Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Got stinky sneaks?

Feet sure can stink when they're put to good use, which does not bode well for our sneakers. Lovely topic, I know, but an important one as smelly sneakers can wreak havoc on closets and gym bags alike. So if you find that your sneakers are in need of a good cleaning, I give you this tip: wash them by hand.

The rough-and-tumble action of a washing machine in combination with heavy amounts of water can loosen the structure of the shoe. Rubber soles can soften and the glue that holds the shoe together can melt. As a kid, I used to wear white Keds a lot. I wore them for cheerleading before cheer-specific shoes were invented, and I wore them on the playground at school because they went with every outfit in my closet. Needless to say, my Keds got dirty so Mom would always throw them in the washer. But they never came out the same. The fit always felt different, and part of the white would always turn to yellow—which I know recognize as melted glue.

So, wash your sneakers by hand. Use an old toothbrush or a rough rag. Put some detergent in warm water and scrub away. Take the insoles out and wash those, too. The laces, well...you can throw those in the washing machine. They'll survive.

Just don't ever put your shoes in the dryer. Again, the rough-and-tumble action and high heat levels can break down the shoe. (And do you really want to listen to a pair of sneakers bang and clang in the dryer for an hour or so? I didn't think so.) Always let them air dry, and if you absolutely have to rush the drying process, use a hair dryer on a low heat or cool setting.

And since you're taking the time to clean your shoes, you might as well inspect them, too.

Check for any worn spots in the tread. Mine are breaking down a little bit on the instep, but I think I can swing a few more miles out of them still. Also look at the insole. A visible footprint is a good indication that the shoe might need to be replaced soon.

And if a pair of sneakers needs to be replaced, by all means replace them. They are your protection while you exercise so it's very important that you keep them in top condition. And besides, no one wants to get caught in a pair of smelly old shoes. Am I right?

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