How to Wash Shoes in Washing Machine

We often hear that shoes create the first impression of a person. So it’s pretty necessary that you wear a clean one. But in our hectic schedule, we often forget that. Everybody has that favourite pair of shoes or the most comfortable one that one can’t do without. So, the most important question that arises is, “can you wash shoes in the washing machine?”

Yes, you can wash your shoes in the washing machine, provided it is machine-washable. However, not all shoes are machine washable, so you need to check the care label before washing them. If you put the non-washable shoes into the washer, it will either damage the shoes or the appliance itself.

It is pretty obvious that it is our shoes that get the most dirt and become smelly. The odour is due to the sweat it absorbs, as it is worn for a longer period and not allowed to dry out.

It’s always advisable to wash your socks every day and let your shoes dry after removing them.

Try to wear alternate shoes each day to avoid that smell from your shoes.

How to Wash Shoes in Washing Machine

It becomes necessary to clean them very often. It is not that you need to clean your shoes with your hands always; you can even wash them in your washing machine.

It gives rise to another critical question that is “how to wash shoes in washing machine?” This article has an ultimate stepwise guide that you can follow while washing your shoes in the washing machine. But before that, you need to know about the types of shoes that are machine washable.

Shoes that can be Washed

Before washing your shoes, you must go through the care label of your shoes. If it suggests, hand washes only, then you better not wash them in the washing machine.

It also depends upon the material of which it is made. If your shoes are made of fabrics like leather or suede rubber and vinyl, then it’s better to use cleaning products strictly meant for them and not toss them in your washing machine.

Which shoes are machine washable?

Shoes that are made up of satin silk or have embroidery or decorated with some delicate materials especially those designer shoes must be given to any professional cleaner as it will get damaged if machine washed.

You can wash shoes that are made up of cotton, nylon, and even those that are made up of PU and PVC like your sneakers and shoes of your children. Only you have to keep some materials handy and follow some simple steps to do it.

Types of Washing Machine Best Suited for Washing a Shoe

Although you can wash your shoes in all the types of washing machines, i.e. the top loader and front loader washing machine, it gets a better wash in a top load one.

We also recommend you to use a top-load automatic washing machine for cleaning your washable shoes. The top load washing machine is gentle on the materials and shoes being heavy, sits at the drum’s bottom and gets a full spin.

Senator Aqua sx
Top Load washing machine
Semi Automatic washing machine

However, it doesn’t get the full spin in a front load washing machine and can’t clean the shoes effectively. The tumble action of a front loader is harsh on the shoe material and is recommended for hemp, denim, cotton shoes.

What Detergent Should you Use to Wash your Shoes?

The type of detergent to use while washing your shoes is dependent upon the type of washing machine you are using.

For a front load washing machine, use a soft and gentle front load detergent and in a top load washing machine, you can use a soft and gentle top load detergent.

Never use top load detergent in a front load washing machine. However, you can use front load detergent in your top load washing machine but the efficiency of your top loader will reduce drastically.

In general, you should use a soft and gentle detergent that is best suitable for your shoes, never use a regular detergent powder in your HE washing machine.

Types of Washing Machines and Detergents to use

In some cases, you can also use heavy-duty laundry detergent for washing your Shoes.

 If you have white shoes, a dollop of whitening toothpaste could help too.

For your convenience, we have listed down some of the best detergents for your shoes that are easily available on Amazon for both front and top-loading washing machines. 

For your convenience, we have listed down some of the best detergents that are easily available on the Amazon for both front and top-loading washing machines. 

