How to Wash Shoes

Tired of your shoes looking dingy and dirty? Don’t worry—we’ve all roughed up a pair of our favorite shoes or accidentally splashed them with mud on a rainy day. Thankfully, they don’t have to stay that way. Learn how to wash shoes in the washer1 and get your filthy kicks looking bright and clean again. To learn more about washing shoes in the washing machine, check out the following tips:

  • Read the label. Make sure your shoes CAN be machine washed. Some animal-based or extra delicate fabrics must be hand washed.
  • Remove the laces; otherwise, it’s too easy for them to get tangled in other laundry. This also gives the eyelets the most chance for water exposure as possible. Place the laces in a mesh laundry bag before tossing them into the washing machine.
  • Prep shoes before throwing them in the wash. Scrub off excess dirt; you can even use an old toothbrush for soiled eyelets. In addition, sprinkle the inside of the shoe with baking soda the night before in order to absorb moisture and odors. Finally, if your shoes are majorly soiled, you may want to pretreat them with stain remover.
  • Wash shoes with other items, like towels, to balance out the washer and protect your shoes from damage.
  • Select the washing machine’s gentle cycle, which will operate on a lower speed than normal. This puts less stress on the shoes and keeps them from being quite so loud when banging around inside the washer drum.
  • If you can adjust the heat settings, pick cold water.
  • No matter how dirty your shoes are, be sure to use the normal amount of detergent. Using more can make shoes stiff thanks to soap residue.
  • Air dry, air dry, air dry. Do NOT use a dryer to dry your shoes, unless you’re using the air only dry function. That’s because using heat to dry your shoes can make them lose their shape and change their support. When air drying, it’s best to place them in a well-ventilated space, but keep them out of direct sunlight. You can also put them near a fan or an open window to make the drying process go faster. Try stuffing them with a dry cotton towel to help retain their shape2.
Whether you’re learning how to wash shoes for the first time or washing clothing or sheets for the thousandth, it’s always important to select the right laundry detergent. Look for detergents that pair great stain-removing power with the ability to whiten whites and brighten colors.

  1. SOURCE: How To Clean Dirty Sneakers In the Washing Machine (March 2017). USA Today. Retrieved August 8, 2017 from:
  2. SOURCE: How to Wash Sneakers at Home (July 2017). Sears. Retrieved Aug. 8, 2017 from: