Can You Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine? A Comprehensive Guide

Keeping your shoes clean is essential for both hygiene and aesthetics. The question on everyone’s mind is, “Can You Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine?” “We understand the importance of clean shoes for aesthetics, health, and comfort. This guide shows why keeping shoes clean is essential, how it helps them last longer, and if they can go in the washing machine.

Can You Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine?
Can You Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Table of Contents

The Importance of Clean Shoes

Why Clean Shoes Matter

Washing your shoes keeps you clean and makes your favorite shoes last longer. Dirty shoes can have germs and bad smells, which can bother your health and comfort.

Prolonging Shoe Lifespan

Cleaning your shoes regularly, especially in the washing machine, can make them last much longer. Yet, following the proper steps is crucial to avoid damaging them.

Can You Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Understanding Shoe Materials

Before putting your favorite shoes in the washing machine, the first thing to consider is what they’re made of. Not every shoe is the same, and it’s important to know what your shoes are made of to clean them properly.

Types of Shoes Suitable for Machine Washing

Machine washing shoes can be convenient, but not all shoes suit this cleaning method. Here are some types of shoes that are generally considered machine washable:

Canvas Shoes / Sneakers:

Like many athletic sneakers, shoes made of canvas material are often machine washable. Remove any loose dirt or debris before placing them in the machine.

Running Shoes:

Many running shoes with synthetic uppers can handle machine washing. But it’s crucial to check what the shoemaker says; they might suggest washing by hand to keep the shoes in good shape.

Water Shoes:

Water shoes, made for kayaking or water aerobics, usually have materials that can be washed in a machine.

Slip-On Shoes:

Slip-on shoes, especially ones made from solid and washable materials like rubber or synthetics, can often be washed in a machine. Remove any removable insoles before washing.

Flip Flops and Sandals:

Basic flip-flops or sandals made of rubber or synthetic materials are usually safe for machine washing. Ensure they are securely fastened in a mesh laundry bag to prevent damage.

Casual Shoes with Fabric Uppers:

Specific casual shoes with fabric uppers, like espadrilles or loafers, may be suitable for machine washing. Again, always check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Shower Shoes:

Shoes made for shared showers, like in gyms or dorms, can usually be washed in a machine because they get wet and may have bacteria exposure.

Shoes That Should Not Be Washed in the Machine

Some shoes are okay to wash in a machine, but many should not be cleaned this way. Washing specific shoes in a machine can hurt how they’re built, the stuff they’re made of, or how well they stay together. Here are some types of shoes that generally should not be washed in a machine:

Leather Shoes:

Genuine leather shoes are prone to damage in a washing machine. Water and detergent can dry out the leather, leading to cracks, discoloration, and loss of natural oils.

Suede Shoes:

Suede is a delicate material that is easily damaged by water and agitation. Washing suede in a machine might make it feel different, change its color, and get water spots.

Shoes with Ornate Details:

Shoes with fancy designs like beads, sequins, or delicate sewing are not good for washing in a machine. The mechanical action of the machine can damage or displace these decorative elements.

High-Heeled Shoes:

High-heeled shoes sometimes have fancy parts that can get hurt in a washing machine. Also, the glues used might need to improve with water and shaking.

Shoes with Electronic Components:

Athletic shoes with electronic components, such as those with built-in lights or sensors, should not be submerged in water. Machine washing can damage these components and render them non-functional.

Boots with Internal Structures:

Boots with internal supports, like steel shanks or other rigid structures, may not fare well in a washing machine. The movement and water pressure can affect these internal components.

Orthopedic Shoes:

Shoes designed for orthopedic purposes often have unique features that can be compromised in a washing machine. The materials used for cushioning and support may not react well to the water and detergent.

Dress Shoes:

Fancy shoes, especially those of delicate stuff like shiny patent leather, need gentle surface cleaning. Machine washing can damage polished surfaces.

Shoes with Wooden Components:

Shoes with wood, like clogs or some sandals, might not be good for the washing machine. When wet, the wood can get bigger, change shape, or lose its look.

If your shoes can’t go in the machine, clean them in certain spots or use a soft brush and mild soap. Always consider the maker’s advice for how to clean your shoes.

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Your Shoes in the Washer

Step 1: Preparing Shoes for Machine Washing

Removing Laces and Insoles

A few preparatory steps are essential before tossing your shoes into the machine. We’ll guide you through safely removing laces and insoles to ensure a thorough cleaning.

Checking for Stains and Treating Them

Stains can be stubborn, and machine washing won’t magically erase them. Learn how to identify and treat stains before the wash to achieve the best results.

Using a Mesh Laundry Bag for Protection

Protect your shoes from the rough and tumble of the washing machine with a simple yet effective tool – the mesh laundry bag. Discover why this step is crucial for preserving your footwear.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Detergent

Mild Detergents for Delicate Materials

Not all detergents are created equal. Learn why it’s super important to use a mild soap for gentle shoe materials and how it helps make the wash work well.

Stain-Fighting Detergents for Heavily Soiled Shoes

A special liquid detergent for fighting stains can help shoes that have been through tough times. We’ll look at when it’s best to use liquid detergent for the best results.

Avoiding Bleach and Harsh Chemicals

While a potent detergent is essential, some cleaning agents can be too harsh for your shoes. Uncover the reasons to avoid bleach and other chemicals during the washing process.

Step 3: Setting Up the Washing Machine

Using a Gentle Cycle

Not all cycles are created equal; choosing the right one can make or break your shoe-washing endeavor. We’ll guide you through selecting a gentle cycle for optimal results.

