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Can You Put Shoes in the Washer? - Tips and Precautions

Can You Put Shoes in the Washer? - Tips and Precautions - Shoe Zero

Whether you've encountered stubborn stains on your favorite pair of shoes or simply want to freshen up your footwear, the thought of tossing them into the washing machine might have crossed your mind. But can you really put shoes in the washer without causing damage? This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process step by step, ensuring you take the necessary precautions to keep your shoes clean and intact.


Which Shoes are Machine Washable?

When it comes to machine washing shoes, the type of material they're made from plays a crucial role. Generally speaking, shoes made of canvas, nylon, cotton, and polyester can safely be washed in a washing machine; however, those made with leather, suede, rubber, or vinyl should not be placed in the washer. These delicate materials can be negatively impacted by the mechanical action of the machine and the water exposure. Instead, consider alternative cleaning methods for such shoes.


Assessing the Condition of Your Shoes

Prior to washing your shoes in the washer, it's important to assess their condition to determine if they're suitable for machine washing or if they require alternative cleaning methods. Consider the following:

  1. Age: Older shoes may be more fragile and prone to damage in a washing machine.
  2. Material: Certain shoe materials, such as suede and velvet, should never be machine washed.
  3. Construction: Shoes with delicate construction, such as those with glued-on decorations or intricate stitching, may not hold up well in a washing machine.
  4. Level of dirt: Shoes with excessive dirt and grime may require pre-cleaning before being washed in a machine.
  5. Odor: Shoes with strong odors may require additional cleaning methods beyond a simple machine wash.

By assessing these factors, you can determine whether your shoes will be able to withstand a machine wash or if they require alternative cleaning methods. Remember to always err on the side of caution to prevent any damage to your shoes or machine.


How to Wash Shoes in Your Washer – A Step-by-Step Guide

Machine washing shoes requires careful preparation and execution to ensure the best results. Follow these steps to clean your shoes effectively:

Step 1. Remove the Laces and Insoles

Begin by taking off the shoelaces and insoles. This step not only prevents tangling and damage but also allows for a more thorough cleaning process.

Step 2. Wash the Laces

Place the laces in a pillowcase or mesh bag to protect them. Toss them in with a load of similar-colored clothing to prevent discoloration. Use a mild detergent, and opt for a gentle wash cycle.

Step 3. Wash the Insoles by Hand

While machine washing the insoles can lead to warping, it's better to clean them by hand. Create a solution of mild detergent and water, and gently scrub the insoles. Rinse thoroughly and allow them to air dry.

Step 4. Clean the Soles

Using a toothbrush or a soft-bristle brush, scrub the soles of your shoes to remove dirt and debris. This step helps prevent dirt from spreading to other parts of the shoe during the machine wash.

Step 5. Place the Shoes in a Mesh Garment Bag

To prevent unnecessary friction and damage, place your shoes in a mesh garment bag. This enclosure ensures that your shoes receive a gentle but effective wash.

Step 6. Prepare the Load

Before tossing your shoes in the washer, ensure you have a full load of laundry to balance the machine's motion. This helps prevent excessive banging and tumbling of the shoes.

Step 7. Wash the Shoes

Use a delicate or gentle wash cycle with cold water. Avoid using bleach or harsh detergents, as they can damage the shoe's material.

Step 8. Drying the Shoes

After the wash cycle is complete, remove the shoes from the mesh bag and gently pat them with a clean towel to absorb excess water. Avoid wringing or squeezing the shoes, as this can alter their shape. Place the shoes in a well-ventilated area to air dry naturally. Avoid direct sunlight and heat sources, as these can cause materials to warp or fade.

Step 9. Re-insert the Insoles

Once your shoes are completely dry, re-insert the insoles. Make sure everything is properly aligned and secure before wearing them again.

shoes for cleaning in the washing machine

How Can I Wash My Shoes Without Ruining Them?

While machine washing can be effective for some shoes, it's essential to remember that not all shoes are suitable for this method. For delicate materials like leather, suede, rubber, or vinyl, machine washing can lead to irreversible damage, such as color fading, warping, and loss of shape. Instead, consider using a soft cloth or sponge with mild soap and water to gently clean these types of shoes.

Protecting Shoes in a Washing Machine Bag

If you're concerned about your shoes getting damaged in the washer, consider using a washing machine bag designed for shoes. These bags help prevent the shoes from getting tangled with other items, and they provide added protection to prevent damage to delicate areas.

Pros Cons
-Provides added protection for shoes -May not fit larger sized shoes
-Helps prevent tangling with other items -May not fit all types of shoes
-Can be reused multiple times -Additional cost to purchase

Overall, using a washing machine bag can be a great way to protect your shoes during the washing process, but be sure to choose one that is appropriate for the size and type of shoes you have.


What Setting Should I Use to Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine?

When it comes to washing shoes in a washer, selecting the appropriate settings is crucial to ensuring a successful outcome. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose the delicate cycle: This cycle is the most gentle option and is ideal for washing shoes.
  • Use cold water: Hot water can cause certain materials, such as leather, to shrink or crack. Cold water is the safest choice for most shoes.
  • Use a mild detergent: Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach, as they can damage shoes. Instead, opt for a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics.

It's also important to note that some washing machines have special shoe-washing settings. If your machine has this option, it may be worth considering. However, even with these settings, it's still recommended to use the delicate cycle and cold water to prevent any damage to your shoes.



Key Takeaways 

Machine washing shoes can be a convenient and effective way to refresh certain types of footwear. By following the step-by-step guide and taking proper precautions, you can maintain the cleanliness and integrity of your shoes. Remember that different materials require different cleaning approaches, and it's essential to prioritize the longevity of your footwear. Always check the manufacturer's care instructions before attempting to machine wash your shoes, and opt for alternative methods for delicate materials. With the right approach, you can enjoy clean, comfortable, and stylish shoes for many years to come.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can I machine wash sneakers with LED lights?
Machine washing shoes with LED lights is generally not recommended, as the electrical components can be damaged by water. It's best to wipe the surface clean with a damp cloth.

2. Are there any special detergents I should use for washing shoes?
Using a mild detergent is recommended for machine washing shoes. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can harm the shoe's material.

3. Can I speed up the drying process by using a hairdryer or heater?
It's advisable to avoid using direct heat sources like hairdryers or heaters to dry shoes, as they can warp or shrink the materials. Opt for natural air drying instead.

4. Is it safe to wash high-top shoes in the washing machine?
Yes, you can wash high-top shoes in the washing machine following the steps outlined in this guide. Just remember to remove any detachable parts and use a gentle cycle.

5. Can I wash leather shoes if they get muddy?
It's better to avoid machine washing leather shoes, especially if they're muddy. Instead, allow the mud to dry and then gently brush it off. Use a damp cloth for any remaining spots.

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