How to Clean Cycling Shoes

Whether you participate in time trialling, cyclocross, BMX or are just into recreational cycling, you need good bike shoes. But even the best cycling shoes get dirty and smelly. And what fun is there in wearing dirty, stinky road biking shoes? As a cyclist you must learn how to clean cycling shoes and every other piece of biking gear you own. Clean biking shoes have you wanting to ride and exercise more. Plus clean bike shoes tend to last a tad longer.

white giro womens cycling shoe
A white cycling shoe from Giro for women bike riders. Looks nice, but that’s only when it’s sparkling clean.

I know the kind of questions that have been crisscrossing your mind. What’s the best way to wash my biking shoes? Can I toss my biking shoes in the washing machine? How do I clean my Pelton bike shoes? How do I clean white cycling shoes? How do clean bike shoe cleats?

Bike Shoe with cleats
Can you see the cleats on the soles of this bike shoe? They, too, get dirty and need a little cleaning.

In this post, I show you how to clean your bike shoes and leave them looking clean and cute. I’ll also share easy and easy-to-implement tips on how to deodorize smelly bike shoes. Whether you’re looking to know how to do light cleaning or deep cleaning, I got you covered.

separate bike shoe cleats
Some bike shoes come with cleats, but with others you have to but the cleats separately.

What You’ll Need to Deep Clean Your Bike Shoes

  • Bucket
  • Cold water
  • Soft-thistle brush
  • Dish soap
  • Bike shoe deodorizing spray
  • Old newspapers
  • A dry towel
  • A clean cloth

You now have everything you need to show your bike shoe the kind of tender loving care it deserves. It’s now time for a little elbow grease.

How to Light-clean and Deep-clean Cycling Shoes

The level of cleaning your cycling kicks need depends on how dirty they are. Maybe you just did a 5-mile spin through some really nice weather. In that case, your shoe likely doesn’t need heavy cleaning.

But if you’ve been riding through tons of mud and your shoes look messy and disgusting, definitely deep clean them.

How to Remove Light Dirt from Your Bike Shoes

To give your bike shoes a quick clean after a short ride in good weather, grab a damp cloth and wipe them down. That should take care of the light layer of dust covering the upper and other areas.

Then, reach inside the shoes and give them a nice wipe.

Easy, but your bike shoes may still stink even after you wipe the dirt off. In that happens, put a tablespoonful of baking soda into each shoe. That should tackle the bad smell.

How to Deep Clean Your Bike Shoes

So you’ve been riding through puddles and mud and everything in between and your bike shoes look like po*p? Not to worry, give them a nice deep clean instead.

Take the second bucket and pour in enough dish soap to dilute the soap. Be careful when using soap. If you use soap that’s too harsh, you’ll likely harm your nice-looking bicycle riding kicks.

Then, take a piece of clean cloth and dip it into the soapy water. Next, rub the shoes with the cloth. Clean the upper, the straps, the outsoles, the cleats, the inside of the shoes…everywhere.

If the shoe is extremely dirty, don’t be afraid of dunking it into the soapy solution. Put your muddy bike shoes into the water and brush the mud and filth away using a soft brush.

Pay enough attention to the cleats on the underside of the shoes, too. Mud likes to hide and solidify inside cleats. For that reason, you may have to soak the shoes for some time. Thirty minutes should be enough. Then, brush the loosened mud and dirt off the cleats.

Finally, pour the now mucky water out and pour in some clean cold water. Warm water isn’t recommended because it can damage your shoes or degrade adhesives. So, it’s best to use cold water.

Next, rinse your cycling shoes. You could also hose down the shoes with a gentle stream.

Dry Your Shoes and Deodorize Them

Using direct sunlight or other sources of heat such as the radiator to quicken drying isn’t smart. So, don’t speed-dry your cycling kicks in your oven. And don’t do machine-drying of any kind.

Instead, air-dry your bike shoes indoors. Drying them indoors may take longer, but you won’t ruin your shoes. You can also put old newspapers into the shoes to make them dry faster. But understand that print from old newspapers can run into your shoes and discolor them.

Another easy way to hasten drying is wiping the shoes using a dry towel. Remove the insoles from the shoes when drying them. Taking the insoles off helps speed up drying.

Once dry, you can deodorize the kicks.To deodorize your shoes and kill bacteria causing the odors, pour baking soda into the shoes as described above.

You can also mix 2 cups of water with one teaspoon of white vinegar to make a natural deodorizer. I’d even say that white vinegar works better than baking soda. Put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray the liquid into and onto the shoes. Also,deodorize the insoles.

You may also opt to use a deodorizer such as the 10 Seconds Shoe Disinfectant Spray to tackle odors. This product comes in spray bottle so that you can easily spray its contents onto your shoes.

8 Cleaning Biking Shoes FAQs

Let’s dive right in.

