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There’s nothing better than a comfortable pair of tennis shoes; the ones that fit perfectly, look stylish, and make exercising enjoyable! But after a while, those shoes will begin to look dirty and smell terrible. You’ll want to take good care of them, so is it safe to put them in the washer and dryer? We’ve researched this topic thoroughly and have come up with the answer for you.
Tennis shoes — as long as they aren’t made from leather, suede, or other non-waterproof materials — can go in the washer but should not be put in the dryer. The washer is a great way to clean them, as long as you use cold water. But the heat from the dryer can warp or damage the shoes. Instead, let them air dry naturally.
Below, we’ll explain how to safely clean your tennis shoes in the washer. Plus, we’ll discuss different ways to help them dry quickly and how to get tough odors out of them. Keep reading, and we’ll have your shoes clean and fresh in no time!
How to wash your tennis shoes in the washer
Using the washing machine for your tennis shoes is safe, but only if you do it correctly. First, make sure your shoes can be submerged in water. Are they made out of real leather, suede, or another delicate material? If so, look for other ways to clean them. Now that you’re sure your shoes can be washed, here are the steps you should follow:
1. Sprinkle baking soda in each shoe
Baking soda has natural odor-neutralizing power. So, put two or three tablespoons of the stuff in your shoes the night before you wash them. Spread it out amongst the inside of the shoes as thoroughly as possible. This will help the washing process go smoothly. After the powder has set in the shoes for a few hours, dump it out.
2. Take the laces and insoles out of the shoes
You’ll wash these pieces, but not while they’re inside the shoes. In fact, put them in a pillowcase or laundry bag. Otherwise, the laces will get wound up in the washing machine, potentially damaging the laces or the machine. Plus, if you leave the insoles inside the shoes, they won’t get as clean as if you remove them.
3. Wipe off excess dirt and debris
Before putting the shoes in the washing machine, make sure to clean off whatever you can. Use a wire brush to scrub off the dirt and grime. You don’t want that stuff in the washer since this will make the whole process dirtier.
4. Put the shoes in the washer with towels or other linens
Though it might seem backward, putting other items in the washer with your shoes will actually help them get cleaner. Putting a few towels or bedsheets into the machine will balance things out, soak up some of the excess water, and make things quieter.
How Many Pairs Of Shoes Can You Fit In The Washer?
Depending on the size of your washing machine, you can fit up to three pairs at a time. Keep in mind that you’ll still want a few towels in with the shoes (explained in Step-4), and you’ll want to adjust the amount of detergent you use. When washing shoes, the general rule of thumb is that you don’t want to fill the machine higher than three-quarters full.
5. Add detergent and start the washer
Use the appropriate amount of your favorite detergent based on the number of shoes and linens you’re washing. Then, run the washer on a delicate cycle with cold water. This will keep your shoes from being damaged by the intensity of the cycle and the water’s heat.
6. Let the shoes air dry
When the cycle is completed, remove the shoes and put them in a bright, open area. Do not put them in the dryer, as intense heat can damage them. If it’s sunny and warm outside, consider setting them outside to dry.
Want more ways to clean your shoes? Read this next: “How To Clean Mesh Running Shoes? [5 Steps].”
Will Shoes Shrink In The Dryer?
Using extreme heat on your shoes will most likely shrink them. This is especially true if they’re made out of mesh or other shrinkable materials. But in addition to shrinking, the dryer can potentially damage the glue that holds the shoes together. Avoid putting them in the dryer and let them air dry instead.
How Do You Remove Moisture From Tennis Shoes?
Since you can’t just throw your tennis shoes in the dryer, here are a few ways to speed up the drying process:
Dry them in a location with good airflow
One of the worst things you can do to help your shoes dry quickly is to throw them in your closet or leave them in your dark laundry room. Instead, put them in a room with a window open or with a fan running –or outside. The bigger and more open the room, the better for fresh air circulation to aid drying.
Dry them in the sunlight
The sun emits UV rays, which are powerful enough to dry fabric quickly. As an added benefit, UV rays will also kill bacteria that thrive in damp environments. If it’s warm outside, set shoes out to dry quickly. If you don’t feel comfortable setting them outside, at least place them in the sunlight coming through a window.
Baking soda or other powder
Powders such as baking soda will absorb the moisture in your clean shoes. If you decide to use baking soda, make sure to dump it out before putting the shoes on. Otherwise, the moist baking soda will clump up and be uncomfortable.
There are other powders designed to keep shoes and feet dry, and we’ll talk about those in the next section. But if you don’t want to buy a special type of powder and don’t like the idea of baking soda, baby powder will do the trick. Plus, you won’t have to dump it out before wearing the shoes since it will dissolve in moisture.
How Do You Get The Stink Out Of Tennis Shoes?
If you’ve washed your tennis shoes but can’t get the stink out, there are a few other tactics you can try. Foot odor — and any type of body odor — is created by your sweat mixing with bacteria, which breaks it down. So, some of the best prevention tactics for battling foot odor are described in the methods below:
Take care of your feet
Do your feet stink worse than your friends’ and family’s feet? It might be because you’re not cleaning them well enough. Or, worse, you might be battling a foot fungus. Make sure to wash your feet thoroughly when you bathe, including between your toes and all the way up to your calf.
Look for these telltale signs of athlete’s foot:
- Itching, stinging, or burning
- Painful or itchy blisters, cracking, or peeling
- Excessively dry skin on the sole or arch of your foot
- Discolored, extremely thick toenails that pull away from the nail bed
If you think you might have athlete’s foot, talk to a doctor. Or, try these products to relieve it.
Wash the insoles regularly
One of the biggest culprits in smelly feet is the insoles. These foam or fabric pieces soak up a lot of sweat and don’t have ventilation like the rest of the shoe. They’re also easier to wash than the rest of the shoe and dry more quickly, so you can wash them more often.
Leave them in the sunlight
Another benefit to the UV rays put out by the sun is that they kill bacteria. This bacteria is a major reason why your shoes stink, so killing as much as possible is helpful. Plus, the outdoor breeze will help your shoes stay fresh.
Wear absorbent socks
Again, a big factor in smelly feet is the sweat mixing with bacteria. Help take away one of these problems by wearing better socks when you exercise. These will absorb your sweat better than cotton socks. And since socks are easier to wash than shoes, you can clean them more thoroughly.
Look for socks made from synthetic blends like the ones below.
Want more sock recommendations? Here are some that are great without shoes: “What Are The Best Socks For Pilates? [7 Suggestions].”
Commercial sprays and powders
If none of these methods solve the problem, your best bet might be to use a medicated powder or spray. These might not be as cost-effective as the other tactics but are more powerful. Here are a few of the best options.
These shoe sprays will fight odor while you wear the shoes.
These powders will absorb your sweat and deodorize at the same time.
If your shoes are waterproof, you can safely put them in the washer. However, let them air dry instead of putting them in the dryer, or you’ll risk damaging them irreparably. Follow the steps described above for best results and to eliminate odor effectively. This is the best way to ensure that your tennis shoes stay fresh as long as possible!