Can You Put Shoes In Washing Machines

Can You Put Shoes In Washing Machines? (Facts, Explanations & Know Hows)

Shoes get dirty and smelly really fast. You have to keep washing them weekly. That’s why you might be tempted to throw them into the washing machine.

But, can you put shoes in washing machines? Well, the answer is that it depends. Generally, it’s not recommended because not all shoes are suitable for washing in a machine. So, even if you do machine wash at your own risk, special precautions are a must. 

Now, don’t worry about the details because we have covered everything in this article for you. We’ve explained which shoes are machine washable, how to prepare them, and how to wash and dry them properly. So, stay till the end! 

Can You Put Shoes In Washing Machines?

You can technically put your shoes in the washing machine. But, YOU SHOULDN’T unless your shoes are made of durable material. Also, leading shoe brands do not recommend washing shoes in washing machines. 

For example, Puma explicitly mentions to “never” clean their shoes using washing machines. In addition, New Balance instructs not to put their shoes into cycles of machine cleaning.

It’s because not all shoes are created equal when it comes to withstanding the turbulent conditions inside washing machines. The material of your shoes is the primary determinant of whether machine washing is suitable or not. 

Sturdy fabrics made of plastic may handle the motions of the machine without much wear. However, more delicate materials like leather and linens are at high risk of damage from agitation, heat, and moisture. 

Furthermore, the adhesives and finishes on leather can also break down. Suede may become irreparably matted. 

Shoes with more padding may end up waterlogged after a wash cycle, taking days to dry out fully. This creates a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria. What’s more, the force of spinning can also distort shoes before they have a chance to dry. 

Therefore, if you value the shoes and want to preserve them, we would strongly advise against machine washing for shoes made of these materials. Agitators cause more friction and toil back and forth, which can damage the structural components of shoes.

Some Alternative Methods of Washing Shoes

According to the cleaning recommendations from major shoe brands like Nike and Adidas, the preferred alternative method is hand washing. This method gently cleans shoes while minimizing any harm to the materials or construction.

The steps for hand washing shoes are as follows. 

Step 1: Remove loose dirt

Use a soft bristle brush to gently brush off any dried mud or large dirt particles stuck to the shoe’s surface. 

Step 2: Prepare a cleaning solution  

Fill a bowl or basin with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent like dish soap or laundry detergent without dyes. The water should be warm but not hot to avoid damaging shoe materials. 

Step 3: Lightly scrub the shoes

Dip a soft cloth, sponge, or toothbrush in the detergent solution and gently scrub the soles, sides, and fabric upper of the shoes. Focus on visibly dirty areas, but don’t over-scrub.

Step 4: Rinse the shoes  

Once you’ve lightly scrubbed the entire surface, rinse the shoes under running water to remove all traces of detergent residue. 

Step 5: Blot away excess moisture

After rinsing, use a clean towel or microfiber cloth to gently blot and absorb any excess water on the surface of the shoes. Don’t twist or wring.

Step 6: Stuff and air-dry  

Fill the insides of the shoes with crumpled newspaper or paper towels to help them retain their shape. Allow to fully air dry for 24-48 hours away from direct heat or sunlight.

Step 7: Freshen insoles

Remove insoles if possible and allow them to fully dry. Sprinkle with baking soda to deodorize.

Which Shoes Are Relatively More Suitable for Washing Machines?

In general, shoes made of materials such as canvas, cotton, nylon, and polyester are slightly safe to wash in the washing machine. These materials are relatively more durable and can withstand the agitation and detergent of the washer. 

However, you should refrain from using boiling-hot water or bleach, as they may cause the colors to fade or the glue bonds to weaken.

Instead, these shoes should be cleaned by hand or taken to a professional cleaner.

How to Prepare Your Shoes for Machine Washing?

Caution! As already mentioned, not all shoes are suitable for washing through machine cycles.  You can only machine wash shoes made of nylon, plastic, canvas, and polyester. 

To wash these shoes, you need to do some pre-cleaning steps to prevent damage. Such as:

Step 1: Remove the laces and insoles from your shoes 

You can wash them separately in a mesh garment bag or a pillowcase. This is to prevent them from tangling or getting lost in the washer.

Step 2: Wipe off loose dirt, mud, grass

Use a rag or a soft brush (like an old toothbrush) to wipe off any loose dirt, mud, grass, or dust from your shoes. You can also bang the shoes together over a trash can to dislodge more dirt.

Step 3: Scrub your shoes

Use a sponge and some shoe cleaner or mild detergent to scrub your shoes, particularly the soles. This will help remove any stains or marks that may be hard to get rid of in the washer.

Step 4: Secure your shoes

Place your shoes in a mesh garment bag or a pillowcase and secure it tightly. This will protect your shoes from getting snagged or scratched by the washer drum or other items in the load.

How To Wash And Dry Your Shoes?

Once your shoes are ready for washing, you can follow these steps to ensure a successful wash cycle.

Step 1: Add some towels or other items to the washer along with your shoes.

This will help cushion your shoes from banging against the washer walls.

Choose items that are similar in color and weight as your shoes, and avoid anything delicate or white.

Step 2: Use a gentle cycle with cold or warm water and a small amount of liquid laundry detergent.

Avoid using fabric softener or bleach, as they may leave residues or damage your shoes.

Step 3: Use an additional rinse cycle (if possible).

This will help remove any remaining detergent from your shoes and prevent them from getting stiff or sticky.

Step 4: Air-dry your shoes in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Don’t use a dryer, as it may shrink or distort your shoes. To quicken the drying, stuff them with some crumpled newspaper or paper towels. You can also use a fan to blow some air into your shoes.

Step 5: Install the laces and insoles once your shoes are completely dry.

You can also spray some deodorizer or baking soda inside your shoes to eliminate any odors.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are some common queries that you may have in your mind:

1. How many pairs of shoes should I put in the washing machine at a time?

Ideally, it’s best not to put more than 2 to 3 pairs at a time. But if you feel that your washing machine cylinder can freely accommodate more than that, you may put up to 5 pairs at once. 

2. Is it okay to put shoes with electronic components (like Fitbits) in the washer?

No, shoes with electronics should NEVER be put in the washing machine. The water can damage circuits and electrical components. So, hand wash only.

3. What household ingredients make good DIY shoe cleaners as alternatives for machine washing?

Effective DIY shoe cleaners include mild dish soap, laundry detergent, vinegar, baking soda, toothpaste, olive oil, and lemon juice. Always spot-test first before using these for the whole shoe.

Final Words 

In essence, using the washing machine may seem like a convenient shortcut. However, this comes with some considerable risks. 

Machine washing can damage shoes made of delicate materials like leather and suede beyond repair. Therefore, only reserve the washing machine only for your oldest, hardiest pairs made of synthetic materials. 

Even then, take preventative steps like bagging shoes first. For all other shoes, we recommend adopting a regular hand-washing routine using mild detergent.

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