How to Wash Shoes in a Washing Machine

There’s been a lot of do’s and don’ts that the Internet has been spewing out, like wondering if washing shoes in a washing machine is okay. The short answer? Yes, it is. Although there are more effective ways to clean your shoes, especially if they’re white, popping your shoes into a machine is a quicker, hassle-free method as long as you follow this step-by-step guide.

1. Read the label for directions.

No matter what you find or read about washing shoes (including this article), always remember to read the label on your particular pair of shoes! The brand or company will suggest the best way on how to wash your shoes based on the material and style.

If they don’t recommend you washing shoes in the machine, respect their decision and listen to them. And don’t be afraid to use your common sense either, like knowing not to place your dress shoes, leather shoes, or suede shoes in the washing machine.

2. Prepare your shoes.

Start by removing the shoelaces and insoles of your running shoes and separating them. You can use a small brush or an old toothbrush to dust off any extra grime or debris off. If the material on your shoes is more delicate, grab a soft cloth or an old towel and damp it with warm water to thoroughly wipe down your running shoes

Make sure to tie your shoelaces together in a bow so the long laces don’t get caught in the wash cycle, or toss them into a small mesh bag. You can also use the old toothbrush to get the hard-to-reach sections of the shoes, such as the shoelace holes and the outsoles. For ample cleaning of white laces, try sprinkling baking soda on top and washing them with regular whites.

3. Protect your shoes.

Stuffing your shoes in a pillowcase or a mesh laundry bag will help protect your shoes from the aggressive machine, and your machine from the hard-knocking of your running shoes. But if you do use a pillowcase, make sure to use three or four safety pins to pin the opening halfway shut to allow water to flow in and out to ensure proper cleaning. 

Another way to protect your shoes and washing machine is to place a couple of old towels inside during the wash cycle. This little trick will prevent the shoes from loudly knocking on the insides of your machine and a fuller load will provide more friction during the washing process!

4. Prepare your machine.

After you’ve finished preparing your shoes for the washing machine and picked clean, old towels, we can start to actually clean your dirty running shoes. By the way, it is important that you use old, not new, towels because new towels have a tendency to create more lint and have a fresher dye that could affect the texture and color of your shoes.

Cleaning Shoes in Laundry Machine

Use liquid detergent when machine-washing your shoes because powdered detergent can get stuck between your shoes and damage them. As for the settings, make sure you choose the delicate or gentle cycle, use cold water, and don’t implement any spin or tumble cycles. Using cold water is best because warm water can shrink or warm your shoes.

5. Make sure to air-dry.

After your shoes are done cleaning, pull them out of the washing machine, stuff them with paper towels or newspapers. The paper towels will help to absorb any excess moisture and also help maintain the shoe shape as they dry. Finally, you can leave them out in a well-ventilated room or outside, but avoid placing them under direct sunlight because that can harm the shoes’ exterior.

Never put your shoes in the drying machine! The high heat can warp your shoes’ shape and damage the material. However, if you are in a time crunch, you can wrap your shoes in a towel or laundry bag and set your settings to delicate with low heat. Make sure you consistently check to avoid overheating.

Other ways to get the best clean:

1) Sprinkle some baking soda on your shoes and let them absorb overnight before you put them in the washing machine. This will help deodorize and clean them even before you start washing! If you want to kick it up a notch, soak your dirty insoles in a baking soda and vinegar combination as a natural deodorizing remedy.

2) Get an old toothbrush and gently scrub off the excess dirt and grime before washing them. You can a simple soap and warm water mixture as a cleaning agent. Removing the layer of dirt beforehand will guarantee clearer water and thus produce a cleaner wash cycle.

3) If there are deeply stained marks on your shoes, using toothpaste to clean them is an easy DIY remedy. You can use an old toothbrush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to gently brush the exterior of your shoes

Shoes Splashing In Mud

Washing your shoes might sound like the least fun thing you can do, but it honestly doesn’t take that long and is pretty easy once you know the basics. And it pays off. Shoe maintenance and upkeep is not only a sign of adulthood, but it’ll provide a sense of satisfaction knowing that you’re investing in your wardrobe.