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Can You Wash Trainers in a Washing Machine?

clean trainers by washing machine

No matter how hard you try, your trainers are going to get dirty. Scuff marks, dirt, dust, mud; will find a way to stick to your clean kicks. Your trainers go through a lot every day, but you might not need to run out and buy a new pair, all they may need is a good washing.

To save time, it may be possible to machine wash your trainers. But to keep your trainers, and washing machine, in good shape you’ll need to follow the steps and process outlined below to wash them the right way.

Are My Trainers Machine Washable?

sneakers in washing machine

In most cases, yes. But first, check the labels to be sure your trainers are machine washable. We know it’s tempting to throw them in the wash even if the label says not to, but you’d truly be throwing money down the drain as you risk ruining them for good. If your trainers are not machine washable, you can give them a scrub with laundry detergent or dish soap, cool water, and a stiff brush or sponge.

Most canvas trainers like Vans and Converse can be machine washed, although manufacturers like Vans and Nike don’t recommend regular machine washing.

Maintain cleaning by wiping trainer fabric and soles down with a damp cloth, and only use the mashing machine whenever your trainers are extremely dirty. To reduce wear and tear from machine washing, keep the temperature low/warm and cycle short.

If the label on your trainers say they are machine washable, you’re in luck! Read on for the steps to doing it the right way.

Prepare Your Trainers

Step 1: Give them a quick pre-wash

Once you’ve determined that your trainers are machine washable, give them a quick pre-wash. Using liquid laundry detergent or dish soap and cool water, grab a sponge or old toothbrush and give your trainers a scrub to remove any caked-on dirt or debris. You don’t want that clogging up your washing machine. Be sure to dig out any small stones stuck in the treads, those are a nuisance once they end up in your washing machine.

Step 2: Remove extra accessories

Remove the laces and any removable insoles. You’ll want your trainers to move freely within the washing machine and laces can tangle and cause issues. The insoles can be wiped down separately, as they’ll absorb too much water if they are submerged.

Once your trainers have been deconstructed and brushed clean of any loose dirt and debris, you’re ready to get them into the washing machine.

Prepare Your Washing Machine

Step 3: Use a liquid detergent

Using powder detergent may result in some non-dissolved particles getting lodged in the toes of your shoes or around the lacing area. Liquid laundry detergent is recommended as it will dissolve and rinse off much better than powder while giving your trainers a better clean. Liquid detergents are better than powder in cold water washing cycles, which is recommended for trainers.

Keep in mind that since you’re only washing shoes and a towel or two, you won’t need a full load’s worth of detergent. To allow for a clean rinse, only use the recommended amount for a smaller load.

Step 4: Add padding to your machine

You’ll want to add a couple of old towels to your washing machine before adding your trainers. This will not only give your trainers something to scrub up against while being cleaned, but it also reduces the noise of your trainers hitting the inside of the washing machine and prevents damage to the drum, as well.

A mesh bag for your shoes and laces would also be ideal, but not necessary. If you don’t have a mesh bag, you can put your laces in an old pillowcase, but keep your shoes free. The towels will still provide protection and the pillowcase will keep your laces from tangling around your towels and shoes.

Step 5: Select a cold water cycle

To prevent any fading or bleeding from your trainer’s fabric, a cold water cycle is recommended for washing your trainers. Choose the coldest setting possible, around 20-30°C, as it’s the best temperature for washing trainers without causing any colour bleeding or fading.

Once you’ve got your shoes and washing machine prepped, all that’s left is to run them through a cold cycle and take them out to dry.

Dry Your Trainers

Once your trainers have completed their wash cycle, it’s time to dry them. Do not put them in a tumble dryer. The materials that make up your trainers may not hold up well to extreme heat and tumbling of a dryer, or using another form of intense heat to dry them, may result in irreparable damage.

Instead, you’ll want to hang them to dry. Hang them vertically in a cool and dry space, or outside. Once they start to feel dry to the touch, flip them, and hang them from the opposite end until they feel fully dry. If dring indoors, you may sit them next to a warm (not hot) heater or radiator.

Lace your trainers up and insert the insoles and you’re done – brand new looking trainers again! And you’ve saved yourself the expense of replacing them.