how to clean hoka shoes comprehensively in 5 Steps

Did you come back after a long and comfortable run in your Hoka shoes but got them dirty? Don’t worry. Running shoes can get dirty easily due to the wear and tear of rough terrains.

So, do you want to know how to clean Hoka shoes? Basic tools from your house, like a toothbrush, cleaning cloth, and soap solution, will do the work. But, you have to be careful with the cleaning process to prevent damage.

If you’re worried about cleaning your Hoka shoes the right way, we’ve got you covered. We have gathered detailed data from people who cleaned their Hoka shoes for the first time and shared their insights.

So, stick with us to get the best tips for cleaning your Hoka shoes!

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Gathering the right cleaning supplies is the first step. You can get most of these items at your home.

To clean your Hokas thoroughly, you’ll want to have these items on hand:

  • Old toothbrush or soft-bristle shoe brush
  • Mild dish soap
  • Bucket of warm water
  • Clean cloths or soft towels
  • Old towel to set shoes on while drying
  • Laundry detergent (optional)
  • Small bag (like a mesh laundry bag)

We recommend using basic dish soap rather than harsh chemical cleaners. Dish soap will cut through dirt and oils without damaging the shoe materials. Mild products as they won’t damage the soft upper and outer layer of the shoes.

Got all your supplies? Great! Let’s get cleaning.

how to clean hoka shoes

Understanding Your Hoka Shoe’s Anatomy

The thing is, knowing your shoes makes cleaning them easier. Understanding the anatomy of your Hoka shoes will help you determine how to target the right places while cleaning.

When washing running shoes, tossing them in the washing machine was our go-to- solution. But Hokas are really built differently. The thick EVA foam midsole and rugged outsole made us realize that we need to be careful while cleaning them.

Thick cushioning is a plus point of Hoka and is the main reason for its popularity. This plush cushioning is as soft as a pillow, so we do not recommend putting Hoka shoes in a washing machine. The soft cushioning can get damaged. Also, the maximal padding can soak a lot of water. Thus, Hoka shoes take more time to dry.

Apart from this, the mesh upper of Hoka shoes mostly comprises breathable and synthetic materials. Also, this material stretches while running and walking to allow air to pass through. 

We determined that the mesh upper is soft yet resilient. Thus, scrubbing the upper too hard isn’t a good idea. This becomes even more difficult when you have white Hoka shoes. Even when the dirt goes away, the color can still remain. But don’t step back from wearing white shoes due to it. We will cover the cleaning process later in the article.

The rugged outsole of Hoka shoes makes them great for trail running and hiking. The shoes can get muddy and catch dirt and debris while running. The thick outsole covers most of the shoes, and cleaning the dirt off can be a bit difficult in this situation.

Did all this make you worried? Relax, as we have a complete guide ready for you!

How to clean Hoka shoes: 5 steps

If you’re cleaning your Hoka shoes for the first time, our step-by-step guide will help you through the process. We have covered all the details to keep your shoes fresh as new!

Let’s get started.

how to clean hoka shoes

Step 1 – Lace Removal and Initial Rinse

Removing the laces is the first step to clean any running shoes. To make things easy, it is better to wash the laces and shoes separately. 

You should start by removing the laces from each shoe. Place them in a small bag or mesh laundry bag and set aside. We’ll wash these separately later.

With the laces removed, do an initial pre-rinse of the shoes under cool running water. This will help dislodge any loose particles and mud. Apply a moderate stream of water over the upper, sides, tread, and inside of each shoe.

A great tip here is to hold your shoes at a specific angle to the water. For example, if the dirt is on the sides of the shoes, you should keep that part directly under the water stream. In this way, the water pressure will forcefully remove the dirt and debris.

Do you have a hose nozzle or jet spray at home? Great! The pressure can remove tough stains. If you don’t have one, it’s fine. We have plenty of tips later to remove the dirt.

Step 2 – Scrub the Upper and Sides

Now comes the real scrubbing work.

To get started with this step, fill your bucket halfway with warm water. Add a small squirt of dish soap and swish it around to make suds.

Dip your toothbrush in the sudsy water and gently brush along the upper material of each shoe. Apply light pressure and work the bristles over the nooks and crannies. But be careful around logos, overlays, and the printed sections of shoes. You will need to be a bit gentle here.

Also, a better idea is to do a patch test. You can scrub any inconspicuous area first to see if the mixture is causing damage to the shoes, like removing the color.

