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Washing Running Shoes in Your Washing Machine

Whether you’re gearing up for a job interview, heading out on a date, or hitting the gym, no outfit is complete without the right footwear. But if your pair of lucky shoes is looking a little worse for wear, it can be hard to have that extra bounce in your step. Luckily, washing running shoes, and many other styles of footwear, isn’t as difficult as you might think.

You’d be surprised at how a wash cycle can bring your favourite pair of kicks back to life! Not sure where to start? If your shoes are machine washable, our easy-to-follow shoe laundry guide can help save you time and ensure that you’re always dressed to impress — no matter what the occasion. 

Are your shoes machine washable?

First things first: check your shoes for specific cleaning instructions. Generally speaking, casual and athletic footwear made of materials such as canvas, nylon, cotton, or polyester is safe to clean in a washer. These materials are usually durable and typically won’t be damaged or compromised by laundry detergent or the wash cycle.
While shoes made of synthetic or cotton-based materials generally respond well to machine washing, some types of footwear require more specialized attention. Vinyl, leather, suede, or rubber may require hand cleaning or specialized care. Do not place them in your washer.
If your shoes are made with even more delicate fabrics or materials, such as silk, sequins, beads, or embroidery, it’s best to take them to a cleaner or shoe repair shop to avoid doing damage. When in doubt, always refer to the cleaning instructions to determine what’s best for your specific shoes.

Washing Running Shoes or Sneakers: A Step-by-Step Guide

If your shoes are washer-friendly, it’s easy enough to run them through a cycle, but it’s important to do it properly. Once you’ve checked the cleaning instructions and confirmed they are washer-safe, make sure you have the following items on hand:
Once you’ve assembled the above materials, follow these steps to machine wash your running shoes or sneakers:
  1. Remove the laces and insoles from your shoes.  
  2. Shoelaces get dirty too! To wash your laces, simply place them in a mesh garment bag and secure it shut. This will prevent them from getting tangled during the wash cycle or caught up on parts of the washer. If your laces need a deeper clean, you can manually pre-wash them with soapy water and a soft brush. 
  3. It’s best to wash your insoles separately, to keep them from getting waterlogged and taking days to dry. If your insoles are not machine washable, simply clean them manually with a soft brush and slightly soapy water. Once cleaned, dry them by soaking up moisture with a sponge or old towel, and end by sprinkling with baking soda to soak up any remaining moisture and eliminate odour. Let the insoles sit overnight to ensure complete dryness before returning them to the shoes.
  4. Using a soft brush, remove as much dirt and debris from the soles as possible. Don’t overlook the small crevices and hard-to-clean grooves. 
  5. Once the debris is removed, clean away scuff marks from the tops and sides of the shoes by applying a shoe cleaner with a rag or soft brush. Thoroughly rub the cleaner into the scuff marks and wipe away with a damp rag. 
  6. Next, place the shoes in a mesh garment bag to keep them from banging into the sides of your washer drum.  
  7. Put the garment bag into the washer with some old towels to help balance the load. Avoid new towels, as they may leach dye that could stain your footwear. 
  8. Set your washer cycle to cold, delicate, and if possible, no-spin. Use liquid laundry detergent, as powder detergent can clump and stick to shoes if not properly dissolved. 
  9. When the wash cycle finishes, remove your shoes and laces from the garment bags and let air dry. If desired, you can stuff the damp shoes with clean rags to absorb moisture and help them keep their shape. Your shoes may take a few days to dry. For faster drying, place shoes in a cool area with direct sunlight. 
  10. Drying your shoes in a dryer is generally not recommended, unless you have a dryer rack that you can safely insert into your dryer. The heat and tumbling of a dryer can warp shoes. 
  11. If you’re in a hurry for your shoes to dry, you can try wrapping them in towels to protect them, but be sure to check them frequently to ensure they’re not being damaged. If you opt to use the dryer, consider selecting an air fluff or delicate setting. 
  12. Once everything is clean and dry, you’re ready to lace up and head out!

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. But always refer to the cleaning instructions on your shoes first. If they are machine washable, you’re in luck: your washing machine can provide great results and save time! 

Yes! But certain types of laces, such as leather, should be hand-washed. Many shoelaces are fine to go through a wash cycle; simply put the laces in a secured mesh garment bag to avoid getting them tangled, and air dry them once clean.
Yes. But always refer to the cleaning instructions on your sneakers first. If they are machine washable, you’re in luck: your washing machine can provide great results and save time!
Loose and tumbling shoes have the potential to damage the drum of a washing machine. It’s recommended to put them in a mesh garment bag before putting them through a wash cycle.
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