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Can You Wash Shoes with Clothes?

Can You Wash Shoes with Clothes?

Not so many people like to wash their shoes by hand. If you have a laundry machine, you might feel an urge to clean your shoes as you wash your clothes.

For one, you risk damaging your clothes as they collide with the shoes inside the washer. To avoid replacing clothes frequently, you need to sort out your clothes for different wash cycles. In most instances, it means washing shoes and clothes separately. 

If you want to know more about safe methods to wash your shoes and clothes, continue reading.

Reasons Washing Shoes with Clothes is a Bad Idea

Besides your clothes and shoes wearing and tearing faster, there are many other reasons why you should discourage this thought. 

Risk of Entanglement

When you load the machine with shoes and clothes, the collision in the washing cycle might get them tangled together. If the crash continues for a long time, the hard surface of shoes mixing with the soft fabric of clothes can lead to damage. The clothes stretch out and eventually tear with future washings. 


Clothes and shoes have different materials and colors. For example, washing clothes that shed lint might decolorize your sneakers. It adds more work to remove lint after washing, and yet it was supposed to save time. 

Different Wash Cycles

Rarely do clothes and shoes have the same wash cycle. Its because they constitute different materials. Therefore, each wash cycle must be different because of temperature and cycle speed. For example, machine washing shoes requires a low spin wash cycle and cold water. 

On the other hand, various clothes have different wash cycles. For instance, when washing a permanent-press or synthetic fabric, warm water is the best option. Cold water is suitable for washing dark-colored clothing. 

By tossing shoes and clothes together, it means compromising on cleaning one item. It’s either the shoes or the clothes won’t wash cleanly. 

A washing cycle not befitting either the shoes or clothes could lead to damage. 

Why You Need to Sort Shoes and Clothes Before Washing

The solution to avoid damaging your shoes or clothes lies in sorting. Separating shoes from clothes follows a process. You can sort by color or fabric. 

For instance, washing clothes with towels is terrible, but you can wash towels with shoes. 

Can You Wash Shoes in a Laundry Machine?

Technology keeps improving. A few years back, you couldn’t wash shoes in your washer. But today, there are advanced washers that make it possible. 

Older machines are harsh and could lead to wear and tear. Confirm that you have an advanced washer before tossing your shoes inside. 

Most shoes have instruction labels on how to clean them. These recommendations are essential to ensure that you don’t damage your shoes. 

Not all shoe fabrics are the same. For example, athletic or canvas shoes consist of polyester, cotton, or nylon. These materials are often safe to machine wash. 

Additionally, these materials are also hardy and can withstand most laundry detergents. 

Not all shoes are safe to machine wash. Some you have to wash by hand. This includes shoes that consist of suede, rubber, leather, silk, and vinyl. 

Other delicate shoe feature embroidery, beadings, and sequins, among other ornamentals. 

10 Steps to Machine Wash Shoes Safely

  • Step 1: 

Remove the insole and laces. 

  • Step 2: 

You can wash laces by hand or machine wash them. If you want to wash them in the washer, put them inside a zippered bag or garment. 

If you don’t secure the laces, they can entangle inside the washer causing damage to other clothes or the laundry machine. 

Extremely dirty laces might need a handwash. Use a soft brush and lots of detergents. 

  • Step 3: 

Remove and wash the insoles separately. But if there are care instructions for cleaning the insoles, you can wash them with the shoes. 

Some insoles get waterlogged and might take many days to dry. Other insoles aren’t machine washable, meaning you have to remove them from the shoe, clean with a soft brush, and deodorize yourself. 

To remove moisture from an insole, you can soak it up using a sponge. Place the insoles inside the shoes only when they are both dry. Otherwise, they might pick up a foul smell. 

  • Step 4: 

Remove excess debris or mud from the outer fabric and sole. Use a brush to remove as much dirt as possible. In tight areas, you can use a toothpick or toothbrush. 

Remove any other scuff marks or stains from the shoe using a wet rug. 

  • Step 5:

Rid the exterior of all dirt, place the shoes inside a garment with a zip locker and seal tightly. Shoes in a garment don’t bang inside the washer. 

  • Step 6:

Don’t wash the shoes inside the washer alone. You can wash shoes together with towels to balance the load. Old towels are better because they don’t have excess dye that can stain your shoes. 

  • Step 7:

Use a liquid detergent when washing shoes. It’s because powder detergents don’t wash off thoroughly and can stick to the fabric leaving ugly patches. 

Also, wash shoes with cold water, low spin, or no spin. 

  • Step 8: 

Set the timer and wait for the wash cycle to end. Remove the laces and shoes from the garment and air dry. 

  • Step 9: 

Advanced washers have dryers as well. The downside is that the tumbling and heat could cause the shoes to warp, shrink, or tear. 

  • Step 10: 

Ensure that the shoes are completely dry before inserting the insoles and restringing the laces. 


Cleaning shoes with clothes is a bad idea, and you shouldn’t try. The best way to clean shoes is by hand. But having an advanced washing machine gives you an advantage. Ensure that you follow the correct process to wash your shoes safely.