How to Wash Shoes in a Front Load Washer

How to Clean Dirty Shoes in a Front Load Washer

I’ve been curious to know if I can wash shoes in a front load washer without ruining them or causing a racket in the machine.

I recently bought my daughter, Olivia, a pair of canvas shoes at Walmart that were clearanced. I hesitated to buy them, knowing how quickly they would be soiled and ready to be in line as her next pair of play shoes. But they were only a few dollars and I just bought a brand new front load washer that so far has proven itself to the highest. So I wondered if it could extend the life of these shoes, as well as my wallet.

A quick search on Pinterest brought me to an article titled Washing Shoes 101. Following their directions, which I will explain later in this post, I gave this tip a test- a Pin Test.


How to Wash Shoes in Front Load Washer Test

As you can see, these canvas shoes are pretty dirty. They are still in excellent shape- just too dingy to wear with any clean outfit.

Dirty Canvas Shoes

Using a wipe, you should hand wash them to the best of your ability.

The article used what they called a flour sack towel that was a 36″ square. I don’t have a flour sack towel so I found some jersey cotton I had leftover from some other project, the color is similar to the shoes and its the best I got.

Take the shoelaces out of the shoes.

Place them, along with the laces, in one corner of the fabric with soles facing each other.

To Clean- wrap shoes in cloth

Wrap them in the towel, rolling in the fabric to the other end.

Roll shoes in fabric to clean

Take the two loose ends and tie them back over the shoes- securing them inside this handbag washing bag.

Shoes inside a cloth bag

Put them in your front load washer.

Place Shoes into Front Load Washer

Add detergent.

Place on the shortest time setting and use cold water.

washer settings to wash shoes

My washing machine has an express cycle which is only 15 minutes long and I adjusted the water temperature to cold. I wasn’t sure if this were a good idea, considering the express cycle is probably depending on the hot water to actually clean the shoes.

Regardless, it was what the instructions said to do- so I did it.  Fifteen minutes later I return to the washer to find this:

failed pin test


Regardless if I should have used a different setting on the washer- the bag didn’t even hold up!!  Then, just to top it off, the shoes were still just as dirty as before! I know the detergent is good, since I made it myself!

Considering the bag fell apart during a 15 minute cycle- I have deemed this a failed pin tip.


But I still have a pair of dirty shoes. So I decide to give it a second try.

This time I tie the bag tighter than before. In fact, since the ends were long enough, I actually tied it around the shoes and then back over into a double knot.  I changed my front loader settings to a normal load using warm water. Additionally, I decide to pre-treat the shoes.

After a full hour here are the results:

The shoes were still wrapped in their cloth sack!! But they didn’t look much cleaner than they were when I put them in the washer.

washed shoes

On the Brighter Side

While these cloth canvas shoes didn’t get much cleaner, the bag if tied right does hold up. So, maybe with different shoes with different fabric- this could work.

I am still keeping this a Pin-Fail however, since the original posters shoes were cloth just like these.



  1. says


    I am so sorry that this did not work out for you. I actually had found another method after getting a few comments from folks that this happened to them as well – BUT never changed it on my website. I found using a pillowcase is more reliable than the large flour sack towels. I’m sorry you went through all that work – insert sad face.

  2. Ruth says

    I wash all my shoes in the front loader- no bag. Usually I do a load of shoes. I’ve even washed those popular leather deck shoes. They always come out like new (some may have those gray wear and tear marks that aren’t dirt). Same with baseball caps, though I usually pre-treat hose (hubby gets them greasy at work). Of course I use Dawn dish soap to pre-treat. I have never had results like the test above. Why do they recommend the bag?

    • Miranda says

      I just washed my husband baseball cap the other day in the front load without using a bag and it turned out just fine. I am going to try those same shoes without a bag.

  3. Amy says

    I wrap sneakers in a towel then place the towel in a zipped lingerie bag. The bag stays together and the towel reduces the thumping in the washer. I actually purchased an inexpensive black bath towel just for washing sneakers 🙂

  4. Steff says

    Put some jeans or towels in the machine along with the shoes. Put the laces in a little bag and just throw the shoes into the machine add they are. Warm water and a bit of detergent … I have done this for years with fantastic results!

  5. Soles says

    Perhaps you should use an elastic band to secure the shoes in place of the shoelaces. At the shoe tips you may also consider pretreating with a vinegar solution spray or a stain removal detergent. Increase soil level and lower spin speed?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *