Should You Wash Shoes with Clothes?

When doing laundry, one common question is whether or not it’s okay to wash shoes with clothes. While some people believe it’s beautiful to toss their shoes into the washing machine and their garments, others are more hesitant, fearing that it may damage their shoes or clothes. This comprehensive guide will address the question, “Should you wash shoes with clothes?” and provide expert insights and advice on approaching this laundry dilemma.

Why Washing Shoes with Clothes Can Be Tricky

Washing shoes with clothes can be a tricky endeavor due to a few key reasons. First and foremost, shoes are often made from different materials than our clothing items. They may have delicate fabrics, intricate designs, or parts that can easily get damaged when exposed to the rigorous agitation of a washing machine. Additionally, shoes can harbor dirt, mud, or other debris that can transfer onto your clothes, leaving them stained or soiled. Considering these factors is crucial before washing your shoes alongside your garments.

Can You Safely Wash Shoes with Clothes?

While it’s generally not recommended to wash shoes with clothes, there are certain situations where it can be done safely. Here are a few guidelines to help you determine whether or not you should wash your shoes with clothes:

1. Shoe Material Compatibility

Check the care instructions on your shoes to see if they are machine washable. Some shoes, such as canvas sneakers or specific athletic shoes, are designed to withstand washing. These shoes typically have instructions on the label or the accompanying documentation indicating they can be safely cleaned in a washing machine.

2. Shoe Preparation

Before washing your shoes with clothes, preparing them properly is essential. Start by removing any loose dirt or debris from the surface. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub any stubborn stains or marks. Additionally, consider placing your shoes inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them during the wash cycle.

3. Load Balance

When combining shoes and clothes in the washing machine, balance the load. Imbalanced loads can cause the washing machine to shake excessively, potentially damaging the shoes and clothes. To maintain balance, include similar-sized items, such as towels or small garments, alongside the shoes.

4. Wash Cycle Selection

Select a gentle or delicate wash cycle, preferably with cold water. Avoid harsh detergents or bleach, which can damage the shoes and clothes. Opt for mild, color-safe detergents specifically formulated for delicate fabrics.

5. Drying Process

After washing, avoid putting your shoes in the dryer, as the heat can warp or shrink certain shoe materials. Instead, air-dry them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Stuffing your shoes with crumpled newspaper or shoe inserts can help them retain their shape during drying.

F.A.Q.s about Washing Shoes with Clothes

Q: Should I wash leather shoes with clothes?

A: No, washing leather shoes in a washing machine is generally not recommended. Leather is a delicate material easily damaged by water and agitation. Instead, clean leather shoes using a soft cloth or brush and specialized leather cleaning products.

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Q: Can I wash my shoes with my regular clothes in the washing machine?

A: It depends on the type of shoes and the washing instructions provided by the manufacturer. While some shoes can be safely washed in a washing machine, others may get damaged. It’s best to check the care label or manufacturer’s instructions before washing shoes with clothes.

Q: What types of shoes can be washed with clothes in the washing machine?

A: Generally, athletic shoes, canvas shoes, and certain types of sneakers can be washed in the washing machine. However, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s instructions. Shoes with delicate materials, embellishments, or glued parts may not be suitable for machine washing.

Q: Should I remove the shoelaces before washing shoes with clothes?

A: It’s a good idea to remove the shoelaces before washing the shoes in the machine. The shoelaces can get tangled or damaged during the washing cycle. You can wash them separately by hand or in a mesh laundry bag.

Q: How should I prepare my shoes before washing them with clothes?

A: Start by removing any loose dirt or debris from the shoes. You can use a brush or damp cloth to clean the surface gently. If the shoes are heavily soiled, you may need to pre-treat stains or use a shoe cleaner before washing them.

Q: Can I wash shoes with delicate fabrics or embellishments?

A: Shoes with delicate fabrics or embellishments, such as satin, silk, or sequins, are usually unsuitable for machine washing. These materials are more delicate and may require special care. It’s advisable to clean them by hand using a gentle detergent or seek professional cleaning if necessary.

Q: How should I wash my shoes in the washing machine?

A: To wash shoes in the machine, place them in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them during the wash cycle. Use a mild detergent and set the machine to a gentle or delicate cycle with cold water. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals. Once the cycle is complete, allow the shoes to air dry naturally.

Q: Are there any risks involved in washing shoes with clothes?

A: Washing shoes with clothes can pose a few risks. The shoes may damage delicate fabrics or cause abrasion to other clothes during the washing cycle. Additionally, the shoes may lose their shape or develop a lingering odor if not dried properly. Following the manufacturer’s instructions and taking necessary precautions to minimize these risks is essential.


In conclusion, whether or not you should wash shoes with clothes depends on several factors. It is important to consider the type of shoes you have and the specific washing instructions the manufacturer provides. While some shoes, such as athletic shoes and canvas shoes, can be safely washed in the washing machine with clothes, others may not be suitable for machine washing due to delicate materials or embellishments.

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