How to Wash Shoes & Shoelaces by Hand or in the Washer
Whether you’re kicking it up in leather or canvas slip-ons or running around in tennis shoes or sneakers, dirt and stains are inevitable, no matter how careful you are.
Shoe stains happen from everyday living, from accidental scuffs or someone stepping on your toes to dribbles of ice cream or ketchup on the pristine white surface of your slip-on skate shoes.
There are several ways to clean shoes and sandals, depending on what they’re made of and what type of stain you’re dealing with. Here are some tips and tricks for how to clean shoes, whether they’re meant to be bright white, deep black, a checkered combo, or any color in between.
How to Wash Your Shoes in the Washing Machine
It’s a common question: can you wash tennis shoes in the washer? Everyone knows the washing machine saves time and effort, but you don’t want to ruin your shoes in the process. There’s good news for people hoping to get their shoes clean while watching new episodes of their favorite show, playing video games, or napping: most shoes made of canvas, mesh or synthetic materials can be washed in the washing machine.
HOWEVER, you should check the label inside your slip-ons, sneakers, or tennis shoes (usually under the tongue or inside the heel) for washing instructions and be sure to follow what it says. Hint: wool, suede, rubber, vinyl and leather shoes do not go in the washing machine. Also, any shoes that include beading or embroidery should not be machine washed.
How to Clean Canvas or Cloth Shoes in the Washer
White shoes are on trend, and they have to be bright white to get the look you want. That means spot-cleaning frequently to remove stains and giving them a thorough wash to keep them from looking yellow or dingy. Here’s how.
- Check the label of your shoes to be sure it’s ok to machine wash them or submerge in water. Pay attention to the water temperature recommended and whether chlorine bleach may be used.
- Remove the laces from your shoes and brush off any crusted dirt. See the directions to wash laces below . Remove insoles to wash separately if possible. .
- Pretreat any tough stains, such as blood, ketchup, mustard or BBQ sauce by lightly rubbing a small amount of your usual liquid laundry detergent into the stain with your fingers.
- Place the shoes in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase, then place in the washer.
- Add a couple towels or sheets to the load. You don’t want to wash just the shoes by themselves, but you also don’t want to overload the drum. You’re looking to balance the load and leave room for all the items to move around.
- Add the proper amount of your favorite liquid laundry detergent. Hint: we like ARM & HAMMER™ Clean & Simple™ with no added dyes, especially for white shoes
- Wash in cool or cold water , using a delicate or bulky items setting if possible. Hint: to help remove odors from shoes, add ½ cup of baking soda to the washer drum.
- When the washer cycle ends, remove the shoes from the pillowcase or laundry bag and air dry inside or outside. Only dry shoes in the dryer if your machine comes with a shoe rack and a no-heat setting. The high heat of a dryer can damage the glue that holds shoes together – something you definitely do not want!
How to Hand Wash Canvas Shoes, Sneakers or Cloth Sandals
If your shoes can’t go in the washing machine or you have just a small spot to clean, washing by hand will be your best bet. Don’t worry. It’s not difficult and only takes a few minutes and a couple ingredients.
- A medium-sized bowl half-full of warm water
- Liquid laundry detergent filled to the first line on the cap. (Hint: we like ARM & HAMMER™ Sensitive Skin Free & Clear)
- A small scrub brush
- Optional: 1 tablespoon ARM & HAMMER™ Super Washing Soda laundry booster
- Remove the laces (if any) from your shoes and brush off any clumps of dirt.
- Add the laundry detergent (and washing soda, if using) to the bowl of warm water and swish around to dissolve.
- Dip your scrub brush into the detergent solution.
- Rub the dirty areas with the scrub brush, using circular motions.
- Repeat as needed until the stain lifts. You will have some suds!
- Clean the toe, sides, sole, tongue – wherever stains and dirt lurk!
- Rinse the shoe with clean water and a sponge.
- Set aside to air dry.
How to Clean Your Shoelaces by Hand or in the Washing Machine
Always remove the laces from your shoes before washing them. Wash your laces as well as your shoes to get them clean all over and looking new again.
Cloth shoelaces can be put in the washing machine, but you need to use a lingerie bag or pillowcase, so they do not tangle together or around other items you’re washing at the same time.
How to Wash Shoelaces in the Washer
- Remove the laces from your shoes and brush off any crusted dirt. Do not machine wash leather or suede shoelaces.
- Place the laces in a mesh laundry bag (aka lingerie bag) or in a pillowcase to prevent tangling during the wash cycle.
- Add the bag with the laces to a load of laundry you are washing in cool or cold water and run a normal cycle
- Remove the laces from the washer and hang to dry inside or outside. Do not put shoelaces in the dryer as the heat can damage plastic tips or cause the laces to shrink in some cases.
How to Wash Shoelaces by Hand
- Add 1 tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent to a small- or medium-sized bowl of warm (but not hot) water. Swish around to dissolve.
- Remove the laces from your shoes and brush off any crusted dirt.
- Submerge the laces in the detergent solution.
- Let them soak for 15-30 minutes, swishing around a few times to keep them covered and to allow the detergent to penetrate the fibers.
- Rinse in cool, clean water.
- Hang to air dry. Do not put shoelaces in the dryer.
Get Clean Tennis Shoes or Sneakers with the Help of ARM & HAMMER™
You don’t have to be running through the mud or sliding to home base to get shoes dirty – but if you do, we can still help. It’s best to wash your shoes as soon as possible after getting a stain such as grass, blood, or foods. The longer the stains sit on the fabric, the more it will set into the fibers and the tougher it will be to remove.
Several ARM & HAMMER™ laundry detergents have the stain-fighting and odor-neutralizing power of baking soda built right in, and some formulas also get the added boost of OxiClean™ Stain Fighters to help remove stains and brighten both colors and whites. These detergents are your friend when it comes to washing your shoes and getting them clean and fresh:
- ARM & HAMMER Sensitive Skin Free & Clear
- ARM & HAMMER Plus OxiClean
- ARM & HAMMER Plus OxiClean Odor Blasters Fresh Burst
DID YOU KNOW: you can also spot clean your white shoes whiter by using baking soda or toothpaste. Learn how !