Can I & How To Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine? 7 Steps

How To Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine

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Shoes bear the brunt of our daily adventures, accumulating dirt, grime, and odors along the way. This leaves many of us pondering two common questions: Can I wash shoes in the washing machine, and if so, how to wash shoes in the washing machine? 

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the art of shoe care and explore the dos and don’ts of tossing your beloved footwear into the machine.

I’ve got you covered whether you’re dealing with sneakers, leather loafers, or delicate materials. I’ll walk you through the steps to prepare your shoes, choose the right washing machine settings, and provide expert tips for post-wash care. 

By the end, you’ll have the knowledge needed to keep your shoes fresh and clean, prolonging their lifespan and ensuring you put your best foot forward. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Can I Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Yes, you can wash certain types of shoes in the washing machine, but it’s essential to follow specific guidelines based on the shoe’s material and condition.

To assist you in identifying which shoes are suitable for machine washing, let me introduce you to the various common types of shoes and the materials they are made from.

Different Types of Shoes (Are They Washable?)

Here are some common types of shoes and their washability:

1. Can You Wash Athletic Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Can You Wash Athletic Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Athletic shoes, also known as sports shoes or sneakers, are a versatile and popular footwear category designed primarily for physical activities and sports. These shoes are typically constructed using a combination of materials such as synthetic or natural leather, mesh, rubber, foam, and specialized cushioning technologies. 

The materials used in athletic shoes are chosen to provide comfort, support, durability, and breathability. Athletic shoes come in various styles and designs, catering to specific sports and activities like running, basketball, soccer, tennis, and cross-training. They offer essential features like arch support, shock absorption, stability, and traction to enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury. 

Beyond sports, people also wear athletic shoes for casual and everyday wear due to their comfort and style, making them a versatile choice for both athletes and fashion-conscious individuals.

Can you wash athletic shoes in the washing machine?

Yes, if your trainers, running shoes, or tennis shoes are constructed from materials like canvas, nylon, cotton, or polyester, they are generally durable enough to endure the washing machine’s spinning motion, just like your regular laundry items.

2. Can You Wash Leather Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Can You Wash Leather Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Leather shoes are a classic and timeless footwear option renowned for their elegance, durability, and versatility. These shoes are primarily crafted from high-quality animal hides, with cowhide being the most common choice. 

These shoes may also incorporate various types of leather, including full-grain, top-grain, or genuine leather, each offering different levels of quality and texture. They are skillfully stitched and sometimes feature leather soles for a premium look and feel. 

Leather shoes come in various styles, such as oxfords, loafers, brogues, and boots, making them suitable for formal occasions, business settings, or even casual wear, depending on the style. Known for their longevity and ability to mold to the wearer’s foot over time, leather shoes are a symbol of refinement and are often preferred for their comfort and sophistication.

Can you wash leather shoes in the washing machine?

Leather shoes are not typically machine washable due to their material, which can be damaged by excessive moisture and heat. Instead, they require special care, including regular cleaning, conditioning, and polishing to maintain their appearance and longevity.

Can you put them in the washing machine? Yes you can, but I only recommend it for an older pair of shoes, because some damage could occur. Having said that, if you follow the directions in this article, you can significantly minimize any wear of damage to your shoes.

Checkout my comprehensive article on how to clean leather shoes for some other options.

3. Can You Wash Boat Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Can You Wash Boat Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Boat shoes, also known as deck shoes or topsiders, are a type of footwear designed for nautical activities and casual, maritime-inspired fashion. They are typically crafted using materials like leather or suede for the upper part and a non-slip rubber sole. 

It is specifically designed to provide excellent grip on wet surfaces, making them ideal for boating and sailing. They often feature lacing systems that are designed never to untie, a characteristic nod to their maritime origins. 

Can you wash your boat shoes in the washing machine?

While boat shoes are robust and water-resistant, they are not typically suitable for machine washing.

Cleaning them by hand with a brush, mild soap, and water is recommended to maintain their quality and appearance.

