Can You Put Trainers in the Washing Machine?

trainers being cleaned in a washing machine

We need to make a few things clear before we’re able to give you the confirmation that you need to avoid spending the next two hours cleaning your trainers by hand.

I know you’re tempted to just throw your trainers in with your next load of laundry and hope for the best, but the fact that you’re here indicates that you’re at least concerned about either your trainers or your washing machine.

Over the years, I have heard mixed opinions from parents and grandparents to aunties and uncles about this controversial question. In the end, it solely depends on how much you love your trainers or your washing machine.

First of all, just like our clothes, our trainers are made up of weatherproof materials that can withstand some daily damage. However, our washing machines are not. 

Despite having the appearance of being a sturdy, strong piece of machinery, washing machines can be vulnerable to heavy objects often banging around in the drum. After all, they are made to wash fabric.

Although, this doesn’t mean every once in a while, our washing machine can’t be put to good use and save us from many hours of useless scrubbing.

What trainer material can go in the washing machine?

Most importantly, you must first make sure that the material of your trainers won’t be permanently damaged after washing them. The materials that can and cannot be placed in the washing machine are briefly explained here:

Trainers made of polyester, cotton, canvas, and nylon are typically soft and durable enough to withstand a washing machine cycle. Frequently, these include trainers such as Converse, Vans, running shoes, pumps, and anything similar. 

4 different pairs of trainers ready to go in the washing machine

Trainers made of leather, suede, rubber, and vinyl are typically categorised as delicate and are at risk of damage if improper cleaning instructions are followed. Cleaning instructions are typically found on the inside label or tags and are often provided by the brand to avoid lasting damage.

You should be more sceptical of putting these types of trainers in your washing machine and consider using a suitable hand washing solution instead.

What setting should you put the washer on for cleaning trainers?

When washing delicate items in the washing machine, cold temperatures are ideal. This is recommended for a variety of reasons, like preventing colour fading, the textile shrinking, and damage to the garments.

30 degree wash on a washing machine

When washing trainers in the washing machine, you encounter similar issues because high heat settings can cause trainers to shrink, melt and warp the shape of the shoe.

Although it might seem like washing your stained trainers at temperatures higher than 40 degrees would be more effective, doing so can actually heat up and melt the glue that holds the shoe together.

On a 30° degree wash, you’ll get the best results along with less of a chance of damaging your trainers.

Can you wash trainers in washing machine detergent?

Simply putting it, yes you can wash trainers with washing machine detergents.

putting fabric conditioner in washing machine drawer

However, you should think about using the most effective washing detergent for the type of material you’re washing.

Personally, I advise using a liquid softener to soak your trainers evenly and make them smell great when they are later left to air dry.

Instead of powder detergent, you could use washing machine pods, which are equally effective and dissolve much more quickly. The difficulty of using powder detergent when washing trainers is that it often gets stuck in hard crevasses that catch the powder making it harder for it to dissolve.

The best way to clean trainers in the washing machine

After following all the previous steps, you’re now probably wondering what to do next. Here are a few important steps to take before putting them in the machine which can avoid any future repairs. 

Remove the laces and insoles

Removing the laces and insoles gives them both the best shot at being cleaned evenly, if you wash your trainers with the laces still on, they are more likely to have patchy marks where they haven’t been washed properly. 

Brush or bang any loose dirt, stones, or sticky residue

It might not seem like it, but this is actually an important step to take. Not only will this make it much easier for your shoes to clean, but it will also make it less likely for your washing machine door seal to need a clean later down the line. 

trainers covered in mud and dirt

If things like hard dirt, grass, chewing gum and stones are all left on your trainers before putting them in the washing machine this could lead to build-up in your door seal, damage to your drum or sticky substance getting clogged in the drain pump.

To prevent this, make sure to prewash all dirt away and bang off anything attached to the sole of the trainers.

Put them in a wash bag along with the laces and insoles

The idea to put trainers and laces in a wash bag is pretty genius. This prevents them from getting tangled inside bed sheets or getting stuck under the door seal. 

Make sure to put the laces in the bag too as this will stop them from getting lost in the drum or drainpipe. 

Add some bedding or towels to the drum

Putting loose trainers in the washing machine drum is not ideal.

loading up a washing machine with towels and bedding

The idea that washing machines are strong and sturdy isn’t always true, over time doing this could damage your drum or drum paddles causing them to break or snap off and using a washing machine without drum paddles could reduce the life of your washing machine significantly.

Adding some bedding or towels to the load will reduce the impact the trainers make when banging around the drum.

Can I put trainers in the dryer?

No, this is not advised by any manufacturer because the trainer will simply melt, shrink, and warp. Instead, allow your trainers to air dry.

converse trainers drying on a washing line

If they come out of the washing machine extremely wet – use a dry towel and pat dry any excess water. If your trainers are soft and flexible, you may be able to squeeze it out manually.

Top tip: if you place dry socks into a ball and push them into the shoe – this will help them hold their usual shape while drying.

After doing this hand them somewhere to dry close by to a radiator or window, or if you’re lucky hang them on the washing line on a sunny day.