Washing your Shoes in the Washing Machine so They Look Brand New

Washing your Shoes in the Washing Machine so They Look Brand New

Dirty shoes don’t look good. Whether it’s because you ran in the mud the other day or the dirt and stains accumulated over time, dirty shoes will be a drag on your outfit. If you want to look your best, you should clean your shoes. But can you clean your shoes in the washing machine?

Most shoes can be washed in the washing machine. This is important to research because not all shoes can. If you disregard the guidelines, you might warp the shoe or damage your washing machine. Fortunately, it’s fairly straightforward to follow the instructions. There should be a tag somewhere on the shoe. Alternatively, you can find out more information on the manufacturer’s website or talk to the retailer where you bought it.


Certain materials are more washable than others. Canvas, nylon, cotton and polyester tend to be safe. They’re relatively durable and won’t be harmed by laundry detergent. On the other hand, materials such as suede, leather and vinyl are not good to be machine washed. If you put a pair in the machine, it’ll likely get warped or damaged. Shoes with embellishments like embroidery, sequin and other delicate materials definitely aren’t for the washing machine. You should take shoes with these ornaments to a repair shop. It might cost you more money but it will be worth it in the end.

Steps to Washing

  1. Take out the laces and place them in mesh garment that is zippered. This way they won’t get tangled. Untangling shoe laces is no fun!
  2. It’s easier for the insoles to be cleaned separately. If they’re together, your shoes could get waterlogged and take days to dry.
  3. As previously mentioned, check the tags. If your shoes aren’t machine washable, you can clean and deodorize them by hand. Take a soft brush and sponge. Sprinkle the insoles with baking soda and let it sit overnight to deodorize.
  4. If you have substances like mud or debris in the sole, use a soft brush to remove it. Alternative, you can use a toothpick or tooth brush. Afterwards, wipe it down with a rag or brush.
  5. Put the shoes in a mesh bag and place it in.a washing machine. Put a few old towels in to prevent it from bouncing around so much.
  6. Use a delicate cold water cycle. To minimize impacts, choose a slow or no-spin option.
  7. If possible, use liquid detergent. Powder detergent might get stuck in the shoe and won’t dissolve.
  8. Some people like to use disinfectant in-case the shoes have fungus like athlete’s foot. Pine oil can be effective and inexpensive. It needs to be at least 80% concentrate and usually the washer needs to be put on warm water to be effective.
  9. It’s recommended that you air-dry the shoes. Place it in an area with plenty of sunlight. You can expedite the process by dabbing the shoes with paper towels. This could take several days.
  10. If you need the shoes as soon as possible, the dryer can sometimes be an option. Just be cautious because the heating and rotating of the dryer can warp the shoes. After you start the heating process, heck back every 10-15 minutes.
  11. Place the insoles back in the shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes shoes to smell bad?

New shoes are great. When you take them out of the box, they smell fresh like a new clothes.

Unfortunately, this new smell doesn’t last long. Eventually, they get very stinky. Why is this? There are a couple reasons.

The most common one is simply everyday use. The sweat from the feet accumulates and causes the shoe to stink. Sometimes people don’t allow shoes to dry out properly. Fungus like athlete’s foot can cause a weird smell.

There are steps you can take to slow down this process. Try wearing a different pair of shoes everyday. This rotation allows the sweat in the shoes to properly evaporate. Do your best to always wear socks when wearing shoes. Socks absorb your sweat. If you get lazy once in a while, it’s fine. But constantly not wearing socks will inevitably lead to stink shoes.

How Many Shoes Can be Washed At Once?

This depends on your washing machine. In most cases, 2-3 is fine. If you need to wash a lot of shoes, visit a laundromat. Each shoe should have it’s on laundry bag. Also, don’t forget to add more detergent for the additional pairs.

However, if your shoes are heavily dyed or different colors, it’s best to was them separately.

What Type of Washer is Best?

Top load washers are the best because shoes are relatively heavy compared to clothes. Front load washers can be a problem because often the shoes will just stay at the bottom. This will prevent them from getting a good wash and could lead to discoloration.

What Washer Settings Should I Use?

You want the shoes fully soaked, so use a full spin cycle. Cold water should be use as warm or hot water can shrink the shoes.

What Type of Shoes Shouldn’t go in the Washer?

Besides the materials we mentioned earlier (suede, leather and vinyl), be wary of washing shoes that are old. If they’re a couple years old, there might be some separation in the sole.

Are There Alternatives to Using a Washer?

Maybe you’re worried about damaging your shoe. Or you don’t have access to a washer. Either way, there are some great alternatives available to machine washing. These include:

  1. Hand-wash. Use one teaspoon of dishwashing fluid and two cups warm water. Scrub the shoes with a toothbrush.
  2. Vinegar on leather. Equal parts cold water and distilled white vinegar work well. You can take an old rag, soak it, and wipe your shoes down.
  3. Deodorize with baking-soda. Baking-soda is an effective, inexpensive, and environmentally safe deodorant. Sprinkle some on your shoes and leave it overnight.

As an added tip, many manufacturers have a special page on their website with instructions. For example, Adidas’s page has detailed instructions for everything from their soccer cleats to basketball shoes. Nike’s page has instructions for their different materials.