How to Wash Your Sneakers in the Washing Machine

Fred's Appliance
April 4, 2023
Washer Repair

Do you have sneakers that are starting to look a bit dirty but you don’t know the best way to clean them? If you own a washing machine and feel up for the task of freshening up your trusty sneaks, we have the perfect guide for you. 

Washing sneakers in a washing machine is an easy process if you do it properly. Without this guide, however, it could be risky (and sometimes smelly!). Read on for some expert tips so that when you take on the challenge of washing your sneakers, they’ll come out looking good as new!

How to prepare your sneakers for washing

To wash your sneakers, you will need the following:

  • A bucket or sink
  • Detergent—whatever you normally use
  • A gentle brush or rag
  • A laundry pre-treatment, like Shout or Resolve
  • Two light mesh laundry bags

First, gather your supplies. Then, remove any loose dirt from the surface of your sneakers before placing them in the washing machine. You can do this by banging the shoes together over a bucket, sink, or outside. Brush the larger debris (caked-on mud, grass, etc.) off each shoe and out of the cracks on the soles.

Remove the laces and place them into one of the light mesh laundry bags. The eyelets collect a lot of dirt and grime, and you want the water and soap to be able to reach these areas. If you don’t have a mesh laundry bag, you can simply wash the shoes by hand in a bucket or the sink.

You can remove the insoles at this stage if you want to wash them separately, or place them in the bag with the laces. Again, if you don’t have a mesh laundry bag, you can wash the insoles by hand or simply leave them in the shoes so they’ll be washed at the same time. If necessary, spray your shoes with a laundry pre-treatment like Shout or Resolve to target any scuffs or stains.

Protect your shoes with a mesh laundry bag 

Before loading your sneakers into the washing machine, place them in a mesh laundry bag for maximum protection. If you don’t have one, you can use an empty pillowcase. Just tie a knot at the end to keep the shoes from falling out during the wash cycle.

Not only will the bag help keep your shoes from getting tangled or damaged during the cycle, but it will also prevent the shoes from damaging the washing machine. If you can find a mesh laundry bag with a drawstring closure, this can be even more helpful as it will ensure that your footwear stays securely inside while being washed and spun around in the machine.

Add detergent 

When it comes to washing your sneakers in a washing machine, using the right detergent is key.

You don’t need any special chemicals or extreme cleaners like bleach. Don’t risk damaging your shoes by using a harsh product that’s meant for tougher materials.

Instead, opt for a mild detergent that will be gentle on your kicks. Your normal laundry detergent should work just fine. This will protect your sneakers from any unnecessary wear and tear, and will also keep them looking fresh and clean for longer. Your feet (and your shoes) will thank you.

Add a buffer

To protect sneakers from being damaged in the washing machine, fill the rest of the load with something durable like a towel, blanket, or sweatshirt. The buffer will also keep your shoes from banging around too loudly during the wash cycle, saving your shoes and your washing machine from damage. 

When choosing the items to add to your load, avoid anything too delicate as they might  absorb some of the dirt from the shoes. Remember that common sense is key when it comes to washing items together. If in doubt,  it’s best to avoid washing potentially vulnerable items with your sneakers.

Wash your sneakers on the lowest setting

Washing your sneakers in the washing machine should be done with care so as to avoid damaging them. Make sure you select the correct setting for your specific material type. 

It’s usually best to opt for cold water and a delicate cycle along with the lowest spin speed available. This will ensure that your shoes are properly cleaned without being damaged. With the right settings and detergent, your sneakers will continue to look their best, wash after wash!

Air dry your sneakers

Now that you’ve washed your sneakers, they need to dry. But it’s important to dry them properly!

When the sneakers come out of the washing machine, they’ll likely be damp. To help them dry quicker, set them near a fan, open window, AC unit, or dehumidifier. Try to keep the shoes out of direct sunlight.

If the shoes have removable insoles, take them out separately to dry, and flip the tongue of the shoe over the toe box for better air circulation. By stuffing newspaper into your sneakers and leaving them out overnight in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources, you’ll give them the best chance to dry thoroughly. Using newspaper will also help absorb any excess moisture and keep your sneakers smelling fresh.

Final thoughts

Taking care of your sneakers is a great way to ensure you’ll get years of wear from them. The key is to know the proper cleaning techniques in order to avoid damage. By following the basic steps outlined above, you should be able to keep your favorite kicks looking and feeling like new for quite some time.

As with most things that involve taking special care, a little bit of extra effort can make a big difference. There’s no need to replace your favorite pairs of sneakers if they’re worn out; simply follow these tips to extend their lifespan for years to come!

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