How to clean shoes in a washing machine 

It’s common for shoes to begin looking tired after everyday wear and tear. You start with them in pristine condition, but before you know it, they’re covered in mud, grass stains or general grime.

But there’s no need to panic, as it’s possible to save shoes that appear ruined by cleaning them in your washing machine.

Our comprehensive guide answers your questions, including which wash cycle to select, whether you can put trainers in the washing machine and the time it takes to restore your footwear to its former glory. 

What you need to clean your shoes in the washing machine

When cleaning your shoes in the washing machine, there are a few things you’ll need. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Liquid detergent (you can also use washing capsules)
  • Mesh laundry bag (or a pillowcase if you don’t have a laundry bag)
  • Small brush or toothbrush
  • Toothpick
  • Cloth/rag/sponge
  • Newspaper

What kind of shoes are machine washable?

Various shoe types are machine washable, especially if they’re made from materials like polyester, cotton, canvas or nylon. But always remember to check the care labels to ensure compatibility before throwing them into your washing machine.

There are some shoes that you shouldn’t wash in a machine, including suede, leather, rubber and vinyl shoes. Machine washing these kinds of shoes can damage the material. Instead, opt for a gentle hand wash using specialised care products or water to preserve their quality and appearance.

Can you wash trainers in the washing machine?  

Most trainers are machine washable, but again, it all depends on the materials they’re made from.

You can determine if your trainers are suitable for machine washing by checking the care label inside. The label clearly indicates whether your trainers can be washed in a machine. Skipping this step may result in avoidable damage.

What setting should you set your washing machine to clean shoes?

Choose a cold-water cycle (30 degrees) and your washing machine’s shortest available setting for washing your shoes. Treat them like delicates that could shrink, fade or get damaged if washed in high temperatures or fast spins.

Can you damage your shoes by cleaning them in the washing machine?  

It’s possible to damage your shoes in the washing machine if proper precautions aren’t taken. If you choose a fast-spin or hot-water cycle (above 30 degrees), it could lead to any of the following:

  • Material damage (including shrinking, fading and tearing)
  • Loss of shape
  • Separation between the sole and the upper of the shoe
  • Damage to decorations

Can you damage your washing machine by cleaning your shoes?

You’re unlikely to damage your washing machine if you put your shoes into a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase. It’s also a good idea to add other items, like towels, to the wash to cushion the footwear.

By doing both things, you’re preventing the shoes from banging around inside the drum during a cycle. This reduces the risk of damage and helps maintain your washing machine’s longevity.


How long does it take to wash shoes in a washing machine?

It should take between 30 minutes to one hour to wash your shoes in a washing machine. It depends on which AEG model you’re using and the level of dirtiness, as you may need more than one cycle.

How to wash shoes in a washing machine: Step-by-step

So, how do you clean shoes in a washing machine? Check out our step-by-step guide and bring your shoes back to life in no time.

  • 1. Double-check your shoes

    Before doing anything, double-check your shoes are machine washable. You can find this information by reading the care label, which is usually located on the shoes’ tongue  

  • 2. Remove laces, insoles and other removable add-ons

    It’s a good idea to remove the laces and insoles from your shoes before machine washing. Leaving laces on during the wash can lead to tangling, while delicate insoles, especially gel and foam ones, can become damaged or waterlogged during the washing process.

  • 3. Clean laces separately by hand

    With the laces removed from the shoes, they’re easy to clean by hand. Fill up a sink with hot, soapy water, throw the laces in (making sure they’re submerged) and let them soak for 15 minutes. Then grab a soft brush like a toothbrush and scrub the laces – any dirt should wash away easily after soaking.

    When you’re happy that your laces are clean, hang them up and let them air dry.

  • 4. Clean insoles separately by hand

    Next, focus on refreshing your insoles. Take a damp, soapy cloth, sponge or rag and gently scrub them to remove dirt, stains and odours. Be careful to make sure the cloth isn’t too wet, as you could damage the insoles. After scrubbing, lightly rinse off the soap and leave to air dry.

    For particularly stubborn odours, leave your insoles in a small bag with 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda overnight. This should effectively neutralise any lingering smells.

  • 5. Clean soles separately by hand

    Before putting shoes in your washing machine, you should remove any surface dirt or debris from the soles of your shoes. Do this by hand using water and a soft brush (or a toothbrush) – a toothpick is useful for getting grime out of small crevices.

    Once you’ve removed the debris, wipe down your shoes with a sponge or cloth. You can even apply shoe cleaner if you have some.

  • 6. Place shoes in a mesh laundry bag

    When you’re happy you’ve thoroughly hand-cleaned the soles of the shoes, place them inside a mesh laundry bag. This is to stop the shoes from rattling around the drum during the wash. If you don’t have a mesh laundry bag, you can use an empty pillowcase as an alternative.

  • 7. Throw in more washing

    Another way to minimise noise and prevent the shoes from banging within the drum is adding more laundry. Extra items help balance the load and reduce the chances of the shoes rattling around by creating a cushion. However, avoid adding new items or anything you don’t want to damage during the wash.

  • 8. Select the cycle and start your wash

    When the machine is loaded, close the door and select a cycle. Remember to choose a cool 30-degree cycle with a slow or no-spin setting to protect your shoes from damage.

    Add liquid detergent to the drawer or a capsule to the drum – both are better than using powder, which could stick to your shoes. Once you’ve set everything up, hit the start button to begin the wash cycle.

  • 9. Dry the shoes

    After the wash cycle finishes, take your shoes out of the machine and the laundry bag. Allow them to air-dry in a well-ventilated, dry area. Alternatively, place them on a shoe rack or basket inside your tumble dryer – but don’t turn it on, as the high temperature can cause damage.

    It’s normal for your shoes to lose their shape slightly after washing. But don’t worry! Fill them with newspaper, and they’ll regain their natural shape in no time – this also helps soak up excess moisture.

  • 10. Add your insoles and laces

    Once your shoes are dry, remove the newspaper and put your insoles and laces back in place.

Finding the right washing machine for you

Discover a diverse selection of washing machines at AEG, each equipped with unique features designed to breathe life into your laundry – including shoes and trainers.

Explore our 9000 AbsoluteCare range for washing machines with cutting-edge SoftWater Technology that minimises colour fading and protects fabrics during each wash cycle.

Alternatively, delve into our 8000 PowerCare series, where machines pre-mix detergent, fabric conditioner and water before entering the drum. This process ensures an even distribution, meaning that every clothes fibre receives a thorough cleaning.