Published 6th August 2021

How to Clean Shoes

Is your favourite pair of shoes looking a little worse for wear? ​​​​​​​If you’re not quite ready to say goodbye, you can spruce them up at home using your washing machine. We’ll walk you through every step of the process in our handy guide.​​​​


​​​​​​​Can Shoes Go In The Washing Machine?

Before cleaning shoes in the washing machine, it’s important to check the care label.

​​​​​​​Fabrics like leather and suede can be easily damaged by water, so aren’t suitable for machine washing. It’s always best to clean these types of shoe by hand to avoid ruining them. Delicate textiles like silk and satin should also be cleaned with caution – often these fabrics can’t be washed using hot water and may need to be cleaned by a professional.
Generally, you will find that most trainers can be cleaned safely in the washing machine. Some designs require a hand wash, but if your appliance has a gentle hand wash cycle, you can still consider using your washing machine.

1. Pre-Wash Preparation

There are a few things to do before putting your shoes in the machine. Follow these steps to achieve the best possible results.


  • Remove the laces – They can still go in the washing machine, but it ensures they are cleaned thoroughly.
  • Remove any excess dirt - Use a stiff brush; this lets the washing machine reach the stain that’s lurking underneath. If any dirt has got in and around the shoe’s eyelets, try using a toothbrush to reach the nooks and crannies.
  • Use baking soda – Clean rubber soles with equal parts baking soda and water. Dip a toothbrush in the paste and massage in to remove stubborn stains.
  • Use a stain remover – Pre-treat any tough dried-on marks with a stain remover treatment following the manufacturer instructions. It’s always best to test a small area first and to ensure the product is suitable for the material of your shoe.

2. Save Your Shoes

To prevent your shoes and laces from getting caught in the drum, put them into a sealable mesh bag. If you don’t have one of these, an old pillowcase is a great alternative.

​​​​​​​Shoes can be rather loud if they’re the only items in the washing machine. To stop your favourite footwear from banging against the drum, top-up the wash load with towels to cushion the noise.​​​​


3. Set-Up Your Washing Machine

Now your shoes are prepped, and your washing machine is full, all you need to do is set-up the washing machine. ​​​​​​Does your washing machine have a shoe programme? Then you can go ahead and get started – if you need to use a manual wash, look at the steps below.
  • Use a low temperature – ideally 30° or lower – to protect any colours from running or fading. It also helps to prevent damage to the coating of PU or PVC materials.
  • Use half a dose of colour - protect laundry detergent.
Sit back, let the washing machine do the hard work and wait to see the results.

4. Dry Your Shoes

Even if you need your freshly cleaned trainers ASAP, don’t be tempted to put them in the tumble dryer; it’s too hot, and it can melt the glue that holds the shoes together. Ideally, you should air dry your shoes, but if it’s rainy, just place them somewhere warm.

Before leaving them to dry, roll some newspaper into a ball and put it inside your shoe. This helps in two ways; it keeps your shoes in the correct shape and soaks up any excess moisture.
By following this step-by-step guide, you can improve the appearance of your much-loved footwear and keep them in the best possible condition.

Would you like to know when our next post is live?​​​​
Follow us on your social media of choice (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) for all the latest updates as well as news, offers and promotions.