If you are a cross country runner, you face the same problem as the rest of us - dirty spikes. Mud and grass get stuck to the point where it seems like it’s impossible to get your favourite shoes back.
The older the spikes, the more dirt to scrap; but we have good news for you.
This simple cleaning routine, will give you a step-by-step guide to easily maintain your spikes and, thus, prolong their life.
How To Wash Cross Country Spikes: A Step-by-Step Guide
Before we start with our step-by-step guide, take a look at the list of things you’ll need to clean your cross country spikes:
- Cleaning brush
- Liquid soap
- Warm water
- Microfiber cloth
- Clean towels
Step 1 - Removing dry dirt
Assuming your spikes are caked with dry dirt, grass, and God knows what, the first step you should take is to remove the dirt before using water.
To clean the dry dirt, take a clean and dry cleaning brush and start brushing the shoe. This step needs patience as you may not remove a thing if the dirt is stone dry. However, the more dirt you remove, the less of a mess you’ll make later when water gets included in the process.
After you have removed as much dirt and residue from the shoe as possible, take a clean, dry toothbrush and focus on the rubber parts.
Note: If your cross country spikes have wet mud, you can either wait for it to dry or rinse it off with water. If you want to rinse it, be careful - use normal water pressure and slowly rub off the mud.
Step 2 - Soaking and washing
For this step, you’ll need a bucket, warm water, and liquid soap. If you don’t have a bucket to wash your spikes, you can put the plug in the sink and fill the sink with warm water.
When it comes to water temperature, many people ignore it, and that’s a mistake. You should never use hot water to wash your spikes. The water should be warm and pleasant to the skin. So, check the temperature with your hand or elbow before starting the procedure.
Now, we recommend you use soft hand soap as a cleaning product. If you want, you can use a mixture of warm water and a few drops of laundry detergent, but be sure the detergent is mild.
Step 2.1 - Shoelaces
To clean the shoelaces of your cross country spikes, lay them on a clean towel. Dip a clean toothbrush in soapy water (or in the detergent solution) and gently scrub the laces.
If the dirt doesn’t come off the laces, you’ll have to soak them. Fill a small bowl with warm soapy water, and leave the shoelaces to soak for about 30 minutes. Then, try scrubbing them with the toothbrush again.
Step 2.2 - Insoles
To clean the insoles of your XC spikes, pull them out of the shoes and put them on a towel. Take the microfiber cloth and dip less than half of it in warm soapy water.
Now, take the wet side of the cloth and clean the insoles with circular motions. It goes without saying that you should clean both sides of the insoles. Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to put more effort into the toes and heels areas.
Step 2.3 - Spikes
At the beginning of our guide on how to wash cross country spikes, we advise you to brush the shoes with a dry brush to remove dry dirt. Now, we’re going to focus on cleaning all dirt and residue with warm water and soft soap.
Of course, you should remove the spikes first. A soap-soaked toothbrush should be enough to clean them. However, if you’re facing stubborn dirt, put a dab of soap directly on the toothbrush. Then, gently scrub the spikes.
This is an important part, so be patient and pay attention to each pin. After scrubbing them, rinse the toothbrush with water and then remove the soap from the spikes. After they're soap-free, let them dry on a clean towel.
In the meantime, use soapy water and a toothbrush to wash the spike plates. You should rinse the soapy water from the plates too.
Step 2.4 - Shoes
The important part to remember is that you can use the same soap-water solution for all shoe parts. However, whether you clean the shoes with a microfiber cloth or a toothbrush depends on the shoe’s material and the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you’re using a toothbrush, dip it in soapy water and gently scrub the surface. Again, we recommend gently circular motions for easier cleaning.
Step 3 - Drying
If you have followed all steps in this guide, you have already placed the shoelaces, the insoles, and the spikes on dry, clean towels to dry. Now, get a few pieces of newspaper and crumple them up into a ball. Place the crumpled newspaper in the shoes and let them dry.
You can put them on a towel or in a dry sink you’re not planning to use. We strongly recommend not putting the shoes on direct heat (e.g on the top of the radiator), as the heat may damage the glue and the shape of your spikes.
Quick Tips and Warnings
Now that you know how to wash cross country spikes, continue reading to find several quick tips and things you should avoid when taking care of your running shoes.
- Even though hand-washing your XC spikes seems tedious, don’t chuck your spikes in with your running tights, top and socks in the washing machine, as machine-wash may damage your shoes beyond repair.
- You should remove the spikes occasionally, even when you don’t change the length, to avoid the risk of rust.
- When washing your XC spikes, it’s important to scrub the spike plates as they may have hidden residue that can damage the threads with time.
- After washing the shoes, let them dry naturally. Do not use a tumble dryer.
- In case the spike gets rusted, WD-40 may help you take it off. Spray the spike and leave it for a few hours. Then, try to remove the rust again.
- In case a spike gets stuck in and you can’t remove it, check if there's dirt around the edge of the pin. You can remove the dirt with a safety pin. After that, spray the spike with WD-40 and use a spike key or pliers to remove the spike.
For advice on how to clean your running shoes, we found this great guide by Brooks.