Are Sports Shoes Washable? Can I Wash My Sports Shoes In a Washing Machine?

Clean Sports Shoes

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Introduction

Sports shoes are an essential part of any active lifestyle. They provide comfort, support, and performance during physical activities. Over time, these shoes can accumulate dirt, mud, sweat, and unpleasant odors, and need to be cleaned to restore their freshness. 

The question arises: Are sports shoes washable? Another question people ask is “Can I wash my sports shoes in a washing machine?” This article will explore the best methods to clean your sports shoes, including the use of washing machine, while also considering the impact on the longevity and performance of sports shoes.

The Importance of Clean Sports Shoes:

Clean sports shoes not only enhance your appearance but also contribute to maintaining foot hygiene and overall health. With regular use, sports shoes are exposed to various contaminants, including bacteria and fungi that thrive in moist environments. Properly cleaning your shoes can prevent the buildup of these harmful microorganisms, thereby reducing the risk of foot infections and unpleasant foot odor.

Hand washing vs. Washing Machine:

As earlier stated, a common question asked about sports shoes is whether they can be safely cleaned in a washing machine or if hand washing is a better option. The answer varies depending on the shoe material and construction. Both methods have their pros and cons, and it’s essential to choose the appropriate cleaning method to maintain the quality and performance of your sports shoes.

Hand Washing:

Hand washing is the recommended method for sports shoes made of delicate materials such as leather, suede, or mesh. These materials can be easily damaged by the mechanical action and harsh detergents used in washing machines. To hand wash your sports shoes, follow these steps:

1. Remove laces and insoles: Take out the shoelaces and insoles and wash them separately. This prevents tangling and ensures a more thorough cleaning.

2. Remove excess dirt: Use a soft brush or cloth to wipe off any loose dirt and debris from the surface of the shoes.

3. Create the cleaning mixture: By combining a small quantity of gentle detergent with warm water.

4. Gently scrub the shoes: Dip the soft brush into the cleaning solution and gently scrub away dirt and stains from the shoes’ surface.

5. Rinse with water: Use a clean damp cloth or sponge to rinse off the soapy residue.

6. Air dry: After hand washing, place the shoes to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Do not expose them to direct sunlight or heat sources. This may cause material damage and color fading.

Machine Washing:

Many modern sports shoes, especially those with synthetic uppers, are designed to withstand machine washings. This method can save time and effort, which makes it a convenient option for those with busy lifestyles. However, not all sports shoes are machine-washable, so it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding. Follow these steps to wash your sports shoes with machine:

1. Prepare the shoes: Remove laces and insoles from the shoes before loading them into the washing machine. This prevents tangling and ensures a more even cleaning. 

2. Protect the shoes: Place the sports shoes inside a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase with the opening tied securely. This will protect the shoes from getting damaged during the washing cycle.

3. Select the appropriate cycle: Choose a gentle or delicate cycle with cold water and minimal spin to avoid excessive agitation. High-intensity cycles can deform the shoes and affect their performance.

4. Use a mild detergent: Pour the appropriate amount of mild detergent into the detergent dispenser. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the shoe’s materials and weaken adhesives.

5. Start the washing machine: Begin the washing cycle and let the machine do its job.

6. Air dry: After the washing cycle is complete, avoid using a dryer as the high heat can warp the shoes or damage adhesives. Instead, let the shoes air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area. Fill them with crumpled newspapers or paper towels to soak up extra moisture and preserve their form.

Washing Sports Shoes
Washing Sports Shoes Source: Adobe Stock

Identifying Machine-Washable Sports Shoes:

Before tossing your sports shoes into the washing machine, it is crucial to identify whether they are suitable for machine washing. Different sports shoe materials and constructions have varying cleaning requirements. Here are the steps to identify if your sports shoes can be safely washed in a machine:

● Check the shoe’s label or care tag: Most sports shoes come with care instructions attached to the tongue or inner sole. Look for indications such as “machine washable” or “washer-friendly.” If the label specifies machine washing, it means the shoes are designed to withstand the washing machine’s gentle cycle.

● Consult the manufacturer’s website: If the care tag is missing or unclear, visit the manufacturer’s website for detailed care instructions. Many brands provide specific guidelines for cleaning their sports shoes, including recommendations for machine washing.

