We've all got that one dirty sneaker or tennis shoe that we promise ourselves we'll clean but never get around to it. Lucky for you, we're here to tell you that shoe cleaning isn't as dreadful as it seems.
Also, clean shoes instantly make you look more put-together and presentable, so it's worth the effort.
If you know the correct method and source the right materials, shoe cleaning shouldn't be a problem, be it a suede pair or running shoes. In this guide, we discuss how to wash your shoes both by hand and in the washing machine. We also provide other helpful tips to keep your shoes looking fresh and new.
What Will You Need To Wash Shoes?
Before you get started, gather the necessary materials. Different types of shoes require different cleaning methods and products. Here's a list of essential items for washing shoes:
Gentle Laundry Detergent: It's the basic ingredient for washing your shoes in the machine or by hand. Choose a mild detergent that's suitable for the fabric of your shoes. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals that can damage the material.
Plastic Tub: If you don't have one, a sink will suffice.
Microfiber Cloth: You'll use it to scrub the stains and dirt off your shoes.
Soft-Bristled Brush: Opt for a nylon brush.
Drying Rack: Since you have to air dry your shoes, a drying rack speeds up the process.
Enzyme-Based Stain Remover: It's for those stubborn stains that just won't come off.
Baking Soda: Being a deodorizer, baking soda gets rid of any foul odor.
Laundry Disinfectant: It kills bacteria and fungi that cause bad smells in your shoes.
Laundry Stuffer: You can use newspapers. It's required to keep the shoe's shape while drying.
Melamine Eraser: The magic eraser is a must-have for getting rid of scuff marks on white shoes.
Dishwashing Liquid: The one in your kitchen will work fine.
How To Wash Shoes In The Washing Machine
Now that you have the required materials, you can start your washing machine and follow these steps to wash your shoes.
Step 1: Check Your Shoe's Label
The label on a canvas shoe will differ from that on a sneaker or suede shoe. Be aware of the material your shoes are made of and follow the instructions on the label.
For instance, sneakers are usually made of polyester, cotton, and nylon. They are more durable, which means you can use a liquid detergent without worry. However, a suede or rubber shoe should be hand-washed.
Step 2: Remove Laces And Insoles
Make sure you take the insole out of the shoe and remove the laces if they are removable.
Step 3: Prep Your Shoes
By preparing your shoes, we mean taking any excess dirt off the laces and insoles. You can use your regular detergent for it. Use a toothbrush or a soft brush to remove the dirt.
Then, put your shoes in a mesh bag. It can be a regular garment bag or even a thin pillowcase. It's a much better approach than letting your shoes toss around inside the washer.
Step 4: Start the Washer
Avoid using hot water to wash your kicks, as it can cause shape distortion and may fade the color, too. Instead, run a slow-spin cycle in cold water. If your washer has a no-spin option, you can use that.
Step 5: Air Dry
Do not dry your shoes in the dryer since the heat warps the glue that holds your sneakers together and causes shrinkage.
Remove the shoes from the bag and take out the laces and insoles. Place them on a clean, dry towel and let them air dry. If you need your shoes to be ready faster, you can use a fan or put them outside in a breezy area. Air drying can take up to 24 hours.
How To Wash Shoes By Hand
If you don't have a mesh laundry bag or don't want to risk using a washing machine, you can also wash your shoes by hand.
Step 1: Prepare The Cleaning Mixture
Prepare a cleaning mixture by mixing a small amount of mild liquid detergent with warm water. Make sure you use a gentle detergent to avoid damaging the material of your shoes.
Step 2: Fill the Tub / Sink
Fill your tub or sink with enough warm water to submerge the shoes. Don't make the water too hot.
Step 3: Soak Your Shoes
Place your shoes in the water and let them soak for about an hour to loosen up any stubborn dirt or stains.
Don't do this with suede shoes, as they should have minimal contact with water. Use a suede eraser or brush for these shoes.
Step 4: Scrub Away Dirt
Scrub away the dirt and stains using a soft-bristle brush. Don't use a harsh brush, as it can damage the material.
Step 5: Rinse
Rinse your shoes thoroughly with cold water to remove any soap residue.
Step 6: Air Dry
Follow the same air drying process as mentioned above in the machine washing method.
Tips For Washing Your Shoes
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when washing your shoes:
Material Instructions: Always check the material of your shoes and make sure they are suitable for washing. Some materials like suede, leather, and velvet require special care.
Remove Insoles: Take out any removable insoles before washing your shoes. You can clean the insoles separately or wipe them down with a damp cloth. Do the same with the shoelace.
Use Baking Soda: Odors, especially in your sports shoes, can be hard to get rid of. Add some baking soda to your cleaning mixture or sprinkle it inside the shoes before washing them.
Avoid Direct Sunlight: Do not leave your shoes in direct sunlight to dry, as it can cause discoloration and damage to the material.
Pre-Treat Stains: Some stains may require pre-treatment before washing. Use a stain remover or rub some liquid dish soap directly on the stain before washing.
Hand Wash Delicate Shoes: If your shoes are made of delicate materials like satin or mesh, it's best to hand wash them instead of machine washing.
How Often Should You Wash Your Shoes?
The frequency of shoe washing will depend on three things: weather conditions, shoe material, and how often you wear them.
Weather Conditions: Do you live in a rainy or windy area? You may have to wash your shoes more often.
Shoe Material: Certain materials like canvas and mesh are easier to clean and don't lose their shape quickly. So they can be washed more frequently. However, leather and suede should be washed less often to preserve their quality.
How Often You Wear Them: If you wear the same shoes every day, they will need to be cleaned more frequently than those worn occasionally.
Keep Your Clothes Clean with Rinse
When you're sorting your laundry, you may see a whole lot of different materials, from silk dresses and nylon running shoes to cotton shirts. And you may wonder, "Can I wash it all together?".
The answer is no. Of course. You'll have to run multiple cycles and follow different washing instructions for each material. And that's just a hassle!
Alternatively, you can outsource your laundry to a cleaning service like Rinse and have us take care of it. Having years of experience in laundry, Rinse professionals know how to wash each material.
While we currently do not offer a shoe cleaning service, we do offer pickup and delivery for all your wash & fold needs. Coupled with additional services like dry cleaning, Rinse is the one-stop solution for all your laundry needs!
Contact us at Rinse today to see our skill in action.