How to Clean Shoes in a Washer

If you’ve ever wished that you could clean your shoes in the washer, then wish no more because you actually can. Cleaning dirty kicks is a chore that only a few love to do, so washing shoes in the washer without damaging them is a must-have skill. 

If you love the idea of letting your washer do all the hard lifting, but are clueless about the steps to take to pull it off, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we have outlined steps to take for washing your shoes in a washer the right way, and tips to note while you’re at it. 

Can You Wash Shoes in a Washer?

The material of your shoes will determine whether or not you should wash them in the washing machine. Athletic shoes and canvas are made of synthetic fabrics such as cotton, nylon, or polyester that can usually be laundered in a washing machine; these are made from durable fabrics that respond well to detergent. 

On the other hand, shoes made from suede, leather, or vinyl should never be washed in the washing machine – they’re better cleaned by hand. Hand-cleaning shoes with embellishments or sequin work are also recommended.

Perhaps the most important commandment for cleaning shoes is to always read the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions even for machine-washable shoes. The right temperature and speed settings are important for keeping your shoes safe while cleaning in a washing machine. 

Using mild laundry detergent will go a long way in preserving your shoes in the washer. 

How to wash shoes in your washer – a step-by-step guide

It is not difficult to wash shoes in a washing machine; you need the right tools and the know-how. Before we outline the steps involved in the shoe-washing process, here are the tools and supplies you will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Laundry detergent
  • Shoe cleaner
  • Mesh laundry bag
  • A soft brush or clean rag
  • Old towels
  • A sponge

Once you have all the materials ready, it takes only about 45 minutes to wash your shoes in a washer. Just follow the steps outlined below: 

Step 1 – Check The Care Label

The importance of adhering to your shoe’s care instructions cannot be overemphasized; this is to keep your shoes safe in the washer. Before you drop your shoes in a washer, take note of what temperatures are allowable, the type of detergents to use, and a host of other tiny details. Once you know exactly what you should and shouldn’t be doing, you can take the next step.

Step 2 – Remove Shoe Insoles and Laces

Shoe Insoles

Remove detachable parts of the shoe before dropping them in the washing machine. These parts include the shoe laces, insoles, and other attached accessories. You would then wash these parts separately while the shoe is in the washing machine. 

Step 3 – Wash the Laces And Insoles Separately

 The removable parts of your shoes, such as the laces, are better off washed by hand for the best cleaning results. This is also done to prevent the laces fr tangling or catching any part of the washing machine drum. 

To wash the shoe laces and insoles, make a soapy mix containing 1 tablespoon of laundry detergent in 1 cup of water, then let the items soak for about 1 hour before hand-washing them. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to avoid distorting the insoles or other fragile shoe accessories. 

If your shoe’s insoles are delicate or particularly smelly, wipe them down with a soft brush or clean rag and moisten them with a soapy solution. An enzymatic laundry detergent like Biokleen Bac-Out stain & Odour remover can go a long way toward getting rid of shoe stink.

Afterward, wipe them until almost dry with a dry, old towel. Then, sprinkle the insoles with enough baking powder to cover the surfaces. The next day, you can brush off the baking powder – the insoles should be clean and deodorized by now. 

Step 4 – Clean the Soles

You don’t want to dump sand and dust into the washing machine along with your shoes, so it is best to get them out first. You can do this by scrubbing out the particles with an old toothbrush. If the shoe sole has some hard-to-reach crevices, you may use a toothpick to take the particles out. 

After taking out the loose dirt particles, go a step further by cleaning off as much as much stains as you can by using a shoe cleaner. You can also make a DIY shoe cleaner by using a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Simply apply the shoe cleaner to the stains and let it sit for 3 – 4 hours. Afterward, scrub until the stains fade. You may need a variation of this instruction to clean white converse. 

Step 5 – Protect the Shoes With a Mesh Laundry Bag

Put the shoes in a mesh laundry bag to prevent them from tumbling violently inside the washer. To reduce agitation, add some old towels to the load to balance it.

Step 6 – Wash the Shoes

Typically, you should wash your shoes in a washing machine by using a gentle cycle, detergent, and cold water. Preferably, use a liquid laundry detergent as powdered detergents can leave specs on the shoes when dry.  Laundry pods like Tide pods can also be used. 

Step 7 – Air Dry the Shoes

Remove the mesh bags after the wash cycle has finished. Take the shoes out of the bag and fill your sneakers with old newspaper balls to absorb surplus moisture from them. Keep them where the sun can reach them- make sure it’s well-ventilated. 

Please keep in mind that it may take several days for your shoes to dry, you may want, to wrap them in a towel and put them in the dryer to speed up the process. However, because the heat from the dryer can harm the shape of your shoes, we do not recommend drying shoes completely in a dryer.

How can I wash my shoes without ruining them?

Check the care instructions on your shoes to see if the material can go in the washer. If this is the case, remove the laces, insoles, and other accessories to be washed separately. After that, put your shoes in a closed garment bag and wash them in cold water on a gentle cycle. After this cycle, let them air dry.

Some shoes simply cannot go in the washer if you want to preserve their like-new look –  simply hand washing them will do. These include shoes made of delicate materials such as suede, leather, vinyl, or rubber. Also, learn how to clean suede shoes the right way.

Will shoes break the washing machine?

As long as you put the shoes in a mesh laundry bag before tossing them in the washing machine, both machine and the shoes should be safe. The mesh bag will prevent the shoes from tumbling forcibly in the washing drum and is unlikely to cause any damage. 

To further dull the impacts and agitation that may ensue, throw in 4 or 5 old towels to help absorb the impact and balance out the load. More importantly, wash your shoes using a gentle cycle for the benefit of your shoes and the washer. 

Do shoes shrink in the washing machine?

When shoes are washed using a hot water setting in the washing machine, they may shrink. To avoid this occurrence, always wash your shoes using a cold water cycle. At this stage, it is important to also read and adhere to the shoe’s care guide so that you don’t do anything detrimental to its look and feel. 

One more word of caution: be wary of using a dryer to dry your shoes, especially on heat. If you must, make sure you only dry shoes partially in the dry on low heat, then remove them and spread them out to dry overnight or under the sun’s heat.

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