How to Wash Tennis Shoes in Washer

June 3, 2024
Washer Repair

Everyone loves shiny new tennis shoes—but what about when your brand-new shoes start to lose their shine? Dirt, sweat, and other debris can all build up on your shoes, particularly if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to get your tennis shoes looking bright and white again—with a little help from your washer, that is! We’ll guide you through all the necessary steps to clean and sanitize your dirty shoes so you can have them looking as good as new in no time!

Should You Wash Shoes in a Washer? 

If the idea of washing your shoes in the washer seems a little risky to you, you’re not alone! Many people have the misconception that washing tennis shoes in a washing machine will damage or ruin their shoes, but that just isn’t true. Provided you take all necessary precautions, using a washer not only does a better job of cleaning your shoes, but it can actually be less damaging than manually scrubbing them by hand. It’s also far quicker and less labor intensive, meaning you’ll be more likely to actually do it!

What Types of Shoes Can You Wash? 

Not every type of tennis shoe can be washed in a washer, however, so it’s important to know what your shoes are made of before you start. Although there are exceptions, in general, tennis shoes made of synthetic materials like polyester or nylon can be put in the washer. Canvas or sturdy cotton tennis shoes are also good candidates. 

If your tennis shoes have leather or suede detailing, it’s probably best to give the washing machine a skip, as it can cause warping or damage. You can check the manufacturer’s instructions on the label to help you figure out if your shoes are machine washable or not. Cheaper tennis shoes that have cardboard in the soles are also not good candidates for the washing machine, as this can cause the soles to degrade and break down. 

Preparing Your Shoes for Washing

Although many types of tennis shoes are machine washable, you don’t want to just toss your shoes into the washer and press start on a cycle! You’ll get the best results by preparing your shoes properly. Here’s what to do: 

  • Remove the laces—these can easily become tangled and knotted during the wash cycle, so it’s best to wash these separately by hand. 
  • Remove the inner soles—while these will be going in the washer, it’s better to separate them from your tennis shoes to help them get thoroughly clean. The inner soles absorb the most sweat and odors of any part of your shoe, so thorough cleaning is essential!
  • Brush off any dirt or debris from the surface and soles of your shoes, using a rag or old scrubbing brush. Too much dirt is bad for your washing machine and will prevent you from getting a good clean.                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Washing Your Tennis Shoes

Once you’ve prepared your shoes, it’s time to begin the washing process. We’ve broken the process down into four steps which will ensure your shoes are protected and come out of the washer nice and clean!

Step 1 – Put Your Shoes in a Mesh Bag

A mesh laundry bag is an indispensable part of the shoe-washing process! While it is technically possible to wash tennis shoes in the washer without one, it puts your shoes at more risk of damage as they bounce around inside the washer. If you don’t have a laundry bag, you can find them online or in the laundry section of any supermarket. 

Step 2 – Add Detergent

Pick the detergent carefully—you want to ensure you use something that will get rid of grime and odors without damaging or leaving a residue on your tennis shoes. We recommend a mild, eco-friendly detergent. Liquid detergent is the best choice because it dissolves better in water than powder detergent, and is less likely to leave a residue. 

We don’t recommend using a detergent pod for washing shoes, as pods don’t allow you to choose the amount of detergent used. Make sure the detergent you use doesn’t contain bleach and don’t add too much—about half the amount you would use for a regular load will be plenty. 

Step 3 – Choose a Wash Cycle

Choosing the right cycle is important, as it helps prevent damage to your shoes. A cycle that has too much agitation or a strong spin speed can damage or warp your shoes. Hot cycles can affect the adhesives used on your tennis shoes, and can even cause certain components in your shoes to shrink! 

We recommend washing your shoes on a room-temperature cycle that uses a gentle spin speed. If your washer doesn’t let you choose individual temperature and spin settings, choose a ‘delicate’ cycle. 

Remember to wash your laces separately—we recommend hand washing them in the sink using a small amount of mild detergent and then hanging them up to air-dry. 

Step 4 – Dry Your Tennis Shoes

After the wash cycle has been completed, your tennis shoes will still be very wet thanks to the low spin speed. While it might be tempting to throw them in the clothes dryer, don’t do this! The high temperature of a dryer will definitely shrink or degrade your tennis shoes, shortening their lifespan. Here’s how to dry them safely and effectively:

  • Remove the shoes from the mesh bag.
  • Keep the inner soles and the tennis shoes separate until both have fully dried. 
  • Place scrunched-up newspaper or paper towels inside your tennis shoes to absorb water and help them keep their shape as they dry. 
  • Place the shoes in a warm, dry place. If the weather is fine, you can place them outside in a sunny spot. You can also try using a fan on a cold setting to help speed up the air-drying process. 
  • Once your shoes are completely dry, remove the paper and put the inner soles and laces back in. Your shoes should now be sparkling clean!

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