How To Wash White Shoes In The Washing Machine

Washing white shoes can be a real pain. They have the tendency for collecting dirt and stains, turning your pristine footwear into something that resembles a muddy battlefield. 

But fear not, because there’s a way to clean those white kicks without breaking a sweat or the bank. And that is your washing machine. However, it’s important to do so with patience and care, as one wrong move can result in a disaster for your beloved shoes.

White Shoes In The Washer – Is It A Good Idea?

Washing shoes in the washer, especially when they’re white, might sound a bit nerve-wracking. After all, there’s always the possibility of ending up with damaged or discoloured shoes. 

However, when done correctly, it can be a game-changer in keeping your favourite footwear looking fresh. So, let’s look into what you need and the proper steps to make sure your white shoes emerge from the washing machine as good as new.

Is It Safe To Put White Shoes In The Washing Machine?

Before you toss those dirty white shoes in the washing machine, you need to consider the type of material your shoes are made of. 

White trainers come out of washing machine

Not all shoes are created equal, and the washing machine may not be the best choice for every pair. Some materials can’t withstand the harshness of the washer drum or the chemicals in detergents. So, before you take the plunge, here’s a quick rundown of what’s safe and what’s not:

Never, ever put the following shoes in the washing machine:

  • Suede shoes
  • Leather shoes
  • Rubber shoes
  • Vinyl shoes

It’s safe to put the following shoes in the washing machine:

  • Cotton shoes
  • Nylon shoes
  • Polyester shoes
  • Canvas shoes

NOTE: Unlike clothing, many shoes don’t come with care labels. You won’t find instructions like ‘machine wash cold’ or ‘gentle cycle’ inside your shoes. All they have are usually tags that reveal the shoe size and the material they’re made of. So, it’s essential to know your shoe’s fabric to avoid mistakes. 

The Right Way Of Washing White Shoes

Cleaning white shoes can certainly be done in the washer, as long as you follow the right process. Here’s a list of what you need and what you should do:

Things you’ll need:

  • Soft-bristled brush (an old toothbrush will do)
  • Mild liquid detergent
  • Clean sponge or rag
  • Baking soda
  • Mesh bag or pillowcase
  • Towels
  • Newspaper

Estimated wash time: 1 hour

Take Off The Laces And Insoles

To start cleaning white shoes, it’s crucial to remove the laces (if any) and insoles first. These items won’t fare well in the washer.

insoles removed from shoes

Laces can become entangled in the washing machine, which can compromise their material and the integrity of your shoes. On the other hand, most insoles do not react well to water and detergent, as it can damage them or alter their shape.

Handwash The Laces And Clean The Insoles

Cleaning your shoelaces is easy. Use a combination of liquid detergent and water. If they’re caked with dirt, soak them and give them a gentle handwash.

In the case of insoles, lightly scrub them using a soft-bristled brush and baking soda. If an unpleasant odour plagues your insoles, sprinkle them with baking soda and leave them overnight. By the following day, the odour should be gone, and you can simply scrub off the baking soda.

Remove The Dirt From The Surface And Outsoles

Before putting your white shoes in the washing machine, it’s essential to eliminate loose dirt or mud from their surface. A soft-bristled brush or a rag can effectively wipe away any residue. 

brushing white shoes

If stubborn mud stains persist, a damp sponge should do the trick.

Place Shoes Inside A Mesh Bag Or Pillow Case

After gently dry scrubbing the shoes, it’s time to prepare and secure them inside a mesh bag. This step not only safeguards your shoes but also prevents any damage to your other laundry or the washing machine.

If you don’t have a mesh bag, a clean pillowcase will be helpful in covering your shoes. Just ensure it’s colour-safe, or your white shoes might not emerge quite as white after the cycle.

OTraki Mesh Laundry Bags with Handles 2 Pack 20 x 24 inch Reusable Washing Laundry Net for Washing Machine Large Fine Mesh Wash Bag with Zipper for Delicates Clothes College Dormitories Apartments
  • LARGE CAPACITY - OTraki 20 x 24 inch mesh laundry bags for washing machine are specially designed for washing delicate clothes. The bottom and sides have been widened by 4 inches to accommodate more clothes. The large opening at the top makes it easy to put in and take out clothes.
  • ANTI-RUST ZIPPER - The delicates laundry bag dopts YKK metal zipper imported from Japan, anti-rust,easy to push and pull, durable. The elastic side pocket keeps laundry net closed during washing to prevent damage to the washing machine and making annoying noises.

Put The Shoes In The Washing Machine And Add The Detergent

Once your shoes are secure in the mesh bag or pillowcase, it’s time to place them in the washing machine. Be sure to add the right amount of mild liquid detergent to your machine’s dispenser. 


Avoid using bleach and other harsh chemicals, as they can be detrimental to your shoes’ fabric.

TIP: When washing your shoes, use liquid detergent. Powder detergents can leave a residue that’s difficult to remove.

Start The Cycle

Choosing the right washing machine settings is crucial for your footwear. 

The gentle or delicate cycle with cold water and a slow or no-spin option is your best bet for white shoes. After all, high heat and vigorous agitation can wreak havoc on your shoes, distorting their shape and damaging the fabric. 

TIP: Before starting the cycle, covering the mesh bag or pillowcase (with the shoes inside) with a thick towel can reduce agitation in the machine and diminish the annoying, thumping sound of the shoes hitting the washer’s drum.

Dry The Shoes Outdoors

Once the washing machine has completed its cycle, promptly remove your shoes. 

Resist the urge to toss your damp white shoes into the dryer, as the heat can distort their shape and damage the fabric. Instead, allow your shoes to air dry naturally.

white shoes drying outdoors

If outdoor drying isn’t an option, place your shoes in a well-ventilated area and insert newspaper inside to absorb excess moisture. Remember to change the newspaper if it becomes too wet to expedite the drying process.

Clean Your White Kicks Carefully!

And there you have it! Your white shoes should now look cleaner and more pristine. 

So, the next time your favourite white footwear needs some TLC, you can confidently toss them in the washing machine – just remember to follow these tips and handle them with care.

Do you have questions? Feel free to leave a comment below!

SEE ALSO: What Setting Do You Wash Shoes On? (& how to dry them after)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the proper way to clean white shoes?

The proper way to clean white shoes is to remove laces and insoles, handwash them if needed, scrub the surface, place shoes in a mesh bag or pillowcase, and use mild liquid detergent. Then, choose a gentle cycle with cold water in the washing machine, and air dry them.

How do you wash shoes in the washing machine without a mesh bag?

If you don’t have a mesh bag, you can use a clean pillowcase to wash your shoes in the washing machine. Just ensure the pillowcase is colour-safe to prevent colour transfer onto your white shoes.

What setting do you wash shoes on in the washing machine?

It’s best to use the gentle or delicate cycle with cold water and a slow or no-spin option when washing shoes in the washing machine. Avoid high heat and vigorous agitation to protect your shoes.

How do I get my shoes white again in the washing machine?

To get your shoes white again in the washing machine, you can add baking soda with your mild detergent. Avoid using bleach as this can damage your shoes.

How long do shoes take to dry after washing?

The drying time for shoes after washing can be 12 hours on average, but this will vary, especially if your kicks have thick soles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *