Let’s face it, no one likes wearing dirty or muddy shoes. When it comes to wiping them down with a cloth or disposable wipe, only so much dirt comes away, especially if the shoes are made from a canvas or similar material. The reality is that the only way to get your shoes looking as good as new again is to put them in the washing machine. But will doing so damage them? Not if you do it right. It is also worth noting that once you do wash your shoes, you will need to make sure they are completely dry before you wear them again. Wearing damp shoes can lead to a range of problems, as we will see in the below paragraphs.
How to Wash Your Shoes Properly
The first thing to do before washing any pair of shoes is to check the material from which they are made. You should never place suede or leather sneakers in the washing machine, as the water could damage them. However, canvas, polyester, and nylon tend to wash well.
Be sure to remove laces and insoles before washing any sneakers and make sure there are no small stones in the sole of the shoes. You can then place them inside a specially designed shoe bag, or a pillowcase tied at the top. Avoid using a hot cycle to wash the shoes as this can damage them. Choose a cold water or delicate setting which does not have a vigorous spin.
Drying the Shoes
The shoes should never be placed in a tumble dryer because of the heat as well as the fact that they will be thrown about, which could cause them to warp. It is always best to allow the shoes to air dry, but there are ways to speed up this process, particularly as fully air drying them can take a few days.
To speed up drying, stuff rolled up pages of newspaper inside the shoes as this will help to absorb moisture from inside. Alternatively, put old clothes or paper towels inside.
Some people will place their shoes under a radiator or next to an open fire to speed up the drying process while others will leave them out in the sunlight; all this can help to rapidly dry them. You can even place them in front of a fan to dry them. Just be sure to put the shoes on a sheet of newspaper as this will help to absorb the water and make them dry quicker.
Why Your Shoes Should be Fully Dry Before You Wear Them
You might be tempted to put your clean shoes back on before they are fully dry, but this would be a big mistake. Shoes that are damp are much more likely to smell, and if your feet start to sweat in already damp shoes, it could become a breeding ground for bacteria. This will make the smell even worse. Furthermore, the bacteria could lead to a fungal infection known as athlete’s foot.
If the reason you washed your shoes in the first place was more to do with the smell than the dirt, it is probably a good idea to use a deodorizer for shoes such as those made by ShoeFresh. These specially created sprays can help to eliminate smells for up to three months, and they are perfect for sneakers.
Remember, dark and moist environments are a breeding ground for bacteria. No amount of washing your sneakers will help to get rid of a bad smell if you are just recreating the same conditions as before.