baseball cap and sunglasses can conceal a lot of flaws.


N. writes: "My sister wanted to clean the wedding dresses of her two daughters (both married about 10 years ago) before donating them to a charity resale shop. The quotes we got from two dry cleaners ranged from about $70 to $140 PER DRESS. Yes, really. Both are floor-length, and one is quite plain while the other is "fancy" and beaded. She turned them inside out, and washed them (including train) one at a time in the washer, on the gentlest cycle, with Woolite. She also used a little OxiClean in the underarm area. Then she hung them up in her basement to dry. They both turned out beautifully."

Dear N.: Your sister is braver than I am. I can't imagine that I could throw a wedding dress in the wash and it would survive, no matter how gentle the cycle! But I'd surely give a simple gown in a washable fabric a try with your method. Washing a fancy beaded one sounds risky.


From Nancy D.: "My rant: buying T-shirts made with 'preshrunk' cotton, which promptly shrink when you wash and dry them."

Dear Nancy: "Preshrunk" is a misleading term. It doesn't mean the garment won't shrink! Crazy, huh? What it means is that the clothing will shrink less when washed and dried at home than it would if the fabric weren't "preshrunk." If you really don't want any more shrinkage, use the cold setting in the wash cycle and hang dry.


Marian A. says: "What's with exercise clothes that cost ridiculous amounts of money? To sweat in. That's why I shop Goodwill for gym clothes."

Dear Marian: I have a friend who shops solely at Lululemon where the quality is high, but so are the prices. Thrift shops are a great place to find athletic wear bargains, and discounter Marshalls has well-priced, name-brand yoga and other athletic clothes that hold up well to the wear and tear and frequent washing.



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