Now, move down to the sides, gently scrubbing from top to bottom. Rinse the brush frequently as you work. You can also scrub in round circles to ensure even distribution.

For any stubborn stains, allow the soapy solution to soak on the spot briefly before scrubbing. The warm, soapy water will help lift dirt from the material.

But remember to soak the shoes for a short time to prevent over-saturating the upper. It should not be more than 5 minutes. Also, you should pat down excess water from the shoes as you clean.

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Step 3 – Clean the Midsole and Outsole

Once the uppers are cleaned, shift your attention to the midsole and outsole.

Dip your toothbrush in the sudsy bucket and scrub the edges of the midsole where dirt builds up. Use a soft cloth to wipe down the rest of the midsole surface.

For the outsole and tread, use an old toothbrush, stiff shoe brush, or abrasive sponge. Apply soapy water and scrub vigorously to remove impacted mud and debris.

Although the outsole is sturdy, remember that you’re already using a stiff toothbrush. So, it is important to stay gentle here too. Applying too much pressure while scrubbing the tread might damage the lugs.

Rinse thoroughly when complete. Check crevices and grooves for any remaining trapped particles.

Step 4 – Footbed and Interior Cleaning

Don’t neglect the insides!

Remove the original insoles if possible. Hand wash the insoles delicately with dish soap and water and let them fully air dry.

For the interior cavity, use a clean towel dampened with soapy water. Gently wipe down the walls and roof of the cavity. Then, stuff the insides with newspaper or towels to absorb moisture.

Removing the water regularly is necessary to prevent oversaturation of the insides. So, make sure you absorb the moisture from time to time.

Leave overnight with the cavity open to dry fully before replacing the insoles.

You can opt for a water-proofing spray to prevent the shoes from getting wet or absorbing excess water. Applying shoe wax using a soft brush and rubbing it gently will also make shoes water-resistant.

Step 5 – Lace Cleaning

Time to freshen up those shoelaces!

Place laces in the sink or bucket filled with warm water and a splash of laundry detergent. Swish around for a few minutes.

Drain the soapy water and rinse the laces thoroughly. Hang or lay flat to air dry completely.

If the dirt from the laces doesn’t go away, use an old toothbrush to scrub the lace ends.

While most people consider putting the laces in a washing machine, we don’t recommend it. Washing the laces in the machine and dryer will tangle them. The laces can also lose their threads due to intense pressure and heat. Therefore, hand-washing and air-drying the laces is the best option.

There you have it – like-new kicks from top to bottom! Now let’s go over some extra cleaning and care tips.

The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Hoka Shoes

Cleaning your Hoka shoes isn’t too much labor, especially when you don’t want them to get damaged. 

We also preferred the common approach of machine washing, until we observed it deteriorated the shoe quality quickly.

But there’s more to cleaning Hoka shoes. Let’s get into the details.

The first thing is, what you clean with is just as crucial as how you clean.

The mesh upper of Hoka shoes is sensitive to harsh chemicals. Therefore, you need to opt for non-abrasive chemicals. These include:

  • Mild dish soap
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Anti-dandruff shampoo
  • Dye-free detergent

If you don’t have these products readily available, we have another option. You can mix white vinegar with baking soda in equal quantities to make a paste. This paste will also help remove the stains.

Another great alternative to clean Hoka shoes is to use laundry spray. 

While many people use bleach on Hoka shoes, we don’t recommend this. Bleaching will clean the white shoes, but it will also age the shoes. The same goes for putting Hoka shoes in a washing machine. While they do get clean, this process reduces their lifespan.

Now, let’s discuss the drying process. Do you wonder why air drying trumps the dryer every time? It’s because it is safe.

Putting your Hoka shoes in the dryer will harm the materials. Hoka shoes vary in the kind of materials, but the mesh mostly comprises soft materials. The direct heat in the dryer can tear the threads and warp the materials of the upper.

Therefore, air drying is the best option. You can speed up the process by placing the shoes directly in front of the fan. You can also separate the insoles and sockliner to make the shoes dry quickly.

Shoe dryers are also a great option as they use gentle heat to dry shoes.

Using these techniques, you can make your Hoka shoes look new in no time! However, remember to be careful during the process to avoid common cleaning pitfalls. Our personal experience highlights the stance of being gentle with Hokas. We used a hard scrubbing brush on the upper, which led to the threads coming out with each move. So, make sure you use a soft brush!

clean running shoes

Extra Tips for Maintaining Your Clean Hokas

Now that your Hoka shoes are clean, the story doesn’t end here. You need to maintain your shoes to keep them looking new. Want to get more tips on maintaining your Hoka shoes?