Best Overall
Surf Excel Matic Front Load Liquid Detergent 1L|| Specially designed for Tough Stain Removal on Laundry in Washing Machines
Tide Matic 3in1 PODs Liquid Detergent Pack 32 Count for Both Front Load and Top Load Washing Machines
Surf Excel Matic Front Load Liquid
Tide Matic 3in1 PODs
Surf Excel
1200 Grams
657 Grams
Amazon Prime
Customer Rating
Best Overall
Surf Excel Matic Front Load Liquid Detergent 1L|| Specially designed for Tough Stain Removal on Laundry in Washing Machines
Surf Excel Matic Front Load Liquid
Surf Excel
1200 Grams
Amazon Prime
Customer Rating
Tide Matic 3in1 PODs Liquid Detergent Pack 32 Count for Both Front Load and Top Load Washing Machines
Tide Matic 3in1 PODs
657 Grams
Customer Rating

Last update on 2023-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top Load Detergents 

Front Load Detergents 

Detergents for Both Types of Washing Machine (HE Detergents)

Things you need

  • Piece of cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Laundry/Mesh bag or pillowcase in case you don’t have the other two.
  • Mild liquid detergent (color safe)
  • 2-3 towels
  • Newspapers
Things you need for washing shoes in washing machine

Preparation for Washing

Before washing your shoes in a washing machine, you should prepare them overnight or 3-4 hours before throwing them in the washer. For doing so, you have to first clean off the extra dirt from your shoes using a piece of clothing or toothbrush.

Remove the laces and clean the insoles with a toothbrush using a mild detergent, and put your shoes under the running tap so that it removes all the extra dirt. You can also sprinkle some baking powder over wet shoes for a better wash.

Pre-wash shoe treatment before washing in washing machine

You can also use toothpaste to clean your midsole, outsole, and heels using a toothbrush. If your shoe is quite expensive and you are new to this, it would be better for you to hand wash it with an old or soft bristle brush.

How to Wash Shoes in Washing Machine -A Step-wise Guide

We have to follow some simple steps to wash our favourite pair of sneakers or trainers. The steps are as follows:

Step 1# Prepare your shoes and Remove the insoles and Laces

Prepare your shoes before washing in washing machine

We have already discussed how to prepare your shoes before washing them. Now you remove the lace and insoles as there may be a chance of laces getting entangled in the washing machine.

You are left with the option of removing your shoe’s insoles. But do clean them before putting them in a washer.

Step 2# Add Detergent to the Washing Machine

Add detergent to washing machine while washing shoes

Add gentle liquid detergent to the washing machine and make it ready. Use the type of detergents that are recommended for your washing machine.

We recommend using a colour-safe liquid detergent for your washer because powder detergents can get stuck in shoes if it doesn’t dissolve properly. You can also add a disinfectant into the wash drum to kill all bacteria or virus present in the shoes.

Step 3# Add Extra Padding

Add towels to provide extra cushion to shoes

Put some clothes like your jeans or 2-3 towels into the washing machine to create an extra cushion for the shoes and prevent loud noise when you wash your shoes in them.

Towels or extra clothes added should be of the same colour. Avoid using delicate towels or white ones, as you are washing dirty shoes with them.

Step 4# Place the Shoes in a Mesh or Laundry Bag

Ass shoes in laundry bag before hopping it in washing machine

Put your shoes in a mesh or Laundry bag after removing the laces and insoles (optional). You can also use a pillowcase. Better to wash 2-3 shoes together.

Whether using a pillowcase or wash bag, always tie it correctly to not come out of it in a washer.

Step 5# Put your shoes, laces and insoles in a washing machine and start the wash cycle

Put your laundry bag with shoes and insole in washing machine

Put your laundry bag with laces, insoles and shoes in the washing machine and start the wash cycle. The Wash cycle should be delicate, cold water with a medium or slow to no-spin option.

Always use cold water or lukewarm water for washing your shoes because hot water can damage the glues and the fabric of the shoes.

Step 6# Dry your shoes

After wash cycle air dry your shoes

After the wash cycle is over, please take out your shoes and air dries them in an open space. You can put some clean, dry clothes or newspaper inside the shoes when drying.

This maintains the shape of the shoes and also dries them quickly. It may take a day and a half to get them fully dry if enough light and air is present.

If the manufacturer cared label doesn’t allow, do not put them in a dryer as it can damage the glue in the shoe and make them prone to breakage. Also, avoid drying in direct sunlight as it damages the fabric and the colour of your shoes.

