How to Wash Shoes in Washing Machine Without Mesh Bag

Are your favorite sneakers looking a little worse for wear? Don’t worry, you don’t have to resort to buying a new pair just yet. With a few simple steps, you can breathe new life into your beloved kicks and make them look almost as good as new – all without the hassle of a mesh bag. That’s right, you can wash your shoes in the washing machine, and we’re here to show you how.

How to Wash Shoes in Washing Machine Without Mesh Bag

Why Wash Your Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to wash your shoes in the washing machine without a mesh bag, let’s talk about why you’d want to do this in the first place. Sure, you could always spot clean your shoes with a rag and some soap, but sometimes, a deeper clean is necessary, especially for shoes that have seen their fair share of adventures.

Washing your shoes in the washing machine is an efficient and effective way to remove stubborn dirt, grime, and odors that simple spot cleaning can’t tackle. It’s also a great way to revive the look and feel of your shoes, making them appear fresher and newer.

But what about those mesh bags? While they’re certainly handy for keeping your shoes together in the wash, they’re not entirely necessary. In fact, washing your shoes without a mesh bag can be just as effective, and it’s a more environmentally friendly option since you’re not using single-use plastic bags.

Preparing Your Shoes for the Wash

Before you toss your shoes into the washing machine, there are a few steps you’ll want to take to ensure a successful and safe cleaning process.

  1. Remove any loose dirt or debris: Use a soft-bristled brush or a toothbrush to gently remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface of your shoes. This will help prevent the dirt from spreading throughout the washing machine and onto your other clothes.
  2. Check for any loose or removable parts: Take a close look at your shoes and remove any loose or removable parts, such as laces, insoles, or tongue pads. These components may become damaged or lost in the washing machine, so it’s best to remove them beforehand.
  3. Pretreat any stubborn stains: If your shoes have any particularly stubborn stains, you may want to pretreat them with a stain remover or a mixture of warm water and dish soap. Let the pretreatment sit for a few minutes before washing to help break down the stain. For tough stains like mud or grass, you can try using a specialized shoe cleaner or a stain remover pen designed specifically for fabrics and materials used in shoes.
  4. Tie the laces together (if applicable): If your shoes have laces, be sure to tie them together or tuck them inside the shoes. This will prevent the laces from tangling or becoming a mess in the washing machine.

Bonus Tip: Invest in a Good Shoe Cleaning Kit

If you plan on washing your shoes regularly, it might be worth investing in a dedicated shoe cleaning kit. These kits typically include a variety of brushes, cleaning solutions, and tools designed specifically for cleaning and maintaining different types of shoes.

One popular option is the Jason Markk Premium Shoe Cleaner, which comes with a premium solution, a premium brush, and a microfiber towel, all designed to safely and effectively clean and maintain your shoes.

The Washing Machine Method

Now that your shoes are prepped and ready to go, it’s time to tackle the washing machine. Here’s how to wash your shoes in the washing machine without a mesh bag:

  1. Choose the right cycle: Select a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine. This will help prevent excessive agitation and ensure that your shoes aren’t subjected to too much wear and tear during the washing process. For extra protection, consider using a washing machine with a dedicated “Handwash” or “Delicates” cycle, like the LG WashTower WT7900HBA or the Samsung WF45R6300AW/US.
  2. Use cold water: Hot water can cause certain materials, like canvas or leather, to shrink or become misshapen. Stick to cold water to keep your shoes looking their best.
  3. Add a small amount of detergent: You don’t need to use a ton of detergent when washing shoes. A small amount (about a tablespoon or two) of mild detergent or a specialized shoe cleaner should be sufficient. Consider using a gentle, eco-friendly detergent like Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent or a specialized shoe cleaner like Reshoevn8r Shoe Cleaner Solution.
  4. Load the shoes: Place your shoes in the washing machine drum, making sure they’re evenly spaced and not bunched together. If you’re washing multiple pairs of shoes, distribute them evenly throughout the drum.
  5. Add a few towels or clean rags: To help balance the load and provide some cushioning for your shoes, add a few clean towels or rags to the washing machine. This will help prevent your shoes from banging around too much during the wash cycle.
  6. Run the cycle: Once everything is loaded and ready to go, start the wash cycle. It’s important to stay nearby during the wash so you can monitor the process and make any necessary adjustments if needed.
  7. Air dry: After the cycle is complete, remove your shoes from the washing machine and allow them to air dry completely. Avoid putting them in the dryer, as the high heat can cause damage or shrinkage to certain materials. For faster drying, consider using a shoe dryer like the PEET Shoe Dryer or the DryGuy Force Dry Shoe Dryer, which can dry your shoes in as little as an hour or two.

