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How to wash shoes in a washing machine

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When it comes to striking a great impression, the face may be the first thing people notice but not a lot of people know that your choice of footwear can also influence how people perceive you. Shoes being in constant contact with the ground may not be the easiest to maintain but you sure wouldn’t want a soiled pair to come in between you and making the right connections. Regardless of your shoe preference, a clean pair always goes a long way. The good news is that you don’t always have to tire yourself out scrubbing as some are machine washable.

To wash or not to wash your shoes in the washing machine

The choice would greatly depend on the material your shoes are cut out from. That said, the first thing you ought to do is to check the care label.  Usually, sneakers, trainers, or shoes made of canvas, cotton, nylon, pleather, and polyester can go in for a gentle cycle or on the hand wash setting. On the other hand, boots and dressy pairs like those made with leather, suede, satin, silk, or those adorned with heels would be best handled with your own two hands.

Prepping your shoes for a wash

Shoes become smelly and grimy no matter the weather, and despite how careful you are. So before throwing it in the wash, you’d want to rub off as much dirt and debris as you can with a damp rag or an old toothbrush. You’ll want to focus your attention on the sole since it’s usually the part that gets the dirtiest. This is also the time where you’ll want to take out your shoe’s laces and soles if you’re washing a pair of sneakers or something similar. A pro tip to freshen up the inside of your shoes is to scatter about three tablespoons of baking soda in each shoe and have that settle overnight. Dust it off the following morning by banging them together or against a surface before washing.

Balance out your load

Remember how we were told not to stomp our feet when we were little? Well, you can apply the same principle when cleaning your shoes in the washing machine. The trick is to cushion the blow with a few towels — about four to six towels should be enough. And so as not to get your shoes entangled with anything, lose your laces. It would also be wise to pop them in a mesh bag, pillowcase, or any linen bag and to make sure it is sealed at the top. You can opt to tie it into a knot or use some rubber bands to do so.

Setting up your washing machine

Since you pre-cleaned your shoes already, putting your shoes on a delicate cycle should finish the job. They might not even need a spin cycle. A gentle tumble is all it takes. And since most kicks like trainers and slip-ons are bonded with glue, it is recommended to keep the temperature at 85 degrees or lower to prevent them from cracking or melting. This will also help keep the color of your shoes intact. Any mild detergent should do but liquid would be preferable. Just stay away from fabric softeners because they are harder to rinse off and any residue would draw more dirt once you use them. Putting it in for an extra rinse wouldn’t hurt to be certain that it is free of any soap residue.

Leave it out to dry

Tossing your washed shoes in the dryer for a quick dry may be tempting but resist every urge to so as it may cause your shoes to warp and again risk the glue melting. Stretch your patience for another 24-hours and let them air dry. Stuffing your shoes with balled up newspaper not only speeds up the drying process by absorbing excess moisture but also allows your shoes to morph back into their original shape.

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Kaitlyn Gilles
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Please reach out to The Manual editorial staff with any questions or comments about Kaitlyn’s work.
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