How to wash sneakers in the washing machine

Here’s advice on how to wash sneakers in a washing machine while protecting them from any damage.

Updated May 23, 2019

How to wash sneakers in the washing machine

Sneakers in the washing machine: yes or no? It’s one of life’s big questions. Well, maybe not that big... Everyone loves their trainers and it’s common to wear them whatever their condition. But if you want to get them looking a little more respectable, what’s the best way to wash sneakers? In this article, we explain how to wash sneakers in a washing machine and, for those that can’t be done in a machine, how to wash sneakers by hand.

Place sneakers in a mesh bag before putting them in the wash for added protection. 

How to wash sneakers in the washing machine: is it a good idea?

Right, so you’ve got your favourite pair of sneakers out and they’re looking a little worse for wear. You want to get them that little bit cleaner. But can you wash sneakers in the washing machine? Here’s how to know if your ‘washing sneakers in washing machine’ idea is a good one.

  • Always check the label. This will have cleaning guidance and should say whether machine washing is appropriate. Check the box, if you still have it, in case information is stored in there.
  • If you don’t have any info about your sneakers, try looking up guidance about your particular pair online. Some brands, such as Nike, specifically advise not to wash their sneakers in the washing machine, but others say to go ahead.
  • Still not sure? As a general rule, shoes made out of suede or leather should be hand-washed, but most other trainers, as long as they’re sturdy enough to withstand the spin, should be fine. If the glue’s going or they’re already coming apart, best not to put them in the machine.

If the answer to ‘can you put sneakers in the washing machine?’ turns out to be ‘no’ for this particular pair, washing sneakers can still be pretty straightforward. Simply wipe away any dirt and apply a dab of laundry detergent such as OMO to more stubborn stains, then rinse thoroughly with warm water.  

How to clean sneakers in the washing machine: a step-by-step guide

If your sneakers can safely be washed in the washing machine, how do you actually go about it? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Remove the laces and clean separately.
  2. Place your sneakers in a mesh laundry bag for protection.
  3. Line the washing machine drum with old towels for further protection (and to reduce noise).
  4. Add in half the normal amount of laundry detergent. Again, we find OMO works well when cleaning shoes with laundry detergent.
  5. Put on a gentle, cool spin.
  6. Remove from the machine when done and pack plastic bags into the shoes to help them keep their shape.
  7. Let them dry naturally in the sun.

That’s our straightforward guide to washing sneakers, in the washing machine or, if needs be, by hand. If in doubt, avoid using the machine as it can damage shoes, but in most cases, it should be fine and will leave them looking as good as new.

  • Check that they’re suitable for a machine wash first; if they aren’t, wash them by hand.
  • Use a gentle, cool cycle with good-quality detergent.
  • Allow them to dry naturally in the sun.
  • Originally published April 26, 2019