How to Wash Sneakers: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Your Kicks Clean and Fresh

How to Wash Sneakers: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Your Kicks Clean and Fresh

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of washing your sneakers to keep them looking clean and fresh. Whether you have canvas, leather, or basic sneakers, we have got you covered. We will discuss the materials and supplies you need, different washing methods for machine and hand washing, and essential tips for drying and maintaining your sneakers. Get ready to give your kicks the TLC they deserve!

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn how to wash sneakers effectively with our step-by-step guide.
  • Discover the necessary supplies and materials for washing your sneakers.
  • Understand the best practices for machine washing and hand washing your sneakers.
  • Get tips on drying and maintaining your sneakers to keep them in top condition.
  • Follow additional tips for sneaker washing and care to extend their lifespan.

Essential Supplies for Washing Your Sneakers

Before you begin washing your sneakers, it’s important to gather all the necessary supplies. Having the right tools and products can make the cleaning process easier and more effective. Here are the essential supplies you’ll need:

1. Washing Machine or Sink

Whether you choose to machine wash or hand wash your sneakers, you’ll need either a washing machine or a sink as your cleaning station. A washing machine is convenient for larger loads, while a sink provides more control when hand washing.

2. Plastic Tub

A medium-sized plastic tub is ideal for soaking your sneakers and containing the cleaning solution. It allows you to easily agitate the sneakers without making a mess.

3. Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths are gentle and absorbent, making them perfect for scrubbing and drying your sneakers. They won’t leave behind lint or scratches on your shoes.

4. Soft-Bristled Nylon Scrub Brush

A soft-bristled nylon scrub brush is a must-have for removing stubborn stains and dirt from your sneakers. It is effective yet gentle enough to avoid damaging the shoe material.

5. Drying Rack

A drying rack allows your sneakers to air dry properly without losing their shape. Make sure to choose a rack with sufficient space between the bars to allow for good airflow.

6. Enzyme-Based Laundry Detergent

Enzyme-based laundry detergent is effective in breaking down dirt, stains, and odors on your sneakers. Look for a detergent specifically designed for use on athletic shoes.

7. Oxygen-Based Bleach

Oxygen-based bleach can be used to brighten and whiten your sneakers, especially if they are white or light-colored. It is a safer alternative to chlorine bleach, which can damage the shoe material.

8. Melamine Eraser

A melamine eraser, also known as a magic eraser, can work wonders in removing scuffs and marks from your sneakers. It is gentle on the shoe material but effective in restoring their original appearance.

9. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural odor eliminator and can help remove unpleasant smells from your sneakers. Sprinkle some inside your shoes before storing them to keep them fresh.

10. Non-Bleach Laundry Disinfectant

A non-bleach laundry disinfectant can be used to kill bacteria and remove odor-causing germs from your sneakers. This is important, especially if you have sweaty feet or frequently wear your sneakers for intense workouts.

Having these essential supplies on hand will ensure that you have everything you need to effectively clean and maintain your sneakers. Now that you’re ready, let’s move on to the step-by-step instructions for washing your sneakers.

How to Wash Dirty Sneakers in a Washing Machine

When it comes to cleaning your sneakers, using a washing machine can be a convenient and effective method. Follow these steps to ensure your sneakers come out looking fresh and clean:

  1. Start by removing the shoelaces from your sneakers. You can either wash them separately by hand or place them in a mesh laundry bag.
  2. Next, take out any detachable insoles and hand wash them or replace them if necessary.
  3. Before adding your sneakers to the washing machine, rinse off any mud or dirt from the outside of the shoes.
  4. To tackle any stains, apply a small amount of detergent directly to the stained areas and use a soft-bristled brush to gently work the detergent in. Alternatively, you can let the detergent sit on the shoes for about 15 minutes before starting the wash cycle.
  5. When loading your sneakers into the washing machine, ensure that they are placed in a laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them from getting tangled or damaged.
  6. Set your washing machine to the gentle or delicate cycle, use cold to warm water temperature, and avoid high spin speeds that could cause the shoes to lose their shape.
  7. After the wash cycle is complete, remove your sneakers from the machine and let them air-dry naturally, away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Placing them on a drying rack can help maintain their shape.

Remember, not all sneakers are suitable for machine washing, so be sure to check the care label or manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean your sneakers in a washing machine and restore them to their former glory.

Pros of Washing Sneakers in a MachineCons of Washing Sneakers in a Machine
Convenient and time-savingMay cause damage to certain materials or shoe structures
Can effectively remove dirt and stainsPotential color fading or bleeding
Allows for hands-free cleaningRequires extra care to protect shoes from damage
Effective for machine-washable sneakersNot suitable for all types of sneakers

How to Hand Wash Your Sneakers

If you prefer to hand wash your sneakers, follow these simple steps to ensure a thorough and gentle cleaning process.

Step 1: Prep Your Sneakers

Start by removing the shoelaces and wiping off any mud or loose soil from the surface of your sneakers. This will make it easier to clean them effectively.

Step 2: Create a Soapy Solution

Next, fill a sink or plastic tub with warm water and add a small amount of liquid laundry detergent. Mix the solution until it creates a soapy mixture.

Step 3: Soak and Scrub

Submerge your sneakers in the soapy solution and allow them to soak for about 15 minutes. This will help loosen dirt and stains from the material. Take a microfiber cloth and gently scrub the outside and inside of the sneakers, focusing on any stubborn stains or scuff marks.

