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How to wash trainers - Can I machine wash trainers?

Posted by Jones Bootmaker on

How to wash trainers - Can I machine wash trainers?

You don’t have to look down to dirty trainers and have your sole leave your body when your favourite pair are looking a little less loved than normal. Washing your trainers can get them back to feeling their best. Whether it’s mens trainers or ladies trainers that need attention, a full trainer collection, or that one favourite pair, it always leaves us feeling a little bit unkempt when we see our much-loved training shoe starting to show just how much you wear them – we all prefer that clean kicks feeling! There are a few ways you can get your trainers back into top condition and looking like new, just don’t make some very common mistakes along the way! Read on to find out how to wash trainers without ruining them. 

Can trainers be washed in a washing machine?    

Can all trainers be washed in the washing machine? No. Can some trainers be washed in the washing machine? Absolutely.   

Thinking how to wash and dry your trainers does not need to be daunting. The first thing we need to check, if you have decided you want to try for a machine wash with trainers, is the material of the shoe. Suede and leather do not do well in a washing machine, and if your trainers have elements of this fabric in the design, then avoid throwing them in to tumble! You risk damaging these delicate materials and hindering the whole shoe. Check the label and if your trainers are made from fabrics such as cotton and canvas, then you should be safe. Checking the care instructions of your specific shoe brand and style will give you a clear indication, and peace of mind, as to whether washing your trainers in a washing machine is permissible. 

How to machine wash trainers?   

If you have got as far as confirming your trainers are machine-wash safe, take a second before you throw them in and hope for the best – some prep work is needed. Don’t worry, prepping your shoes for machine wash is super easy - but plays a vital role in making sure your trainers come out unscathed and in good condition. Firstly, remove the laces from the trainer, and if you can, the insoles too. It’s best to handwash these with gentle warm soapy water and sponge or soft brush, a toothbrush would do the trick. You can submerge the laces and insoles in warm soapy water for stubborn dirt and grime. If you haven’t taken laces out and put them back before, be sure to take note (or even a picture) of how they were so that you can put them back as you found them.   

Once disassembled, remove any heavy-set dirt with a soft bristle brush, and be sure to get as much as it off as possible for a more effective clean when they go in the machine. If you can, you can also go around the eyelets and bottom of the shoe with a toothpick to get any set-in mud and grime out of the way, to get that extra pristine look. Treat any heavy-duty stains with some gentle detergent beforehand.   

Be well prepared before you put your trainers in the washing machine, this process takes time, and you may be without your favourite shoes for a few days. This is mainly due to the air drying needed after the washing has finished. Do not be tempted to throw your trainers into a tumble dryer or on top of the radiator. This is a sure-fire way to distort their original shape. 

Should I put my trainers inside a pillowcase? 

Once prepped, your trainers are best heading into a mesh wash bag or pillowcase. This helps them keep their shape when tumbling around the machine and helps to protect your machine from damage too. To soften the wash cycle you can even pop a towel in with the trainers.   

Which washing machine setting should I use to wash trainers?

Don’t be tempted to wash your trainers on anything other than a delicate or handwash cycle. This is where the risk of damage to the trainer comes from. Keep it gentle. It would be best to standby or be in earshot of the washing machine as it attempts to tumbles something bulkier than its usual load.   

What temperature should I wash trainers? 

As well as a delicate or handwash cycle, it’s best to keep the wash cool. Do not increase the temperature for washing shoes, as tempting as this may be, this is where you risk damaging the trainer. Keep it cool, keep it gentle.   

Which washing detergent to use for trainers? 

You can add the usual gentle laundry detergent you use for clothes, however, avoid powdered detergents as this will not mix well with shoe fabrics and do not use bleach as this can harm the shoe material. Liquid detergent is best.   

Can trainers get ruined by the washing machine?  

If you have not checked the care instructions or fabric of your trainers or prepped for washing them correctly, then you do risk the washing machine damaging the delicate material of the shoe. Washing trainers on a high heat is the biggest offender of this as the heat can misshapen the shoe and can cause problems to the materials.   Once the trainers have been washed, a top tip is to stuff them with newspaper and leave them to air dry. The newspaper will wick away any excess moisture to help them dry quicker, but this process is not a speedy method, but once again - do not be tempted to put your freshly washed trainers in a tumble dryer or on top of a radiator, it will damage them.    

Once thoroughly dry, it is time to reassemble your trainers. Pop the clean, dry insoles back in and get lacing back up! Your kicks will be fresh, clean and in top form for wherever your feet are ready to take you. 

How to hand wash trainers.

If you have found that the fabric of your trainer is unsuitable for the washing machine, or you simply don’t want to take the risk, then handwashing is the best option for you. 

The same prep work applies as before, disassemble your trainers, taking away the lace and insoles and be ready to give them a good (gentle) scrub down, as you would before machine washing them. 

For canvas trainers you still need to do a pre-stain treatment for any stubborn dirt or grime spots so have the gentle liquid detergent to hand and get blotting on these areas with a soft microfibre cloth and rub it in. Leave to settle in for a few minutes to work its magic. Most canvas trainers would be fine to be submerged in hot soapy water once the pretreatment for stains is done. If you’re uncomfortable with this, you can grab a sponge and get wiping with fresh warm soapy water. Changing the water regularly helps to avoid re-staining the shoe, fresh is best. You can wipe down the whole trainer in warm soapy water and a soft brush to gently bring them back to their former glory.

If you have leather trainers, then some warm soapy water (washing up liquid is fine) and a gentle brush down is all you will need. Avoid fully submerging! You do not want to douse leather trainers as this will be problematic for this type of fabric. 

For suede trainers, you really do want to avoid getting them wet. A suede brush is your friend here and would be the best tool to gently brush off excess dirt and stains. 

Regardless of how you choose to wash you trainers, be sure to air dry them after. No tumble dryer or radiator should be used on any occasion. Remember, stuffing them with newspaper not only helps to wick away excess moisture but also helps the shoe to dry in its correct shape. 

Explore our selection of trainers here at Jones Bootmaker, from casual trainers for women to men’s smart trainers, and follow the handy tips in this guide to wash your trainers and keep them in great condition.

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