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How to wash tennis shoes in washer?

how to wash tennis shoes in washer

Is your favorite pair of tennis shoes starting to look worse for wear? Maybe they’re covered in dirt, stains, or unpleasant odors that won’t go away. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to effortlessly clean your tennis shoes in the washing machine, saving you the hassle of cleaning them by hand. With just a few simple precautions and some of your usual laundry supplies, you can have your shoes looking fresh and smelling great in no time!

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We all know tennis shoes can take a beating, especially if you wear them regularly for sports or outdoor activities. Over time, they can accumulate dirt, mud, grass stains, and sweat, leaving them tired and unkempt. While some people might be hesitant to toss their trusty sneakers into the washing machine, fearing damage or discoloration, the truth is that many shoes are perfectly fine to be cleaned this way. By following our easy-to-follow steps and using proper techniques, you can ensure your shoes come out of the washing machine looking as good as new. So, let’s dive in and discover how to easily and effectively clean your tennis shoes without the hassle or expense of taking them to a professional cleaner!

Preparation before cleaning

Before cleaning your tennis shoes in the washing machine, it is essential to take a few minutes to prepare them properly. By following these steps, you can ensure that your shoes are ready for a thorough cleaning, resulting in good-as-new footwear.

1. Remove Excess Dirt and Debris

Start by removing any loose dirt, mud, or debris that may have accumulated on the surface of your tennis shoes. You can do this by giving them a quick once-over with a soft cloth or gently tapping them together to dislodge any excess particles. Be careful not to use excessive force, which could damage the shoe’s materials.

2. Untie Laces and Remove Insoles

To ensure a thorough clean, it is important to give attention to every nook and cranny of your tennis shoes. Start by untying the laces and removing them from the eyelets of the boots. This will help prevent them from tangling or getting damaged during washing. Depending on their condition, you can wash the laces separately or include them in the washing machine.

3. Inspect the Shoe

Before proceeding with the washing machine, closely examine your tennis shoes to identify any signs of damage or wear and tear. Inspecting them will help ensure they are in good condition to withstand the washing process. Look for loose stitching, detached soles, or any weak areas that require repair before cleaning. It’s better to fix these issues beforehand to prevent further damage during the wash cycle.

4. Choose the Right Detergent

Selecting a suitable detergent is crucial to achieving clean and fresh tennis shoes. Avoid harsh chemicals or bleach, which can harm the shoe’s materials. It’s best to opt for a gentle laundry detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics, as this will help preserve the integrity of your shoes.

5. Check the Washing Machine

Take a moment to prepare your washing machine. Ensure it is clean inside and free from any residue from previous washes. This will prevent any dirt or grime from transferring onto your shoes during cleaning.

6. Choose the Right Load

When placing your tennis shoes in the washing machine, it is important to have other items in the load to provide cushioning and prevent them from tumbling too aggressively. Adding towels or other soft garments will help absorb the impact and protect the shoes from excessive agitation.

Choosing the right washing machine settings 

When cleaning your tennis shoes in the washing machine, choosing the right settings is crucial to ensure that your boots are effectively cleaned without getting damaged. Different washing machine settings can vary in temperature, cycle length, and intensity. This section will walk you through the step-by-step process of carefully choosing the right settings to clean your tennis shoes.

1. Check the Shoe’s Care Label:

Before you even think about throwing your tennis shoes in the washing machine, take a moment to check the care label. Many shoe manufacturers provide specific instructions on how to clean their shoes. The care label will usually indicate if the boots are machine-washable and, if so, whether they require any special care.

2. Remove Excess Dirt and Debris:

To prepare your tennis shoes for the washing machine, removing any excess dirt or debris is essential. Start by giving them a good wipe with a clean cloth or brush. You can also use a toothbrush to scrub away stubborn mud or stains. This step will prevent the dirt from spreading and damaging your washing machine.

3. Select the Right Wash Cycle:

Most washing machines offer a range of wash cycle options, and choosing the appropriate one is vital to avoid damaging your tennis shoes. Ideally, it would help to opt for a gentle or delicate cycle to ensure a thorough yet gentle clean. These cycles typically have lower agitation and slower spin speeds, minimizing the risk of damage to your shoes.

4. Consider Using a Mesh Laundry Bag:

Using a mesh laundry bag is a good idea if you are concerned about your tennis shoes getting tangled or damaged during the wash. These bags provide an extra layer of protection by containing the shoes and minimizing the impact of the washing machine’s agitation. Place your shoes inside the bag, ensuring they have enough room to move around, and zip it shut.

5. Adjust the Water Temperature:

Choosing the right water temperature is crucial, as it can impact the cleanliness of your tennis shoes. For most shoes, a cold or cool water temperature is recommended, as hot water may cause them to lose shape or colors to fade. Cold water is typically gentler on materials like leather or synthetic fabrics.

6. Use a Mild Detergent:

When choosing a detergent for your tennis shoes, opt for a mild and gentle one. Avoid harsh detergents or bleach, which can damage the fabric or color. Look for a detergent specifically formulated for delicate items or sports gear. Too much detergent can also lead to excessive suds, which may not rinse properly and leave residue on your shoes.

