How To Wash Sneakers In The Washing Machine And By Hand, According To An Expert

These days, your sneakers aren’t expected to just get you from point A to B—they’re now supposed to do all of that work and feel like an intentional part of your outfit. It’s a lot.

Unsurprisingly, the wear and tear of extra use accumulates faster, and since they can’t engage in self-care (LOL) to deal with all these added demands, you have to give your kicks a little more TLC than in the past.

But let’s real talk for a sec: Raise a hand if you’ve ever tossed a pair into the wash only to have to trash them right after because, say, the sole came loose from the upper… You are def not alone, and if you’re wondering how to wash sneakers in a washing machine the right way to avoid this unfortunate sitch in the future, you’ve come to the right place.

The first thing to know is that not all workout shoes can survive a rinse cycle. “Most shoe manufacturers discourage machine washing sneakers as some detergents and the machine’s agitation may cause damage, particularly to any adhesive [attaching the soles],” says Brian Sansoni, senior vice president at the American Cleaning Institute.

To figure out if yours are tough enough to withstand a few spins, your best bet is to read the care instructions on the manufacturer’s website for guidance, he says. If you get the A-okay…

Here’s how to clean sneakers in a washing machine so they look like new.

But FWIW, the best way to wash sneakers is by hand.

Cleaning dirty shoes by hand is your safest option. Also, it only takes about 10 minutes, so it’s not that much more of a time investment, tbh. And the first two steps are the same as if you were machine washing them. From there…

Apply some elbow grease: Use a soft cloth or toothbrush to scrub sneakers with a gentle laundry detergent, and then rinse with cold water. Markk recommends giving knit sneakers a second rinse to ensure the cleaning solution has been thoroughly rinsed from the shoe’s crevices—just be gentle, as woven materials can be more delicate. (While you’re scrubbing your shoes, let your laces and inserts set in bowl filled with water and a lil’ detergent. “Then, rinse them and lay them flat to air dry,” advises Sansoni.

Pro tip: When trying to get your whites whiter, Markk cautions against using bleach. Instead, you can try applying a baking soda solution—mix equal parts baking soda, vinegar, and hot water—with a brush instead.

Either way you wash ‘em, here’s how to dry sneakers

Both Markk and Sansoni agree that you NEVER want to put your sneakers in the dryer. Instead, Sansoni recommends stuffing your wet shoes with white paper towels to help them keep their shape—“don’t use newspaper as it will transfer to most fabrics,” he advises. Then, set them out to dry, avoiding direct sunlight. “Wait until they’re completely dry before placing liners back in and wearing them,” he adds.

If your sneakers still stink after cleaning, utilize a shoe deodorizer.

You can try liberally coating the inside of the shoe with baking soda and letting it sit overnight, but if that doesn’t work, you might want to invest in a pro deodorizer, like this one from Rocket Pure.

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