How to Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine—Pro Tips and Tricks

When washing shoes in the washing machine, there are steps you have to take. These include removing the laces, placing a towel in the machine for padding and allowing them to air dry.

It’s almost impossible to keep shoes clean, and they’re often a bother to wash. The washer is a fast and efficient way of rejuvenating a pair of white kicks or colorful kids’ shoes.

We’re here today to share our tips on how to wash shoes in the washing machine. You’ll learn what to look out for and how to reduce the risk of damage.

Here’s a quick run-through on how to wash shoes in the washing machine:

  • Consult the care label.
  • Prep your shoes.
  • Add padding to the drum.
  • Prepare the machine.
  • Dry your shoes.

Is It Safe to Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Whether it’s safe or not to put your shoes in the washing machine depends on your shoes. Some materials—leather, silk and satin—aren’t suited for the washer, and you would ruin them.

Other materials, like regular sneakers and tennis shoes, can easily take a turn in the washer.

Trainers and kids’ shoes are easily machine washed. They’re often made from textiles like nylon, cotton and polyester, capable of withstanding a machine wash.

Other materials, such as PVC or PU, might do fine for an occasional wash, but be sure to consult the care label.

The issue is also often with how the shoes are put together. Glue, for instance, can easily dissolve after multiple washes, depending on the quality. Stitching, however, is a little more durable.

If the care label states, “hand wash only,” you might still be able to use the machine. Should your washer have a “hand wash” setting, it may be fine as long as you proceed with caution.

Pro-Tip

If your shoes are of animal-based material, such as leather or suede, make sure you use a special cleaner. This should help get rid of minor dirt and marks. Read our guides on how to clean suede shoes or how to shine shoes.

How Do You Wash Sneakers in the Washing Machine?

Washing your shoes in the washing machine isn’t as simple as tossing them in and pressing “start.” We’ve included a step-by-step guide below to help you through the process.

white shoes

1. Consult the Care Label

Before you get started, always make sure you read the included care label. It should look similar to what you’d see on your clothes.

If you can’t see a care label, you may find directions on the brand’s website for the shoe. However, this isn’t always the case, so you may simply have to use common sense.

2. Prep Your Shoes

Before you put your shoes into the washing machine, it’s essential to prepare them.

  • Begin by removing the laces. If you want to wash the laces as well, place them inside an old pillowcase so that they won’t get lost.
  • Remove dirt. For the best results, grab an old toothbrush and lightly brush off dirt in smaller areas, such as eyelets. Use a larger brush to remove dirt on bigger surfaces. It’s a little more time-consuming, but it will help you get better results.
  • Use water for stubborn stains. If you want to, hold the shoe under running water. This will help to loosen up tough marks.

Pro-Tip

Remove your insoles before washing. If they have an odor, sprinkle some baking soda and let it work overnight. Then simply brush it off in the morning. Baking soda will help neutralize odors.

3. Add Padding

Once the machine starts, it can get noisy and bumpy for your shoes. To prevent this, place a few towels in the washer as well. These will act as buffers, protecting your shoes and the machine drum.

To prevent your shoes from getting entangled in the towels, get an old pillowcase or laundry bag, and place your sneakers inside.

4. Prep the Washer

Before pressing “start,” get your machine ready.

For the settings, it’s best to avoid using warm water. Instead, opt for 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) or below. Warm water may cause colors to fade, especially on PVC or PU shoes.

For the laundry detergent, choose a good color liquid detergent.

Lastly, use a setting with a low spin speed, if possible. For extra care, use the “hand wash” setting if applicable.

5. Dry Your Shoes

Following the wash, it’s best to leave your shoes to air dry. Allowing them to air dry is a lot kinder to the material than the dryer, even though it takes longer. You can always place kitchen towels inside to preserve their shape.

How to Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Put Nike Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Nike shoes are often used for performance—running, among other sports—so proper care is essential. Therefore, Nike doesn’t recommend washing its footwear in the washer or drying in the dryer.

Instead, it suggests doing spot cleaning using a soft brush and mild laundry detergent. Then allow the shoes to air dry.

adidas white shoes

Does Putting Shoes in the Washing Machine Damage It?

Cleaning shoes in the washer can wreak havoc. As they tumble around, they repeatedly, and forcefully, bump into the drum, which can cause damage.

One way to avoid this is to follow the steps above. Place your shoes inside a pillowcase or laundry bag and add some towels, too, as buffers. This also prevents the footwear from getting caught.

Can Shoes Go in the Dryer?

If the care label on your shoes states that they can go in the dryer, it’s okay. If there’s no indication, you may be able to do it depending on the material. If you want, you can find more tips in our “Can you put shoes in dryer” post.

However, whenever possible, allow your footwear to air dry. Let them sit in a ventilated room overnight to prevent damage.

Final Thoughts

How to wash shoes in washing machine? It’s a fairly straightforward process, but care should be taken.

Always consult the care label, remove the laces, place your shoes inside a pillowcase and add towels to the machine. Use a liquid detergent with cold water and opt for a setting with mild spin cycles.

Once done, allow to air dry in a ventilated room. Avoid using the dryer unless the care label approves.

 

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