1. Can I Put My Cycling Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Yes, you can toss your biking shoes in a washing machine with some detergent to clean them. Consider throwing a couple clean towels inside the machine, too. It’s best to use cold water to machine-wash your biking shoes, but machine-drying cycling shoes is a no-no. As for the right setting, cold-wash your bicycling kicks on a slow cycle or gentle setting.

However, hand-cleaning is the least risky way to clan your bike shoes. While I toss my shoes in the washing machine when I’m feeling too lazy, I don’t do it habitually. I suggest that you hand-wash your cycling shoes every time you can, which should be most of the time.

2. How Do Clean Stinky Cycling Shoes?

To remove odors from biking shoes, put a full teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) into each road biking shoe after cleaning them. It’s also a good idea to use baking soda on your biking kicks during storage or between wearings.

Baking soda is a powerful deodorizer for smelly biking shoes. It works by eliminating the odor-causing bacteria that thrive in wet, dirty, sweat-filled shoes. The best part is that baking soda is generally harmless, inexpensive, and abundantly available.

3. How Do You Clean White Road Bike Shoes?

To remove the splotches of grime that makes your white road bike shoes look less-than-white, use the Magic Eraser. It’s easy to be skeptical of any cleaning product described as having magical dirt-removing abilities. But the Magic Eraser works.

This product excels when it comes to blotting out scuffs, stubborn dirt, and other tough spots. Simply apply the Magic Eraser on the affected area; it works like magic, literally. Apply the Magic Eraser on your cycling shoes’ toe box, insoles, outsoles, upper, laces, and everywhere else. And your road bike shoes will look many times whiter.

*Read the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding how you should clean your cycling shoes. Some shoes shouldn’t go in the washing machine. That’s because machine-washing such bike shoes degrades their antibacterial properties, the shoe material, and adhesives.

4. Can You Wash Peloton Bike Shoes?

Yes, you can wash and deodorize Peloton shoes. Most Peloton shoes come in a bulky design and can be pretty difficult to wash. To clean Peloton bike shoes, fill a tub with clean cold water and then add some mild soap. Instead of soap, you may also use a good sports laundry detergent powder.

Then, soak your dirty and stinky Peloton biking shoes in the soapy water. Next, use a clean sponge to scrub off dirt. And if your Peloton cycling shoe is too dirty, employ a soft-thistle brush to scrub it until it’s squeaky clean. If your shoes are still a little stinky after the clean, use some sodium bicarbonate to deodorize the shoes.

5. What’s the Best Spray for Cycling Shoes?

The best sprays for biking shoes are great odor eliminators that help your shoes stay clean and fresh. While the market offers a sea of bike shoe deodorizer sprays, some are better than others. One the best deodorizer sprays is the 10 Seconds Shoe Disinfectant Spray. Another good bike shoe deodorize is the Rocket Pure Deodorizer Spray.

6. How Do You Clean Cycling Cleats?

Are your bike shoes and cleats covered in mud and other kinds of dirt? Submerge the shoes in a bucket filled with soapy water. Then use a soft-thistle brush to scrub mud and dirt off the upper, outsoles, and cleats.

Also, make sure to check your cleats regularly and if they’re loose, tighten them up. Rattling cleats that keep trying to come off can be super annoying. Such cleats can have you pulling out of a race, so tighten those screws.

7. How Often Should Bike Cleats be Changed?

Generally, you should replace your cycling cleats every 6 months. Changing your cleats every 6 months ensures is probably the best strategy for keeping your cleats functioning properly. That said, taking good care of your bike shoe cleats can prolong their lifespan.

8. When Should I Replace my Cleats?

One sign that your cleats need to be replaced is when the cleats’ wear to the point you experience difficulty clipping in. Another sign it’s cleat replacement time is when you start noticing unsteady connections with your bike pedals. Also, if your cleats release all the time or you notice wobbling, it’s time to buy new cleats.

Final Word on Cleaning and Deodorizing Your Bike Shoes

Cleaning your cycling shoes every time you’re back from a road trip or mountain biking is critical to boosting durability.

If your road bike shoes aren’t too dirty, wipe them down with a clean damp cloth. Then, leave them to air dry in a warm place away from heat.

But if the shoes and cleats are extremely muddy, dunk them in soapy water. Then, use a soft brush to clean them. Scrub the upper, the outer side of straps, outsoles, and cleats. Then, remove the outsoles and wipe the shoes dry with a dry towel. Next, stuff the shoes with old newspapers to soak up excess water.

If the shoes are smelly, deodorize them. Also, deodorize your shoes before storage or between uses to keep them smelling fresh throughout.

Do not leave your expensive biking shoes to dry out in direct sunlight as that can seriously degrade the material. Additionally, don’t machine-dry your shoes. Don’t put them in your kitchen oven or even place them on your radiator.

Now that your shoes are clean, let’s go out biking! And remember to helmet up and pad up adequately before rushing out. Check out these Triple Eight Helmets and these protective pads and pick whatever you like.