Washing your shoes might not be something you find yourself needing to do all that often, but it is important. You might only wash your shoes when they become stained or muddy, but they get dirty in other ways, much like clothes.
Just think of how many hours a day you spend wearing your shoes, even with socks on they can become sweaty, dirty, and begin to smell. This is especially true of sneakers, which need washing more than any other shoes
Washing shoes can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re unsure of what material they are made from and there is also the concern that they might need to be washed but can’t be put in a washing machine.
To help you out, here are a few steps to follow to make sure you can wash and dry your shoes without damaging them.
Step 1: Do Some Research
If you happen to have care instructions for your shoes, make sure you read through them as they will be able to tell you if they are machine washable. If you don’t have care instructions, try looking the shoes up online, an online shop or the manufacturer’s website will likely have the information you need.
If the shoes are not machine washable but still need a clean, there are still a few things you can do. Just because they won’t survive the machine, doesn’t mean they can’t get wet. Again, double-check the information, but you should be able to gently clean them in a bowl with warm soapy water.
If it’s just a smell that you’re trying to get rid of, then leaving dry tea bags inside the shoes overnight is a great hack. The tea bags will absorb the smell and save you the hassle of washing.
Step 2: Prep your Shoes
If your shoes are in really bad shape, there are a few things you need to do before just throwing them in the machine.
First, brush or wipe them down. This might seem excessive as you’re about to wash them, but if they have something on them, then the last thing you want to do is put them straight into a washing machine. If they are, for example, covered in mud, if you put them straight in the machine, the mud will mix with the water and you will have shoes coming out that are worse than they were before.
Wait for the mud to dry and then brush it off. Make sure there’s nothing dirty on the shoes that could come free and make the water inside the machine dirty.
If you’re trying to clean off something that has caused a stain, then you need to deal with that beforehand too. Wipe off whatever has caused the stain, and then treat with a specific stain remover.
If the stain begins to come off with the stain remover, keep going until it stops. Once you can’t get any more off, then they are ready for the machine. If you put the shoes in without tending to the stain first, some may come off and mix with the water which could result in the entire shoe becoming stained.
Step 3: Protect your Shoes
To keep your shoes safe, it’s best to place them inside something else. If you have a mesh wash bag already, then you can just use that. If not, place them inside a pillowcase or wrap them in a towel.
Washing machines could potentially damage your shoes as they are incredibly thorough but that means they can be quite aggressive. Placing them inside something else will protect them.
Step 4: Actually Washing your Shoes
Once you’re sure that you have removed anything that might come free in the washing machine, it’s now time to actually wash your shoes.
When you’re washing shoes, it’s best to put them in alone and not with other laundry so that your clothes aren’t damaged in the process.
If your shoes haven’t been washed or even caught in the rain and become wet yet, there is a chance that the color could run. It likely won’t be enough to make the color fade or ruin the shoes (if it was then they wouldn’t be classed as machine washable), but you don’t want to risk ruining your clothes.
If you’re concerned that your shoes might shrink or the color might run in the machine, using cold water can counteract this. Otherwise, wash in warm water on a gentle cycle with about half the detergent you would normally use. A gentle cycle will keep your shoes safe and also less noisy. Due to being hard and alone in the machine, shoes bouncing off the drum walls and into each other can be incredibly noisy.
Step 5: Drying your Shoes
Once the washing machine has finished, it’s time to dry your shoes. Don’t be tempted to use the tumble dryer as it can really damage your shoes. The heat can make your shoes shrink or even melt the glue holding them together.
Instead, it’s best to air dry them. Place the shoes on a flat surface with a towel or newspaper beneath them. There are a couple of ways to do this. First, make sure you place them somewhere warm and dry so that they will dry quicker and don’t run the risk of them getting damaged by the moisture or growing mold.
You can either place them upside down so that the air can circulate and dry the shoes easier or you can set them down the right way up with scrunched up newspaper inside. Both will work in varying ways, and it depends on what kind of shoes you’re cleaning. If you’re concerned about the shoes losing their shape, the best option is the right way up and with newspaper inside.
So, there you have it, a few steps to guide you through the process of working out how to actually clean a pair of shoes.