Concrete, grass, muddy paths, puddles — our shoes encounter all kinds of surfaces. With everything they carry us through, your favorite pair deserves a good cleaning. But keeping your shoes clean takes more than just throwing them into your washer and hoping for the best. Here are some tips for keeping your kicks fresh.
How to Wash Shoes in the Washing Machine
While cleaning your shoes in the washing machine saves time and effort, it also puts them at risk for damage. Materials such as canvas, nylon, and polyester are more forgiving, but some fragile fabrics can be ruined by going through the wash. Consult the tags on the inside of the tongue or the manufacturer’s website to determine if your shoes are machine-safe. If they are machine-safe, follow these simple steps.
1. Remove the laces and insoles of your shoes and hand wash them in a solution of soap and warm water.
2. Place the shoes in the washer with several old towels. (This balances the load and prevents the shoes from banging against the machine’s walls.)
3. Add a little less liquid detergent than you would add to a regular load and run a cold cycle.
4. To dry the shoes, stuff rags in them to maintain their shape and leave them in a sunny, well-ventilated area.
How to Hand Wash Shoes
Hand-washing shoes lessens the risk of damage. If your shoes cannot go in the washing machine, follow these easy steps to make them as good as new.
1. Remove the insoles and laces.
2. Create a washing solution with 1 gallon of warm water and 3 tablespoons of mild detergent.
3. Wet the shoes and scrub the body, laces, and insoles with a toothbrush.
4. Let everything air-dry in a sunny area.
If your shoes are extra dirty, let them sit in the soapy solution overnight before running through cold water and air drying.
Materials That Require Special Treatment
Suede should be cleaned with as little moisture as possible. Use a damp, lint-free rag to remove any visible dirt in fluid, straight motions. Then, use a suede brush to buff out scratches. Leather and faux leather can be washed using the same warm, soapy mixture as most other shoes, but it needs to be conditioned with leather conditioner afterward.
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