How to Clean Sneakers in the Washing Machine

Sneakers are an essential part of any casual wardrobe, but keeping them looking fresh can be a challenge. Dirt, grime, and stains can accumulate, leaving your once bright and vibrant kicks dull and worn. While hand-cleaning is an option, it can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Washing your sneakers in the machine can be convenient and practical. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the ins and outs of machine-washing your sneakers, ensuring they look like new without compromising their integrity or longevity. 

Assess Your Sneakers' Material

Identify Suitable Materials

Not all sneakers are created equal when it comes to machine washing. Before tossing your kicks into the washer, it's crucial to assess the materials they're made of. Sneakers constructed from canvas, mesh, or synthetic leather are generally safe for machine washing. Genuine leather, suede, or delicate materials may require special care or hand-washing to avoid damage. If you have Hoka shoes, vessi shoes, On cloud shoes you must read this post.

Check for Special Care Instructions

Always check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Some sneakers may have specific machine washing guidelines or be recommended against altogether. Ignoring these instructions could lead to irreversible damage or shrinkage.

Prepare Your Sneakers

Remove Laces and Insoles

Before washing, removing the laces and insoles from your sneakers is essential. This allows for a more thorough cleaning and prevents the laces from tangling or the insoles from shifting during the wash cycle.

Pretreat Stains and Scuffs

If your sneakers have stubborn stains or scuffs, pretreat them before washing them. Use a soft-bristled brush and a mild detergent or sneaker cleaner to scrub the affected areas gently. This will help loosen the stains and prepare them for a more effective cleaning in the washer.

Load the Washing Machine

Choose the Right Cycle

When washing sneakers, opt for a gentle or delicate cycle. This will ensure that your sneakers aren't subjected to excessive agitation or high temperatures, which could cause damage or fading.

Add Mild Detergent

Use a mild liquid detergent formulated explicitly for delicates or colors. Avoid using powdered detergents, as they may leave residue in the nooks and crannies of your sneakers.

Protect Your Sneakers

Use a Wash Bag or Pillowcase

To prevent your sneakers from banging around in the washer and potentially damaging the drum or other items, place them in a mesh wash bag or an old, clean pillowcase. This will also help keep them from getting twisted or misshapen during the wash cycle.

Add Towels or Tennis Balls

If you don't have a wash bag or pillowcase, add a couple of clean, dry towels or tennis balls to the wash load. These will help cushion the sneakers and prevent them from bouncing around too much.

Air Dry Your Sneakers

Avoid the Dryer

After the wash cycle, do not toss your sneakers in the dryer. The high heat can cause shrinkage, warping, or damage to the materials. Instead, opt for air-drying your sneakers.

Stuff with Paper or Towels

Stuff your sneakers with clean, dry paper or towels to help them maintain their shape as they dry. This will also help absorb any remaining moisture from the inside.

Deodorize and Freshen

Baking Soda and Essential Oils

Once your sneakers are dry, you can freshen them up and eliminate any lingering odors by sprinkling them with a small amount of baking soda. For a refreshing scent, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

UV Light or Sunlight

Exposing your sneakers to UV light or direct sunlight can also help kill bacteria and odors. Just be careful not to leave them in direct sunlight for too long, which can cause fading or discoloration.

Maintain and Protect

Apply a Sneaker Protector

After your sneakers are clean and fresh, consider applying a sneaker protector or water-repellent spray. This will help create a barrier against future stains, dirt, and moisture, making it easier to keep your kicks looking their best.

Store Properly

Proper storage is critical to maintaining the longevity of your sneakers. Please keep them in a cool, dry place, and use shoetrees or stuffing to help them retain their shape when not in use.


Keeping your sneakers looking their best doesn't have to be a chore. By following these steps for machine-washing your kicks, you can quickly restore their fresh, vibrant appearance without compromising their integrity. Remember to assess the materials, prepare them properly, and take precautions to protect them during the wash cycle. With some care and the proper techniques, you can enjoy your favorite sneakers for years to come, confident they'll always look as good as new.


Can I wash all types of sneakers in the washing machine?

No, not all sneakers are suitable for machine washing. Avoid washing delicate materials like genuine leather, suede, or specialty fabrics, as they may be damaged. Always check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.

How often should I wash my sneakers in the machine? 

The frequency of washing will depend on how often you wear your sneakers and the level of dirt and grime they accumulate. Generally, aim to machine-wash them every few months or whenever they start looking noticeably dirty or smelly.


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