shoes in a washing machine

How To Wash Your Shoes In A Washing Machine

Shoes are made to get dirty. But what about when you need them shiny and new? Stuff like mud or coffee stains can be washed out of shoes as easily as any other kind of clothes. And just like other clothes, shoes can go in the washing machine. We have all the info you will need to get your dirty shoes looking clean a whistle with a quick trip through the washer.

What Shoes Can Be Cleaned In A Washing Machine?

Depending on what material your shoes are made out of, the hot water and soap in a washing machine could damage them. Check the label on your shoes, which will detail how they should be washed.

Generally, animal-based materials like leather and suede should not go in the washer. These are easily damaged by water. You can buy specialized cleaning supplies for these kinds of shoes, or a professional cleaner can take care of them. Shoes made of other delicate materials like silk or satin are also best left to a professional.

Related: How To Clean Leather Shoes & Boots: The Complete Guide

So what materials are safe for a washing machine? Synthetic and other sturdy materials will survive a wash cycle just fine. Nylon, polyester, cotton, or canvas shoes can go in a washing machine. Most kids’ shoes are also washer-safe since they often use strong, waterproof materials to stand up to playtime, though always check the shoe’s label.

Some shoes that are labeled “hand-wash only” can go in a washing machine if it is set to a “hand-wash” cycle, though this can still be risky for delicate shoes.

How Do You Wash Shoes In A Washing Machine?

There are a few simple steps to follow when washing your shoes. Follow them for a painless cleaning process that will not damage your shoes.

1. Check the label

footwear material symbols

First off, double-check the label on your shoes. This will specify the best way to wash them and any other considerations to keep in mind. Depending on the materials your shoes are made out of, they might be fine to go in the washing machine, or might need hand washing, or neither.

2. Surface clean your shoes

removing dirt from shoes

If your shoes are washer-safe, the next step is to remove the shoelaces and remove any large clumps of dirt. This is to prevent mud from forming in the washing machine as it blasts your shoes with water. An old toothbrush will help you scrub away dirt in the corners or on uneven surfaces like eyelets. For the body of the shoe, use a larger cleaning brush with stiffer bristles.

Continue cleaning until any obvious clumps of dirt are gone. You might find it easier to do a surface clean if your shoes are damp, so you can run them under the faucet to help loosen up the dirt.

3. Load your washer

shoes in a mesh bag

To keep everything else clean, you should wash your shoes mostly on their own. As the wash cycle runs, your shoes can bang around and cause quite a racket, so you could throw in a couple of towels with them. This will dampen the noise and protect your shoes from any impacts. To further prevent your shoes from flying around, put them in a mesh laundry bag along with the laces. This will stop your laces and shoes from snagging the machinery.

4. Setting the wash cycle

washer settings

To prevent the heat from disfiguring your shoes, use a cold water wash cycle. About 30°F is a good temperature. This will also prevent the dye in your shoes from running or fading, as well as avoiding damage to any waterproof coating on your shoes. Certain detergents are better than others for protecting against color fade.

Next, simply start the wash cycle with the washing machine loaded and let it run.

5. Drying your shoes

air drying shoes

Air-drying is a reliable way to dry off your shoes. The heat of drying machines can sometimes damage your shoes by softening the glue holding them together, although there are methods to safely dry your shoes in a drying machine.

Related: How To Dry Your Shoes In The Dryer

To air-dry your shoes, stuff them with scrunched-up newspaper or something similar to help them keep their shape. Next, place your shoes in a warm room and leave them for several hours. Avoid placing them beside a heating grate to prevent them from getting too hot.

And just like that, your shoes should be perfectly clean and ready to get back on the road!

Washing dirty shoes or trainers in a washing machine is basically the same. Watch this video to learn how.

Liam Blackley

Liam Blackley is a freelance writer and a contributor to Durability Matters.

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