Don’t let wet running shoes upset your plans. Need to get back on your feet quickly, try the techniques below to get your running shoes dry in time for your next run.
Drying techniques for your running shoes
- Newspaper method, an old. but slow favourite
- Hairdryer, a quick solution when done with care. See our top tip to accelerate this drying process
- Tumble Dryer, fast, but expensive and noisy method
- Hand dryer, the work commute fallback
- Leaf Blower, unwieldy but surprisingly effective
Drying techniques to never try
- Drying running shoes in the microwave
- Drying running shoes in the oven
- Office paper, this paper is coated and none-absorbant, stealing the last of the printer paper will make you pretty unpopular too!
- Swinging them by the laces in the office, just kidding!
The Challenge of drying running shoes quickly
It happens to all of us, wet running shoes ahead of our next run. Or getting them wet on the commute to work, knowing you need them for the return trip.
Drying the outside of running shoes is easy, but unlike our other running gear, getting the inside of running shoes dry is a challenge. There’s no easy way to get air on sunlight in there. Even trying running shoes on the clothesline for a day or two is unlikely to dry them out thoroughly.
The numerous glued components of running shoes can fall apart if excessive heat is applied.
Drying running shoes with heat
Running shoes are made of many layers of glued and stitched components to support and cushion you to that next great run. The stitching and in particular the glue is not very tolerant of heat. Overheat a running shoe, and it can quite literally fall apart.
The running shoe materials themselves also degrade if heat is applied. EVA and similar materials soften in the heat, losing shape and more importantly losing flexibility (think bounce) when overheated.
Drying running shoes with Newspaper
Drying with a newspaper is a great method to dry out your running shoes. It requires time and persistence, however.
Loosen the shoelaces. Crunch up individual sheets of Newspaper and stuff them into the shoes. Make sure you get right to the front (the toe) of the running shoes. You want to stuff the shoe fairly tightly, but not so much that it deforms or stretches the shape of the running shoe.
After the first application, replace the Newspaper after 30 minutes and insert fresh Newspaper. From then on replace the Newspaper every 1-2 hours until dry.
Drying running shoes with a Hairdryer
The humble hairdryer is an effective tool of choice to dry running shoes quickly. Best combined with at least one set of Newspaper stuffing (Above).
The hairdryer approach works by getting air flowing into the running shoe along with some heat. Don’t be tempted to use the hairdryer on high heat in your haste to get a dry shoe. High heat will damage the glues and materials in the running shoe.
If you have patience and your hairdryer has cold mode, then use it in preference to adding heat. Even using a cold setting, a hairdryer can dry out your shoes pretty quickly. Otherwise, use a low heat setting and if your hairdryer doesn’t have a ‘cold shot’ trigger, then remove the hairdryer every 10-15 seconds to let everything cool down a little.
Obvious note here is that hairdryers aren’t designed to pump hot air into a confined shoe, the hairdryer itself can overheat if you don’t follow the ‘cold shot trigger’ or 10-15 second pause method above.
Top Tip: To get more efficient drying use something to funnel the air into the running shoe. This will help separate the air you re pushing into the shoe from the air trying to escape. If all else fails the insert in toilet roll held on the end of the hairdryer is pretty effective.
This extra tweak accelerates the speed and efficiency of the drying process.
Drying running shoes in the Laundry Dryer
The laundry dryer is a slower way to dry your running shoes than the hairdryer approach. This method works by getting warm air moving through the inside of the running shoes to dry them.
You need to use the lowest heat setting to avoid damaging the shoe, its also worth sopping the dryer regularly to check the shoes aren’t getting too warm.
Your shoes will thud around in the dryer. There are a couple of options to help with this.
Putting the shoes into a pillowcase before putting them in the dryer can reduce the noise.
There’s also the option of trapping the shoelaces in the dryer door. This allows you to ‘hang’ them in the inside of the dryer. While removing the noise, this option can wreck the rubber seals on your dryer (costly repair) or your shoes can get pulled around and tanged/damaged. We wouldn’t recommend the hanging laces in the laundry door approach!
Drying your running shoes with a Hand dryer
The bathroom hand-dryer can be a great emergency drying option if you get stuck with wet shoes at work. To get the warm air into the shoes, you may have to loosen or remove the shoelaces to open the shoes out.
Again, be sure not to apply too much heat to avoid damaging the running shoes.
Drying running shoes with a Leaf Blower
Not to be outdone by a hairdryer, the leaf blower is another great, if somewhat unwieldy, running shoe drying option. A low setting is best to avoid having to chase the running shoes around the yard.
Propping the running shos against a fence or wall is a great help to direct the airflow into the shoes. Wedging your running shoes between a couple of heavy objects (bricks) is a good alternative.
Drying your running shoes without Newspaper
Most types of single-use paper is an excellent alternative to Newspaper. Paper hand towels are a great choice. What makes Newspaper and paper towels so absorbent is they are a rough, fibrous paper without any water-repelling coating.
Other types of paper tend to have a water-resistant, finished surface and won’t help dry your shoes.
Drying your shoes with rice
Drying with rice takes time, but is the gentlest drying option.
Fill a shoebox-sized container with about an inch (2.5cm) of dry rice. Loosen the shoelaces and place the shoes in the container. Place the lid on the container and leave the container in a warm place for 2-3 hours.
If the shoes are still damp, add more dry rice and replace the lid.
Drying your running shoes with an office or desk fan
Another ‘without heat’ option is to hook or peg your shoes in front of a desk fan. Loosen the laces and be careful to stash the laces away from the fan blades. Depending on room temperature, this can be a quick shoe drying method.
Top tips for keeping your running shoes dry and fresh smelling
We should give our running shoes a little TLC beyond trying to recover them from submersion. Keeping our running shoes dry and aired between runs rather than stashed away damp will reward our shoes and our feet.
Odour causing bacteria love (need) moisture to thrive, so a dry environment helps keep odour creating bacteria at lower levels. Bacteria can increase the breakdown of the glue and shoe material.
Don’t leave them in the car or sports bag. Keep your shoes out in open air to allow them to dry. Even the moisture from our feet leave behind needs time to dry out.
Use Silica gel (not advised if you have young children or pets) to help pull out some moisture between runs. Alternatively there are a number of reusable drying and naturally deodorising inserts for your running shoes.