So you just bought a beautiful new pair of expensive trainers but they’re already dirty!
You could labour away and clean them by hand, but is it possible to clean them in your washing machine?
Of course the worries are that you’ll either ruin your new shoes or you’ll damage the washing machine, maybe by a stone caught in the treads.
You can check the label of your trainers to see if it is possible to machine wash them. Most of the modern brands will be suitable for this. As long as you wash them on a cold cycle and remove the laces, then there should be no issues.
There are some things that need to be done before you can wash them though, as well as some dos and don’ts that we’ll go through here.
Preparing your trainers for washing
Remove laces: Doing this will make it easier for the machine to get rid of dirt that may be clinging onto the trainers underneath the laces, or in the holes that they come through.
It will also make the next step easier.
Scrub off excess dirt: Washing machines are great, but if there’s really caked in stuff the machine won’t always be able to remove it.
In this case, it is best to take a wire brush (or even an old toothbrush works) and scrub the worst affected areas.
This will lift off some of the tougher dirt, allowing the washing machine to take care of the rest.
Removing the laces first makes this easier.
Use a laundry/wash bag: Placing both the trainers and the laces inside a wash bag before placing them in the machine will stop the trainers from becoming trapped against the inside of the drum.
Having the laces in there as well will prevent them from tangling themselves up against the inside of the machine.
Place towels or bedding in the drum: As you might have already guessed, trainers on their own in the drum will bang around a lot and make a lot of noise.
Washing towels or bedding at the same time will pad the inside of the drum and stop the trainers banging so much.
This can also help protect the drum from impacts that could potentially be damaging.
Plus, you’re now washing two things, efficiency right?
During the Wash
Now that you’re set up to begin the cycle, there are a few things you should know to do during the wash itself.
Use a cold cycle: It’s always best to wash the trainers on a cold setting.
The heat from a hotter cycle, combined with the pressure, can lead to serious damage to the trainers, such as warping the soles or even cracking them.
This is pretty much irreparable and your trainers will no longer fit you properly, which is heart breaking if you’re serious about running.
Use a slow spinning cycle: In the same vein as above, a slow spin will reduce the risk of damaging your trainers.
Slower speeds will stop them banging so much and reduce the impact of said bangs.
This can actually also reduce the risk of any damage and dents to the inside of the drum, which would potentially be a costly problem.
Avoid powder detergents: This is one I do myself anyway, regardless of what I’m washing.
Powder detergents need to dissolved in the washing machine to work properly. This is already trickier at lower temperatures.
Trainers have plenty of spaces where powder could get trapped and, subsequently, remain undissolved.
Not only will this mean that they’re not as clean as they could be, but it will mean that when they come out the washer, they are liable to have powder residue trapped in these areas.
This can be tricky to get rid off and will make them quite uncomfortable to wear.
Use liquid detergents (or pods): To avoid the above problem, liquid detergents can be used effectively at the lower temperatures of a cold cycle.
Liquid detergents also tend to be softer and less harsh, which can be better for the soft material used for some trainers.
There is no chance of residue build up when using these detergents or when using laundry pods.
Just remember that you won’t need to use as much detergent as with a regular wash.
Drying after the wash
Now that you’re happy with the best practices for washing trainers before and during the wash, let’s look at how to dry them properly.
Avoid radiators: It can be very tempting, once washed, to place your trainers upside down on top of a radiator, or underneath one, to help them dry quickly.
This is generally not great for them. Just like with a hot wash cycle, the heat can end up warping plastic and rubber parts of the trainers and ruin their fit
Definitely don’t tumble dry: This is a big don’t, for the same reasons as before.
A tumble dryer gets hot enough to really mess up your trainers and can cause serious damage, just like the other heat sources mentioned.
Trainers are generally sensitive to heat no matter what and, though it will take more time, the best thing to do to dry them is let it happen naturally.
Dry your trainers slowly: If you have good, sunny weather which you can leave your trainers in then this will be the best way.
Not everyone will have this luxury of course, so if you have an airing cupboard this is the next best place.
Failing this, as long as your home is reasonably warm, and you don’t leave your trainers right next to the heat source, they will dry overnight at least.
You can speed up the drying process by removing laces (which you will have already done) and insoles.
Unfortunately there isn’t really a quick method of drying trainers which won’t ruin them, so you’ll just have to let them dry on their own. But better that than having to buy a new pair!
So, as you can see, it is indeed possible to wash your trainers in the washing machine. You just need to know these tips and tricks for doing it in the best way that won’t mess up your favourite shoes.
As long as you don’t use any kind of heat in the washing or drying processes, you will be OK.
If in doubt, always check the washing guidelines on the labels of your trainers, as these will give you indicators of what you can and can’t do with them!
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