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4 Tips to Make Your Workout Shoes Last Longer (2024 Advice)

If you’re an avid gym-goer, then you’ve likely run into occasions where your training shoes need replacing. Maybe it was their time to kick the bucket, or maybe they broke down a little prematurely.

Either way, there are a few things we can do to prolong our workout shoe’s lifespans.

The tips I discuss in this article are easy to implement and they’ll help expand your shoe’s lifespans by months. This is huge for making sure your investment goes the distance and you can start implementing these tips as soon as today.

Tip 1: Clean Your Shoes Correctly

Far too often, we throw shoes into the washing machine and dryer thinking that there are going to be negative repercussions for doing so. I think we’ve all been guilty of this at least once in our lives.

The washing machine and dryer can do some serious damage to your training shoes. When shoes are super waterlogged, and then exposed to extreme heat, as they can be in a dryer, then they can break down at a much faster rate than what they normally would.

How to NOT clean training shoes

Some say that you can put your training shoes into the washing machine on “cold and delicate”, but I’d say, hedge your bets and avoid it entirely. Most training shoes use polyurethanes, various types of foams, and other mesh materials.

These materials can deteriorate and become detached from one another at a faster rate when submerged in water for long periods of time, and then dried with extreme heat.

It’s like taking your favorite fitting shirt, then washing it aggressively and drying it just as aggressively, what ends up happening to that shirt over time?

It shrinks, the threads can start to fray, and it loses some of its quality with every wash — the same thing can happen with your shoes.

How to clean training shoes

What To Do Instead

Instead of chucking your shoes into the washing machine do the following to spot clean them correctly and prolong their life.

  1. Grab a clean washcloth and some soft soap (opt for something that doesn’t have harsh fragrances + colors). The traditional Dial soap works really well in this context.
  2. Put a little lukewarm water on the washcloth and a very small dollop of soap.
  3. Spot clean the areas of the shoe that are excessively dirty and need a little maintenance and TLC (tender love and care) and wipe them down with the damp soapy washcloth.
  4. If an area is super dirty, wipe in one direction and this can limit how you spread the dirt around to a larger surface area.
  5. Once the shoes look relatively clean, grab one more washcloth and put a little lukewarm water on it, then wipe down the areas once more to clear any potential remaining soap.
  6. To dry your shoes, remove their insoles, place them in a dry area in your house (under a vent works if possible!), and stick a little newspaper inside of the shoes.

After these six steps, voila. Your shoes will be in much better shape and the shoe’s materials were not put in settings where they could break down at a quicker rate.

Tip 2: Wear Them for Training…Only

The second tip is possibly the easiest thing you can do to prolong your shoe’s life and that’s to only wear them for training. Far too often, I see lifters and athletes buy cross-training shoes, then wear them every single day all day and wonder why they break down so fast.

Outside elements like dirt, casual rain, and varied temperatures can take a toll on a shoe’s midsole, outsole, and upper construction. On top of that, our bodyweight can also take a toll on a shoe’s midsole support and over time this is why we’ll start to see creases in certain shoe’s midsole constructions.

Nike Metcon 7 Stability and Lifting

What To Do Instead

Wear your training shoes exclusively for training, seriously. Not to the grocery store, not to walk the dogs, limit their use for gym-focused workouts only. This will help prolong their outsoles, midsoles, and overall upper construction by keeping their external exposure to more controlled environments.

Think about it, your gym’s flooring is likely made of rubber, so your shoe’s outsole will last longer versus wearing them on concrete, and there’s like limited exposure to water and dirt in your gym, too. These factors alone can make a big long-term difference.

Tip 3: Store Them Properly

Another simple way to prolong your shoe’s life is to store them properly. This tip is for all the lifters and athletes like myself that use a gym bag for all of their gear, which also houses our training shoes.

After long and grueling sessions, our gear like knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and belts will likely be drenched in sweat. When stored in a closed gym bag, the internal environment of the bag can get humid and super moist, you likely see where I’m going with this. This is an environment that can take a toll on a shoe’s polyurethane and foam midsole.

What To Do Instead

Create a habit to take your shoes out of your gym bag as soon as you get home, then store them properly. In this context, properly means in a dry area with a neutral temperature.

Some no-fly zones include garages and front porches where temperatures and humidity levels can fluctuate greatly. My advice is to get a shoe rack and place it somewhere like your closet or laundry room.

Tip 4: Unlace and Lace Them

This is another one that I’m CONSTANTLY guilty of and it’s unlacing and re-lacing your shoes when taking them on and putting them off. Training shoes generally have boot constructions that are designed to promote stability and security.

When we jam our feet into our shoes without unlacing them, we can be prone to damaging the heel’s internal construction. We all likely have that one pair of shoes with the floppy heels due to this — cough cough — my Reebok Legacy Lifter 2s (when will I learn…).

What To Do Instead

Create another habit of un-lacing and re-lacing your shoes when taking them off and putting them on. What helps me is to take my mindset when doing this, and even though it’s brief, thinking about my training for the day.

This helps me zone out and not think about rushing to put on my shoes and helps me attack workouts with a smidge more intent. It’s a win-win, to be honest!

Simple, Yet Effective

All of these tips are designed to help prolong your shoe’s lifespans to make your investment worth it. They’re simple to use and will easily add more months to your favorite training shoes.

If you have any questions or additional tips for fellow lifters and athletes, drop a comment below!

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

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