A Step-by-Step Guide Machine Washing Shoes for a Fresh Clean

how to machine wash shoes


Machine washing shoes can be a convenient and effective way to clean various types of footwear. However, it’s crucial to follow the right steps to ensure your shoes come out fresh and undamaged. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to machine wash your shoes safely and effectively.

Preparing your Shoes

Before tossing your shoes into the washing machine, it’s essential to take a few precautionary steps. Begin by removing any loose dirt, debris, or mud from the shoes. If possible, detach removable insoles, laces, or inserts and wash them separately. Check the shoe’s material and label for any specific cleaning instructions or warnings. Additionally, consider placing delicate shoes, such as those made of leather or suede, inside a laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them during the wash.

Selecting the Right Washing Machine Setting

Not all washing machine settings are suitable for cleaning shoes. To avoid damaging your footwear, opt for a gentle or delicate cycle, preferably with a cold water setting. High spin speeds can cause unnecessary stress on your shoes, so choose a lower or no-spin option if available. Avoid using bleach or harsh detergents, as they can fade colours and damage the materials. Instead, opt for a mild detergent specifically formulated for delicate fabrics.

Loading the Shoes 

Properly arranging your shoes inside the washing machine is crucial to prevent them from getting damaged during the wash. Place each shoe in a separate mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to prevent them from banging against each other or the machine’s drum. This helps protect their shape and prevents any potential marks or scuffs. Ensure that the load is balanced by adding a towel or two to the machine. This helps reduce noise and prevents excessive spinning or bouncing.

Washing Process

Once you’ve prepared your shoes and loaded them into the machine, it’s time to start the wash cycle. Remember to add a small amount of mild detergent to the machine as recommended. Avoid overloading the machine, as it can affect the efficiency of the cleaning process. The cold water setting is generally recommended for most shoe materials, as hot water can cause shrinking or damage.

Drying the Shoes 

After the wash cycle is complete, it’s time to dry your shoes. Never put your shoes in the dryer, as the heat can warp, shrink, or damage them. Instead, allow them to air dry naturally. Start by removing the shoes from the laundry bags or pillowcases and gently reshaping them. Stuff them with crumpled newspaper or clean towels to help retain their shape and absorb excess moisture. Place them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources. The drying process may take several hours or even overnight, depending on the shoe material and humidity levels.


Can you put shoes in the washing machine?

Shoes made from canvas, nylon, cotton, and polyester should be fine to throw in the washing machine. Most sneakers and tennis shoes are made from fabrics that can take the rough and tumble rigours of a machine wash. Certain shoes don’t belong in the washer, like those made from leather, suede, rubber, and vinyl.

Can I machine dry shoes?

If your dryer doesn’t come equipped with a dryer rack, then you can wrap your shoes in a thick towel and use a short cycle with a delicate or low/no-heat setting. Check on your shoes periodically as they dry to make sure they’re not warping.


Machine washing shoes can be a convenient and effective method to restore their freshness. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can ensure a safe and thorough cleaning process. Remember to always check the shoe’s label for any specific instructions and exercise caution when washing delicate or expensive footwear.

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