Want to make those worn out sneakers look (and smell) like they’ve just come out of the box instead of out of a muddy park? Wondering if you can wash sneakers in a washing machine? Follow these laundry tips on how to wash sneakers and running shoes for an instant footwear overhaul.


Wash the laces separately when washing sneakers

Before you start cleaning the sneakers, remove the laces and give them a good scrub with a soapy toothbrush on a washboard or draining board. If you are putting them in the washing machine with the rest of your wash, pin them into a bag or pocket first so they don’t get lost. You may have noticed that white laces are the first thing to show the dirt, so even just washing this part (or switching them for a darker colour) is going to be a big step in bringing those sneakers back to life.


How to wash sneakers: preparation

As for the shoes, before taking them near any water, carefully brush off any surface dirt. You know – all the sand from the sandpit, dust from the playground, mud from the football pitch, the chewing gum they accidentally stepped in… Be really thorough. Use a toothpick, cotton bud or pin to get into all the nooks and crannies. Getting rid of as much dirt as possible to begin with will prevent any of it seeping further into the fabric or making your washing water too muddy.

Sponging the fabric of the shoes

Start washing the sneakers using a soft cloth or sponge, warm water and a small amount of Breeze Liquid. Carefully clean the waterproof parts of the shoe such as the sole, reflective panels or leather detailing. Already the shoes should be starting to look better.

Now to tackle the trickier fabric areas. These can be gently cleaned with a sponge, soft cloth or brush and a fresh batch of soapy water. For tougher stains, dab on some neat Breeze Liquid and leave for about 15 minutes. When the shoes look clean, or as clean as you think you can get them given what your child’s been up to in them, wipe away any detergent with clean water and a fresh cloth.


Can you wash sneakers in a washing machine?

Many modern sneakers are sturdy enough to withstand a machine wash (but always check the manufacturer’s instructions first). When washing sneakers in the washing machine, we recommend putting them in a mesh bag for protection, along with their detached laces, then washing with Breeze on a cold wash, which will help prevent the colours from fading. Washing at the same time as their swimming towels, dirty jeans or smelly PE kit should soften any blows your shoes might give to the washing machine drum.


Drying the sneakers

Dry sneakers and running shoes outdoors, if you can – but away from direct sunlight as this could fade the colours. Otherwise, find somewhere warm and dry with a good air current (on a windowsill, near a fan or air conditioning unit or in the airing cupboard).

Stuffing shoes with newspaper, and changing it when it begins to feel damp, is a good way to speed drying as the paper absorbs some of the excess water (this is also a handy tip for all your shoes if you’ve been out in the rain or if the kids have been splashing in puddles.) You can also accelerate the process by removing the insoles and washing and drying them separately.

Resist the temptation to put them in the tumble dryer though as this could add to the wear and tear of them.

Depending on the weather, it could take several hours, or even a couple of days for the sneakers to dry, so you may need to plan ahead. Washing sneakers the night before the kids need them for Sports Day, might be cutting it fine.


An even quicker fix for cleaning sneakers

If the sneakers only need a quick freshen up, or you don’t have time for a potentially lengthy drying process, just washing the laces, the insoles and wiping down the soles is a fast-track way to an immediate impact.

How do you keep sneakers looking fresher and cleaner for longer? What are your tips on how to clean running shoes or sneakers? Share your secrets with us in the comments below.


For more expert laundry tips, visit our Stain Removal Tips.

Topics: laundry, stains