How to Wash Your Shoes In Washing Machine: A Step-by-step Guide

Stepping into the uncharted territories of footwear maintenance, many tread lightly, fearing the ruin of their cherished soles. But fear not! The world of shoe care is far from formidable when armed with the right knowledge. The ritual of machine-washing your shoes need not be a dance with destruction, but rather a waltz with revitalization.

Unravel the mysteries and mitigate the misconceptions as we delve deep into the step-by-step sanctum of securing cleanliness, ensuring your shoes emerge from the wash not as casualties but as rejuvenated companions ready to embark on many more journeys with you! Keep on reading, as we unlock the enigma of maintaining the vibrancy and longevity of your prized possessions.

Why Machine Wash Shoes?

Machine washing shoes might initially seem an unconventional approach, given the plethora of myths surrounding potential damage. However, this method stands out as an efficient, effective, and convenient means to maintain your shoes’ pristine condition and longevity, especially when compared to hand washing or using other cleaning methods.

1. Efficiency:

Machine washing shoes is incredibly efficient, eliminating dirt, stains, and odors more thoroughly and in less time than manual cleaning. It’s a hands-off approach that allows you to focus on other tasks while the machine works its magic.

2. Deep Cleaning:

The powerful action of the washing machine ensures a deep and thorough clean, reaching every nook and cranny of the shoe that might be difficult to access with hand washing, thus ensuring a higher level of cleanliness and hygiene.

3. Convenience:

With busy lifestyles, the convenience of throwing shoes into a washing machine is unparalleled. It eliminates the need for tedious scrubbing and rinsing, providing a hassle-free cleaning experience.

4. Water Conservation:

When compared to hand washing, machine washing uses water more efficiently, thereby contributing to water conservation, which is crucial in fostering environmental sustainability.

5. Suitable for Various Shoe Types:

Many everyday shoes, like sneakers and canvas shoes, are machine washable, making this a versatile cleaning option. However, it’s essential to check the care labels to avoid any potential damage to non-washable materials.

6. Preservation of Appearance:

Regular machine washing can help maintain the original appearance and color of the shoes, keeping them looking new and fresh over time.

Preparing Shoes for Machine Washing

Preparing your shoes for machine washing is an essential step, ensuring both the safety of your footwear and the effectiveness of the cleaning process. Proper preparation can significantly reduce the risk of damage and ensure a thorough clean, allowing your shoes to maintain their structure, appearance, and longevity. Here’s a step-by-step guide to prep your shoes the right way:

1. Check the Care Label:

Before anything else, examine the care labels on your shoes. They will inform you whether machine washing is suitable and provide specific instructions regarding wash settings, detergents, and drying methods.

2. Remove Laces and Insoles:

Unlace your shoes and take out the insoles. Laces can be washed separately in a wash bag to prevent tangling, and insoles can be cleaned by hand, as machine washing might alter their shape and functionality.

3. Pre-Treat Stains:

If your shoes have any noticeable stains, pre-treat them with a suitable stain remover or a mixture of baking soda and water. This step will facilitate easier stain removal during the wash.

4. Use a Wash Bag:

Place your shoes in a mesh wash bag or pillowcase to protect them from direct contact with the washing machine drum, preventing potential damage and reducing noise during the wash cycle.

5. Secure Velcro Straps:

If your shoes have Velcro straps, secure them to prevent them from sticking to other items and potentially causing damage.

6. Load the Machine Correctly:

When loading the washing machine, balance the load by adding towels or other laundry items. This will prevent the machine from becoming unbalanced and reduce noise and movement during the cycle.

7. Use Gentle Detergent:

Opt for a mild detergent, free of bleach and harsh chemicals, which can be detrimental to the shoe fabric and color. Measure the detergent according to the machine’s instructions to avoid residue.

8. Select the Appropriate Wash Cycle:

Choose a gentle wash cycle with cold water to prevent shrinking and color fading. Avoid using high spin speeds, which can damage the shoe structure.

Choosing the Right Washing Machine Settings

Selecting the right washing machine settings is crucial when machine-washing your shoes. The appropriate settings ensure that the shoes are cleaned thoroughly without causing damage to their structure, color, or material. Here’s a guide to choosing the most suitable settings for washing your shoes:

1. Consult the Care Label:

Always refer to the shoe’s care label first. It typically provides recommended wash settings, including water temperature and cycle type, to ensure the safety and longevity of the shoes.

2. Use a Gentle Cycle:

Choose a gentle or delicate wash cycle. These cycles are designed to clean with less agitation, reducing the risk of damaging the shoes and providing a softer wash, particularly important for preserving the shoe’s material and structure.

3. Opt for Cold Water:

Select a cold water setting to prevent any potential damage such as shrinking or color fading. Cold water is generally gentler on fabrics and is suitable for most shoe materials.

4. Add a Balanced Load:

Balance the washing machine load by adding towels or similar items. This not only helps in maintaining the machine’s balance but also minimizes the noise and movement during the wash cycle, offering additional protection to the shoes.

6. Avoid the Spin Cycle if Possible:

If your washing machine allows, skip the spin cycle, or choose a lower spin speed to avoid excessive pressure on the shoes, which could lead to deformation or damage.

