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Find out how to wash shoes in the washing machine without damaging either. Follow our step-by-step guide for a safe and easy way to clean your shoes!

What is the best way to wash shoes?

Shoes are just like any other item in your wardrobe, and with continual use they get dirty and need to be cleaned from time to time. But what’s the best way to clean your shoes?

Ultimately, the cleaning method should be guided by what your shoes are made of and the shoe manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines.

Can you throw them in the washing machine for a quick, easy wash, or should you more carefully handwash your shoes? Or perhaps using water to clean your shoes isn’t recommended by the manufacturer? Always check the care label inside your favourite pair of shoes before proceeding.

Which types of shoes can you put in the washing machine?

You can wash some types of shoes in your washing machine, and a pair of sneakers or trainers can often be washed in the washing machine. These types of shoes are most commonly made from more hard-wearing synthetic materials like nylon or polyester, or of canvas and so in many instances can be washed in the washing machine, but before you throw your sneakers in the washing machine, we would recommend you check what the shoe manufacturer says about washing them in the washing machine by checking the care label in your shoes, and also check their website for more guidance. And if you do it in the right way, by following the care instruction label inside your shoes, then they can look as good as new.

If they don’t recommend it, then perhaps it’s not a good idea for that pair of shoes.

Washing sneakers in the washing machine

When washing your synthetic or canvas shoes, just like washing any item of clothing, the golden rule is to check the instructions on the inside of the shoes first before getting started. The care instruction label, usually located inside the shoe, is the shoe manufacturer’s guide on how to best look after the shoes. The label may not provide the specific recommended washing temperature you can wash the shoes at, but it should give an indication as to whether the shoes can or can’t be washed in a washing machine.

If it doesn’t provide any information on the label, it’s always best to be cautious and not put your shoes in the washer. No one wants to ruin their favourite pair of shoes, so if that’s the case it would be safer to wash them by hand.

A step-by-step guide

When it comes to washing your sneakers in the washing machines it’s pretty simple, but to make sure your favourite pair of running shoes come out looking their best it’s important to take a few simple steps before throwing them in the washer.

Mesh bag for protecting shoes in washing machine


    1. Remove the laces – completely remove the laces from the shoes from the sneakers, this way the water can get right into the shoes to wash them properly and the laces can be washed properly as well.
    2. Remove the insoles – if the insoles are removable then take them out of the shoes, this will allow your shoes to wash more thoroughly and dry much faster. When the insoles are in the shoes, they will become water-logged and this will cause the drying time of the shoes will be much longer.
    3. Scrub away excess mud or dirt – using a toothbrush, small soft brush or soft sponge, gently scrub away any scuff marks, excess dirt or mud from the shoe and from the crevices in the soles of the shoes.
    4. Use a delicates or mesh laundry bag – place the shoes and the laces into the delicates/mesh laundry bag. Using a bag prevents your sneakers and the laces getting caught on anything inside the washing machine, but particularly around the rubber door seal of the washer.
    5. Use old towels in the same wash – to protect your shoes and the drum of your washing machine, place a few towels as part of the wash load with the shoes in the washing bag. Doing this will stop the shoes banging around against the drum of washer during the wash cycle, protecting the drum of the washing machine from the impact of the shoes.

Remove shoe laces before cleaning


    1. Water Temperature – it would be recommended to wash your sneakers in a cold water wash if your sneakers are coloured. The cold water setting will protect your favourite shoes from colour bleeding. But if your sneakers are white, then a warm wash should be fine, but no warmer than approximately 30o Washing at higher water temperatures could risk shrinkage or distortion in shape of the sneakers.
    2. Wash Cycle – run the wash on a delicate or gentle cycle and no spin setting, not only to protect the sneakers you are washing, but to also protect the drum of the washing machine. Learn learn more about the different settings and cycles on our washing machines.
    3. Detergent - use a good quality liquid detergent meant for colour washes as powder detergent may become stuck in your shoes.
    4. Laces Washing – the laces can be washed in the same wash as your shoes in a mesh laundry bag, but if your laces are white and your shoes are brightly coloured you might consider washing your laces in a separate wash with your other whites, still inside a mesh bag, so your laces stay nice and white.
    5. Insoles Washing – if you can remove the insoles from your shoes then you should and wash them separately. Instead of throwing your insoles into the washing machine, gently scrub the insoles with an old toothbrush or soft small brush using a slightly soapy mixture of warm water and liquid detergent. Soak up any excess water with a sponge after cleaning and allow them to air dry naturally. This will cut down the drying time of both the insoles and shoes, and by cleaning your insoles separately it will protect them and help to remove the smells better.
    6. Insoles Deodorising - For some extra deodorising of your insoles you could consider –
      1. placing your insoles in a bag with baking soda and sealing it. Shake the bag to spread the baking soda evenly over the insoles and leave overnight.
      2. For extra odour busting, make a 2:1 mixture of white vinegar and water and soak the insoles in the mixture for a few hours. Then soak them for a second time, but this time in a mixture of warm water and baking soda (and for extra deodorant add an essential oil)

If you have more questions about how to use your washing machine to get the best results, why not have a look on our FAQ page.


So now you’ve finished your washing cycle, and it would be tempting to keep things quick and simple and to just throw your shoes into the dryer. But if you want to keep your favourite shoes in top shape then we’d recommend placing the shoes outside in the sun to air-dry. Don’t place them in direct sun or under any direct heat, this could cause fading or distortion of the shoes. Drying time will differ depending on the material of the shoes and the weather outside, so plan ahead when washing your shoes as it may take a few days, weather dependent, for them to completely dry out.

Can you put shoes in the dryer?

It would not be recommended to put your sneakers in the dryer, as tempting as it may be. Tumble dryers operate at a very high heat, and the heat from the dryer will distort the shape of the sneakers, possibly causing the rubber sole of the shoes to crack and warp. Learn more about our range of tumble dryers.