Join our newsletter Get the best home decor ideas, DIY advice and project inspiration straight to your inbox! Thank you for signing up to Realhomes. You will receive a verification email shortly. There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again. If you’re looking at how to wash trainers, they probably really do need washing. It’s true that trainers – and footwear in general – don’t need cleaning nearly as much as your clothes, but regular wear does result in shoes that look (and smell) less than fresh. Before you even think about plunging your trainers in the best washing machine, think twice. Get it wrong and you will wreck them; and if you were washing them because they were faulty and you were hoping for an exchange, be warned: putting them in a washing machine will almost certainly void your warranty. You also need to be careful not to mess up your washing machine (more on that later). Fortunately, with a little know-how, you can get your trainers fresh and clean again. sneakers in a mesh bag loaded into a washing machine - amazon (Image credit: Vivifying at Amazon)

How to wash trainers: expert advice

The most important thing to bear in mind is that learning how to wash trainers is different from learning how to do laundry in general. Firstly, you need to know what your trainers are made from. Experts at Bosch (opens in new tab) explain that ‘shoes that are made from animal products such as leather or suede can sustain water damage from being washed in a washing machine. ‘On the other hand, trainers that are made from synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are more hard-wearing and can therefore withstand multiple washes in a washing machine.’ Secondly, you’ll need to decide whether washing trainers in the washing machine is right for you, or whether it’s best to stick to hand-washing. Generally, canvas trainers and trainers made from any other solid fabric are fine to go in the washing machine. But if your trainers are made from mesh, or have a highly textured finish, you may find that hand washing will just give you better results. Now, the big question is how to wash trainers in the washer. If you’re determined to put them in the washing machine, we’d recommend first checking whether the manufacturer recommends it (Nike and Adidas generally don’t). If you get the thumbs up, the biggest mistake you can make is to just sling them in. First, you need to prepare them – and the washing machine. Here’s how:

  1. Start by removing the laces, then any dirt, stones or anything stuck to the soles with a soft brush and then a damp cloth. Why do this? A stray pebble can wreck a washing machine, and the cleaner the trainers are when they go in, the cleaner they’ll be when they come out. Experts at Persil (opens in new tab) explain more: ‘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.’
  2. Next, load up the washing machine with old towels or jeans, and put the trainers in a shoe bag that’s designed to go in the machine (opens in new tab). This will reduce the impact of the trainers on the washing machine drum. Choose a delicate cycle and a slow spin speed to minimize damage, too. Can’t get your hands on a trainer bag? A cloth bag with a tie top will do instead. Or, if you don’t have a shoe bag, you can leave the laces in the shoes and trap them in the door as you shut it. This, too, will stop the trainers from bashing against the drum when it spins.
  3. Want to play it safe? After you’ve removed surface dirt, mix washing detergent in warm water then use a toothbrush to gently brush it into the trainers, starting on the insides, before moving to the soles. Refresh the water and detergent mix and tackle the upper parts of the shoes. Wipe off the excess with an e-cloth (opens in new tab).
  4. As for drying your trainers, this, too, is important: don’t put them in a tumble dryer. Unless, of course, you like your shoes two sizes smaller and misshapen. Instead, leave them to air-dry in a warm, dry and – if outside – shady spot (we’d only put them in direct sunlight if they’re all-white. If you want to speed up the drying process, a dehumidifier will help; otherwise, stuff the trainers with paper (and change it for fresh paper every couple of hours).
  5. Trainers still smelly after all that? Sprinkle baking soda inside them and leave them over night. The next day, shake them out and you should be good to go.

Sometimes, you will find that very dirty trainers will leave marks on your washing machine drum. Don’t worry, these aren’t permanent – you just need to find out how to clean a washing machine afterward. Top tip: Do not use a lot of detergent in your washing machine when washing trainers. They tend to create an excessive amount of foam, which can cause your washing machine to malfunction mid-cycle. Use about a third of the normal detergent amount you use, preferably powder not liquid. blue trainer washed with a brush - pink miracle shoe cleaner (Image credit: Pink Miracle shoe cleaner)

How to wash trainers: by hand

How to wash trainers safely? Doing so by hand is by far the best method, both for your trainers and your washing machine. Here’s how to wash trainers by hand:

  1. Mix a small bowl of bicarbonate of soda with a little water until it forms a paste. Alternatively you can use a cheap whitening toothpaste.
  2. Using an old toothbrush or (clean) shoe cleaning brush, work the paste into the trainers, both inside and out. Leave for a few hours. For stubborn stains, use a dedicated stain removal powder like Vanish Oxi Advance (opens in new tab) or paste such as Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner (opens in new tab).
  3. Fill your bathtub up to a quarter with warm water; rinse the sneakers vigorously in the tub, aiding the rinsing with water from the tap or shower.
  4. Wring them out as much as is possible (easier with flexi-sole or knitted) trainers. Air outside in dry weather for a minimum of two days – 72 hours is best.
white plimsolls tennis shoes hanging up on line - GettyImages-122667282 (Image credit: Getty )

How to dry trainers

Now you know how to wash trainers without ruining them, we’ll walk you through drying them. As with washing, make sure you read the care label for the best course of action. It’s pretty rare to find a pair of trainers that can go in the tumble dryer without repercussions, so we’ll err on the side of caution and suggest you hang your shoes to air dry, avoiding direct sunlight to maintain color. If you don’t have outside access, hang them in a warm dry place with a window open. Grab yourself a great clothes airer from our buyer’s guide. Experts Laundrapp (opens in new tab) also suggest, ‘If you’re in a hurry to wear them again, try stuffing them with clean paper towels to absorb the moisture.’

Do I have to wash trainers on a cold cycle?