We have them right here!

The best and most useful tip we also love is using shoe trees. When our shoes used to get sweaty after a long run, cedar shoe trees always came to the rescue. After each wear, putting cedar shoe trees helps absorb the moisture to keep smell away. Also, they maintain the shape of Hoka shoes.

We also need to consider that odor-causing bacteria can occur in running shoes due to long wearing hours. Therefore, a better idea is to give a break of 24-48 hours between wears. This will help eliminate any moisture and prevent bacteria from growing in the shoes.

Want to make your Hoka shoes last longer?

Well, rotating between multiple pairs can help with that. Running shoes tend to have a lifespan of 300-500 miles. So, rotating between different Hoka shoes for runs and other purposes can help with increasing their life. It will also prevent your feet from getting adapted to only one pair of shoes.

Waterproof spray also tends to keep the shoes clean by preventing muddy water and debris. These sprays are long-lasting and show a great impact. You should apply waterproof spray 2-3 times per year on your shoes for protection.

Apart from this, keeping a check on your shoes is necessary. If they show any signs of wear, you should get them professionally repaired. Another great tip is to replace the insoles after every 300-500 miles. As the foam tends to compress, new insoles will provide extra comfort and support.

Follow these cleaning steps regularly, and your Hokas will perform great for many miles!

How do you get the smell out of Hoka shoes?

Do you also hate the bad odor from your shoes? Well, it mostly happens after a long walk or run. 

Due to wearing your shoes for a long time, sweat and moisture build up inside the shoes. Combined with the dust and dirt, it can leave a foul odor after you take the shoes off.

To prevent this foul odor, we recommend removing the insoles and laundering them if possible. Another alternative is to use a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water solution. You can use this solution to wipe the interior walls and roof of the shoe cavity.

The vinegar solution is an ideal and handy tool to get rid of bad odor quickly. Wiping the shoes just after a long run will prevent odor buildup.

hoka shoes

Why It’s Important to Clean Your Hokas

Before we get our hands dirty, let’s review why proper cleaning is essential.

When the sole and lugs don’t have mud and dirt, you can expect a better grip and traction, especially in wet conditions. Cleaning your Hokas regularly can also remove the dirt and debris that can accumulate and abrade the upper material. The earlier you clean, the better it is to take off the dirt stains.

Another great thing about cleaning Hokas is that it removes the bad odor. This bad odor usually forms due to the accumulation of sweat, dirt, and debris. By thorough cleaning, you can prevent smelly shoes.

Cleaning your Hokas will also help increase the life of your shoes. Yes, that’s right! Cleaning regularly prevents premature breakdown and allows them to perform better for hundreds of miles.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my Hoka shoes?

The best time to clean your Hokas shoes is as soon as they get dirty. Leaving the shoes to dry for a long time will make the stain tough to remove. If they aren’t that dirty, you can simply wipe them. But, you should deeply clean your Hoka shoes after using them on dirty terrains or during the rain.

Can I wash Hoka shoes in the washing machine?

We don’t recommend washing Hoka shoes in the washing machines. The constant pressure from the spinning can damage the upper and disturb the shape of the sole.

But if you still want to wash your Hokas in the washing machine or don’t have any other option, here’s a tip. Put the shoes inside a laundry bag and then wash them in the washing machine. This can prevent severe damage to shoes.

What should I do if my shoes still smell after cleaning?

Spraying a mixture of water and vinegar solution will remove the bad odor from the shoes. Another alternative is to freeze the shoes by placing them in a plastic bag and putting them in the freezer overnight. Cold temperatures can remove the bacteria that cause bad odors.

Apart from this, make sure you air-dry your shoes properly after cleaning. The remaining moisture can also cause shoes to smell. Don’t wear your shoes until they are completely dry.

What temperature water should I use?

The best tip is to use cold water while washing Hoka shoes. Cold water has great properties that can help remove dirt fast without damaging the shoes. 

However, some people prefer using lukewarm water. Hot water tends to remove the stains faster. Whatever temperature you use, make sure the water is not too hot and not too cold either.


While cleaning your Hoka shoes may seem to be a daunting task, it only requires a bit of careful consideration and the use of the right material. But being lazy and throwing the shoes in a washing machine isn’t a good choice either.

Apart from cleaning your Hoka shoes, you should also maintain them after cleaning and use tips to remove the bad odor.

Now that your Hoka shoes are clean, you can enjoy the smooth rides!

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