Can You Wash Tennis Shoes in the Washing Machine?



Can You Wash Tennis Shoes in the Washing Machine

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Yes, you can wash tennis shoes in the washing machine, but there are precautions you should take to avoid damaging them.

Tennis shoes, also known as sneakers or athletic shoes, are often subjected to rigorous activities and can quickly accumulate dirt, odors, and stains. This prompts the question: Can you wash tennis shoes in the washing machine? The answer is yes, but with a few important caveats.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the dos and don’ts of washing tennis shoes in the washing machine while providing you with practical steps to ensure your shoes come out looking fresh and clean.

Dos and Don’ts of Wash Tennis Shoes in the Washing Machine


  • Check Care Instructions: Examine the care label or instructions that came with your tennis shoes. Some shoes are specifically designed to be machine washable, while others may have special care requirements.
  • Remove Loose Dirt and Debris: Before washing, take a moment to remove any loose dirt, mud, or debris from your tennis shoes. This step prevents your washing machine from becoming clogged and helps in achieving a better clean.
  • Use a Garment Bag or Pillowcase: Place your tennis shoes inside a mesh garment bag or pillowcase. This protective measure prevents your shoes from banging against the washer drum and helps maintain their shape.
  • Opt for a Gentle, Cold Cycle: To prevent potential shrinking and damage to your tennis shoes, select a gentle cycle on your washing machine. Additionally, use cold water for the wash.
  • Choose Liquid Detergent or Laundry Pods: Liquid detergent or laundry pods are preferable to powder products. Powder detergents may not dissolve entirely and can leave residue on your shoes.
  • Air Dry Your Shoes: After the wash, allow your tennis shoes to air dry naturally. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight or heat sources, as this can cause warping, fabric damage, and color fading.


  • Avoid Warm or Hot Water Cycles: Using warm or hot water can damage the fabric, cause colors to run, and lead to shoe deformation. Stick to cold water for washing your tennis shoes.
  • No Leather or Suede: Tennis shoes made from materials like leather or suede should not be washed in the washing machine. These materials are more delicate and can be severely damaged by water.
  • Say No to Bleach: Never use bleach when washing your tennis shoes, as it can weaken the fabric and alter colors.
  • Skip Fabric Softener: Fabric softeners can leave a residue on your shoes, making them feel less fresh. Omit the use of fabric softener in your wash.

Steps to Wash Tennis Shoes in the Washing Machine

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of washing your tennis shoes in the washing machine:

Step 1

Preparation: Check the care instructions on your tennis shoes to ensure they are machine washable. Remove any loose dirt or debris from the shoes by tapping them together or using a brush.

Step 2

Use a Garment Bag or Pillowcase: Place your tennis shoes inside a mesh garment bag or a pillowcase. Tie the pillowcase closed or zip up the garment bag. This prevents your shoes from bouncing around and causing damage during the wash.

Step 3

Select the Right Settings: Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using any additional settings like pre-soak or heavy-duty cycles.

Step 4

Add Detergent: Use liquid detergent or laundry pods, following the recommended amount for a small load. Avoid overloading the machine with other items; it’s best to wash your tennis shoes separately.

Step 5

Start the Wash: Begin the wash cycle and let it complete. Avoid using warm or hot water at all costs.

Step 6

Air Dry: After the washing cycle is finished, remove your tennis shoes from the garment bag or pillowcase. Shake off any excess water and let them air dry completely. This may take several hours or overnight, so be patient.

Alternative Washing Methods for Tennis Shoes

If you’re hesitant about using a washing machine, or if your tennis shoes are made of materials that aren’t suitable for machine washing, consider these alternative methods:

  • Hand Washing: Fill a basin or sink with cold water and mild detergent. Gently scrub your tennis shoes with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse thoroughly and air dry.
  • Spot Cleaning: For minor stains or spots, you can use a mixture of mild detergent and water to spot clean the affected areas.
  • Insoles and Laces: Remove and hand wash insoles and laces separately for a thorough cleaning.
  • Vinegar Solution: To eliminate odors, create a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Dab the solution onto the insoles and inner lining, then air-dry.


How often should I wash my tennis shoes in the washing machine?

Answer: The frequency of washing your tennis shoes depends on how often you wear them and the conditions they are exposed to. Generally, washing them every few months or when they become noticeably dirty is sufficient.

Can I speed up the drying process by using a fan or heater?

While a fan can help improve air circulation, avoid using direct heat sources like heaters, as they can damage your shoes.

What if my tennis shoes have orthotic insoles? Can I still wash them in the machine?

Answer: Orthotic insoles are often made of different materials than the shoes themselves. If your orthotic insoles are removable, it’s best to wash them separately by hand to ensure they remain in good condition.

Can I wash tennis shoes with other clothing items in the same load?

Answer: It’s advisable to wash tennis shoes separately or with other soft items like towels to prevent potential damage to your shoes or other garments.

Are there specific detergents for washing tennis shoes?

Answer: You can use a mild liquid detergent or laundry pods for washing tennis shoes. Avoid harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can damage the fabric.

Final Words

Washing tennis shoes in the washing machine is a convenient way to maintain their cleanliness and extend their lifespan. By adhering to the dos and don’ts outlined in this guide and following the step-by-step instructions, you can ensure that your tennis shoes emerge from the washing machine looking and smelling fresh. Remember that proper care and maintenance will keep your tennis shoes ready for your next adventure on the court or in your daily life.

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