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How to Wash Sneakers Quickly & Easily

washing dirty white sneakers

There’s no feeling quite like getting a new pair of trendy sneakers and swaggering around town to show them off. Then the inevitable happens. Mud, dirty puddles, grass stains, and suddenly your new sneakers have lost their shine. This doesn’t have to be the end of them though!

Check out Ask Team Clean’s favorite sneaker cleaning tips to find out how easy it can be to keep your favorite sneaks looking brand new!

Identify the material of your sneakers

It’s not only important to know how to wash sneakers, but also what kind of washing techniques your kicks can handle. The first thing to check is the material. Generally, leather and suede, are not suitable for machine washing. We’d also advise that you don’t machine wash sneakers that are made from materials like satin, silk, leather, or suede. Yes, we know how cool you look in these, but it’s best to keep them well away from a washing machine! For these delicate materials, there are specialized-cleaning products available—more on that later. Thankfully, there are sneakers that are machine washable and, after all, that’s probably why you’re here right? More common materials and textiles like polyester, cotton and nylon, for example, are strong enough to put up with a washing machine. If you’re unsure, always check the label!

How to clean sneakers in the washing machine

Let’s face it—we probably all consider machine washing to be our favorite and best way to wash sneakers. There are things to watch out for though. We’ll take you through, step by step, to explain how to wash sneakers in the washing machine:

• Use a dry brush off dirt and dust from the outsole

Before you clean your shoes, clean the soles first. Using your hand or an old toothbrush, brush off any dirt and small rocks.

• Wash shoelaces and fabric insoles separately

One of the best sneaker cleaning tips we can give you is this: Before you wash sneakers, always try to remember to remove the shoelaces before putting them in the machine. Washing sneakers with the shoelaces still on could result in them coming out with a big build-up of dirt around the eyelets. Removing the shoelaces before washing is the best way to clean sneakers, as it allows the water and detergent to clean throughout the eyelets. Fabric parts can be placed in a laundry bag (or pillow slip) and washed separately. To prevent your shoes from warping when you wash them, stuff them with socks or old rags and let dry. Loose parts such as insoles, shoelaces or decorative pendants should also be removed before washing.

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• Choose the right wash cycle

Before you press the start button, double check that your machine is set on the right washing cycle. A slower cycle is the best way to wash sneakers as it stops the shoes from being bashed around in the machine.

Team Clean Tip! Fill the rest of the machine with something like towels or blankets. These will act as a buffer and protect the sneakers. If your machine has an independent setting for temperature, choose cold.

• Use the right amount of detergent

The amount of detergent that you use isn’t dependent on how dirty your sneakers are. We know how tempting it is to pile in the detergent for a pair of muddy kicks, thinking they’ll come out as ultra-clean sneakers, but this can actually lead to staining and stiffening. Make sure you use the right amount of detergent according to the product instructions.

How to clean delicate sneakers

While most tennis shoes and canvas sneakers can be machine washed, the best way to wash sneakers that are made from delicate materials is by using specialized cleaners or handwashing. Suede, for example, can’t be cleaned with water as it often damages the material. A suede eraser solution works perfectly, as does a leather cleaner for leather sneakers.

If you’re not sure how to best clean your sneakers, visit a specialized shoe shop as they can often give you advice on the best products to use and can tell you how to wash sneakers made from less common materials.

How to dry shoes

The best way to dry your shoes is to put them in the sun. To keep them in shape, stuff them with shoe trees or crumpled newspaper. The latter should be changed regularly as soon as it is damp, otherwise mold could develop. Although if your shoes are light colored, it is better to use white rags (e.g. handkerchiefs) or kitchen towel, as newspaper print may result in ink staining.

So, keep your shoes looking and feeling cleaner and fresher for longer. Your feet (and your nose) will thank you. Looking for more tips like the ones in this article? Make sure you sign up for Ask Team Clean here and opt-in to receive our emails!