How to Wash Sneakers In Washing Machine The Right Way

Wash dirty sneakers clean
source: charmyposh

If you are a fan of runner shoes and wear them often, I am sure the question of how to wash sneakers in washing machine has crossed your mind many times. Well, you are not alone, as the sight of a dirty or muddy sneaker is almost a constant, especially with bright colors. 

In my case, it was a constant struggle since I fancy all the vibrant-colored sneakers a girl could want. So, it wasn’t long before I discovered a way to wash the sneakers in the washer without much fuss. Popping the shoes in the washing machine makes it easier, but there is still little work to do for the best results. 

If you want your sneakers to shine like they are brand new, this post is for you. I will be dishing out professional clean worthy tips to get your runners sparkling.

What to Consider Before Washing Your Sneakers in the Washing Machine

Most top brands like Adidas and Nike warn against washing your sneakers in the washing machine since many things can go wrong. Some brands will even add that machine wash cancels the warranty on the packaging. You can still safely clean your sneakers in the washer despite the warnings. 

You don’t approach washing your sneakers the same way you do your clothes, but some general rules still apply. First, you must be sure of the fabric used to make your footwear. The fabrics that can stand the force of washing machines belong to the synthetic family-like polyester.

Shoes made with suede material will retain water and most likely get damaged from such wash. Other materials such as silk, leather, vinyl, and embellished shoes are also unsuitable for washers. 

Next, you need to ensure the brand approved popping your sneakers in the washing machine. If the materials used to make the shoe are not strong enough, you can ruin your shoe. So, you must ensure that washing is your best option to keep your sneakers clean. 

How to Wash Sneakers in Washing Machine Prep Work

Before we get into the washing proper, you must do prep work. This includes gathering your supplies and putting some of them to good use before throwing the sneakers into the washing machine. 

The supplies:

A Washing Machine. I am sure you already have one installed. If you will like to buy one for this sneaker cleaning, go ahead here.

Detergent. Your detergent of choice should be in liquid form. This means your regular powder detergent won’t work for this.

Brush Cleaner. Your good ole household brush won’t do; you must invest in some sneaker brush. They come with firmer bristles to penetrate through the padded fabric of sneakers. 

Supplies to clean sneakers
source: ApartmentTherapy

Wash Bag. Your regular wash bags for laundry will do. If you cannot find one, your old pillowcase can get the job done. 

Baking Soda. The star item should always be in your home, serving different purposes. You will need three tablespoons of baking soda to prep your sneakers. 

Towels. When you pop it in the dryer, you will need about five towels to support the sneaker.

Prepping Your Sneakers

Now that you have your supplies, you must prep work 24 hours or overnight before placing your sneakers in the washing machine. To prep the shoe, you only need to sprinkle the three tablespoons of baking soda and leave it to seep through the night. Find a good spot where the sneakers won’t be disturbed or shaken to do this. 

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A Guide on How to Wash Sneakers in Washing Machine the Right Way

The following day, take your prepped sneakers and shake off the excess baking powder. Before cleaning, please take out the shoelaces, and place them in your laundry bag or pillowcase. This will prevent your shoe from getting tangled with each other. If the insoles can get detached, you should take them out and wash them separately, preferably with a brush. 

how to clean your shoes in the washing machine
source: Rahuljain
  1. Now take the sneakers and brush to scrub off the mud or debris clinging to them as much as possible. Your sneaker brush comes in handy, but your old toothbrush will suffice if you manage. This precleaning prevents dirt or pebbles from sticking to your washer and makes the washing process smoother with clear water.
  2. Arrange your sneakers in the washing machine at this point. Instead of just dumping your sneakers into the machine, arrange them with towels. When you place your shoe in the machine, line the towels around it. Depending on the size of your washer, you can use up to 6 towels. They will not only balance out the sneakers and allow them to spin correctly but will also save you listening to the noise of your sneaker banging on your machine.
  3. Follow the standard order, add your soap, and pour a considerate amount of liquid detergent in the required space. Some people still prefer to use powder detergent. Apply a small amount, so it doesn’t over foam in excess.
  4. You should set your washing machine on a cold cycle for 40 minutes to 1 hour. However, if the stain is tough, a cold process won’t so much; you can switch it up to 30 degrees. Remember, it should also be on a delicate spin so you don’t ruin your shoes.
  5. Once complete, rinse and take out the sneakers. Allow to air dry; sneakers are not suitable for dryers. That’s because the heat from dryers can weaken the glue that holds the shoes together. The shoe will most likely fall apart when there is no glue, and nobody wants that.
how to wash sneakers in washing machine
source: AHS