7. Skip the Spin Cycle:

Finally, consider skipping the spin cycle to protect your tennis shoes from unnecessary wear and tear. Removing the boots after the wash cycle and allowing them to air dry is often the best option. Placing the shoes in direct sunlight or using a dryer can cause shrinkage or damage to the materials.

Removing excess dirt from the shoes 

Before you toss your tennis shoes into the washing machine, removing as much excess dirt as possible is important. This step is crucial because it helps prevent your boots from getting even dirtier in the washing machine and potentially clogging.

Start by taking your shoes outside or to an area that can be easily cleaned. Sit down and shake your shoes to dislodge any loose dirt or debris. You’ll be surprised how much dirt comes off with a simple shake!

Next, grab an old toothbrush or a stiff bristle brush to scrub away the remaining dirt gently. Make sure to focus on the soles and any other grooves where dirt tends to accumulate. Scrub in different directions and angles to get into all the nooks and crannies. If there are any particularly stubborn spots, wet the toothbrush or brush and add a mild detergent to help loosen the dirt.

For those hard-to-reach spaces, like in between the treads or along the edges of your shoes, you can use a toothpick or a cotton swab dipped in soapy water to remove dirt or grime. Be gentle and take your time to avoid damaging the shoe’s material.

If your shoes have laces, remove them and set them aside. You can clean them separately by hand or toss them in a laundry bag and wash them in the machine along with your shoes. Laces tend to be a magnet for dirt and can make your shoes look even dirtier if left untouched.

Once you’ve finished scrubbing the entire shoe, take a damp cloth and wipe away any excess dirt or soap residue. Make sure to rinse the cloth frequently to avoid spreading the dirt around. When wiping, start from the top of the shoe and work your way down, paying extra attention to the areas with the most dirt.

After removing the excess dirt, it’s a good idea to let your shoes air dry before washing them. This allows any remaining moisture to evaporate, which prevents it from interfering with the washing process.

To dry your shoes, find a clean spot away from direct sunlight and heat sources. You can place them on a towel or a drying rack so air can circulate freely. Avoid using a hairdryer or putting them in the dryer, as excessive heat can damage the shoe’s material.

It’s important to note that if your shoes are made of leather or suede, they require special care and should not be washed in the machine. These materials are more delicate and may require professional or specific cleaning products. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions or seek advice from a professional if you need clarification on cleaning your shoes.

By removing excess dirt from your tennis shoes before washing them, you’ll ensure a thorough and effective cleaning process. Not only will your shoes look better, but you’ll also maintain their quality and prolong their lifespan. So grab that toothbrush and get scrubbing!

Placing the shoes inside a laundry bag 

When cleaning your beloved tennis shoes in the washing machine, taking the right precautions is essential to ensure they remain in top-notch condition. One of the most crucial steps in this process is placing the shoes inside a laundry bag before tossing them into the machine.

A laundry bag is a protective mesh bag that encases your shoes while they go through the washing cycle. Its primary purpose is to prevent damage from the shoes bumping inside the machine. It keeps the boots from getting tangled with other items and helps maintain the integrity of the shoe’s structure, ensuring they come out looking and feeling fresh.

Before you begin, ensure you have a suitable laundry bag large enough to accommodate your shoes comfortably. These bags are readily available in most supermarkets or online stores. Look for a bag specifically designed for shoes to ensure the necessary level of protection.

Once you have your laundry bag, it’s time to prepare your shoes for a thorough cleaning. Start by removing any loose dirt or debris from the exterior. You can use a soft-bristle brush or a damp cloth for this purpose. Gently scrub the surface to loosen any stuck-on dirt, cleaning both the upper material and the soles.

After clearing away the loose dirt, it’s time to prepare the shoes for placement inside the laundry bag. Begin by untying any shoelaces or fastenings and removing them from the shoes. This will prevent them from tangling during the washing cycle and help ensure a more even and effective cleaning process.

Next, open the laundry bag and place one shoe inside, ensuring it rests in the center. If you are washing multiple pairs of shoes, place them one at a time and separate each pair inside the bag. Ensure you leave enough space between the shoes for thorough cleaning while ensuring they do not overcrowd the bag and hinder the washing machine’s functioning.

Once the shoes are safely inside the bag, close it tightly. Most laundry bags have a secure closure mechanism, such as a zipper or drawstring, which helps keep the shoes securely enclosed throughout the wash cycle. Double-check that the bag is tightly sealed to prevent any chance of the shoes slipping out halfway through the laundering.

Finally, it’s time to get your shoes into the washing machine. Place the laundry bag containing your shoes directly inside the machine, ensuring it is well-balanced to prevent excessive movement during the wash. Add gentle laundry detergent suitable for delicate fabrics to promote effective cleaning without harming the shoes’ materials.

With the shoes securely tucked inside the laundry bag, you can proceed confidently to the next step – running the washing machine to get your tennis shoes sparkling clean.

