How to Wash Your Shoes in the Washing Machine

March 18, 2024

How To Wash Your Shoes In The Washing Machine

When you step out to run errands, grab dinner with friends, or head to work, you want to look your best from head to toe. But your toes—namely your shoes—sometimes aren’t looking their best. Fortunately, cleaning your shoes doesn't have to be a challenging or time-consuming chore. If your favorite pair of shoes are machine washable, you can achieve great results by tossing your kicks into your washing machine. If you’re not sure how to get started, the team at 4J is here to share helpful tips on how to wash shoes in the washing machine. Your shoe washing journey isn’t going to be difficult as long as you take some simple steps to prepare. Before you toss your shoes into the washing machine, check the manufacturer's label found on the inside of your shoe. Ensure they are machine washable and check the recommended temperature. Next, make sure you have the following items available: 

  • Mesh garment bags
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • A small brush, like a toothbrush
  • Baking soda, white vinegar, or a cream cleaner
  • Old towels or cloths 

Step-By-Step: Washing Your Shoes in the Washing Machine

Once you have all your materials gathered, you can follow this step-by-step method: 

Step 1: Take Them Apart and Clean

Before tossing your kicks into the washing machine, remove the detachable parts, such as the laces and insoles. These items should be washed separately. Your shoelaces are often the dirtiest part of your shoes, so it’s best to remove them and wash them in a mesh bag or replace them altogether. Your insoles can be wiped down with warm water and a baking soda solution. If they still smell, you can sprinkle an odor absorber on them and the inside of your shoes after washing. Allow them to air dry completely.

Step 2: Brush Excess Mud and Grime

Use an old toothbrush to remove caked-on mud and debris before washing your shoes. You can also remove scuff marks by applying a shoe cleaner and gently buffing away with a wet cloth.

Step 3: Spot Clean Stains

If you spot mud or grass stains, it’s best to try to remove them before placing them in the washer. You can apply white vinegar to the stain and scrub with a toothbrush to remove most of it. A mixture of two teaspoons of baking soda, two teaspoons of liquid laundry detergent, and four teaspoons of water can help eliminate stains on white sneakers. Apply the combination with a brush and let it sit for up to four hours. Then you can continue to wash your sneakers normally.

Step 4: Place Shoes in Mesh Bag and Start Your Wash Cycle

Your shoes should always be placed in a mesh bag to prevent them from banging around in your washing machine. It’s also a great idea to put some old towels into the drum along with your shoes to balance out the wash load. Set your washer on a gentle or delicate cycle with cold water and select a slow or no-spin option. Choose a liquid laundry detergent as a powder detergent can get stuck in your shoes and not dissolve properly.

Step 5: Air Dry Shoes

Once the cycle is complete, remove the mesh bags from the washer and let your shoes and shoelaces air dry. Your shoes may take a few days to dry, so if you’d like to speed things up, you can stuff clean rags, old newspapers, or paper towels inside your shoes to absorb excess moisture. Stuffing your shoes and drying them in a well-ventilated room with ample sunlight can speed up the drying process.

Step 6: Put Them Back Together

Once everything is dry, re-lace your shoes and place the insoles inside.

How Often Should I Wash My Shoes?

Now that you know how to wash your shoes, you’re probably wondering how often you should. While the answer will vary based on your shoes, on average, it’s suggested that you should wash your shoes every two weeks. Washing will depend on several factors, including the type of shoe, the material, how often you wear them, how dirty they are, etc. For all your laundry questions, like “How often should I wash my shoes?”, know you can count on the experts at 4J—the best laundromat in Philadelphia!

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