How to Clean Cycling Shoes?

It would help if you kept cycling shoes fresh and clean for comfortable long rides. However, some of you end up damaging the shoes in the process of cleaning them. This is why it’s essential to know how to clean cycling shoes the proper way.

If you’re busy and want a quick solution, wipe the shoes clean with a wet cloth. However, this isn’t a permanent fix. In this article, we’ll discuss how to clean cycling shoes deep. So, let’s get right to it.

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How to Deep Clean Cycling Shoes: A Step-by-Step Guide

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the process detailing how you can clean cycling shoes properly. This process will help you deep clean the shoes you wear when you are riding your bicycle, which takes time and effort. Let’s take a look at the process.

Wipe The Exterior

To start, you’ll have to wipe the shoes with a damp cloth. Pick a soft cloth, as rough fabric may damage the texture of the shoe. This step may get the job done if there isn’t enough dirt on the shoes. However, it won’t clean the shoes inside out.

Still, if the shoes don’t smell or don’t look dirty inside, you don’t have to follow the entire process, as it can get quite intense.

Related reading: How to Know if Your Cycling Shoes Are Too Small or Too Big?

Clean the Insoles

The insoles of the shoes become dirtiest over time as they accumulate the most dirt and sweat. These absorb most of the sweat on your feet and quickly get smelly.

So, you must carefully wash them to ensure they’re clean of sweat and dirt. To do so, submerge the insoles in warm water. To make the process more effective, you can add a bit of soap or detergent to them. Also, keep the shoes submerged for a few minutes and then wash them with a gentle massage.

To finish the process, run them under water to rinse the soap. Make sure to clean all the soap properly, as residual soap can damage the insoles over time.

Wash the Shoes

After washing the insoles, get to cleaning the shoes. We don’t recommend washing the shoes with the insoles in them. Why? Because the insoles can trap some of the dirt inside the shoes.

You can wash the shoes in the same method as the previous one. Submerge them in warm and soapy water. Keep them there for some time to ensure they’re appropriately wet and soapy.

Then, brush them with a soft toothbrush to remove dirt and grime. You may also apply some pressure while cleaning the sole.

However, while cleaning the body, don’t apply too much pressure as it may degrade the color or texture. While cleaning the body, you can also use a gentle cloth instead of a toothbrush.

Air Dry the Shoes

One of the worst mistakes you can make after washing the shoes is to leave them as is. Most germs and bacteria thrive in moist areas. So, leaving the shoes without drying them will trigger further bacterial infestation.

This is why we highly recommend air drying the shoes and the insoles after washing them. You can leave them in direct sunlight if you don’t have an air dryer.

Use Shoe Powder

Shoe powder can help dry the shoes faster, which is why we recommend using them. However, this isn’t an absolute necessity. But we still recommend doing so as it can dry the shoes faster and ensure zero remaining moisture.

A lot of people use talc instead of shoe powder. While talc is excellent for moisture absorption, it can lead to different health issues if put into shoes. So, it would be best if you went for a talc-free powder.

Use a Cleaning Spray

There may be some bacteria or germs left even after a thorough wash. Even the slightest trace can lead to a full-scale breakout later. That is why it’s important to disinfect them.

You’ll find many cleaning sprays on the market for this purpose. However, not every one of them will work properly.

And if you don’t want to waste your money on an ineffective product, you should get the Combat Cleaner deodorizer. This product comes in three different variations, and it packs a powerful formula capable of ridding your shoes of all bacteria and germs.

Put the Soles Back In

Once you complete the cleaning and drying, it’s finally time to reassemble the shoe. Put the insoles back in and ensure there aren’t any wrinkles, as these may get permanent and lead to discomfort.

How To Clean White Cycling Shoes

There’s usually no difference in the cleaning process between regular shoes from white shoes. However, a few extra steps help, and we’ll describe those steps here.


If you want to whiten your white cycling shoes with something readily available, use toothpaste. Most kinds of toothpaste come with a whitening technology that helps whiten your teeth. Believe it or not, this can work equally well on your shoes.

So, after drying the white shoes, you can go for a second cycle where you brush the shoes with toothpaste instead of detergent. Add a little water so the shoes don’t get completely wet.

Scrub the shoe carefully with a toothbrush in a circular pattern. After a few turns, wipe it clean with a damp towel. Thus, this should help return some of the shine to the shoes.

Magic Eraser

The Magic Eraser from Mr. Clean is a durable scrubber capable of cleaning thrice as much as a bleach scrub. It also offers a Durafoam technology that facilitates micro-scrubbing. So, it works charms on synthetic leather shoes. However, it’s not as good for microfiber shoes.


You can use a mixture of detergent, vinegar, and water for microfiber shoes. This mixture can properly clean microfiber shoes and doesn’t affect the material.

You can use detergent of any brand for making this mix, but we highly recommend Earth Breeze.

How To Keep White Cycling Shoes Clean

You can clean white cycling shoes using spray-on protectors and occasional deep cleaning. Here are some methods you must try!

Spray-On Protectors

Spray-on protectors are great for keeping your shoe dirt and grime free. The spay-on protector will add a gel layer on top of your white shoe. So, the dirt sticks on the gel and not on the surface of the shoe.

This makes it much easier to clean the shoe off. Thus, we highly recommend using the Repel from Jason Markk. This shoe protector keeps your white shoes safe from stains and liquids. It’s odorless and colorless, so that you can apply it to a white shoe without any challenge. Furthermore, you can use it on all materials, which makes it even more convenient.

Wipe After Every Use

If you have a white shoe, it’d be best to wipe it after every use. This will prevent stains from getting permanent, ultimately keeping your shoes fresh.

Use a Stain Remover

Although we wouldn’t recommend using a stain remover on the shoe, you can try using them on the shoelaces. Even if the entire shoe is white, it’ll not look nice if the laces look stained. So, stain removers can return the whiteness to your shoelaces and make the shoe look more attractive.

Can You Put Cycling Shoes In The Washing Machine?

Yes, you can clean your cycling shoes in a washing machine. Use a little detergent and cold water to keep the shoe in the best shape.

However, it would be best if you didn’t dry the shoes in the machine. Each machine dry is bound to damage the shoe to some extent. Hence, we recommend hand cleaning as it’s the safest option.

How To Clean Smelly Cycling Shoes

There are multiple ways of tackling this problem. You can start by cleaning the shoe with hot water right after a ride. Once they’re clean of dirt and grime, air dry them under the sun or in front of a heater. Then, apply some foot spray or powder and store them in a cool place.

Remember that you shouldn’t store them wet as that will further increase bacterial infestation and smell. Also, pull the soles out during the wash, and don’t put them back in before you dry them thoroughly.

While you rinse, you can use soap and a small amount of bleach. Also, if you can’t put it in the sun for some reason, you can dry it under UV light. UV light is what kills bacteria. However, the sun is the superior option as its infrareds help with the drying process and are also more economical.

If the smell is too intense and can’t be removed with a simple rinse and dry process, you should leave the pair in a mixture of water and detergent for an hour before rinsing the soap off. This will get rid of all the dirt from the shoe.

Another excellent solution that requires less effort is packing the shoes with newspaper after use. While this will not reduce the odor of shoes that smells already, it can prevent odor build-up. Also, you can use a mixture of water and vinegar if you don’t have a shoe deodorizer at your disposal.

An excellent alternative to this is using deodorizer balls. You can put one of these in the shoes after rides, and they’ll keep the shoes fresh. If you can’t get your hands on deodorizer balls, you can try tea bags instead! You can also try putting lemon peels in it.

Related reading: Cycling Shoe Guide – Differences Between Bike Shoes Explained


Thus, these were some of the best methods of cleaning cycle shoes. As you can see, there are a ton of options.

No matter which ones you go for, we highly recommend deep cleaning your shoes at least once every month. This keeps the shoe fresh from dirt, smell, and infestations.

Also, preventing smelly shoes is much simpler than removing the odor. While packing the shoes or dropping deodorizer balls in them daily may seem like a hassle, it pays off in the long run.


Related reading: Best Regular Non Cycling Shoes For Cycling Review & Buying Guide

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