Adding the right amount of detergent

One important step in cleaning your tennis shoes in the washing machine is determining the right amount of detergent. Using too little detergent might not effectively remove the dirt and stains while using too much can leave a soapy residue on your shoes. But don’t worry; finding the perfect balance is quite simple when you follow these easy steps.

First and foremost, reading the care label on your tennis shoes is essential. Some boots have specific instructions on how to clean them, and they may recommend a particular detergent or provide guidelines on the amount to use. If your shoes have such instructions, it’s best to follow them to ensure you don’t risk damaging the fabric or materials.

In the absence of any specific instructions, you can rely on general guidelines for adding detergent. Typically, a small load of shoes would require about half the amount of detergent you would use for a regular load of laundry. It’s crucial not to overload on detergent as shoes generally have less material to clean compared to a whole load of clothes.

Start by measuring out the detergent according to the recommended amount. If you don’t have measuring tools, you can estimate it visually. Pour detergent into the cup for a small load until it reaches about halfway to two-thirds full. Remember, adding a little less detergent initially and adjusting if necessary is better.

While adding detergent, place it directly into the washing machine drum rather than the detergent dispenser. The shoes must come into direct contact with the detergent for effective cleaning. Pouring detergent into the dispenser may cause it to wash away before reaching the boots.

If you prefer liquid detergent, pour it directly into the drum or dilute it with a small amount of water before adding it. This can help ensure that the detergent is distributed evenly throughout the load. Similarly, if you have powdered detergent, you can dissolve it in a small amount of water before pouring it into the drum.

Once you’ve added the detergent, you’re ready to place your tennis shoes in the washing machine. It’s crucial to properly balance the load by adding a few towels or other items of similar weight to prevent the shoes from banging around inside the machine excessively. This will also help distribute the detergent and water evenly.

After adding the shoes, securely close the washing machine lid or door and select the appropriate cycle and water temperature for your load. Generally, a gentle or delicate cycle is recommended for cleaning tennis shoes. As for the water temperature, it’s best to check the care label on your shoes. In most cases, using cold water is a safe choice to prevent any potential damage to the shoe material.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you add the right amount of detergent to clean your tennis shoes effectively. Remember always to check the care label and follow any specific instructions provided. With a little attention to detail, you’ll have your tennis shoes looking as good as new in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I wash my tennis shoes in the washing machine? 

Yes, you absolutely can! Washing your tennis shoes in the washing machine is a safe and effective method to get them clean. However, following the proper steps and precautions to prevent any damage to your shoes is important. 

2. Is it better to hand-wash or machine-wash my tennis shoes? 

While both methods can clean your tennis shoes, machine washing offers a more efficient and hassle-free approach. It ensures a thorough cleaning, especially for deep stains and dirt trapped in the fabric. However, if your shoes are made of delicate materials or have intricate details, it may be safer to stick with hand-washing to avoid any damage. 

3. What should I do before washing my tennis shoes in the machine? 

There are a few key steps before tossing your tennis shoes into the washing machine. Start by removing the laces and insoles from your shoes. This will prevent tangling and ensure a cleaner and even. Additionally, if your shoes are caked in excessive dirt or mud, removing the major debris with a brush or cloth before washing them is a good idea. 

4. Should I use bleach to remove stubborn stains? 

Using bleach is not recommended for cleaning your tennis shoes, as it may cause discoloration or damage to the material. Instead, consider using a stain remover specifically designed for shoes. Apply a small amount to the affected areas and let it sit for a few minutes before washing. This should help in removing stubborn stains without causing harm. 

5. Can I put my tennis shoes in the dryer after washing them? 

While it may be tempting to speed up the drying process, putting your tennis shoes in the dryer is generally not recommended. The high heat can cause the glue holding the shoes together to melt, leading to potential damage. Instead, let your shoe air dry naturally. You can stuff them with paper towels or newspaper to help speed up the drying process and maintain their shape. 

6. How often should I wash my tennis shoes? 

The frequency you should wash your tennis shoes depends on how often you use them and the conditions they are exposed to. As a general rule of thumb, washing them every few months or when they start to look visibly dirty is a good idea. Regular cleaning will help prolong the lifespan of your shoes and keep them looking fresh. 

7. Can I wash my tennis shoes with other clothes? 

While washing your tennis shoes with other clothes is possible, it is generally not recommended. The washing machine’s agitation can cause your boots to bang against other items, potentially causing damage. It’s best to wash your shoes separately or with a load of towels or similar items that can act as a cushion. 


Cleaning your tennis shoes in the washing machine is no longer a daunting task. With this step-by-step guide, you can effortlessly restore your favorite kicks to their former glory. Following these simple instructions, you can effectively remove dirt, stains, and odors, making your shoes look and smell as good as new. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before tossing your shoes in the machine, and take the necessary precautions to protect them during the washing process. So, why wait? Give your tennis shoes a well-deserved spa day in the washing machine, and enjoy the satisfaction of having fresh, clean kicks ready for your next adventure.

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