Washing Shoes in the Washing Machine: A Comprehensive Guide

Shoes are more than just fashion statements; they’re our companions on countless adventures. Keeping them clean is essential for hygiene and longevity. But can you toss those muddy sneakers or grimy trainers into the washing machine? The answer is often yes, but it’s important to proceed with care and knowledge.

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Which Shoes Are Machine-Washable?

The first step is to determine whether your shoes are suitable for machine washing. Generally, shoes made from the following materials are safe:

  • Canvas: This durable fabric can handle the washing machine, making it ideal for casual shoes and sneakers.
  • Cotton: Cotton shoes are usually safe to wash, though colors may fade with repeated washings.
  • Polyester and Nylon: These synthetic materials are generally machine-washable and hold up well in the wash.
  • Athletic Shoes: Most athletic shoes made with a combination of the above fabrics are suitable for machine washing.





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Shoes to Avoid Putting in the Washing Machine:

Some shoe materials are not meant for the washing machine and may get damaged or ruin your appliance:

  • Leather and Suede: These materials require special care and can be ruined by water and detergent. Stick to specialized cleaning products and techniques for leather and suede shoes.
  • Delicate Materials: Shoes with embellishments like beads, sequins, or delicate fabrics should not be machine-washed.
  • Shoes with Glued Components: If your shoes have glued-on soles or decorative elements, the washing machine may cause them to come loose.
  • Formal Shoes: Dress shoes are often made from delicate materials or have intricate constructions that are not machine-wash friendly.

How to Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine (Step-by-Step)

  1. Pre-Cleaning: Remove any loose dirt, rocks, or debris from your shoes. This will help prevent clogs and damage to the washing machine.
  2. Remove Laces and Insoles: Take out the laces and insoles, as they can be washed separately (either by hand or in a mesh laundry bag).
  3. Use a Mesh Laundry Bag: Place the shoes in a mesh laundry bag or an old pillowcase. This will protect the shoes and prevent them from banging around inside the machine.
  4. Add Towels: Throw in a few towels with the shoes to balance the load and reduce the impact of the shoes hitting the drum.
  5. Choose the Right Cycle and Detergent: Use a gentle or delicate cycle with cold water. Avoid using hot water, as it can damage the shoe’s adhesives or cause colors to bleed. Use a mild liquid detergent to prevent residue buildup.
  6. Air Dry Only: Never put shoes in the dryer, as the heat can warp the shape of the shoe and damage the adhesives. Let them air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area.

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Additional Tips:

  • Check the Care Label: Always check the manufacturer’s care instructions before machine-washing your shoes.
  • Stain Removal: Pretreat any stains with a stain remover or a mixture of baking soda and water.
  • Odor Removal: Add a cup of white vinegar to the wash to help eliminate odors.
  • Cleaning Frequency: Avoid washing shoes too often, as it can shorten their lifespan.

When in Doubt:

If you’re unsure about whether your shoes are machine-washable or how to clean them properly, consult a shoe repair professional or the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions.

Important Note:

While washing shoes in the washing machine can be convenient, it’s important to exercise caution. Improper washing can damage shoes or your washing machine. Always follow the steps and recommendations provided here to ensure the best results.

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