Not really. You’ve probably read online that trainers have to be washed on cold, but this isn’t really true. In fact, a cold wash is highly unlikely to get rid of tough stains. As a general rule, if your trainers are white, they can safely be wash on a 40°C cycle. If they are bright-colored or dark, it’s best to stick to 30°C.

Can you wash Nike trainers in the washing machine?

Nike do not recommend washing their trainers in the washing machine. However, we have – with mixed results. The biggest problem with washing Nikes in a washing machine isn’t that they’ll get damaged, but that they won’t necessarily come out much cleaner than before. This especially applies to the Flyknit range and anything made from texture fabric. These are best washed by hand. Got a great pair of trainers that are in desperate need of a good wash, but you have no idea how to begin? In a time where we’re mostly trying to live in a more eco-conscious way, there’s no reason to throw away dirty trainers — in fact, you can get them cleaned up in no time! Often a little TLC will have your old trainers looking brand new again, so you don’t have to spend a penny on a new pair, and the planet will thank you for it. Here’s how to wash your trainers, without doing any damage…

How to wash trainers in the washing machine

If your trainers are leather or canvas, they can usually be washed in a machine. Check the instructions on the label if you’re unsure. First, remove the laces and insoles — this cuts down on drying time, and ensures they won’t smell damp afterwards. This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site. To make sure they don’t shrink or get damaged in any way, pop the trainers inside a pillowcase before you put them in the machine. Put a couple of towels in the machine, too, to stop the shoes from damaging the appliance. If you need to wash your laces, tie them together and put them in at the same time. Use liquid detergent to avoid clogging up the shoes, then wash on a cold, delicate setting. Hang them out to dry, and avoid drying them on the radiators as this could shrink them.

How to hand-wash trainers

If the machine seems too risky, or you’d rather wash by hand, that’s fine. Start by preparing a mixture of warm water and detergent, then gently use a sponge to wipe away any excess dirt. Dirty white sneakers with special tool for cleaning them on blue. Svetlana-CherrutyGetty Images Tackle the trickier areas with a brush — a toothbrush will also work — and scrub gently but firmly, being careful not to mark the leather. For stubborn stains, use a proper remover, as you would on clothes. Leave it for around 10 mins, then wipe the trainers clean with a wet cloth and allow to dry as above.

How to wash trainer insoles

If your trainers insoles are smelly, you’ll need to give them a good wash. It’s important not to put these in the machine, as they might disintegrate. Instead, use the same mixture and brush as above to clean them thoroughly (note: this might take more than one attempt to properly clean. If the smell persists, put the insoles in a bag with baking powder and leave overnight, before giving them one last clean. Home furnishings laundry drawer with sneakers ankmsnGetty Images

How not to wash trainers

It’s important to never put your trainers in the washing machine on a high heat; this is likely to shrink them, and will cause damage to the leather. Don’t put shoes with a plastic sole in the washing machine; hand wash only! Don’t wash multiple pairs in the machine in one go, as this is likely to damage your appliance. Don’t use bleach, unless you’re being extremely careful; a stain remover will usually do the trick. Lastly, don’t put shoes in the dryer! The high temperature will damage the glue that holds them together, and could cause them to shrink. Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. SIGN UP Abigail Malbon
Abbi is a freelance journalist for various magazines and websites. Bosch has got all the information you need to know about washing trainers in the washing machine the right way. Cleaning trainers by hand is hard work, especially if they are heavily stained and covered in mud, but most people are unaware that it is perfectly okay to wash many different types of trainers in the washing machine with great results. In this guide we’ve outlined what types of trainer materials are suitable to be washed in the washing machine and have included a step-by-step guide that teaches you the correct way to wash your trainers in the washing machine. See more

Can I wash my trainers in the washing machine?

Shoes that are made from animal products such as leather or suede can sustain water damage from being washed in a washing machine. On the other hand, trainers that are made from synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are more hard-wearing and can therefore withstand multiple washes in a washing machine. However, it is very important to follow the instructions found on the care label attached to your trainers, which will determine whether or not your trainers are suitable to be washed in a washing machine. If the care label on your trainers advises against machine washing, then an alternative washing method will be recommended, such as hand washing. See more

Step by step guide

Follow the step by step guide below to wash trainers in your washing machine the right way. See more

Step one

Remove the laces from your trainers and scrub off any excess mud or dirt from the surface using an old toothbrush or a wire brush. This will allow the washing machine to clean away any remaining dirt on your trainers more effectively.

Step two

Ideally put your trainers and its laces inside a wash bag and then place this in the washing machine drum. This will prevent the trainers from becoming trapped on the inside of the drum, especially between the rubber door seal.

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Step three

To reduce the noise from the trainers banging against the drum, it is advisable to add a few towels into the drum along with your trainers. This will help soften the impact of the trainers hitting against the drum by providing a layer of protection.

Step four

Wash your trainers using a cold water temperature to prevent the colours from fading and bleeding out. Additionally, use a high quality colour detergent, which should be added to the drum in a dosing ball with your trainers prior to starting the wash.

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Can I dry my trainers in the tumble dryer?

After washing your trainers in the washing machine, it might be quite tempting to pop them straight in the tumble dryer to get them dried out quickly. However, we would strongly advise against this, as the heat from the tumble dryer can cause considerable damage to trainers by melting the glue, leaving them vulnerable to breaking. A better idea is to air dry your trainers outside, so long as it is not raining! This will also ensure that your trainers are dried in the correct shape so that they will remain comfortable to wear. See more

Other useful washing tips and information

Here are some more helpful tips and advice on how to achieve perfect results with your Bosch washing machine every time. See more

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Discover the difference and meaning between the many different laundry symbols as we explain them all here.

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Washing machine symbols and settings

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