Pro Tips on Shoe Care

  • If your sneakers smell, a simple wash might not eliminate the foul odor. Ensure you deodorize your shoes before washing them; the baking soda can help with this. 
  • Only shoes made with fabrics like the ones on sneakers can go into the washing machine. Shoes made with leather or rubber should get hand washed or taken for professional cleaning. 

How to Wash Sneakers Without Washing Machine

Washing your sneakers by hand is arguably the best way to clean your shoes. So, if you plan on washing your sneakers with your hand, here’s how to do it quickly.

  1. You will need some baking soda to make the process smoother. Mix in equal parts of the soda and water to form a paste. Apply all over the shoes to soften the dirt. If you cannot get bicarbonate of soda, you can use a whitening toothpaste.
  2. Go in with your sneaker brush or an old solid toothbrush, and start scrubbing on your shoes. After brushing the insides, proceed to the outsides. Once you are done brushing, allow the paste to set in for some hours. If you notice more dirt patches, apply some stain removal powder, and scrub again.
  3. To rise, you will first need some warm water, and you can either fill up a bowl or tub a quarter and rinse through. After that, first, rinse place your sneakers under a running tap to apply pressure.
  4. Wring out the water, as much as the trainers will allow you. Then place out to air dry; this can take 2 to 3 days. If you wish to speed up the process, you can place the shoes in front of a dehumidifier or fan.
How to Wash Shoes without a Washing Machine
source: BobVila

Tips on How to Dry Sneakers Without Damage

It is common for people to ruin their shoes when drying them after going through all the fuss to wash them. As we’ve already established, your dryer machine is not a good choice for your sneakers. While it is best to leave it to air dry, it can be a slow process unless you get a lot of hot days. So how do you get them dry without damage?

  • Air dry means staying off direct sunlight, as placing your sneakers in the open can tamper with the color.
  • The best to dry your sneakers will be a shaded place where you can get a lot of air, like a window or balcony.
  • Do the paper towel trick if you don’t have a fan or dehumidifier. Place paper towels inside your shoes until it gets stuffed. It will help absorb the excess water.
  • It is best to take out the insoles of your sneakers if it is detachable; it will help them dry faster.
  • Ensure you open the sneakers, pop up the tongue, and spread the sneaker as far as possible.
How to Wash Sneakers in Washing Machine
source: top10gears

Will Sneakers Break the Washing Machine?

Sneakers are less likely to break your washing machine. However, if you do not balance the load, it can impact the drum as it tumbles in the washer. Therefore, placing your shoes in a mesh bag is essential to prevent them from going all over the place. In addition, a low cycle setting also ensures that the force does not harm your washer.  You only have to use a washing machine cleaner when you successfully cleaned your sneakers.


Maintaining a clean pair of sneakers is a chore on its own. There are different rules to washing shoes the right way to extend their wear life and keep you looking neat. A washing machine saves you lots of time since it does most of the work practically. 

 If you follow the above guidelines, you should always be able to have a shiny pair of sneakers every other week. Only relace and wear when you are sure the shoes are dried thoroughly; else, it will cause your feet to smell and breed bacteria. Enjoy your kicks!

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Fanti Tukuwei
I'm a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle enthusiast, and the ultimate curves queen. Here, I share beauty, fashion, and lifestyle tips to teach, inspire, and give confidence to all women.