Can you wash trainers in a washing machine?

Run shoes can quickly get dirty from everyday use, so how can you keep them clean and looking like new? And, is it even possible to wash your precious pavement-pounders in the washing machine? Let's find out…

Clean sports shoes in washing machine drum, closeup
It should be illegal to make white-coloured trainers. But trainer brands still make them, all the time. Those crisp white kicks look so good out the box, but five minutes into their first run they’ve already been splattered by puddles, dirt and who knows what else.
It’s impossible the keep them clean, but what you can do is give them a regular wash to get the worst out and keep them looking (and smelling) fresh.
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Should I wash my trainers in the washing machine? 

You may have heard that putting your trainers in the washing machine can damage their structure and reduce their lifespan. This is partly true. It’s important to use the correct method when washing your running shoes to avoid damaging both the shoes integrity and your expensive machine.
First of all, check online or on your trainers’ packaging to ascertain what materials they’re made from. Some synthetic fabrics are more hard-wearing, while others, like suede and leather, will be damaged more easily.
If you’ve got a pair of waterproof shoes, consider that a spin in the machine could degrade the waterproofing and you may need to top this up once they’re out and dry.
In some cases, you may want to consider hand washing the shoe as an option to avoid any damage or degradation of the materials.

How to wash trainers in a washing machine

If your trainers are suitable for washing in the machine, then it’s important to ensure that they’re primed and ready. Here’s what you need to do:
1. First off, remove any debris from the surface of the shoe and within the lugs.
2. Then, unstring the laces as these can get knotted and cause havoc when in the machine.
3. This next step’s very important – invest in a secure mesh shoe bag that you can zip your shoes into while they’re in the machine. This will protect the drum of the washing machine from denting.
4. Add in some detergent, but less than half you’d normally do for a clothes cycle.
5. Throw in some old towels to pad out the machine while the cycle is on.
6. When it comes to choosing the cycle, opt for a gentle cycle with low spin and heat.
7. Once out, let the shoes air dry and stuff them with newspaper, do not put them in the tumble drier.
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How to wash your trainers by hand

Grab a bowl of warm water and your detergent of choice. A hard bristled brush would be best for scrubbing out any wedged gravel or dirt, while a soft sponge can be used on more delicate sections like the fabric upper.
To tackle the worst stains, try a shoe stain remover or bicarbonate of soda made into a paste. Rinse all soapy residue from the trainers and wring them dry as much as possible.
Stuff them with newspaper and leave to dry in a warm, dry environment where possible.
Top image credit: Getty Images