How to clean your trainers in the washing machine

It’s inevitable! Over time your trainers are more than likely to pick up dirt and stains that go unnoticed from a birds-eye view. It’s not until you actually pick them up for a close inspection you’ll realise the state and condition you’ve kept your beloved trainers in. But maintaining the freshness of your trainers can be as easy as putting them in the washing machine. However, this may be the most effective way to clean your trainers, unfortunately, not all fabric trainers are machine washable. If done correctly, your trainers can look box-fresh, but if done wrong your trainers will either look shrivelled or mangled. Basically rendering them unwearable. Don’t fret, this blog post will teach you the most effective way to machine wash your trainers. I do advise, choosing to clean your trainers in a washing machine puts your trainers at risk of being damaged. With that said, let’s begin.

Don't machine wash the wrong fabric 🤦‍♂️

Let’s start with the basics, understanding what fabrics are machine washable is vital for a successful clean. Knowing this before the process has begun, can save severe heartache at the end. As mentioned above, not all fabrics are machine washable, especially when the liquid in the washing machine contains detergent. Different fabrics react differently when water is applied. Let’s begin with the most common trainer fabrics that react badly with water and why.

What fabrics are not machine washable​​

  • Leather – you may hear a lot of mixed opinions on whether you can or cannot wash leather. But ultimately, leather should never be washed, instead, it should be wiped or spot cleaned.
  • Suede – The same rules applied to suede, as suede is chemically or physically abraded leather. Also, the water combined with detergent/soap can dry the suede and ruin the texture of the fabric.

Now that we know what fabrics to avoid, let’s list out the fabrics you can wash with no hassle or headache.

What fabrics are machine washable

  • canvas
  • nylon
  • cotton
  • polyester

How to prepare your trainers

Now that you understand what fabrics are suitable to wash, we can move onto the preparation stage of the process. This stage consists of small tasks that should take you one to five minutes to do. This will increase the chances of a successful wash.

  1. Remove the laces – Depending on what colour the laces are, washing them, like any cotton-based product, can fade the colour and ruin the texture over time. So to prevent this from happening, it’s recommended to remove them during the washing process.
  2. Remove the insoles – Insoles are commonly made from foam, which is a natural shock absorber, malleable and durable material. But foam is very water-absorbent, if not properly dried when soaked it can give off a strong damp smell. This damp aroma can compromise the smell of your socks or feet if socks are not worn.
  3. Bush off any dirt – This task will take the longest out of the three but it will yield the biggest impact to ensure a successful clean. For a pre-wash clean, all you need is a cloth, sponge or an old toothbrush. Just closely examine each pair and wipe/brush off any visible dirt that you see. This makes it even easier for the dirt or stains to be removed during the wash.

How to set your washing machine

The most important part of the process, actually putting your trainers to wash. As straightforward as it sounds, you need to make sure you’ve adjusted your washing machine setting appropriately for no lasting damage to occur. So you need to do the following:

  • Set a cold temperature – a warm temperature can compromise the structural integrity of the trainer. And a warped pair of trainers can be rendered in unwearable.
  • Set a slow cycle – setting a spin cycle during your wash, increases the chance of either your trainers or your washing machine from being damaged. To avoid the unnecessary clanking of trainers in the drum, our mesh sneaker laundry bag will save you that headache.
  • Don’t set a tumble dry – a tumble dry can also put your washing machine or trainers at risk of being damaged.
  • Use normal detergent – normal detergent/soap can be used to wash your trainers, but I cannot stress enough, do not use any additional substances, especially bleach. Please do not use bleach! This absolutely will ruin the colour of trainers beyond repair.

Now that the trainers have been washed, place them in an area where they can dry. It’s preferred to let the trainers dry naturally, as the sun and the wind provides a more equalled measure of water evaporation, reducing the chances of uneven dry areas or damp after smell. But if the weather is not the best, then a dry rack will be fine. Once fully dried you can add back the insoles and laces, and you’re good to go.

Now that you know the steps to take, let us know how you got on with washing your trainers. Leave a comment below or share your story and images with us on social media.

One thought on “How to clean your trainers in the washing machine

  1. Dave Alce says:

    Using a washing machine for cleaning shoes is really a tough job. It’s not easy as someone explains in text formate. There are some bad side cleaning shoes in washing machine. Like it’s can destroy shoes upper fabric, Following your way to shoe cleaning using washing machine. It’s not easy for me. One more thing would you recommend using toothpaste for cleaning shoes?

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