How to wash your shoes in the washing machine

Trainers in a washing machineCan I wash my shoes in the washing machine? It’s a question that we’ve all asked ourselves at some point, we’re sure! And the answer is… yes, you can!

Many of us may not realise it but it’s possible to wash many different types of shoes in the washing machine. It’s convenient, offers a thorough clean and saves time and money. Just because your shoes are covered in mud from all the mountain walks, playing sports in a field and whatever other outdoor activity you enjoy, there may be plenty of life left in them yet.

Below, we’ve highlighted all that needs to be learned so that you know just how to wash your shoes in the washing machine.

How do I know if I can wash my shoes in the washing machine?

Before you throw your shoes in the washing machine check to make sure they are machine washable. It will mostly depend on what they are made of. For example, animal-based fabrics like leather and suede should not be washed in a washing machine because these materials can be easily damaged when exposed to excess water - the same applies for shoes made using delicate materials such as satin or silk. These should all be cleaned with products that are specifically designed for these materials or taken to a professional shoe cleaner.

Most trainers and shoes are typically made from textiles such as cotton, polyester and nylon, all of which are machine washable. Some PU or PVC shoes may also be able to withstand a machine wash.

Look at the care label on your footwear - and if it advises that you hand wash them; this doesn’t mean you can’t machine wash them. It may be perfectly fine for you to clean them using a gentle hand wash programme. Just proceed with care.

A guide to washing your shoes in the washing machine

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to help you wash your shoes in the washing machine with ease.

Step 1: Check the label

First things first, check the label to ensure your shoes are safe to wash in the washing machine. The label will advise the best way to wash them based on the fabric they are made from. If the shoes cannot be washed fully (neither by hand nor in the machine) then you could simply use an old toothbrush to remove obvious dirt. A damp cloth may also be a good alternative to washing.

Step 2: Prepare the shoes for washing

To make sure your shoes are well prepared for the washing machine, remove the laces and gently scrub away any surface dirt with a bristled brush or toothbrush. A small brush like this will help you clean away dirt in hard to reach spots, such as in between eyelets. This pre-clean will make the process easier and the results from the washing machine a lot more effective.

Step 3: Protect the shoes during the wash

If you don’t protect your shoes during the wash it can be easy for laces to snag inside the drum. You can prevent this from happening by placing the shoes and laces inside a mesh laundry bag before putting them into the washing machine. A pillow case will also do a great job of protecting them if you don’t have a laundry bag to hand. Things can also get a little noisy while the shoes are swirling around the washing machine during the cycle, so consider adding some towels to make up the load and stop your shoes from banging loudly against the drum.

Step 4: Set the washing machine and wash those shoes

You don’t want the colours of your shoes running or fading, so be cautious and keep the water temperature cool - around 30 degrees should be ample. Some washing machines even have a specialised shoe programme, so check first to see if you’re one of the lucky ones. Use around half of the recommended detergent amount, as you’re not washing a full load so less will be required.

Step 5: Let them air dry

Now that your shoes are fresh and clean, it’s time to stuff them with scrunched up newspaper and place them in a warm and dry place to air dry naturally. This newspaper will help maintain the shape of the shoes and keep them as comfortable as ever, while also absorbing any excess water. Tumble drying your shoes is not recommended because the high temperature can melt the glue and make the shoe fragile and vulnerable to breaking.

And that’s it! That’s how you use a washing machine to turn your muddy footwear into a pair of shoes that are fresh, clean and gleaming once again.

22 May 2019


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