Step 4: Rinse and Air Dry

After scrubbing, rinse the sneakers with clean water to remove any remaining soap residue. Make sure to thoroughly rinse both the outside and inside of the sneakers. Once rinsed, gently squeeze out any excess water. To dry, place your sneakers in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Let them air dry completely before wearing or storing.

Materials Needed
Warm water
Liquid laundry detergent
Microfiber cloth

Tips for Drying and Maintaining Your Sneakers

After washing your sneakers, it’s important to dry them properly to maintain their shape and prevent damage. Here are some helpful tips to ensure your sneakers stay in good condition:

  1. Air-dry your sneakers: Instead of using a hot automatic clothes dryer, it’s best to air-dry your sneakers. Find a well-ventilated spot away from direct sunlight and heat. This will prevent the glue that holds the shoe together from melting and causing damage.
  2. Use microfiber towels: To speed up the drying process, stuff your sneakers with microfiber towels. These towels are highly absorbent and will help to draw out moisture from the shoes. Remember to remove the towels once the sneakers are partially dry and allow them to finish drying naturally.
  3. Combat sneaker odor: To eliminate unpleasant odors, sprinkle baking soda inside your sneakers. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that will absorb and neutralize any lingering smells. Leave the baking soda in the shoes overnight, and then shake it out before wearing your sneakers again.
  4. Avoid fabric softener: While fabric softener may be tempting to use for a fresh scent, it’s best to avoid it when washing sneakers. Fabric softener can leave a residue on the shoes, which may attract dirt and grime. Stick to using detergent and water only.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your sneakers dry properly and stay in great condition. Remember to take care of your kicks, and they will continue to look fresh and stylish for a long time.

Air-dry your sneakersPrevents damage by avoiding high heat
Use microfiber towelsSpeeds up drying process
Combat sneaker odorEliminates unpleasant smells
Avoid fabric softenerPrevents residue buildup

Additional Tips for Sneaker Washing and Care

When it comes to washing and caring for your sneakers, there are a few extra tips that can help you achieve the best results and keep your kicks looking fresh for longer.

First, always check the care tag on your sneakers for specific washing instructions. Different materials may require different cleaning methods, so it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid any damage.

For sneakers made of suede, leather trim, or those with special treatments, it’s generally best to hand wash them instead of using a washing machine. This will help preserve the integrity of the materials and prevent any unwanted shrinking or warping.

In case your sneakers need a small repair, use shoe glue or adhesive for minor fixes. However, for more significant issues, such as sole replacements or major damage, it’s recommended to consult a professional shoe repair service to ensure proper restoration.

Remember, the frequency of washing your sneakers depends on how often you wear them and the level of dirt or stains they accumulate. For occasional wear, a periodic cleaning will suffice, while heavily worn sneakers may require more frequent washings.

Additional tips for sneaker care include stuffing your sneakers with microfiber towels or newspaper while drying to help maintain their shape, adding a sprinkle of baking soda inside to eliminate any unpleasant odors, and avoiding the use of fabric softener as it can affect the breathability and performance of your sneakers.

Following these extra tips for washing and caring for your sneakers will not only keep them in great condition but also extend their lifespan, ensuring you can enjoy your favorite kicks for a long time to come.


What supplies do I need to wash my sneakers?

You will need a washing machine or sink, a medium plastic tub, microfiber cloths, a soft-bristled nylon scrub brush, a drying rack, enzyme-based laundry detergent, oxygen-based bleach, a melamine eraser, baking soda, and non-bleach laundry disinfectant.

Can I wash my sneakers in a washing machine?

Yes, you can. Remove the shoelaces and insoles, rinse off any mud or dirt, and add a dab of detergent to work on stains. Select the gentle or delicate cycle with cold to warm water, and air-dry the sneakers away from direct sunlight and heat.

How do I hand wash my sneakers?

Start by removing the laces and wiping off any mud or loose soil. Mix warm water and liquid laundry detergent in a sink or plastic tub. Submerge the sneakers, scrub with a microfiber cloth, rinse with clean water, and air-dry away from direct sunlight and heat.

How should I dry my sneakers after washing?

Avoid using a hot automatic clothes dryer. Air-dry the sneakers away from direct sunlight and heat. To speed up drying, stuff the sneakers with microfiber towels to absorb moisture, then remove the towels and allow the sneakers to finish drying.

How often should I wash my sneakers?

The frequency of washing depends on wear and stains. Occasionally clean sneakers for occasional wear, and wash heavily worn sneakers more frequently. Follow additional tips like using baking soda to combat odor and spot cleaning stains to keep your sneakers in good condition.

Can I wash sneakers made of suede or with special treatments in a machine?

It is recommended to hand wash sneakers made of suede, with leather trim, or with special treatments. Follow additional cleaning instructions to avoid damaging the sneakers.

What should I do if my sneakers need small repairs?

Use shoe glue or adhesive for small repairs. If needed, consult a shoe repair service for professional assistance.

Are there any additional tips for sneaker washing and care?

Yes, remember to check the care tag for specific instructions, stuff your sneakers while drying, add baking soda to eliminate odor, and avoid using high temperatures or fabric softener. Follow these additional tips to keep your sneakers looking fresh and extend their lifespan.

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