Sneakers are a staple in many people’s wardrobes, providing comfort and style for various activities. However, with regular wear, they can accumulate dirt, stains, and odors. This raises the question: Can you put sneakers in the washing machine? In this guide, we’ll explore the debate surrounding washing sneakers in a washing machine and provide a comprehensive answer to this common query.

Factors to Consider Before Washing Sneakers

Before diving into the washing machine, it’s crucial to carefully assess your sneakers to determine if they’re suitable candidates for machine washing. Here’s a detailed look at the key factors you should consider:

 Material of the Sneakers:


Leather sneakers require special care, and not all leather types are suitable for machine washing. Full-grain leather, for example, may withstand a gentle cycle, while delicate leather types might be damaged.


Canvas sneakers are generally more forgiving when it comes to machine washing. However, vibrant colors might fade over time, so it’s essential to use a gentle detergent and cold water to preserve the colors.


Mesh sneakers are lightweight and breathable, making them popular for athletic activities. While they can usually withstand machine washing, it’s essential to check for any delicate mesh areas that might tear during the process.

Synthetic Materials

Sneakers made from synthetic materials like polyester or nylon are often safe for machine washing. However, be cautious with heat, as high temperatures can cause these materials to warp or lose their shape.

 Construction of the Sneakers:


Check the quality of the stitching on your sneakers. Poorly stitched seams may unravel or come apart during the agitation of a washing machine cycle.


Sneakers with extensive glueing may not hold up well in the washing machine. Excessive moisture and agitation can weaken the adhesive, causing the sole or other components to detach.


Be mindful of any decorative elements on your sneakers, such as patches, logos, or metallic accents. These adornments could become damaged or dislodged during the washing process.

 Age and Condition of the Sneakers

New vs. Old

Newer sneakers with sturdy construction and minimal wear are generally better candidates for machine washing. Older sneakers, especially those showing signs of deterioration, may not fare as well.

Pre-existing Damage

Evaluate your sneakers for any existing damage, such as holes, tears, or weakened areas. Washing damaged sneakers in a machine could exacerbate these issues and lead to further deterioration.

Steps to Safely Wash Sneakers in the Washing Machine

If your sneakers pass the material and construction test, you can proceed with washing them in the machine. However, it’s vital to follow specific steps to avoid damaging them. Begin by preparing the sneakers, which involves removing laces and inserts and spot treating any stains. Next, choose the appropriate washing machine settings, including temperature, cycle, and detergent. To protect the sneakers during the wash, consider using a mesh laundry bag and adding towels for balance. After washing, opt for air drying or machine drying, depending on the material, and remember to reinsert laces and inserts.

Alternatives to Washing Machine Cleaning

While washing sneakers in the machine is convenient, it may not be suitable for all situations. Fortunately, there are alternative methods for cleaning sneakers. Handwashing allows for more control over the process and is gentler on delicate materials. Spot cleaning is ideal for targeting specific stains without subjecting the entire sneaker to a wash cycle. Additionally, specialized cleaning products designed for sneakers can provide effective cleaning solutions.

Risks and Precautions

Despite following proper washing procedures, there are still risks associated with machine washing sneakers. Potential damage to the sneakers, such as loosened glue or color fading, can occur, affecting both their appearance and performance. It’s essential to weigh these risks against the benefits of machine washing and to avoid using this method for sneakers that may be too delicate or prone to damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

To address common concerns about washing sneakers, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions. Can all types of sneakers go in the washing machine? How often should sneakers be washed? Are there any alternatives to washing sneakers in the machine? These questions and more will be answered to help you make informed decisions about sneaker care.

In conclusion, the debate over whether you can put sneakers in the washing machine is nuanced, with various factors influencing the decision. By considering the material, construction, and condition of the sneakers, you can determine whether machine washing is a suitable cleaning method. However, it’s essential to follow proper procedures and precautions to minimize the risk of damage. Whether you choose to wash your sneakers in the machine or explore alternative cleaning methods, maintaining their cleanliness is key to prolonging their lifespan and keeping them looking their best.


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