A pair of muddy turquoise trainers.

How to wash shoes in the washing machine

Can you put shoes in the washing machine? Yes! Many of us don’t realise that there are lots of different types of shoes that can be washed in the machine, helping to save you time and money. Whether you’ve enjoyed a muddy walk through the park, or your kids have come home from school with mucky trainers from their P.E. lesson, muddy shoes may have a little more life left in them, so don’t throw them out just yet. We’ve got everything you need to know about how to wash shoes in the washing machine.  

 

Should I wash shoes in the washing machine?

Whether or not you should wash your shoes in the machine really depends on what your shoes are made of. You can determine whether or not your shoes are washable by checking the care label, but as a general rule of thumb, it’s best not to machine wash any shoes that are made from animal-based fabrics, like leather or suede. Water can easily damage these materials, so it’s best to use cleaning products that have been specially designed for these fabrics, or you could take your shoes to a professional cleaner.

Likewise, shoes made from delicate materials like satin or silk, or those that are embellished should be cleaned with specialist care. However, there are many other types of shoes that can be safely washed in the machine.

It’s easy to wash trainers in the washing machine, and kids’ shoes, because they’re often made from textiles such as cotton, nylon, and polyester and these materials are able to withstand a machine wash. Some PU or PVC shoes may also be machine washable, so be sure to check the care label to see if you can save time here. After all, why labour over the sink hand washing shoes if you could simply pop them in the machine? Surely the time is better spent with your family or enjoying some much needed ‘you time’?

If the care label of the footwear states ‘hand wash only’ then remember that you may still be able to machine wash your shoes on a ‘hand wash’ setting. Just proceed cautiously.  

 

Washing shoes in the washing machine: A step-by-step guide

Here’s your simple guide on how to wash shoes in the machine quickly and easily:  

 

Step 1: Read the label

Before doing anything else, always read the care label on your shoes to see whether or not they can be washed. The label will suggest the best way to wash shoes based on the type of fabric they’re made from. If your shoes cannot be washed fully (either in the machine or by hand) then an old toothbrush can be used to remove obvious surface dirt. You may also be able to use a damp cloth as an alternative to washing.  

 

Step 2: Prepare your shoes

To prepare your shoes for the washing machine, remove the laces and scrub any loose dirt from the surface – you can use an old toothbrush to get into smaller areas like eyelets and a larger, stiff-bristled brush for the surface of the shoe itself. For more obvious or stubborn dirt, hold the shoes beneath a running tap to remove excess debris and stains. Taking time to prepare your shoes like this will help the washing machine do its job effectively and efficiently.  

 

Step 3: Protect your shoes (and your ears!)

It’s a good idea to pop your shoes, and your laces, inside a mesh laundry bag to protect them from becoming snagged on the inside of the drum. If you don’t have a laundry bag, an empty pillowcase is a good alternative. If you’ve ever tried washing shoes before, you’ll know that it can get a little noisy, so make up the rest of the wash load with towels. These will act as a buffer, helping to stop your shoes banging against the drum during the wash.  

 

Step 4: Prepare your machine

Rather than opting for a warm wash, keep the water temperature at a cooler 30 degrees to prevent the colours of your shoes running or fading. This is especially important if you’re washing PU or PVC, as you don’t want to damage the coating. Use a good colour detergent, like Persil Powercaps Colour washing capsules. Pop one cap into the drum before adding your towels and then your shoes.

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Step 5: Air dry

It’s a good idea to air dry your shoes, rather than tumble drying them. The high heats in the tumble dryer can cause some of the glue to melt, leaving your shoes vulnerable to breaking. Put your shoes in a warm place, and pop some scrunched up newspaper inside. This not only helps to absorb excess moisture, but also makes sure your shoes dry in the correct shape so you know they’ll be as comfortable as ever.  

Whether we’re racing from one meeting to the next or just trying to keep up with the kids, our shoes are certainly put through their paces and we bet you’ve come across some pretty unusual stains. Whatever your oddest shoe stain is, our handy washing tips can help you out and there’s even more advice on stain removal in the Washing Tips & Tricks section.

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