How to Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine

I’ve resisted writing a post about how to wash shoes in the washing machine for years because it didn’t seem like there was really enough to say about it to warrant a post. 

I mean, do you really need a blog post to tell you:

  1. Open washing machine
  2. Put shoes in

But after getting literally hundreds of DMs on Instagram about washing shoes, I figured it might be worth a full post.

I’ve been washing my shoes in the washing machine for probably a decade or more – it’s such a simple and efficient way to get your shoes looking like new again!

I mostly wash tennis shoes/sneakers, but I washed a pair of faux suede flats this spring that came out looking brand new, and I washed my leather Ecco sneakers after they were just getting too grimy for me to want to wear anymore and they had no trouble at all.

The thing I always remind myself if I feel nervous about putting shoes in the washing machine is “if they’re too dirty too wear, then it’s not a big loss if they get ruined in the washing machine.”

(But let the record show that I’ve never had a SINGLE pair of shoes ruined by the washing machine).

Here are some of my best tips for washing shoes in washing machine:

can you put shoes in washer

how to wash shoes in washing machine

  1. Don’t wash your shoes alone. If you put your shoes in the washing machine alone, they’ll bang around super loudly and they won’t get as clean because they don’t have something to agitate against. I’m low-key and just toss them in with my normal laundry or with a load of towels, but if that is too gross for you, throw them in with a load of cleaning rags or beach towels or something. Plus, it uses less water and energy to not do them in a separate load, so it’s a win all around.
  2. You don’t need anything special. I don’t use any special cleaning products – I just add some Tide detergent and run them just like I would any other load. If they’re absolutely FILTHY, you might consider adding a scoop of OxiClean or spot treating white shoes with a bleach pen beforehand, but I’ve usually found that unnecessary. No special settings or heat or anything. Easy peasy!
  3. You can take the shoelaces out or leave them in. It’s more hassle to take them out and then put them in again afterward, so I often don’t bother. I haven’t noticed that it makes much of a difference either way.
  4. Don’t put your shoes in the dryer. I’ve put plenty of shoes in the dryer and never had it ruin a pair, but I do think it changes the shape of them slightly because of the heat and both my Keds and my Vans have never been quite as good looking or comfortable after a run in the dryer. I always let them air dry (if you want them to dry a bit faster, put them in the sun or over a heater vent).

It truly is so simple and easy and keeps my shoes looking clean and fresh with almost zero effort on my part!

Have you ever washed your shoes in the washing machine? I’d love to help if you have questions!

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10 Comments

  1. I’m actually glad for this blogpost! Was just thinking of doing this for my son’s shoes! Thanks for the tips!

  2. I have always washed my shoes this exact way! I do spray my canvas shoes with scotch guard when they are brand new, straight out of the box. This keeps the color looking new and helps prevent stains. I respray after washing.

  3. I put mine in the dryer on an air setting and my dryer comes with a rack you can set air dry things on!

  4. On what temperature setting do you wash your shoes? Is there anything off limits, eg rubber or leather shoes?

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