How To Clean Mesh Running Shoes? [5 Steps]

With all the different styles and designs of shoes out there, it has become difficult to keep track of the best methods to keep your kicks fresh and clean. Lightweight mesh footwear is a hot fashion trend, with big-name brands designing more of this style than ever before. Mesh fabrics in shoes do present an interesting challenge when it comes to cleaning. How do we clean mesh running shoes? We have researched the best methods for you.

It is important to closely follow all the manufacturer's labeled recommendations when you clean mesh running shoes. Handwashing your mesh shoes is the best and most highly recommended method. Follow these steps for the best possible results:

  1. Brush and wipe away excess dirt and grime.
  2. Mix or buy a premade cleaning solution.
  3. Wash shoes.
  4. Rinse to extract cleaning solution.
  5. Allow shoes to air dry naturally.

With a straightforward cleaning protocol established, it's time to bust out the suds and clean these dirty kicks. Please keep reading so you'll be prepared for every step. We'll also discuss why you should keep mesh running shoes clean and caution how to best use some stringent cleansers for stuck-on grime.

Pair of light breathable summer shoes on natural wooden board surface, How To Clean Mesh Running Shoes? [5 Steps]

Shoe Cleaning Protocol

Having scoured the web, it became apparent that people commonly use one cleaning method for mesh shoes. There are several agreed-upon methods for shoe cleaning, most of which involve a traditional hands-on/manual approach.

With manual cleaning being the most-trusted method, it's for interest sake that we'll briefly address alternatives. Some go against manufacturer recommendations and choose to use modern conveniences like washers and dryers. Machine washing results truly are mixed. With that said, we'll primarily focus on manual cleaning methods that are proven and preferred. Let's get into the nitty-gritty details of the steps below.

1. Brush and Remove Excess Dirt and Grime

Use a soft shoe brush or a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently brush away dirt clinging to the fabric. Using soft cyclical motions allows us to remove dirt delicately without causing visible damage to the fabric. Don't stress about stubborn stains. We'll discuss stain removal more intently in the upcoming steps.

Soft Bristle Brush

For more products like this visit, Amazon.

2. Mix or Buy a Premade Cleaning Solution

Before cleaning shoes, select your preferred cleaning agent. If you choose to mix a homemade solution, do so in a small container to best control mixing ratios. Gentle laundry detergents, dish soap, vinegar, salt, baking soda, and even toothpaste are among the common selections when mixing a homemade cleaner. These ingredients need to be mixed in warm, NOT hot water; otherwise, you risk damaging glues and adhesives used in your footwear.

If you do not want to play chemist, there are specially made shoe cleaning solutions available for purchase online and in stores. The rule of thumb once mixed is that the solution should have a slightly soapy consistency. If it's excessively sticky or foamy, it will present an additional challenge in the next steps.

Premium Shoe Cleaner

For more products like this visit, Amazon.

3. Wash Shoes

A combination of light to medium brushwork and soft cloth typically yields the greatest results when cleaning mesh shoes. Alternating between using your brush and soft cloth tends to work best when tackling heavier set stains. To be more efficient, approach the cleaning in stages; it will allow you to see the progressive improvement in realtime and allow you to modify the solution if necessary.

4. Rinse to Extract Cleaning Solution

Rinsing and removing the cleaning solution is an important step, and depending on soil level, it can be tedious. In all likelihood, the extraction and rinsing step will need to be repeated more than once to ensure chemicals have been adequately purged from the fabrics. You don't want anything, natural or otherwise, caught in the fabric.

5. Air Dry

To dry and maintain the shoe's integrity, select a normal temperature area in your home with access to sunlight and regular airflow. Artificially generated heat from dryers, hairdryers, etc.could once again adversely impact the shoe's materials through shrinking, melting, or warping. To safely speed up the process, drying towels and scrap rags can be stuffed into the insoles.  This works to dry from the inside and outside simultaneously. Stuffing your shoes with cloth and towels works twofold as it can also help shoes retain their shape.

Microfiber Soft Cloth

For more products like this visit, Amazon.

Unconventional Washer/Dryer Method

While it is not the preferred method, some still opt for using the conventional washer and dryer method. If you choose to try this, the recommendation is to wash on the 'delicate' setting. For drying, use the lowest possible heat and run the cycles in waves to regularly inspect your shoes. This will minimize the risk of catastrophic damage to your shoes. The results are mixed, so going in with few expectations is probably for the best.

Why Do Clean Shoes Matter?

Aside from being a point of pride, the cleanliness of a shoe has a discernable impact on a shoe's effectiveness. Longevity and breathability are important factors in how a shoe will perform during wear.


How your shoes look may not seem important, but by keeping up with appearances, you are better aware of your shoes' condition. Cleaning minimizes your shoe's exposure to dirt and grime. By not allowing dirt and grime to set in, you prevent issues like color bleed and degradation. The care you put into shoes directly correlates with how long you can use the pair. Better care equals stronger materials, greater elasticity, and significantly longer usage.


Mesh shoes by design are both comfortable and airy. If neglected and allowed to become caked up with dirt, breathability will absolutely be compromised. The mesh's depth is something to be aware of because the appearance of "clean" does not translate into "breathable clean." A thorough cleaning should ensure the ability to keep your feet well ventilated while tracking those long distance miles.

Can You Put Nike Mesh Shoes In The Washer And Dryer?

Nike Footwear maintains a reputation for being the highest quality gear, made from the highest quality materials. While their gear is tough and resilient, Nike does not recommend using a washer or dryer when cleaning their products. It is also best to avoid using harsh chemical cleaners like bleach as they have proven to quicken the wear and breakdown of fabrics and materials used.

For more tips and recommendations for cleaning your Nike Footwear, visit for FAQ's on Cleaning Nike Footwear.

Is OxiClean Safe On Shoes?

OxiClean is safe to use on shoes. When used with your normal go-to laundry detergent, tremendous results can be seen. It is both non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

Can I Use Bleach On Mesh Shoes?

While it is not typically advised, bleach can be used on mesh shoes if the circumstances deem it absolutely necessary. If you decide to use bleach as a part of your shoe cleaning regimen, the adage "less is more" is totally applicable. The overall consensus seems to be that if you opt to use bleach, it should be heavily diluted, with many of the recommendations suggesting to do as many as 5 parts water to 1 part bleach.

What Is The Best Homemade Shoe Cleaner?

There are many homemade solutions that people use to clean their shoes. The composition and ingredients of a cleaning solution will vary depending on the different styles and shoe fabrics. For our purposes, we're focusing on sneakers and mesh styled active footwear. Let's go ahead and look through some of the best homemade shoe cleaners.

Most solutions we've found involve mixing warm water with detergent, salt, baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or even toothpaste. These are common products usually on hand at your home. The dilution ratio for the more natural chemical compounds like salt, baking soda, vinegar is typically one to one. If you use anything harsher than detergent, like bleach, you need to be careful and dilute progressively to avoid accidental damage.

By far, the most popular homemade solution is a combination of warm water and dish soap or washing detergent and OxiClean. Combining all three with a thorough rinse and dry will take your shoe cleaning game up to the next level.

In Closing

Keeping your shoes clean does not need to be complicated. Doing a little bit of footwear care can go a long way to keeping your wallet, and the soles of your feet cushioned.

For more tips and advice, follow our Fitseer guides.

Can Football Cleats Be Used For Running?

Do Basketball Shoes Make Good Running Shoes?

Leave a Reply