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How to Wash Sneakers (Washing Machine) for Brand New Kicks

Last Updated: October 12, 2022

Being a real person means that when you go about your day, you’re faced with numerous obstacles that have you scurrying on your feet. In the process, your sneakers take a real beating.

What were once glorious all-white tributes to perfection have become muddy brown, grass-stained slip-ons with no style.

Washing your shoes is a heavy burden, and oftentimes it feels like there might not be anything you can do for your favorite kicks in their blemished and dying state. It makes you almost want to go out and buy a new pair right now.

But hold the phone.

It’s possible to completely wash your sneakers without ruining your washing machine, your shoes, or your wallet. It just takes some patience and the know-how.

That’s why, instead of going to buy those $100 Air Forces again, keep reading to learn how to wash your sneakers so they can be salvaged and reused into another outfit for years to come.

What You’ll Need

  • Dirty sneakers
  • Baking soda or shoe deodorant
  • A shoe brush or old toothbrush
  • A pillowcase or mesh bag
  • Laundry detergent
  • Washing machine (optional)

How to Wash Your Sneakers

Now that you know what to gather up to wash your sneakers, let’s dive into how to get the job done. 

Step 1. Deodorize 

It’s incredibly tempting to jump the gun and just throw your shoes into the washing machine so you can get the cleanest shoes as fast as possible. However, you might be doing more harm than good that way.

Doing so might damage your washing machine and warp your shoes. Be gentle on yourself and your wallet by taking the necessary steps to wash your sneakers the right way. 

To prepare to wash your shoes, first, grab some baking soda or your favorite shoe deodorant and pour a generous amount of it into your shoes and let them sit overnight.

This will help remove any odors before the wash. It’s important to do this because your washing machine may not make stinky shoes smell good!

If you’re looking for good shoe deodorants, Gearhalo makes great sports deodorizer pads that slip right into your shoe. They have a fresh scent and are dry so you don’t have to worry about a watery and sticky mess in your shoes. 

Step 2: Remove Excess Dirt

Before you put your shoes in the washer, you’ll need to take care of the excess dirt and residue that may be on the shoe. Leaving this on your shoes can clog up your washing machine and lessen the washing effect of your sneakers.

A good shoe brush or even an old toothbrush will be invaluable during this part of the process. A quick scrub should get rid of most of the dirt and prevent any residue from clogging up your washing machine.

Foloda makes an excellent pack of shoe brushes suitable for most of your shoe game including sneakers, boots, suede shoes, and even hefty leather shoes.

Step 3. Remove Laces and Soles

Make sure to remove your laces and place them in a mesh bag or pillowcase before you wash your shoes. 

You want the maximum amount of water and detergent to hit both items, so separate is best in this case. Plus, putting them in a mesh bag or pillowcase will prevent your laces from getting stuck in the drain holes of the washer.

You’ll also want to remove the soles of your shoes to prevent them from soaking up a ton of water and taking light years to dry. It’s best to hand wash the soles with water, detergent, and an old toothbrush or damp cloth.

Step 4. Wash Your Sneakers in Cold Water

Before starting up your washing machine, make sure it has a gentle cycle option and cold water temperature.

You want your sneakers to be given a gentle rinse instead of a rough wash. This will prevent warping and damage to your sneakers.

When you put your shoes in, pack them tight with some other clothes or, more preferably, with dirty towels. This will pad your shoes and prevent them from loudly banging against your washing machine, which can cause dents. This can also stop your shoes from creasing in the wash.

After your shoes are packed in tight, add a gentle laundry detergent and hit start.

Step 5. Air Dry

Again, it might seem tempting to speed up the process of cleaning your shoes by throwing them in the dryer at the highest temperature.

The heat, however, can get so high in a dryer that it can seriously warp your sneakers or melt the glue holding them together.

All that will be left is a sad reminder of what could have been.

What your sneakers need more than anything is to air dry by themselves. Don’t overstimulate them with excessive heat in an attempt to speed up the process. With that said, be sure NOT to place your shoes directly in the sun. This can damage your shoes and cause the colors to fade!

Your sneakers will thank you at the end of the day. And you’ll thank them for looking so unbelievably fly, just like the day you got them.

Final Reminders

Shoes are a costly investment for most people, so it’s best not to treat them lightly. Give them the care they deserve to help extend their lifespan (and, more importantly, save you money). 

Important Note: Not all shoes are made for machine washing. While sneakers are usually fair game, don’t machine wash the following:

  • Leather Shoes
  • Suede Shoes
  • Smart shoes or dress shoes
  • Rubber boots or shoes