How to wash shoes

How to Wash Shoes: A Complete Guide

Cleaning shoes is important – both in terms of longevity and aesthetics. With that said, not everybody knows how to wash shoes properly, and shoe manufacturers don’t always share helpful tips and guides on shoe cleaning and washing.

If you think that the time for the first wash has come for your shoes, then read on – below, you will find tips and recommendations on how to restore the new-like shiny look to your shoes without damaging them.

Should You Machine-Wash Your Shoes?

Cleaning shoes is a tedious process, so you may naturally be wondering – can shoes be machine-washed?

Should You Machine-Wash Your Shoes

Well, whether you should machine-wash your shoes or not depends on what they are made of.

Generally, materials that should not be washed are:

  • Leather.
  • Suede.
  • Satin.
  • Silk.

Materials like these do not resist water well, and some harsh cleaning products may damage them too.

In contrast, if your shoe is made of the following materials, it is probably safe to machine-wash them:

  • Polyester.
  • Cotton.
  • Nylon.
  • PU or PVC.

A good idea would be to check the care label of your shoe. Usually, shoe manufacturers include care recommendations there. If there are any restrictions or special rules, you should find them in the care label.

Unless you have experience with machine-washing shoes, if you aren’t sure if your shoes should be machine-washed, then don’t do it. You can achieve very good results with hand-washing anyway.

How To Wash Shoes Manually

Hand-washing shoes takes a lot of time, but it brings good results and poses very little risk of damage to your footwear.

how to wash shoes

Here is how you should hand-clean your shoes:

  1. Brush the outer surfaces of your shoe to remove dirt, dust, and debris. At this step, don’t scrub aggressively – you do not need to get rid of all dirt just yet. The toughest dirt that cannot be removed by brushing will be removed later.

For difficult-to-access creases, use a toothbrush. You may also bang the shoes against each other over a trash can to get some amount of dirt out.

  • Make a mild cleaning solution of water and laundry detergent.
  • Remove the laces and lightly massage some cleaning solution into them. After you think you’ve massaged enough, rinse and dry the laces.
  • Scrub the outsole and midsole of your shoes with a soft-bristled brush. Once you are done, dry the outsole with a cloth. You may use water to rinse the soles, but very carefully.
  • Use another soft-bristled brush to apply the cleaning solution to the shoe’s upper. Once done, blot the upper with a microfiber towel or a soft cloth to remove the soapy moisture.
  • Air dry your shoes at room temperature.

How To Wash Shoes In A Washing Machine

If you are sure that your shoes will survive a machine wash or are willing to give it a go, then here is how to do it:

  1. Remove any surface dirt, dust, and debris with a brush or a damp rag. Again, remember not to scrub the shoe like there’s no tomorrow. Your goal is to remove as much dirt as you can – the machine-wash will do the rest.
  2. Prepare a mild cleaning solution of a small cup of warm water and 1 spoon of dish soap.
  3. Dip a toothbrush into the cleaning solution and scrub the soles of the shoes to remove as much dirt as you can.
  4. Rinse the soles of the shoes with water.
  5. Remove the insoles and laces from the shoes. You may wash the laces and insoles separately. Aside from that, removing these parts should help you with getting rid of the dirt that is stuck around the eyelets.
  6. Put the shoes into a pillowcase or a mesh bag. Ensure that the opening of the bag or pillowcase is secured.
  7. Place the bag/pillowcase with your shoes into the washing machine. You may also put the laces or insoles with the shoes, though you could also wash them separately.
  8. To protect your shoes and your washing machine from impact, throw a few bath towels into the machine as well. Don’t use white or delicate towels.
  9. Use the gentle cycle of your washing machine. The water should be cold or warm (not hot!), while the spin should be minimal.
  10. At the end of the wash, engage the rinse cycle to remove soapy water from the shoes.
  11. Air dry your shoes. Don’t put your shoes into a dryer since the hot air may damage them. You may add a few sheets of newspaper into the shoes to speed up the drying.

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How Often Should You Wash Your Shoes?

Wash or clean your shoes whenever you feel that they are too dirty. Do a cleaning session whenever you see a significant buildup of dirt or debris.

One thing to note – if you have all-white shoes or shoes with white accents, then it may seem that they are getting dirtier quicker than your other footwear. If you are using all your footwear equally often, then white shoes will seem to get dirty quickly because dirt buildup is more visible on white.

With that, if you are worried about aesthetics, avoid white shoes. But remember that all-black shoes also need regular cleaning, even if you don’t visually see dirt on them.

If your shoes stay dirty after cleaning, then your cleaning procedures may not have been adequate. In case your shoes stay dirty no matter what you do, then it might be a good idea to purchase a new pair of sneakers.

Final Words

Unless you are sure that your shoes will survive a machine-wash, don’t use a washing machine to clean your shoes. Hand-cleaning shoes can be time-consuming, but you are at least not running any risk of damage to your shoes. The results are also adequate if you do everything right.

Check out the care label of your shoes too – some manufacturers give cleaning recommendations there. But also keep in mind that most shoe manufacturers discourage machine-washing, even if the shoes can withstand it.

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