Tips and Tricks for a Successful Shoe Wash

While the basic steps for washing your shoes in the washing machine without a mesh bag are straightforward, there are a few additional tips and tricks to keep in mind for optimal results:

  1. Consider a front-loading machine: Front-loading washing machines tend to be gentler on shoes than top-loaders, as they don’t have an agitator that can potentially damage or scuff the shoes during the wash cycle. Some highly rated front-loading washing machines for washing shoes include the LG WM3900HWA and the Samsung WF45R6300AV/US.
  2. Avoid bleach or fabric softener: Bleach and fabric softener can be harsh on certain shoe materials and may cause discoloration or damage. It’s best to stick to a mild detergent or specialized shoe cleaner.
  3. Check for color bleeding: If you’re washing new or brightly colored shoes, it’s a good idea to do a quick color test first. Wash the shoes alone or with a few old towels to check for any color bleeding or transfer.
  4. Stuff the shoes with paper towels: After washing, stuff the inside of your shoes with paper towels or clean rags. This will help them retain their shape as they dry and prevent any unwanted creasing or misshaping.
  5. Deodorize as needed: If your shoes are prone to odors, you can add a small amount of baking soda or a specialized shoe deodorizer to the wash cycle. This can help neutralize any unpleasant smells and leave your shoes feeling fresh.
  6. Repeat as necessary: Depending on the level of dirt or grime on your shoes, you may need to repeat the washing process a few times to achieve the desired level of cleanliness.

Washing Different Types of Shoes

While the basic washing machine method is suitable for most types of shoes, some materials may require additional care or precautions. Here’s a quick guide for washing different types of shoes:

Canvas Shoes (e.g., Converse, Vans)

Canvas shoes are generally safe to wash in the washing machine, but it’s a good idea to turn them inside out before washing to protect the outer fabric. You can also add a little bit of vinegar to the wash cycle to help set the colors and prevent fading.

Leather Shoes

Leather shoes can be a bit trickier to wash in the machine, as the agitation and water can potentially cause damage or shrinkage. If you do decide to wash leather shoes, use a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. Stuff the shoes with paper towels or rags before washing to help them maintain their shape.

Another option is to spot clean leather shoes using a soft brush, a leather cleaner, and a leather conditioner.

Suede Shoes

Suede is a delicate material that can be easily damaged in the washing machine. It’s best to avoid machine washing suede shoes and instead opt for spot cleaning with a suede brush and a suede cleaner or eraser.

Athletic Shoes

Athletic shoes, like running shoes or cross-trainers, can generally withstand a spin in the washing machine. However, it’s important to remove any removable insoles or liners before washing, as these can become misshapen or damaged in the machine.

After washing, be sure to stuff the shoes with paper towels or rags to help them maintain their shape as they dry.

Rain Boots and Galoshes

Rain boots and galoshes are typically made from rubber or waterproof materials, making them safe to wash in the washing machine. However, it’s a good idea to remove any removable liners or insoles before washing, as these can become damaged or misshapen.

Remember to use a gentle cycle and cold water to prevent any warping or damage to the rubber or waterproof materials.

Maintaining Your Clean Shoes

Once you’ve successfully washed your shoes in the washing machine without a mesh bag, it’s important to take steps to maintain their cleanliness and prolong their lifespan. Here are a few tips:

  1. Let them air out: After wearing your shoes, remove any insoles or inserts and allow the shoes to air out completely. This will help prevent the buildup of moisture and odors. For added freshness, consider using a shoe deodorizer spray or placing deodorizing sachets inside your shoes when not in use.
  2. Spot clean as needed: While washing your shoes in the washing machine is a great deep cleaning method, you’ll still want to spot-clean them regularly to remove any surface dirt or stains. Keep a small shoe-cleaning brush and a shoe cleaner solution on hand for quick spot-cleaning sessions.
  3. Store them properly: When not in use, store your shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources. You can also stuff them with acid-free paper or shoe trees to help them retain their shape. Consider investing in a shoe storage cabinet or shoe racks to keep your shoes organized and protected.
  4. Rotate your shoes: If possible, try to rotate between multiple pairs of shoes to give each pair a chance to air out and recover between wears.
  5. Consider waterproofing: For shoes that will be exposed to wet conditions, consider applying a waterproofing spray or treatment to help protect them from water damage and stains. Popular waterproofing products for shoes include Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof and Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield.

By following these simple tips and techniques, you can keep your freshly washed shoes looking and smelling their best for years to come.


Washing your shoes in the washing machine without a mesh bag is a convenient and eco-friendly way to give your kicks a deep clean and revive their appearance. With a few simple steps and some helpful tips, you can effectively remove dirt, grime, and odors while preserving the integrity of your shoes.

So, the next time your favorite sneakers are looking a little worse for wear, don’t hesitate to give them a good washing machine scrub. Your feet – and your wallet – will thank you for extending the life of your beloved kicks.

Remember, proper shoe care and maintenance is key to keeping your kicks looking and smelling fresh for years to come. With the right techniques and products, you can easily revive even the most well-worn shoes and enjoy them for many more adventures ahead.

Sharing Is Caring:

As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.

Leave a Comment