Shoes in dishwasher

Can You Wash Shoes in the Dishwasher?

Cleaning shoes in a dishwasher seems like a straightforward, stress-free way of washing them! The footwear will be exposed to lots of hot water and spray jets that’ll blast the grime away.

This isn’t the case, though. It’s not actually a good idea to wash shoes in a dishwasher, even if, in theory, it sounds great.

Let’s look at this in more detail.


Should You Wash Shoes in a Dishwasher?

Technically, you can put shoes in a dishwasher and run a cleaning cycle. Whether or not the shoes survive this cleaning ordeal and end up clean by the end of a cycle is another question. 

It’s not usually recommended to clean shoes in a dishwasher because the appliance’s intense heat and spraying action will likely damage the shoes and can cause them to fall apart, even if they’re made from a sturdy material.

Plus, it’s not exactly hygienic to clean your shoes in the same place you wash your dishes. Goodness knows what germs your cutlery and plates could pick up.

It’s better to clean your shoes by hand or in a washing machine (if it is safe).

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why you should think twice about washing your shoes in a dishwasher.

1. A dishwasher is supposed to clean dishes, not shoes

dirty dishes and pan in the dishwasher

A dishwasher’s primary job is to clean dirty dishes – plates, cutlery and pots – not footwear!

The appliance is designed to blast hot water and detergent at high pressure at dishwasher-safe kitchenware to rid them of food and greasy deposits.

In contrast, shoes are made from various materials, like leather, canvas, suede and synthetic fabrics, which won’t take too kindly to this cleaning approach.

Shoes need to be maintained in specific ways and this doesn’t involve them being blasted with hot water and dishwasher detergent.

The excess heat and spraying action will likely warp the material, shrink the fabric, melt the glue and discolour the footwear. It’s kind of like putting them through a storm that they won’t weather well.

Couple this with dishwasher detergent (which is unsuitable for cleaning shoes), and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.


2. Watch out for the drying setting

dishwasher drying feature

While the intense water temperature and spraying action will undoubtedly cause trouble for your shoes, don’t forget the appliances’ heat setting.

The setting is designed to dry your dishes enough so that they can be stored at the end of a cleaning cycle.

It just so happens that this intense heat will warp and damage the glue that holds the soles and shoes together.


3. It’s not hygienic to wash shoes in a dishwasher

As you know, you clean your dishes, glasses and pans in a dishwasher. So, why would you want to clean your shoes – items that have trekked over miles of pavements, roads, shop floors, carpets, you name it – in the same dishwasher that you clean your tableware and utensils?

The bottoms of your shoes have come into contact with all types of dirt and bacteria. For example, saliva, dog poo, waste food, you name it, and you’ve probably walked through it.

Even if the high water temperature can kill off these germs, surely it’s a step too far to clean these obviously contaminated items in the same area where you wash your cooking gear?

It’s not exactly appetising, is it!?


4. Be careful of the broken pieces of shoe

In the worst case, if the shoes disintegrate in the dishwasher because of the pressure and heat, your appliance may get clogged up with broken pieces of shoe.

As you’d expect, this can get caught up in the dishwasher’s system and cause it to malfunction or break down.

Naturally, you’ll have to fish out all the pieces and thoroughly clean the appliance before using it again.

Maybe you’ll have to call an engineer if things have gone bad and you can’t get your machine working again – the repair will likely be costly.

Is it worth risking your dishwasher just to clean a pair of shoes? Especially when you know there are safer and better cleaning options around.


Are There Any Shoes That Can Brave a Dishwasher?

Even if your shoes seem tough, like flip-flops and rubber boots, they might not survive in a dishwasher.

They may not sustain as much damage as other ‘weaker’ materials, but these harder-wearing shoes may not leave the dishwasher completely unscathed.

For example, the intense heat could weaken the sturdier material. Consequently, the footwear may wear out faster than expected. 


How Should You Wash Shoes?

man cleaning shoes

It’s often easier and safer for your shoes (and appliance!) if you wash them by hand. Just assess what type of shoes you’ve got (what materials and designs) and choose a suitable cleaning method.

The shoe-cleaning process is a relatively straightforward one. Just grab your shoes and remove the laces from them (if applicable).

Then, use a soft brush, something like a toothbrush, to clear the dirt and dust from the shoes.

For dirtier shoes, you can grab a mild cleaner (something suitable for the material) and some water (if appropriate for the material) and start cleaning the shoes.

Some shoes can be cleaned in the washing machine. But before you do this, you must ensure it’s safe to do so.In addition, you should place the shoes in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase and then put them in the drum of the washing machine.

If you don’t do this, the footwear will fly around in the drum during the cleaning cycle and will get damaged or damage your appliance. A delicate, low-heat cycle with no spin should be selected.

In addition, you can clean shoelaces in several ways. For example, you can wash them by hand with some detergent and water, or you can pop them in a washing machine.

If you have leather laces, use a specialised leather cleaner to clean them by hand.

Once you’ve cleaned your footwear, you can leave it to air dry naturally but out of direct sunlight.

To remove foul odours from shoes, you can place them in a zip-lock bag, and coat them with bicarbonate of soda. Leave the shoes zipped up in the zip-lock bag overnight and when you return the next day, the shoes will be stink-free. (Repeat for extra aromatic shoes).


How to Clean Shoes in a Dishwasher (If You Really Want to Risk It)

If you’re absolutely set on cleaning your shoes in a dishwasher, and nothing you’ve read above can convince you otherwise, at least do your shoes and dishwasher a favour and keep these few points in mind:

  • Try to use the lowest heat possible on the dishwasher.
  • Don’t utilise the drying setting.
  • Don’t wash anything else in the dishwasher. No cookware should be put into the appliance at this time. You don’t want to contaminate or break anything.
  • Stick your shoes on the top rack.
  • Only try this with shoes that you don’t mind getting ruined.
  • Remove as much gunk as you can from the shoes. For example, get rid of the poop from the sole and take out that vomit stain. You don’t want gunk like this in your dishwasher – yuck!
  • Remove the shoelaces and insoles – you have to clean these by hand.
  • Use a mild cleaner.
  • When you’re done, inspect your appliance for damages and clean out your dishwasher’s drain pump and filter.

Note: You try this cleaning technique at your own risk. There is a good chance that your shoes will end up ruined, and your dishwasher may sustain damage, too.