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How to wash sneakers in the washing machine—tips for sparkling clean footwear

Pair of white shoes (Sneakers) in the washing machine

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Thanks to puddles, gravel, de-icing salt, etc., we're constantly exposing our sneakers to new dirt. Afterward, we’re left having to clean up the mess and sometimes scrubbing under the faucet isn't enough to get rid of the stains. The last resort: Put the sneakers in the washing machine.

Washing sneakers – What types can go in the washing machine?

Unfortunately, not every sneaker is suitable for the washing machine. The washing machine works wonders for fabric and synthetic shoes because it removes mud splashes or grass stains without damaging the material. So, you don't have to worry about putting your favorite pair of canvas sneakers in the washing machine. Leather sneakers are a different story, however, since they don't like too much water. They quickly become porous and the delicate material may even crack after the wash cycle. Therefore, gentle handwashing in lukewarm water is more suited to leather shoes. Leather shoes should be treated differently. Our article on how to clean white leather shoes might be helpful to you.

How to machine wash sneakers

The washing drum welcomes dirty synthetic or fabric sneakers. But it takes a little more than simply putting the sneakers in, starting the washing program and waiting for the cycle to end. Here's how to do it right:

  1. Prepare your sneakers Heavily soiled sneakers full of little stones and covered in mud have no business in the washing machine—at least not yet. First, they need to be washed under the faucet or shower. Use lukewarm water and a soft brush to scrub away the worst of the dirt. After that, your sneakers are (almost) ready for the washing machine.
  2. Make them machine washable After a thorough prewash, don't just stuff your shoes into the machine. It's crucial to remove all loose parts such as the laces and insoles. Buttons and other decorative parts also have no place in the washing drum. The small parts quickly come loose and can clog up the washing machine.
  3. Well protected Ensure your sneakers are cared for by placing them in a laundry bag. If you don't have one on hand, you can use an old pillowcase. This stops your shoes from tumbling around loose in the washing drum because, small metal eyelets can break free and damage the washing machine.
  4. The right product for washing your sneakers in the washing machine Normal laundry detergent works fine for cleaning your sneakers in the washing machine. We recommend our Persil® ProClean® Original scent laundry detergent to get rid of tough stains. For delicate materials, you could err on the side of caution and opt for a mild detergent. Less is more Fabric and synthetic sneakers are tough, but not invincible. They can easily lose their shape if washed in a hot cycle, so don't overdo it. Stick to the cold or cool cycle to be on the safe side. Your shoes will shine again and still be in top shape.
  5. Shape your shoes Take care when drying your shoes as freshly washed sneakers can quickly lose their original shape. The best thing to do is to stuff the shoes with clean paper or paper towels after they've been washed. Make sure you don't overdo it, or you'll end up with annoying bumps that are hard to get rid of. To avoid mold forming on your damp shoes, make sure to change the paper regularly.
  6. Heat the sneakers Admittedly, sneakers take a long time to dry and it can be quite frustrating. So why not help them out a little? Put the shoes near a heater so they can benefit from the warm air. But never put them directly on top of the heating unit because this could damage the damp fabric or be a fire hazard.
  7. Aftercare is the best care Finally, your sneakers are fresh, clean and dry again. But before your sneakers return to the shoe closet, they deserve some pampering. Treat your fabric shoes to a care and waterproofing spray. For synthetic shoes, we recommend using a high-quality leather care product. Need more help with washing your kicks? Here are the best ways to wash your shoes. And don’t forget to sign up for the Ask Team Clean newsletter for more great cleaning tips and special offers.