How to Clean Shoes in the Washer Without Ruining Them


Cleaning shoes can be a tedious chore, especially when they are covered in dirt, mud, or stains. Many people wonder if it is possible to clean their shoes in the washer without causing any damage. The answer is yes! With a few simple steps and precautions, you can safely clean your shoes in the washing machine and make them look brand new. In this article, we will guide you through the process of cleaning shoes in the washer without ruining them.

Step 1: Check the Shoe Material

First and foremost, you need to make sure your shoes are suitable for machine washing. Check the shoe label or manufacturer’s instructions for any specific cleaning recommendations. Generally, canvas, knit fabrics, and synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester can be washed safely in a washing machine. Avoid washing leather shoes or those with fragile ornamentations as they may be damaged in the washer.

Step 2: Prepare Your Shoes for Washing

Before tossing your shoes in the washer, remove any excess dirt or mud by gently brushing them with a dry cloth or soft-bristled brush. Then, take out the shoelaces and insoles if possible. Washing these items separately prevents tangling and ensures better cleaning results.

Step 3: Use a Mesh Laundry Bag

To protect your shoes from banging around inside the washer and minimize potential damage, place them inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase before washing. This also helps prevent any dye from bleeding onto other clothes. Don’t forget to put the shoelaces and insoles into separate mesh bags as well.

Step 4: Select the Gentle Cycle

Set your washer on a gentle cycle with cold water to ensure a delicate wash for your shoes. Avoid using hot water, as it may cause some materials to shrink or become discolored.

Step 5: Add Mild Detergent

When adding detergent, choose a mild, bleach-free option specifically formulated for delicate garments. Avoid using any fabric softener or bleach, as these substances can be harmful to your shoes’ material.

Step 6: Balance the Load

Balance the washing machine load by adding a couple of old towels or similarly colored clothes alongside your shoes. This reduces wear and tear on both the shoes and the washer by providing cushioning during the wash cycle.

Step 7: Air Dry

After the wash cycle is complete, remove your shoes from the mesh bag and let them air dry in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. To speed up drying and help maintain their shape, stuff your shoes with paper towels or old newspapers. Remember to avoid using a dryer or direct heat sources, as they may cause damage or shrinkage.


Cleaning your shoes in the washer is a convenient way to keep them fresh and looking their best. By following these simple steps, you can safely wash your shoes without causing any damage. Keep in mind that it’s essential to check the shoe’s material and manufacturer’s instructions beforehand. With proper care and attention, your shoes will last longer and remain in excellent condition.

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