● Material and construction: Consider the shoe’s material and construction. Synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, and rubber are often machine-washable, while delicate materials like leather and suede require more gentle care.

● No specific guidelines? Choose hand washing: If there are no clear indications of machine washing, assume that hand washing is the safer option. Hand washing allows for more control over the cleaning process and reduces the risk of damage to the shoes.

● Specialized sports shoe cleaning products: Some sports shoe manufacturers offer specialized cleaning products designed for their shoes. These products are designed to clean thoroughly without causing any harm.

By following these steps and identifying whether your sports shoes are machine-washable, you can ensure the proper cleaning method for your shoes. Proper care will not only keep your sports shoes in top condition but also extend their lifespan, allowing you to make the most of your investment and enjoy optimal performance during your activities.

Preparing Your Sports Shoes for Machine Washing:

If your sports shoes are indeed machine-washable, it’s essential to take some preparatory steps to ensure the best results and prevent damage. Follow these steps before loading your shoes into the washing machine

● Remove laces and insoles: Take out the shoelaces and insoles to wash separately. This prevents tangling and ensures a more thorough cleaning. You can hand wash the laces and insoles using a mild detergent and then air dry them.

● Remove excess dirt: Use a soft brush or cloth to wipe off any loose dirt and debris from the surface of the shoes. Removing the surface dirt beforehand allows the washing machine to focus on deeper cleaning.

● Place in a laundry bag: To protect your sports shoes from getting damaged during the washing cycle, place them inside a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase with the opening tied securely. This prevents the shoes from banging against the machine’s drum.

● Use a gentle cycle: Select a gentle or delicate cycle with cold water and minimal spin to avoid excessive agitation. High-intensity cycles can damage the shoe’s structure and adhesives.

By following these preparatory steps, you can ensure a safe and effective machine wash for your sports shoes, keeping them fresh and ready for your next adventure.

Sports Shoes-Washing Machine
Sports Shoes getting washed in a washing machine Source: Adobe Stock

Choosing the Right Detergent:

Choose a mild, eco-friendly detergent when washing sports shoes in a machine. Harsh chemicals or bleach have the potential to harm the shoe’s materials and weaken adhesives. Consider using a detergent specifically formulated for sports apparel to ensure the best results.

Washing Your Sports Shoes:

With the preparatory steps completed, it’s time to start the washing process. Follow these instructions for a successful machine wash:

● Load the washing machine: Place the laundry bag with your sports shoes inside the washing machine. Ensure the shoes are evenly distributed to prevent excessive vibrations during the wash.

● Add towels or clothes: To prevent the shoes from banging against the drum, add a few towels or clothes to balance the load. This will cushion the impact and protect both the shoes and the washing machine.

● Add detergent: Pour the appropriate amount of detergent into the detergent dispenser as per the product instructions. Using too much detergent can create excess suds, leading to inefficient cleaning.

● Start the cycle: Begin the gentle or delicate cycle with cold water and let the machine do its job. Avoid using hot water, as it can damage the shoe’s materials and adhesives.

● Skip the spin cycle: Once the washing cycle is complete, skip the spin cycle or select the lowest spin setting. Excessive spinning can deform the shoes and affect their performance.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean your sports shoes in the washing machine and maintain their quality for longer periods.

Drying Your Sports Shoes: 

After the washing cycle is complete, it’s crucial to dry your sports shoes properly. Improper drying can lead to damage and reduce the shoes’ lifespan. Follow these steps for effective drying:

Air drying: Avoid using a dryer, as the high heat can warp the shoes or damage adhesives. Instead, let the shoes air dry naturally. Place them in a well-ventilated area and stuff them with crumpled newspapers or paper towels to absorb excess moisture. This helps maintain the shoes’ shape and prevents mold growth.

Patience is key: Allow your sports shoes to dry completely before wearing them again. Depending on the material and climate, this may take 24 to 48 hours. Rushing the drying process may lead to unpleasant odors and discomfort during wear. Ensuring your sports shoes are thoroughly dried guarantees a fresh and comfortable experience during your next activity.

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Final Words:

Maintaining clean and fresh sports shoes is essential for both personal hygiene and the longevity of the shoes. While some sports shoes are machine-washable, others require more delicate hand washing. Always check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure you’re cleaning your shoes correctly. When you follow the appropriate cleaning methods, you can enjoy comfortable and odor-free sports shoes for years to come.

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