Is it OK to wash sneakers in washing machine?


Sneakers are prone to getting dirty and smelly, especially if you wear them regularly. While hand cleaning can be effective, sometimes it’s more convenient to wash sneakers in a washing machine. However, not all sneakers are suitable for machine washing, and incorrect methods can damage the shoes. In this guide, we will explore the factors to consider when deciding whether to wash sneakers in a washing machine, as well as the proper techniques to ensure successful cleaning without compromising the quality of your footwear.

washing machine

Is it OK to wash sneakers in washing machine?

Considerations before Machine Washing

Before tossing your sneakers into the washing machine, it’s important to consider a few factors to determine if it’s safe to do so:

Material and Construction Check the material and construction of your sneakers. Machine washing is generally safe for canvas, nylon, polyester, and synthetic materials. However, avoid machine washing leather, suede, or delicate materials, as it can damage the shoes. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific materials or consult a professional cleaner if you’re unsure.

Glued vs. Stitched Construction Pay attention to the construction of your sneakers. Machine washing may weaken or dissolve adhesives used in glued construction, leading to separation or damage. If your sneakers have glued components, it’s advisable to hand wash or spot clean instead of using a washing machine. Sneakers with stitched construction are generally more durable and can withstand machine washing better.

Shoe Condition Consider the overall condition of your sneakers. If they are heavily worn, have loose pieces, or are in poor condition, machine washing may exacerbate the damage. It’s best to address any structural issues or repairs before attempting machine washing.

Removal of Insoles and Laces Remove the insoles and laces from your sneakers before machine washing. Insoles can retain moisture and take longer to dry, while laces can become tangled or caught in the machine. Remove these components and wash them separately for a more effective and efficient cleaning process.

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Machine Washing Techniques

If your sneakers meet the criteria for machine washing, follow these techniques for a successful and safe cleaning process:

Pre-Treatment Before placing your sneakers in the washing machine, pre-treat any visible stains or spots. Use a gentle stain remover or a paste of baking soda and water to spot clean problem areas. Gently scrub the stains with a soft brush or toothbrush, and then rinse thoroughly.

Preparation Once the pre-treatment is complete, prepare your sneakers for machine washing:

2.1. Remove Loose Dirt and Debris Use a soft brush or cloth to remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface of your sneakers. This step helps prevent excess dirt from spreading inside the washing machine.

2.2. Insert Sneakers into a Mesh Bag or Pillowcase Place your sneakers inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase. This provides an additional layer of protection and prevents them from getting tangled or bouncing too aggressively during the wash cycle.

Machine Settings and Detergent

3.1. Select the Right Cycle Choose a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine to minimize the stress on your sneakers. Avoid using high-speed or heavy-duty cycles, as they can cause excessive agitation and potential damage.

3.2. Use Cold Water Set the water temperature to cold. Hot water can cause certain materials to shrink or warp, compromising the shape and fit of your sneakers. Cold water is generally safe for most materials and helps preserve their integrity.

3.3. Mild Detergent Use a small amount of mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics or sneakers. Avoid using bleach, harsh chemicals, or strong detergents, as they can damage the materials. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the appropriate detergent amount to use.

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Washing Process

4.1. Load the Machine Place your sneakers, along with the mesh bag or pillowcase, into the washing machine. Add a few towels or other similar items to help cushion the shoes and reduce noise during the wash cycle.

4.2. Start the Wash Cycle Start the machine and allow it to complete the wash cycle. Be present during this time to monitor the process and ensure everything is running smoothly.

Drying Techniques

5.1. Air Drying After the wash cycle is complete, remove the sneakers from the machine and gently reshape them if necessary. Allow them to air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area, away from direct heat or sunlight. Placing sneakers near a fan can help speed up the drying process.

5.2. Stuff with Paper or Towels To help retain their shape, stuff your sneakers with crumpled paper or clean towels while they dry. This helps prevent them from losing their structure or collapsing as they dry.

5.3. Avoid Machine Drying Avoid using a dryer or exposing your sneakers to excessive heat, as this can cause shrinkage, warping, or damage to the materials. Machine drying may also affect the adhesives used in the construction of the shoes.

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Final Tips for Maintaining Sneakers

To keep your sneakers in excellent condition and extend their lifespan, consider the following tips:

Regular Cleaning Clean your sneakers regularly to prevent dirt and stains from becoming deeply embedded. Spot clean minor stains as soon as they occur and address them promptly.

Hand Washing for Delicate Materials For sneakers made of delicate materials like suede or leather, hand washing or spot cleaning is usually the safest and most effective method. Use a soft brush or cloth with gentle cleaning agents specifically designed for delicate materials.

Protection and Maintenance Apply a water repellent or protective spray to your sneakers to help guard against stains and water damage. Additionally, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper care and maintenance of your sneakers to ensure their longevity.

Rotation Rotate your sneakers and avoid excessive wear from continuous use. Alternating between different pairs allows each pair to breathe and recover, reducing the need for frequent washing.

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Washing sneakers in a washing machine can be an effective method to clean them, but it’s essential to consider the material, construction, and condition of the shoes before proceeding. By following the proper techniques, such as pre-treating stains, using the right machine settings, and air drying, you can successfully clean your sneakers without compromising their quality. Remember to regularly clean and maintain your sneakers to keep them in excellent condition and prolong their lifespan.