Trainers being washed

How to Wash Trainers in the Washing Machine

No matter how careful you are, it’s likely that your trainers will get dirty over time. When your trainers are in need of a thorough clean, there are several ways you can get them back in sparkling condition.

Using the washing machine to clean them is a sensible choice, and will be one of the easiest ways to get your shoes back to looking fresh.

The cleaning process is a straightforward one, and your shoes will look as good as new in no time.

Let’s take a look at how to wash trainers in the washing machine!


Does Washing Trainers Damage the Washing Machine?

There is some debate as to whether washing trainers in a washing machine is unsafe. You may be conscious that the trainers will cause damage to your machine.

If the trainers are particularly heavy, they can cause damage to the drum pedals, which means your washing machine won’t function properly.

This can also void your warranty, so you’ll need to err on the side of caution before you chuck your chunky platform trainers in the machine. However, if you take the right precautions, your machine shouldn’t suffer as a result.

Trainers and gym shoes are usually designed to be sturdy and will be constructed with materials such as nylon or polyester.

Although these materials can handle a beating, you should always read the care label on the trainers before putting them in the washing machine.

If the care label specifically states that they should not be machine washed, then there are alternative methods, such as hand washing.

If you’re looking for a durable machine that can withstand a heavy load, or if you’ve ended up damaging your machine in the past, then you can take a look at our picks for the best washing machine in the UK here.


Guide to Washing Trainers in the Washing Machine

1. Prepare your shoes

The first step is to get your trainers suitably ready for a machine wash.

To do this, start by removing the laces and any insoles from the shoes. It is advised to wash the laces and insoles separately, as this helps the shoes to dry quicker.

An important part of preparing your shoes is to remove any excess, surface level debris from the trainers.

One of the best methods for this is to use a soft brush, along with a damp cloth. If you want to be especially thorough, we recommend using a cotton bud to get inside the more hard-to-reach areas.

The cleaner your trainers are before they go inside the washing machine, the less hard the machine will have to work, meaning better results all around.


2. Keep your trainers protected

The next step to machine washing your trainers is to place them inside a pillowcase, or a mesh laundry bag.

By placing them safely inside a bag such as this, it will ensure that your trainers do not get trapped inside the drum of the machine, or between the seal of the washing machine door.

This step also stops the shoes from damaging the interior of the machine, as their constant rotation and banging will not be great for the machine’s health.

Make sure to shut the opening of the pillowcase or bag with safety pins (3 should be enough), leaving some gaps to allow water to flow in and out.

Trainers being chucked around inside the machine will not create the most pleasant sound, either. That’s why we advise placing a few towels inside the machine, along with your trainers, in order to reduce the noise levels.

The towels will also help to soften the banging even further, so your trainers will be less likely to cause any damage to your machine.

If you want to wash your trainer laces at the same time, then you should tie the ends of the laces together, and place them separately inside the pillowcase along with your trainers.


3. Wash at a cold temperature

cold wash temperature in the uk

Once your trainers are safely inside your case of choice, then it’s time to get washing.

For trainers, it is suggested that you use a liquid-based detergent. This is because powdered detergent is more likely to get stuck inside your shoes, and that would not be a good look!

It is best to set your washing machine to a ‘delicate’ setting if one is available. If your washing machine doesn’t have a ‘delicate’ setting, check out these work-arounds.

The safest way to wash your trainers is with a cold temperature, too, as hot settings can potentially cause the shape and size of the trainer to alter.  

A temperature of 30 degrees will work well, and this will also help to stop any colours on the trainers to bleed or fade.


4. Time to dry

After the washing machine cycle is complete, your trainers are ready to dry.

Remove your shoes from the pillowcase or bag, but don’t be tempted to throw them into the tumble dryer.

The heat from the tumble dryer can potentially damage the soles of your shoes, causing them to be unwearable. That’s why air drying is the recommended method for trainers.

One of our top tips for air drying is to use newspaper or paper towels to speed things up. By placing the paper inside your trainers, the water will soak up quicker, while also helping to keep the shape of your shoes.

You should place the shoes and laces in a well-lit area, and preferably outside is a great idea.

However, make sure the shoes are not too close to direct sunlight or heat sources, such as a radiator, as this can cause colour fading and other damage.

Be prepared for this process to take a while! Air drying shoes can take hours, or even days, so don’t machine wash them if you desperately need to pair them with your outfit the same night.

Once your shoes feel dry, then you can re-lace them and start wearing your freshly clean trainers!

Pair of trainers drying outside on a washing line



Now that you know how to wash trainers in the washing machine, you’ll never have to worry about them looking dirty again. Especially with trainers becoming a huge part of fashion and streetwear style, it’s likely that you’ll want to wear your shoes at every occasion.

Trainers can be a costly investment, so being able to maintain their shiny, fresh look is essential for their lifespan.

Armed with this knowledge, your trainers will have that ‘just bought’ look for longer!

Thanks for reading!