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How to Wash your Shoes in your Washing Machine

It’s time to answer once and for all how to wash shoes in a washing machine without causing (much) damage to your footwear or appliance.

Washing shoes in a washing machine can be a convenient way to clean your footwear if done correctly. It’s important to understand the proper techniques to avoid damaging both your shoes and the washer.

We tailored this guide which will walk you through the steps of how to wash shoes in a washing machine, with minimum harm allowing them to come out clean and intact.

Take note that these steps are only intended as best practices and not every washer is meant to have the capabilities of washing your shoes. In our experience, it’s doable in most cases, but depending on the washer, there could be damage due to wear and tear in the long run, or not.

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wash shoes in washing machine

Shoe Materials Suitable for Machine Washing

Some materials are more suitable for machine washing than others, so be careful: not every shoe material is suitable for you to throw at the washer. Consider the following materials:


Canvas shoes are durable and handle machine washing well. Ensure they air dry completely to prevent any mildew formation.


Nylon is quick-drying and resilient, making it ideal for washing in a machine. Like canvas, allow for ample drying time.


Polyester shoes can also withstand machine washing. They dry relatively quickly, reducing the time they remain damp.

clean and dirty shoes

Preparing Your Shoes for the Wash

  1. Before washing, it’s crucial to remove laces and insoles and to brush off any loose dirt or mud from your shoes. This prevents the dirt from clogging your washer’s drainage system and ensures a more effective clean. Keeping the washer free of excess debris also minimizes the need for potential washer repairs.

  2. Choosing the right detergent is vital for the safety of your shoes. A mild detergent suitable for delicate items is recommended to avoid harming your shoes’ materials. Liquid detergent is preferable as powders can get stuck in parts of the shoes and might not dissolve properly, ensuring the detergent is evenly distributed to prevent spots on the shoes and enhance cleaning efficiency.

  3. Protecting your shoes and washer during the wash cycle is essential. Placing your shoes in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase protects them from banging against the drum, which can damage both the footwear and the washing machine. Securing your shoes in a bag also helps maintain the shape and integrity of the footwear throughout the wash.

Setting Up Your Washing Machine

Using the Correct Cycle

Choosing a gentle cycle with cold water is best to prevent damage to the shoes and the washing machine. Cold water helps prevent the glue in your shoes from melting, which can happen in hotter settings, and a slower spin speed reduces the mechanical strain on your shoes and the washer, prolonging the life of both.

Balancing the Load

To keep your washer stable, balance the load by washing your shoes with a few towels or other soft items. This balances the machine, reducing vibrations and wear during the cycle, ensuring a smoother run, and reducing the strain on your appliance and potentially decreasing the need for appliance repair.

Detergent Dispenser Cleaning

Maintaining the detergent dispenser is crucial for optimal washer performance. Remove the drawer to rinse and scrub it thoroughly under hot water to remove any soap residue or buildup. This step ensures that your detergent dispenses correctly, which is vital for the machine to function at its best.

Measuring the Right Amount of Detergent

Using the right amount of detergent is critical. Too much detergent can leave residue on your shoes and inside your washer, straining the washer’s pump and leading to malfunctions. Measuring the correct amount of detergent maintains the efficiency of your washing and keeps your machine running smoothly.

shoes in yellow floor

Post-Washing Care

  • Always air dry your shoes after washing; never use a dryer as the intense heat can warp them. Stuffing your shoes with newspaper absorbs moisture and helps them retain their shape, and positioning them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight prevents fading.

  • Once dry, reinsert the laces and insoles. If your shoes have leather components, apply a conditioner to keep the material supple. If stains persist, treat them with a stain remover suitable for the shoe material and repeat the washing process if necessary, always following the steps outlined to protect your shoes and washer.

Risks of Washing Shoes in Your Washer

damaged shoes

Now the question is: should you do it? Well, actually in everything we do in life there is risk involved and washing your shoes is no different.

However, it is convenient, we know. It’s a time saver and takes a small load off of your everyday life, still we urge you to understand the perils and what you can do to mitigate them.

In addition, knowing the following might help you make your own choice.

Potential Damage to Your Washing Machine

  • Impact on the Drum: Shoes can be heavy, especially when wet, and their movement inside the drum during a wash cycle can lead to mechanical issues. This includes potential damage to the drum’s alignment and the loosening of important components.

  • Clogging Risks: Bits of dirt and debris often lodged in the soles of shoes can dislodge during washing. These particles can clog the water pump or filters, leading to reduced efficiency or even a complete breakdown, which would require professional washer repairs.

  • Excessive Vibration: Non-uniform items like shoes can cause the washer to vibrate excessively during operation. This not only stresses the machine’s motor and mounts but can also lead to premature wear and tear of your appliance.

Possible Damage to the Shoes

  • Material Wear and Tear: Some materials aren’t designed to withstand the vigorous agitation of a washing machine. Regular washing can cause materials to stretch, tear, or fade, significantly shortening the lifespan of your shoes.

  • Deformation: Heat and excessive spinning can warp the shape of shoes, especially those with structured forms or delicate materials. This is particularly true for shoes with components like memory foam or specialized arch supports.

  • Glue Degradation: Many shoes are assembled with glues that can dissolve or weaken when exposed to water and mechanical action. This can result in soles detaching and other structural failures of the shoe.
wash shoes in washing machine mesh bag

Mitigating the Risks

Now, to mitigate these risks, we always recommend you to follow our guidelines above for setting your washing machine and preparing your shoes.

Also, consider to be around your washer to act quickly if you hear unusual sounds when washing your shoes.

If you want to follow the next step, you can also learn how to Dry Shoes on Your Dryer Like a Pro.


Knowing how to wash shoes in a washing machine is a great perk! It saves you time and keeps your sneakers looking good. Always use the right settings and prepare your shoes properly to ensure they come out of the wash in top condition.

We cannot stress enough that you make sure to take all the appropriate steps to wash your shoes in your washer. In doing so you can get the results you wish with no problems. After measuring the risks versus benefits, in the end it’s all up to you.

wash shoes in washing machine clean shoes

Expert Appliance Repairs

At Appliance GrandMasters, we recommend professional maintenance for your washers, whether you use a front load or top load model. Regular professional care allows efficient operation and extends the lifespan preventing unexpected breakdowns.

Additionally, our team of skilled technicians are experts at keeping your washers in prime condition using advanced tools and techniques to tackle any problems that may arise. So, if you want your washer to keep running smoothly and efficiently, rely on the pros at Appliance GrandMasters.

We can handle the maintenance, so you can benefit from the optimal performance of your appliance.

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Our Appliance Repair & Maintenance Service Area

Greenville, Greer, Taylors, Simsponville, Mauldin, Easley, Pickes, Liberty, Pelzer, Williamston, Spartanburg, Honea Path, Belton, Piedmont, Travelers Rest, Wellford, Fountain Inn, Moore, Reidville, Duncan, Lyman, Boiling Springs, Inman, Campobello, Landrum

About Appliance GrandMasters

agm rebranding

Formerly known as Mr. Rogers Appliances, we rebranded our appliance repair company to Appliance GrandMasters in June 2020. Since then, we have focused on developing our brand to be customer-oriented. 

Fixing appliances has become a passion for us. We enjoy challenges and we are always studying to become the very best.

We accomplish swift and top-notch service by employing efficient and friendly customer service procedures that guarantee accurate answers and solutions. 

Our approach involves the careful selection and comprehensive training for the necessary skills to fulfill our customers’ needs. Through these strategies, we strive to consistently provide exceptional service.