7. Don’t Overload the Machine:

Avoid overloading the washing machine. An overcrowded machine can result in inadequate cleaning and increase the risk of damage due to increased friction between items.

Drying Shoes Post Washing

Properly drying your shoes post-washing is just as crucial as the washing process itself. Incorrect drying can lead to issues such as shape distortion, mold development, and material damage. Here’s how to effectively dry your shoes after washing to maintain their form and functionality:

1. Remove Excess Water:

After the washing cycle, gently remove excess water from the shoes by pressing them between clean, dry towels. Avoid wringing the shoes as it can distort their shape.

2. Use Absorbent Material:

Stuff the shoes with newspaper or another absorbent material to help draw out the moisture from within. This also helps in maintaining the shape of the shoes as they dry. Replace the stuffing periodically as it becomes damp.

3. Air Dry:

Let the shoes air dry in a well-ventilated area away from direct heat and sunlight. Direct heat can cause materials to shrink, warp, or become brittle, and sunlight can lead to fading.

4. Position Correctly:

Position the shoes so that air can circulate inside them. This can be achieved by placing them upside down over a shoe rack or similar object, allowing gravity to expel any remaining water.

5. Avoid Direct Heat Sources:

Never place wet shoes near radiators, heaters, or in an oven to speed up the drying process. The intense heat from these sources can damage the shoe materials and adhesives.

6. Use Shoe Trees:

If available, insert shoe trees into the shoes while they dry. Shoe trees can help in maintaining the shape of the shoes and can also aid in the drying process.

7. Rotate Drying Shoes:

If possible, have more than one pair of shoes to rotate between, allowing each pair ample time to dry completely before being worn again, preventing the development of unpleasant odors and mold.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Machine washing shoes can offer convenience, but it also comes with potential pitfalls. Avoiding common mistakes can help maintain the integrity, functionality, and appearance of your footwear. Here’s a list of typical errors and how to sidestep them:

1. Ignoring Care Labels:

  • Mistake: Neglecting to read the care labels on the shoes before washing them.
  • Solution: Always consult care labels for washing suitability and instructions to avoid damage.

2. Skipping Pre-Treatment:

  • Mistake: Not pre-treating stains and soiling before washing.
  • Solution: Apply a stain remover or a baking soda paste to pre-treat stains for a more thorough clean.

3. Using Harsh Detergents:

  • Mistake: Utilizing detergents with bleach or harsh chemicals.
  • Solution: Opt for a mild, bleach-free detergent to prevent material damage and color fading.

4. Overloading the Machine:

  • Mistake: Washing shoes in an overcrowded machine.
  • Solution: Avoid overloading to ensure adequate cleaning and reduce the risk of damage due to friction.

5. Selecting the Wrong Cycle:

  • Mistake: Choosing a regular or heavy-duty cycle for washing shoes.
  • Solution: Use a gentle or delicate cycle with cold water to preserve shoe structure and color.

6. Neglecting Balance:

  • Mistake: Washing shoes without balancing the load with towels or other items.
  • Solution: Balance the load to minimize noise and protect shoes from excessive agitation.

7. Improper Drying:

  • Mistake: Drying shoes with direct heat or sunlight.
  • Solution: Air dry shoes in a well-ventilated area and avoid direct heat to maintain material integrity and color.

8. Not Removing Laces and Insoles:

  • Mistake: Washing shoes with laces and insoles intact.
  • Solution: Remove laces and insoles and clean them separately to maintain their form and function.

9. Frequent Washing:

  • Mistake: Washing shoes excessively.
  • Solution: Wash shoes as needed, based on use and level of soiling, to prevent premature wear and tear.

10. Ignoring Minor Damages:

  • Mistake: Overlooking minor damages before washing.
  • Solution: Regularly inspect and repair minor damages to prevent them from worsening due to washing.


Can all types of shoes be machine washed?

A: Not all shoes are suitable for machine washing. Always check the care label on your shoes for specific washing instructions.

What are the benefits of machine washing shoes?

Machine washing shoes can ensure thorough cleaning, remove odors, and maintain hygiene, extending the life of the shoes.

Can I machine wash shoe insoles and laces?

Laces and insoles should be removed and can be cleaned separately. Refer to care instructions for specific cleaning guidelines.


In today’s fast-paced environment, where every moment is precious, learning how to wash your shoes in a washing machine can be a game-changer, saving you both time and energy. This seemingly simple task is a crucial life hack, especially for those who lead an active lifestyle and find their shoes constantly subjected to dirt, grime, and sweat.

Keeping your footwear clean is not merely about aesthetics; it is fundamentally linked to promoting foot health, increasing the longevity of your shoes, and, subsequently, making a positive contribution to environmental sustainability by reducing waste.

But, how does one navigate the myriad of shoe types, materials, and washing machine settings to avoid damage and ensure optimal results? We invite you to delve into our comprehensive guide, share your thoughts, experiences, and tips, and engage in enlightening discussions with other readers.

Let’s embark on this journey to elevate our shoe-cleaning game and step into a cleaner, healthier future together!

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