When trainers get stained and dirty, it can be tempting to chuck them straight in the washing machine. However, Britons could be damaging their shoes by putting them straight in the machine without taking the necessary precautions and could be at risk of permanently damaging their shoes. Lisa Kay, founder & CEO at bunion and wide fit footwear specialists, Sole Bliss, has shared which mistakes people need to avoid when washing trainers – and which ones can actually go in the machine.
Lisa said: “No matter the style of trainer, if you’re going to machine wash your trainers, they should be placed on a cycle by themselves.
“As they tend to carry lots of dirt, if you include other things in the cycle, you make other items dirty – so it’s best to wash them separately.
“If you can, ensure they are placed in a wash bag or an old pillowcase to protect them.
“Before your shoes go in the washing machine, be sure to give the soles a quick rinse to take off any excess dirt or stones that could be trapped in the grooves of the shoes. This will stop them from getting stuck in your washing machine and potentially damaging the drum.”
Fabric shoes made of elastic, canvas or cotton should only be on a quick 30-minute cycle on a cold temperature or 30C maximum.
They should also be on a low spin such as 700 or lower to keep them protected.
Following these steps should keep trainers protected from being exposed to too much water for a long period of time and minimise any chances of the shoes shrinking while removing stains.
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Tough stains should have a stain-remover like baking soda and water applied to them first before then being added to the machine.
Leather trainers can be put in the washing machine but only on a cold wash.
However, machine washing trainers can weaken the “bonding agents” of the leather so is “best to avoid” where possible.
Instead of washing them in the machine, Lisa suggested using a leather cleaner or using common household items.
She said: “Mix two parts white vinegar with one part olive oil in a spray bottle and shake well.
“You can apply this to your leather and it will naturally dissolve the dirt on your shoes.”
The expert does not recommend putting suede shoes in the washing machine or hand-washing them in soapy water.
Suede actually absorbs water which means putting them in the washing machine could see stains set into the fabric.
Calcium and magnesium in the water can leave white marks on the suede, which is why it is important to protect suede before going out in the rain.
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“For tough stains on suede we recommend applying a modest amount of white vinegar to a soft, clean cloth then dab the vinegar onto the stain ensuring that the whole mark is covered before letting it dry.
“Once dry, use your suede brush over the mark in the same direction to lift the stain,” said Lisa.
What to do before washing trainers in the machine
Take out the laces
Remove laces before putting them in the washing machine and put them in a separate wash bag that’s sealed so they can’t escape.
Loose laces in a washing machine could get caught and potentially “break the machine”, according to Lisa.
Always remove insoles
Insoles are delicate and can be completely destroyed if they’re put in the washing machine.
Lisa explained: “A big mistake people tend to make is forgetting to take the insoles out of their shoes when machine washing them.
“Insoles of shoes can be very delicate, they are usually made of a mix of rubber with other soft materials.
“In the heat the delicate materials can become damaged and disintegrate. They become shrunken and therefore not fit within the shoe again.
“It’s best to hand wash your insoles in cold to lukewarm water to get rid of any smells or sweat. Add just a tablespoon of liquid or powder detergent if you need to get any tougher stains out.”
Correct temperature and cycle
It’s best to always put shoes on a cold wash, regardless of water materials they are. A 30C wash can be used as this will still clean the shoe but avoid any shrinkage.
Put the washing machine settings on a slow spin cycle to stop the shoes being bashed about too much.
Detergent or softener?
Only use a tablespoon of washing powder or liquid detergent to clean a pair of trainers in the machine.
For those washing fabric shoes, they can add an additional quarter cap of laundry softener to the load if they want to.
Always dry shoes on the washing line or outdoors and never in the tumble dryer.
Lisa added: “Make sure to stretch them back into shape when they are wet and then leave them out to dry naturally.
“Finally, always check the label of the shoe to find out what material it’s made of, and if you’re still unsure you can always check with the manufacturer. Many brands come with a care guide or will have resources online.”