4. Can You Wash Ballet Flats in the Washing Machine?

Can You Wash Ballet Flats in the Washing Machine?

Ballet flats are a type of women’s footwear known for their simple, elegant, and lightweight design. They are typically made from soft, flexible materials like leather, suede, or synthetic fabrics, and they feature a flat sole and a rounded or almond-shaped toe. 

It’s popular for their comfort and versatility, making them suitable for various occasions, from casual outings to more formal events. They are a go-to choice for women seeking a combination of style and comfort. 

Can you wash ballet flats in the washing machine?

Ballet flats are generally not recommended for machine washing due to the delicate nature of their materials.

However, if it’s made on canvas, you can wash it in the washing machine. Using a lingerie bag is important to keep them from tumbling around inside the washing machine. 

5. Can You Wash Clogs  in the Washing Machine?

Can You Wash Clogs in the Washing Machine?

Clogs are a distinctive type of footwear characterized by their sturdy, often wooden, sole and open-back design. They are typically made from a variety of materials, including wood, leather, suede, and synthetic options like rubber or foam for the sole. 

Clogs are renowned for their comfort and durability, and they come in various styles, ranging from traditional wooden clogs to more modern and fashion-forward versions like Crocs. They are commonly used in professions where all-day comfort and support are essential, such as nursing and culinary arts. 

Can you wash clogs in the washing machine?

Clogs with wooden soles are generally not suitable for machine washing due to the potential for damage caused by the water and agitation. Instead, they should be cleaned using a damp cloth or sponge to maintain their integrity.

Some Crocs can be safely cleaned in a washing machine. Classic clogs, slides, and styles constructed solely from Croslite material can undergo a gentle cycle without risking harm to the footwear or the machine.

However, it’s important to note that Crocs featuring fur or canvas components require a different cleaning approach and should be treated with more care. I wrote another article specifically focused on how to clean Crocs.

What Do You Need To Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine?

To machine wash shoes, you will need the following tools and supplies:

Tools needed:

  • A rag or soft brush: You can use an old toothbrush or a soft-bristle brush to help remove surface dirt and stains from your shoes before washing.
  • A sponge: A sponge can be handy for applying cleaning solutions and scrubbing any stubborn stains on your shoes.
  • Old towels: These will help absorb excess moisture from your shoes after washing and provide support inside the washing machine to prevent excessive banging or damage to the shoes.

Supplies needed:

  • Liquid laundry detergent: Choose a mild liquid laundry detergent. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals that can damage the shoe material. I like these washing machine pods for shoes.
  • Baking soda: Baking soda can help remove odors from your shoes and act as a natural deodorizer. You can sprinkle some inside the shoes before washing them or add them to the washing machine.
  • A mesh garment bag: Place your shoes inside a mesh garment bag before putting them in the washing machine. This helps protect both the shoes and the washing machine from potential damage.
  • Shoe cleaner: Optional, but it can be useful for stubborn stains or specialized cleaning needs. Make sure the shoe cleaner is suitable for the material of your shoes. I’m a big fan of this Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner.

How to Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine? 7 Steps

Washing shoes in the washing machine can be a convenient way to clean them, but it’s important to follow the right steps to avoid damaging the shoes or the machine. 

Here’s a basic step-by-step guide to machine washing your shoes:

Step 1: Check the Care Tags

Before tossing your shoes into the washing machine, it’s crucial to start by checking the care tags or labels inside them. It’s important to ensure that your shoes are machine-washable. 

Some shoes, especially those made of delicate materials like leather or those with specific embellishments, may not be suitable for machine washing and could get damaged in the process.

So, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines on the tags to avoid any unwanted mishaps and preserve the longevity of your footwear.

If you don’t want to wash your shoes in the washing machine, you may want to read my research on how to clean suede shoes. I also have a comprehensive article on how to clean leather shoes, and white shoes.

