Washing shoes in the washing machine

My trainers tend to get very dirty as I do a lot of running on dirt trails. I don’t like to see my shoes covered in dirt to the point where they turn from white to muddy brown all over.

My washing routine is this: I remove the laces and the inner sockliner, dump the shoes together with some old towels / bed sheets (to “cushion” the ride) into the washing machine, add minimal quantity of detergent and wash the shoes on a gentle cold wash cycle. I also spin the shoes semi-dry (*not* in the dryer with heat though) at 800 rpm (the default setting for the clothes is 1100 rpm).

So far the shoes have come out squeaky clean with no perceptible deterioration / deformation. Is there any risk of damaging the shoes (the cushioning in particular) if I do this routine, maybe once in three months?


  • Some people do and some don't.

    I think its up to you. How many months would you expect to get from a pair anyway ?
  • agree with cougs - don't see that a cold wash does any harm but I wouldn't bother with the detergent as that could affect the glues etc in some way - I just let the machine agitation do it's best.............
  • to answer cougie's question, i would expect 400-500 miles or about 8/10 months of use per pair
  • So you'd prob wash them twice ? Cant see that it would do much harm to them then. As FB says though - might be idea to leave the detergent out ?

    Or as a test - only wash the left and see how it goes ! Would look a bit odd though.
  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭
    I've washed mine without detergent, and it gets the worst of the dirt off.
  • Agree with fb, used to do mine in the WM, the detergent does knacker them after a bit. Might give them a go in the WM without.
  • Washing shoes in the washing machine - Is it safe?

    Not sure about Trainers, but I washed my cross country spikes in ours and when my wife found out she threatened to kill me - so not safe in my opinion.
  • my missus washes hers in the machine so thus I have de facto rights to do mine.......

    did you take the spikes OUT of the shoes first though Grendel???
  • Spoke to a guy where I bought my shoes and he said don't wash shoes in machine. It damages the cushioning and leads to injury.
  • Wash them off under the outside tap (if you have one) or in the shower.
    Use cold water only and no detergent.
    The dirt may clog up the machine.
  • Be very careful, the EVA is very sensitive to heat and will harden and / or shrink. I used to get it all the time in the shop and it never a manufaturing fault ;-)
  • Road Shoes: Never wash road shoes, certainly never in any machine. No detergent either. Most I ever do is use an old scrubbing brush and the outside tap to clean excessive mud (or worse!?!) from the soles. No real point is getting the uppers "whiter than white" is there?

    XC shoes: I once washed a pair of NB RX Terrain's in the machine (cool wash) and the soles promptly fell off.

    Now I sometimes stick my XC shoes in a bucket of cold water, no detergent, then scrub off the excessive mud. Dry with rolled up newspaper inside.
  • Washing machine degrades the cushioning (EVA, mentioned previously). Scrub 'em with soapy water and nailbrush in the bath, stuff with dry newspaper and put them somewhere warm to allow to dry naturally.

    If you run on trails, you'll have to accept they're gonna get dirty! Most trail shoes aren't white - maybe the reason manufacturers don't make grey-brown ones is more of a marketing ploy..?
  • I like mine to look like they are caked in mud! I can at least pretend to look like a runner!
  • Don't put your trainers in the washing machine! It ruins the adhesives used and causes the cusioning to deteriorate. this in turn causes your shoes to wear out quickly and can result in injuries easier.
  • I went for my first run in my brand new Brookes running trainers last week.

    These are the first specialist running trainers I have bougt for 14 years.

    They were absolutely filthy within 15 minutes as a ran down a dirt track in a park.

    Was I gutted that my trainers looked muddy? No. I ran as far as I could and have not bothered cleaning them.

    But now I wonder - does the mud and water damage the shoes? Especially as my feer are 37 degrees C.
  • I have only washed mine under the cold tap when they have become really muddy from running across muddy country trails, I can't see any point in trying to keep them too clean as they will only get dirty next time I go out running.
    I wouldnt dream of putting them in a washing machine.
  • I hose mine down after a really muddy run, and if they get really bad I stick them in the washing machine on a cold wash with no detergent. I make sure that each off-road pair I get never goes in the washing machine on a cold wash more than once.
  • Surely the whole point is that you have really muddy shoes to show how 'hard core' you are, and psyche-out those tighty-whitey trainer types on the start line? Or is that just me?

    I find a wipe with a cloth, to get the worst clods, algae and mould off, is all that's really necessary. Mud adds integrity!
  • I only washing machine mine when I can no longer stand the stench or have forgotton the original colour, then its a 30 degree wash, no detergent and minimal spinning, they come out soaking but a whole lot cleaner, so far have not caused any additional wear and tear.
  • I don't bother washing mine - they ruin the innards, and therefore my knees and ankles. Personally I'd rather have muddy or smelly trainers than trainers falling apart and causing me injuries by increments.

    I figure it costs me £50-60 twice a year to help keep me from going wrong, as opposed to £50-60 once a week for physio/ osteo to put something right.

    Plus there's nothing like lining up at a race, looking at the miles you've put into yours and the bright shiny box-fresh ones you can see on others, and having a smug grin knowing that they're going to be hurting so bad later on in the day....
  • WombleWomble ✭✭✭
    I occasionally stick a pair of trainers in the washing machine. Pick the shortest programme and the lowest temperature (usually 30C I think). Put them in the airing cupboard to dry out after and they've always been fine. If they can't withstand 30C for heaven's sake don't go running on one of those really hot days!
  • Having only been running for a year I may not be too qualified to butt in but here goes anyway!!

    Yes your tootsies may be warmer than a cool cycle on the machine but surely all that wetness and detergent and spinning can't possibly do them any good. Before I took up running I washed a couple of pairs of trainers only to find that the insides wrinkled up and made them VERY uncomfortable... Therefore I would say save the machine for your sweaty kit and just rinse the trainers off to get rid of the worst... Hey, why not push the boat out and avoid the mud altogether!!! ;-)
  • nrg-bnrg-b ✭✭✭
    I wear NB150 racing flats and Puma H Street lightweight trainers. My missus washes these every week, (sometimes every few days), on a short cold water rinse cycle.

    The shoes are dried overnight on the radiator. They come out like brand new and last for ages. No problem at all.
  • If using Nike air max you run the risk of flooding the air unit.Putting the shoes into a hot wash could melt the glue and shrink the sole on your shoe.And remember if theres any leather on your shoe it would be very silly to machine wash them cos you wouldnt wash a leather jacket in the washing machine now would you.shops will not take your shoes back if they develope a fault when they have been in tha washin machine,due to it being againt company policy.
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