Optimal Water Temperature

Learn why the water temperature is essential for washing shoes. Find the right balance that cleans well while keeping your footwear in good shape.

Adding Towels for Balance

Achieving balance in the washing machine is crucial to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your shoes. Learn the simple trick of adding old towels to maintain equilibrium during the wash.

Step 4: Washing Process

Placing your Shoes Strategically in the Machine

The arrangement of your shoes in the machine can affect the outcome of the wash. Get insights into the strategic placement that ensures each pair receives the attention it deserves.

Avoiding Overloading the Washing Machine

While tossing in as many shoes as possible might be tempting, overloading the washing machine can lead to subpar results. We’ll discuss the importance of moderation for effective cleaning.

Starting the Cycle and Monitoring Progress

The washing machine is in action, but your job isn’t done. Discover why monitoring the cycle’s progress is essential for ensuring the best outcome for your freshly washed shoes.

Step 5: Drying Methods

Air-Drying vs. Dryer Drying

The choice between air drying and machine drying can impact the longevity of your shoes. We’ll examine the benefits and drawbacks of each approach to assist you in making a wise choice.

Using Newspaper or Shoe Trees to Maintain Shape

Maintaining the shape of your shoes post-wash is crucial for comfort and aesthetics. Learn how simple items like newspaper or shoe trees can make a significant difference.

Ensuring Thorough Drying to Prevent Odors

Nobody wants their shoes to come out of the wash, smelling worse than before. Discover the importance of thorough drying and how it prevents unpleasant odors.

Step 6: Post-Washing Care

Reattaching Laces and Insoles

With the washing process, it’s time to put your shoes back together. We’ll guide you through reattaching laces and insoles for a complete and polished look.

Checking for Any Damage or Color Bleeding

Inspecting your shoes post-wash is crucial to catch any damage or color bleeding early on. Learn what signs to look for and how to address potential issues.

Applying Water Repellent Spray for Certain Materials

Certain materials benefit from an extra layer of protection. Discover why applying a water-repellent spray can be an intelligent move for specific shoe types.

Tips to Enhance Washing Machine Shoe Cleaning

Adding a Touch of Baking Soda for Odor Removal

Eliminate that lingering foot odor by incorporating a simple household ingredient. Discover the magic of baking soda in your shoe-cleaning routine.

Using a Gentle Cycle for More Delicate Shoes

Opting for a gentle wash cycle is paramount for shoes that demand a delicate touch. We explore the nuances of different washing machine settings to cater to your footwear’s needs.

Employing a Mesh Bag to Protect the Shoes

Give your shoes the VIP treatment with a mesh garment bag. Learn how this simple accessory can shield your shoes from the rigors of the wash.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Using Hot Water on Sensitive Materials

Hot water might be your go-to for stains, but it’s unsuitable for all shoe materials. Discover why using hot water on sensitive materials can lead to undesirable outcomes.

Neglecting to Check Manufacturer Recommendations

Every shoe is unique, and so are the manufacturer’s recommendations. Learn why neglecting to check these guidelines can be a costly mistake.

Skipping Pre-Washing Preparations

Rushing into the washing machine without proper preparation is a common error. We’ll emphasize the importance of pre-washing steps for a successful cleaning experience.

Addressing Concerns About Machine Washing

Impact on Shoe Lifespan

Many people wonder if washing shoes in a machine makes them last longer. We will explore this and give tips on keeping them clean without shortening their lifespan.

Effect on Shoe Quality and Performance

Learn how washing shoes in a machine can affect how long they last and how well they work. We will assist you in coming to wise decisions.

When to Avoid Machine Washing Altogether

Despite the comprehensive guide, there are times when machine washing is a no-go. Discover the situations where alternative cleaning methods are the safer choice.

Environmental Impact Considerations

Using Eco-Friendly Detergents

For the environmentally conscious, eco-friendly liquid detergents are a game-changer. Explore the options that align with your values while maintaining clean and fresh shoes.

Reducing Water and Energy Consumption

Every wash contributes to your ecological footprint. Learn practical tips for reducing water and energy consumption during your shoe-cleaning routine.

Donating or Recycling Old Shoes

When it’s time to bid farewell to old shoes, consider the eco-friendly options of donation or recycling. We’ll guide you on how to impact the environment positively.


In conclusion, the ability to wash shoes in the machine depends on the material. While some shoes can withstand the process, others require more delicate care. By doing the right things and thinking about what your shoes are made of, you can keep them looking new without hurting how well they stay together.


Can I wash my leather shoes in the machine?

Machine washing leather shoes is not recommended. Leather requires delicate care to maintain its texture and quality. Instead, opt for a soft cloth and mild detergent for cleaning.

Is it safe to wash shoes with laces in the machine?

Yes, but it’s advisable to remove the laces before washing. Clean them separately by hand or in a mesh bag to prevent tangling or damage.

How often should I use the machine to wash my shoes?

The frequency depends on usage. For everyday shoes, a monthly wash is usually sufficient. However, consider a more frequent cleaning schedule for heavily used athletic shoes.

Can I use regular laundry detergent for shoe washing?

While mild detergents are generally safe, a specialized shoe cleaner is recommended. It ensures effective cleaning without compromising the shoe material.

Are there specific shoes that should never be machine-washed?

Yes, shoes with delicate embellishments, such as sequins or beads, should avoid machine washing. The agitation can damage these intricate details.

Can I speed up the drying process with a hairdryer or heater?

Avoid using direct heat sources like a hairdryer or heater. They can cause the material to warp or shrink. Stick to natural air drying for the best results.

Leave a Comment