Step 2: Shoe Preparation

Once you’ve confirmed that your shoes are safe for machine washing, remove the laces and insole and wash them by hand. After, begin by removing any loose dirt or debris from the exterior of the shoes. This can be easily accomplished with a soft rag or a gentle brush, ensuring your machine doesn’t end up with excess dirt. 

For stubborn stains, especially on the upper fabric, use a sponge and a mild shoe cleaner, as this will help tackle those unsightly blemishes and ensure a thorough cleaning process. 

Step 3: Deodorize the Shoes

If your footwear carries any unwanted odors, deodorizing them before washing is a simple yet effective method. Sprinkle a moderate amount of baking soda inside each shoe, spreading it evenly, and then allow it to sit for a few hours or, ideally, overnight. 

Baking soda works wonders in absorbing odors, leaving your shoes smelling clean and pleasant. I also really love the smell of this shoe deodorizer by Lumi Outdoors.

This additional step ensures cleanliness and adds a touch of freshness to your newly cleaned shoes, making them feel and smell as good as new.

You might also enjoy my article on how to clean smelly shoes.

Step 4: Place Shoes in a Garment Bag

It’s crucial to safeguard your shoes during the washing cycle. Place your prepared shoes inside a mesh garment bag to do this effectively. This protective layer serves two essential purposes.

Firstly, it prevents your shoes from getting tangled with other items in the washing machine, which could damage both the shoes and the machine. Secondly, it helps maintain the shape and integrity of your shoes throughout the washing process. 

These washing machine garment bags should do the trick. They are specially designed to wash delicate clothes (or shoes) without wear and tear in washing machines, and dryers.

Ensure you tie the bag securely to prevent any accidental escapes, keeping your shoes snug and secure.

Step 5: Add Some Towels

Add a couple of old towels to the machine and the garment bag containing your shoes. The towels serve as a buffer and help distribute the weight evenly, preventing your shoes from banging around excessively during the washing cycle. 

This step is essential to ensure that your shoes come out of the machine unscathed and that the washing process is gentle yet effective in removing dirt and odors. 

Step 6: Add Detergent and Start the Cycle

Add a small amount of liquid laundry detergent to the washing machine. It’s important to select a mild, gentle detergent to ensure that your shoes are cleaned effectively without causing any harm to the materials. 

I highly recommend the Reshoevn8r Washing Machine Pods for shoes. They are made specifically to clean, condition, and remove odors from your shoes.

Opt for a delicate cycle with cold water settings on your washing machine, as this minimizes the risk of damaging your shoes during cleaning. This careful detergent selection and cycle choice are essential to maintain the appearance and longevity of your footwear while achieving the desired cleanliness.

Step 7: Drying Your Shoes

Once the washing cycle is complete, carefully remove your shoes from the mesh bag and gently reshape them to their original form.

To expedite the drying process and maintain their shape, stuff them with newspaper or paper towels. This not only helps absorb excess moisture but also ensures that they retain their structure.

Now, find a well-ventilated area for your shoes to air dry naturally.

However, it’s essential to avoid direct sunlight and heat sources like radiators or heaters, as excessive heat can cause materials to warp or crack.

You can check my comprehensive article, Can I Put My Shoes In The Dryer, for more details.

Allowing your shoes to dry gradually at room temperature ensures they dry thoroughly without compromising their integrity. Following this meticulous drying step is crucial to guarantee that your shoes emerge from the washing machine looking clean, fresh, and ready to wear again.

Washing Shoes in the Washing Machine (In Conclusion)

The question of whether you can wash your shoes in the washing machine depends on the type of shoes you have.

If you are going to put them in the washing machine, these highly-rated laundry detergent pods for shoes are the best option. They are specifically made to clean sneakers, and they are free of added chemicals, dyes, and fragrances that could mess up your shoes.

To successfully machine wash your shoes, follow my step-by-step guide and use the right tools and supplies, including a mesh garment bag, mild detergent, and baking soda for deodorizing.

By taking these precautions, you can keep your shoes looking fresh and extend their lifespan, ensuring you always put your best foot forward.

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