If smelly, dirty kicks are crimping your style, you’re not alone. These wardrobe essentials can begin to lose their luster under the demand of sports, fitness, or just doing errands. The good news is that you can clean them in your washing machine and dryer, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
You’ll want to make sure that your shoes are free of any major debris or grime before you put them in the washer. Pebbles and other icky things can put you on the fast track to needing washer and dryer repair, so it’s important to spot clean your shoes first. Using a stain pre-treatment helps dissolve oils and stains, with an oxy treatment being a great way to get white shoes nice and bright.
To be sure your shoes are compatible with the washing machine you should first check the manufacturer’s care instructions. If they aren’t available, you’ll need to assess this based on the specifics of your shoe.
Shoes with fine details or custom paint jobs are not good candidates for the washing machine, as the agitation can break fragile plastic stripping and rub off the paint. Shoes made of suede leather will mat and often color bleed during the wash cycle, whereas those made of Nubuck leather typically fare well.
Prevent your laces from coming outstretched and frayed by gathering the loose laces on each shoe and tying them together. This way, they don’t get twisted around other garments. Wash your shoes with a full load of laundry. Cradling them with lots of padding helps avoid damage caused by hitting the sidewall of the washing machine. There are products such as these Teletrogy shoe laundry bags that are specifically designed for cleaning your shoes while buffering both the washing machine and the shoes.
Know that there is always a chance that your shoes could be damaged during the wash cycle and proceed with caution. Many shoes will have no issues, but machine washing vintage or expensive sneakers may not be a wise gamble.
Now that your shoes are sparkling clean, you’ll need to decide how to dry them. This can be a little tricky considering that most shoes are assembled with glue. So where’s the problem with glue? Well, glue breaks down and gets fragile as it ages. The heat from the dryer can cause it to soften, dry, crack, and sometimes fail entirely. Add all that banging around and you could have an undesirable outcome.
Avoid using the dryer to dry your shoes, instead, opt to leave them out to air dry for a couple of days. While this is the safest option, it may not be feasible if you need your shoes immediately. In this case, make sure there is lots of other clothing in the dryer to keep the shoes from banging, and dry on the lowest heat setting possible.
Getting your shoes clean can be easy and economical. By following these tips, your shoes will look and smell great as well as maintain their sound condition for lots more wear.