How to Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine

No-one likes to step out of the house in shoes that look like they’ve been dragged through the mud backwards (literally). Wearing a pair of clean shoes, that are bright and smart-looking, can give you an extra boost of confidence to take on whatever the day throws at you.

Updated 27 October 2022


Author By Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time 5 minutes

A person is placing a pair of sneakers into a washing machine. Laundry

The invention of the automatic washing machine has made many things in our lives a lot easier. Keeping your shoes sparkling clean is one of them. Read our guide on washing shoes in the washing machine. We’ll give you tips on how to get best results and also let you know what shoes should never go into the machine at all.

What are the best methods for washing shoes in the washing machine?

Wondering which shoes are machine washable? Well, you can throw your canvas or fabric sneakers in the machine, or your tekkies and your pleather shoes too.

There are three main steps when it comes to shoe washing in the machine. If you follow these, you can’t go wrong.

Step #1 – Pre-Clean

Give your shoes a quick pre-clean before putting them into the washing machine. You ideally want to remove as much dirt and debris from the shoes before washing them. Simply take an old, soft toothbrush and give the soles, and tops of your shoes a good clean. Before washing be sure to remove the laces and inners from the shoes so that all parts can be washed separately.

Step #2 – Machine Washing

Add all the parts of your shoes – the shoes, the laces and the inners – into the washing machine. You can choose to wash two or three pairs at a time, just make sure you’re washing like colours together. You will need to add in a few towels – like beach towels or outdoors towels – to wash with the shoes to avoid the shoes getting damaged by rolling around too much. You could also place the shoes in a washable bag if you wanted to, too. Be sure to:

  • Choose a gentle cycle on the machine

  • Choose to opt-out of the spin cycle

  • Choose the coldest water temperature, to avoid damage or colour bleeding

  • Use a good quality laundry detergent like OMO Auto Detergent OR OMO Liquid Detergent.

  • Do not add in fabric softener

Step #3 – Dry

Ideally, you’ve chosen a cycle that does not include spinning, so your shoes will be quite wet when you get them out. That’s ok! Open up the tongue of the shoes, and place them on a flat surface in bright, direct sunlight for a few hours to dry. Avoid using the tumble dryer to dry your shoes.

How often should shoes be washed in a washing machine?

It really depends on how dirty your shoes are. Some people like to throw their shoes in the wash every few weeks to keep them looking sparkling, while others will wait until they are properly soiled before washing. There is no right or wrong way, so do what feels right to you.

What shoes cannot be washed in the washing machine?

There are some shoes that should not be put anywhere near an automatic washing machine, no matter how dirty they are. If you do put these shoes in the machine, you run the risk of shrinking them or ruining them beyond repair. When it comes to shoes made of these fabrics, we recommend only hand washing them. Handy Andy cream cleaner has a step-by-step guide on how to clean sneakers. Read more about how Handy Andy makes your sneakers sparkling clean in minutes.

  • Leather

  • Suede

  • High heels and boots

  • Running Shoes

If you want to keep these kinds of shoes clean, or you perhaps don’t have a washing machine to use, then hand washing your shoes will also keep them clean and looking brand new. Follow our guide on How To Clean And Care For Your Shoes At Home.

For more clothing care tips and tricks, visit Cleanipedia today.


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