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How to Clean Shoes in a Washing Machine

If you’ve quite literally found yourself feet-first in a sticky situation, chances are your shoes are rather mucky. Forget hours of tedious scrubbing by hand; you might just be able to throw your shoes in the washing machine for an easy solution. Canstar explains if your shoes are safe to be machine washed and how to get the best results.

What shoes can be cleaned in a washing machine?

Cleaning shoes in a washing machine can be a convenient and effective method, but it’s important to note that not all types of shoes are suitable for machine washing.

Most athletic shoes with fabric uppers, canvas sneakers, and certain types of casual shoes can be safely washed in a machine. However, leather, suede, or delicate materials may be damaged, so it’s better to clean them by hand.

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Required materials

  • Old toothbrush
  • Mild detergent
  • Mesh laundry bag
  • Clean, dry towels


Here’s a general guide on how to clean shoes using a washing machine:

1. Remove insoles and laces

Take out the insoles and shoelaces from your shoes. Cleaning them separately allows for a more thorough cleaning and prevents tangling in the washing machine.

2. Brush off loose dirt

Use an old toothbrush or a soft brush to remove loose dirt and debris from the shoes. Knock the soles together to dislodge any excess dirt.

3. Pre-treat stains

If there are stubborn stains, pre-treat them with a mixture of mild detergent and water. Gently scrub the stains with the toothbrush.

4. Place shoes in a mesh bag

Put the shoes inside a mesh laundry bag. This helps protect both the shoes and the washing machine drum.

5. Add towels

Include a few clean, dry towels in the washing machine along with the mesh bag containing the shoes. The towels act as buffers, preventing the shoes from banging against the drum.

6. Use mild detergent

Add a small amount of mild detergent to the washing machine. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the shoes.

7. Select a gentle cycle

Select a gentle or delicate cycle with cold water. The gentle cycle helps prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your shoes.

→Related article: Washing Machine Cycles Explained

8. Air dry

After the wash cycle is complete, remove the shoes from the mesh bag and insoles from the washing machine. Do not use a dryer, as high heat can damage the shoes. Instead, stuff the shoes with newspaper or clean towels and let them air dry in a well-ventilated area.

9. Reassemble and wear

Once the shoes are completely dry, reinsert the insoles and relace them. Your clean shoes are now ready to be worn again.

Note: Always check the manufacturer’s care instructions for your specific shoes before attempting to wash them in a machine. Additionally, if in doubt, it’s safer to clean shoes by hand to avoid any potential damage.

→Related article: Washing Machines With Agitators: Good or Bad?

If all this washer talk has got you thinking about purchasing a new washing machine, but you’re not sure what option may be right for you, be sure to check out our washing machine buying guide by clicking the button below.

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About the author of this page

This page was written by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.

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