Step 7# Post wash treatment of Shoes

Once your shoes are dry, put the insole and tie the laces, and you are ready to go.

If the shoes still stink, you can apply baking soda or treat it with a pro deodorizer like  Foot-O-Fresh.

Foot-o-fresh foot spray

Can You Put Your Shoes in The Dryer?

Putting your shoes in the dryer is entirely dependent upon the material of your shoes. If your shoes’ fabric can withstand the drier’s heat, you can choose to put them in the dryer.

Canvas or tennis shoes (sneakers) or shoes made up of synthetic fabric like running shoes can survive a low-heat tumble dry. Usually, the heat will cause damage to your shoes by damaging the glue that holds them, and it may even cause certain material or fabrics to shrink or permanently warp your shoes.

It would be best if you never put your leather shoes or nylon shoes in the dryer; it may even cause a fire.

In doubt about the fabric of shoes, let them air dry naturally in a cool and well-ventilated space under a fan or anywhere out of direct sunlight. Make sure that the shoes are completely dry before using them.

Remember, not all shoes can be put in the dryer. However, for those that can like many sneakers or tennis shoes, or canvas shoes, you need to follow a specific setting and process to dry your shoes in the drier effectively. It is recommended to follow the below steps 

Remove the insoles first, if possible.
Set the dryer to low heat.
Tie the shoelaces of one shoe to the other in a loose knot and suspend them from the dryer door. You can also use a shoe bag attached to the dryer door.
Put a towel or 2 in with them, so they aren’t banging around in the dryer.
Turn on the dryer and check them every so often.
You can also stuff some small towels inside your shoes that will help them keep their shape as they dry.

Post-Wash Treatment of Shoes if it still stinks after cleaning

Post-Wash Treatment of Shoes

After washing, remove any detergent residue with a damp cloth. If the shoe still stinks after washing, then apply a baking soda coating on the shoe’s inside and let it sit overnight.

If baking soda doesn’t work, we advise you to use a pro deodorizer like Foot-O-Fresh.

What to Do If My Shoes are Not Machine Washable

If the care label says that your shoes are not machine washable, you shouldn’t wash them in the washing machine. Doing so will damage the material and coatings of the shoes.

However, you can spot clean them, or instead of machine washing, you can give your shoes a good old-fashioned hand washing.

How to wash your shoes by Hand

  • Step 1# Prep your shoes for washing by getting rid of dirt and debris with the help of a toothbrush or brush.
  • Step 2# Check the shoe care label and if its hand washable then proceed further
  • Step 3# Pre-treat any stains with stain remover by mixing warm water with stain remover or detergent. Apply this mixture to stains using the brush.
  • Step 4# Remove the insole and apply the mixture to these also.
  • Step 5# Fill a bathtub or a large basin, or a laundry sink, or a large bucket with lukewarm water, and add a bit of detergent to the water.
  • Step 6# Clean your shoes by scrubbing them with a soft brush or a rag.
  • Step 7# Rinse your shoes thoroughly
  • Step 8# Air Dry your shoes naturally. You can also put small towels inside your shoes to maintain their shape and help speed up the process.
However, if you have leather shoe, you need not hand wash them. Instead, use a mixture of cool water and distilled white vinegar. Use a dry cloth and wipe your shoes down. This mixture will remove all the white salt stains. You can also apply a leather paste.


Final Verdict

These are some simple steps and things you have to keep in mind before putting your shoes in the washing machine. All you get is a new life for your favourite pair.

It will increase your shoes’ lifespan, and you don’t have to worry about cleaning them for a month. You can do our important stuff or have family time while your washing machine does your cleaning job.

I hope this stepwise guide helps you answer all your questions regarding washing your shoe in a washing machine. Feel free to check our list of the 11 best washing machines available in the market and our complete buyer’s guide here in our “How to Choose a Washing Machine – A Complete Guide” section.

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