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

Wondering how to keep your shoes looking spick and span in the easiest way? 

Most shoes can be cleaned in the washing machine, especially those made of cotton, nylon, canvas, and polyester. However, it’s best to check the care label of the shoes before putting them in the washer, as some materials like leather can be ruined!

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In this article, you’ll learn the best setting to wash your shoes, how to wash them correctly, and even how to dry them effectively after the spin cycle!

Best Setting To Wash Shoes In The Washer

When washing shoes, it’s always a good idea to use the gentle or delicate setting on your machine. Make sure to cold wash, which means the temperature will not exceed 30°C. Putting your shoes inside a mesh bag or a pillowcase can also help protect them from damage.

Delicate Wash Cycle

However, it’s crucial to remember this: Never put shoes made of rubber, those with embellishments, or those made from animal fibres in the washing machine. This includes leather, silk, and suede, as they can get ruined by the water, detergent, or even the pressure inside the washer’s drum.

leather shoes in washing machine

If it’s really necessary to clean them, take them to professional shoe cleaners instead.

How To Wash Your Shoes – The Right Way!

Once you’ve determined that your shoes can go in the washer by reading the care label, here’s how to give them a thorough cleaning.

Things You’ll Need:

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Sponge or rag
  • Mild liquid detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Towels
  • Mesh bag or Pillowcase
  • Newspaper (optional)

Step 1: Remove Laces And Insoles
Start by removing the laces from your shoes. Laces can go in the washer, but insoles are a different story. They can get damaged, so it’s best to hand wash or wipe them clean with a rag to remove dirt.

shoes with shoelaces

Step 2: Remove The Dirt On Your Shoes
Before tossing your shoes in the machine, give them a quick brush with a soft-bristled brush like an old toothbrush. This step helps remove any dry mud or dirt from the soles, making the washing process more effective.

toothbrush and dirty shoes

Step 3: Protect Your Shoes
Place your shoes and laces inside a mesh bag or pillowcase to prevent excessive agitation during the wash cycle. This safeguard ensures they won’t tangle and minimises the risk of damage.

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Step 4: Place Shoes In The Washer
Once your shoes are protected inside a pillowcase or mesh bag, put them inside your washer. It’s best to wash one to three pairs of shoes at the same time, as long as your machine has the space for it. Don’t exceed 3/4 of the drum’s capacity to ensure a thorough clean.

NOTE: To balance the load, add a few old towels when washing your shoes to prevent excessive agitation and reduce the rattling noise you may hear once the machine starts.

Step 5: Use Mild Detergent
Put the appropriate amount of liquid detergent in your washer’s detergent compartment. Liquid detergents are great for washing shoes as powdered variants can leave patchy white soap marks once the cycle is complete. 

NOTE: Avoid using fabric conditioner when washing your shoes, as it can leave a residue. Instead, add baking soda to help remove odours gently.

Step 6: Choose The Gentle Cycle
Always use the gentle or delicate cycle with cold water (30°C or below). This prevents excessive agitation and minimises the risk of damage and colour transfer, preserving your shoes’ appearance.

30 Degree Wash Cycle

Remember, if your machine has a spin speed option, turn it off if possible. If not, select the lowest spin speed to reduce shoe agitation.

Step 7: Start The Washing Cycle – Then Wash Your Insoles
Once the washer is running, focus on cleaning the insoles. Handwashing is best to prevent damage. 

Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub soapy water on the insoles, then use cold water to remove the soap. Dab the excess moisture with a sponge and allow them to air dry. After the washer finishes its cycle, do an extra rinse to remove any soap residue.

NOTE: Some insoles are not meant to be washed. In this case, gently scrub them with a soft-bristled brush and a bit of baking soda.

How To Dry Your Shoes After Putting Them In The Washing Machine

When drying your shoes, it’s best to air dry to preserve their shape. Too much heat can warp and damage them. After the shoes and laces are done in the washer, remove the mesh bag or pillowcase and hang them on the line to dry.

line drying shoes

Drying shoes can take some time, especially if they’re trainers with thick soles or heavy padding. To speed up the drying process, stuff your damp shoes with newspaper to absorb moisture. Change the paper out a few times as it becomes damp. You can also use a fan to air your shoes more efficiently.

NOTE: If you have coloured shoes, keep them in the shade while drying! Direct sunlight can fade their colours quickly.

SEE ALSO: What Are The Benefits Of Drying Clothes In The Sun?

Can You Use A Tumble Dryer For Drying Your Shoes?

To maintain your shoes’ shape and prevent damage, avoid using a tumble dryer. However, if you have no other choice, use the low heat setting and the shortest cycle on your dryer. 

Place your shoes in a mesh bag, pillowcase, or wrap them in a towel to protect them during the drying process!

SEE ALSO: Can You Put Trainers In The Tumble Dryer? 

Clean Your Shoes The Right Way!

Remember, taking proper care of your shoes during washing and drying can extend their life and keep them looking good. 

Following the steps above ensures your shoes come out of the washing machine clean and fresh, ready to be worn again. Always remember to check the care label of your shoes to determine if they are suitable for machine washing, and if in doubt, seek professional cleaning services to avoid.

So, go ahead and clean those dirty kicks, but do it the right way!

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes shoes to smell?

Shoes can develop bad smells and odours due to the accumulation of sweat and bacteria inside them.

What setting do you dry shoes on?

We suggest avoiding using a tumble dryer, but if necessary, use the low heat setting and the shortest cycle on your dryer. Remember, it’s always best to air dry shoes to preserve their shape.

How long does it take the shoes to dry after washing?

The drying time for shoes after washing varies, but it can take several hours to a day. To speed it up, stuff damp shoes with newspaper and use a fan.

Can I wash all my shoes at once?

You can wash one to three pairs of shoes at the same time if your machine has space. Don’t exceed 3/4 of the drum’s capacity to avoid overloading it.

What laundry detergent is best for cleaning shoes?

The best soap for cleaning shoes is a mild liquid detergent. Avoid fabric conditioner, as it can leave a residue! If you want to refresh your trainers, baking soda is a good alternative for odour removal.

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