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How to wash shoes in the washing machine

Can you wash shoes in the washing machine? Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your shoes sparkling.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

How to wash shoes in the washing machine

Do you ever wonder whether you can put your shoes in the washing machine? You’re not alone; plenty of people are searching for things like ‘how to wash shoes in washer’. When you need something for washing shoes in, ‘washing machine’ is probably a more appealing option than ‘sink’. But the shoes-in-washing-machine mental image can be a worrying one. Is washing shoes in the washing machine really a good idea? And if so, how should you go about it? In this article, we’ve got everything you need to know on which shoes can and can’t stand up to a washing cycle spin, and how to handle those that can.

Always check the shoe’s label for washing instructions before you start.

How to wash shoes in the washing machine: Is it a good idea?

Can you put shoes in the washing machine? It depends on the type of shoe. Anything with suede or leather is a big no-no. Avoid putting these in your machine; the spinning is just too strong for them and can weaken the material. Most canvas shoes and trainers are fine to go in, but always check the label or manufacturers’ guidance first. Some brands say not to use a washing machine.

How to clean shoes in the washing machine: A step-by-step guide to washing shoes in the washer

Having checked that you’re OK to go ahead and wash your pair in a machine, how should you actually go about it? Here’s exactly how to wash shoes in a washing machine:

  • Before you start it’s worth checking the general state of your shoes. Machine washing risks discolouration and weakening of the glue that holds the shoes together. Even if your shoes technically can be washed in a machine, it’s worth doing the job by hand regardless if they’re already a bit worse for wear. 

  • For any major stains, pre-treat with a bit of good-quality laundry detergent like Breeze. Just dab it directly onto the stain

  • Remove laces. These can be cleaned separately.

  • Place the shoes in a mesh bag. This should help protect them from the cycle.

  • You can put towels in the drum to prevent your shoes knocking the sides and creating a lot of noise. Just be sure to use old ones in case dirt or dye comes off your shoes in the process.

  • Add in some liquid detergent at this point. It’s generally worth using about half your regular amount. Again, Breeze works well for this.

  • Set to spin on a cool, gentle wash. Anything stronger will be too much for your shoes.

  • Once the spin has finished, allow the shoes to dry naturally in the sun. Putting scrunched-up plastic bags inside your shoes will help them keep their shape as they do so.

That’s all you need to know when it comes to how to clean shoes in the washing machine. Remember the best way to wash shoes will depend on their style and materials, so be sure to check the label before you start. By doing a gentle spin and using a mesh bag during the process you’ll protect your shoes from any damage and they’ll soon be as good as new. 

  • Check the label to see whether your shoes are suitable for a machine wash.

  • If they are, place in a mesh bag.

  • Use a cool temperature and gentle spin to protect your shoes.

  • Let them dry naturally in the sun.

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Frequently asked questions on washing shoes

Can you power wash shoes?

You should avoid using a pressure or power washer when it comes to cleaning your shoes. The power behind the water could quite literally tear your shoes apart – certainly not practical if you’re wanting to wear them again.

Does putting shoes in the washing machine damage it?

Loose shoes can definitely cause some damage to your washing machine drum if you place them in to wash. However, there are ways to avoid this damage. If you are choosing to wash your shoes in a washing machine, take care to place them in a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase first. This will not only protect your washing machine drum, but also prevent your shoes from becoming caught in the drum and being damaged. If you want to stop the process being a noisy one, wrap your shoes in a towel before placing them inside the mesh laundry bag or pillowcase. Just take care to use one which is the same color as your shoes to avoid unwanted color transfer.

How many pairs of shoes can you put in a washing machine at once?

Depending on the size of your washing machine, you can usually pop 2-3 pairs of shoes in the machine together to wash. When washing shoes, the same rules apply as when washing your clothes; for example take care to check the care labels for each pair of shoes, and don’t mix colors when washing them together. To ensure they don’t become tangled together or damage one another, bag each pair in its own mesh laundry bag or pillowcase even if you are placing them into the machine to wash in the same cycle.

How do you clean plastic shoes?

If you want to know how to clean plastic shoes, we’ve got you covered. Did you know that toothpaste is a super easy home remedy to clean your plastic shoes? Take care to ensure you only use a white, non-gel toothpaste. Rub the toothpaste directly onto the surface of your plastic shoe. Next, wipe the surface clean using a clean, damp, soft cloth – microfibre is best. With every wipe you will remove any unwanted dirt, residue, dust and film and restore your plastic shoe to its shiny, good-as-new look.

Originally published