As we wear our sneakers, they inevitably get dirty, scuffed, and stained. This leads many people to contemplate the best method for cleaning their beloved kicks. While it may be tempting to toss them into the washing machine for a quick and easy clean, there are some compelling reasons why you shouldn't use a washing machine to clean sneakers.
1. Potential Damage to Sneakers
One of the primary concerns with using a washing machine to clean sneakers is the risk of causing damage to your beloved shoes. Washing machines are designed for fabric and garments, not for the delicate materials that make up most sneakers. The vigorous spinning and tumbling of the machine can lead to excessive wear and tear, including tearing, fraying, or warping of the shoe's structure. Sneakers with leather, suede, or other delicate materials are especially vulnerable to this kind of damage.
2. Decreased Longevity
Sneakers are an investment, and you want them to last as long as possible. Using a washing machine can significantly decrease the lifespan of your sneakers. The agitation, friction and heat inside the machine can weaken the stitching and damage the glue, causing the sole to detach, or even crack the midsole. It's not uncommon for the shoe's cushioning and support features to deteriorate after machine washing, leaving you with a less comfortable and supportive pair of sneakers.
3. Colour Fading and Material Distortion
Another significant drawback of machine washing sneakers is the potential for colour fading and material distortion. The detergents and high-speed spinning of the washing machine can lead to color bleed, fading, or even discolouration of your sneakers. The intense moisture exposure may also cause some materials to stretch, warp, or lose their original shape, rendering your sneakers less aesthetically pleasing.
4. Ineffective Stain Removal
While a washing machine may be effective at removing some dirt and grime from sneakers, it's not always the best choice for deep or stubborn stains. Some stains, like oil, ink, or grass, may require specialised cleaning techniques and products. The machine's standard wash cycle may not be enough to completely eliminate these tougher stains, leaving you with less-than-pristine sneakers.
5. Shoe Odour and Mildew Risk
Sneakers tend to accumulate odour over time, especially if they're used for active activities or during hot and sweaty weather. Throwing your sneakers in the washing machine won't necessarily eliminate the odour problem; in fact, it might exacerbate it. The warm, damp environment inside the machine can promote the growth of mould and mildew, leading to a musty odour that's even harder to get rid of. To effectively address odours, it's better to use specialised shoe deodorisers and cleaning products.
Looking to get your sneakers cleaned? Pop into our Sneaker Laundry and speak to one of our experts. We use a w'air device that avoids the use of harsh chemicals and heat for a low-risk, low-abrasive but extremely effective clean.