Skip Navigation

How to Wash Sneakers at Home

There's nothing more comfortable than a trusted pair of sneakers. When your time-tested kicks are broken-in, they're so comfortably molded to the shape of your foot that you hardly even realize you're wearing them. When they get dirty, you don't want to spend money on a new pair that you'll have to break in all over again. Luckily, you don't have to. Most sneakers are easy to clean at home with products you probably already have. Follow the steps below and before you know it your sneakers will look like new again.

Deodorize the insoles

First, remove the insoles. You'll want to wash them separately.

Prepare a small mixture of warm water and liquid detergent. Using a soft brush or rag, gently scrub the insole to remove dirt and stains. When you're done, use a wet sponge to remove any excess detergent.

If the insoles still smell, try enclosing them in a bag along with some baking soda. Shake the bag to spread out the baking soda and leave it overnight. This should neutralize most odors.

If that doesn't do it (maybe your insoles are really funky), try soaking them for a few hours in a mixture of vinegar and water in a 2:1 ratio. Then soak them in hot water with baking soda and an essential oil such as tea tree or pine oil. That should be enough to eliminate even the strongest odors.


Use the washer

Most sneakers can be safely cleaned in the washer. To begin, remove the laces to make sure your shoes don't get tangled up inside the wash bin. Put the laces inside a pillowcase or wash bag and throw that in the washer. Next, wipe off as much mud and debris as possible with a soft brush.

Add your shoes to the washer along with a load of towels. The towels will balance the load and prevent your shoes from banging around inside. Make sure they're old towels, because new towels have lint and dye that may come off on your sneakers.

Use liquid detergent, not powdered, since powdered detergent can get stuck inside your shoes. Add some vinegar to the wash bin to help remove odors, and add some pine oil (the product should be at least 80% pine oil) to disinfect. Run the washer on a cold-water delicate cycle to prevent warping your sneakers.


Wash them by hand

If you have expensive new sneakers, you may want to hand-wash them to avoid any potential damage. Using a mixture of warm water and liquid detergent, gently scrub the outsole, midsole and sole with a soft brush or cloth. Soak up the detergent afterward with a wet sponge.


Use the dryer

Be careful if you decide to machine dry your shoes, because the heat can warp the soles. It would be a good idea to wrap your shoes inside a towel and run the dryer on a low-heat delicate cycle. Keep your laces inside the pillowcase, or air-dry them, to make sure they don't get stuck or tangled inside the dryer. You should periodically check your shoes throughout the dry cycle to make sure the soles aren't warping.


Air-dry them

A safer, but slower, method is to air-dry your sneakers. Dry them outside, but remember that direct sunlight can bleach and shrink your shoes. Put them underneath a table, chair or stairway. You might also want to place a dry cotton towel inside each shoe to help them retain their shape.