Can Leather Tennis Shoes Be Washed In Washing Machine?

Leather shoes have traditionally been a popular choice for tennis players.

While it is rare that you will come across classic leather tennis shoes in stores, there are some still available.

Most tennis shoes today are made from synthetic materials.

Manufacturers prefer synthetic materials over leather because they make the shoes more breathable. In addition to that, they also offer better circulation of air.

If you tend to get sweaty feet, you will know how important breathability is in a shoe.

Perhaps you own classic leather shoes. Is it possible to clean them in the washing machine?

It’s never a good idea to wash leather tennis shoes in the washing machine. They will get damaged while in the machine and will likely come out cracked and faded. If it is pleather (fake leather), you should be okay putting them in the machine.

In this article I will be answering:

  • Whether washing machines can destroy leather tennis shoes
  • The safest way to wash tennis shoes made from leather
  • Which type of training shoes can safely go in the washing machine

Most tennis shoes will be priced at over $100. You thus want to make sure that they are taken good care of.

Will Washing Machines Destroy Leather Tennis Shoes?

Sports sneakers in metal drum of washing machine close-up.

I don’t know what your wardrobe looks like. But, if you’re a fan of leather, this question has no doubt crossed your mind on several occasions.

What is the best way to wash leather clothing?

I know some people who choose to wash their leather clothes in the machine, but they do it for one reason.

They do not care if the texture, look, or in some cases, color changes.

They feel that the damage the clothing sustains is an acceptable sacrifice to avoid the dry cleaners.

It’s obviously more convenient to just put clothing in the washing machine. However, I am not sure it is a risk I’d be willing to take.

So, if you don’t mind crinkled leather shoes, does this mean it is okay to wash them in the machine?

Even though the shoes are also made from leather, they will react more adversely to the machine.

This is because not only will the shoes become crinkled and faded, but something else can happen.

When leather shoes go through the washing machine, they can come out with small cracks in them.

These small cracks can soon become larger. So if you are playing in a bit of rain, you can pretty much guarantee the water will leak through your shoes.

On the bright side, they have gained more breathability than before.

Either way, I don’t recommend putting your leather shoes in the washing machine under any circumstance.

I’ve never tried washing leather tennis shoes myself. But, having seen the conditions that other people’s leather shoes end up in after a round in the washing machine, I have no desire to try either.

So, I have ruled out the washing machine as an option for cleaning leather shoes. What is the right way to do it?

Read on and you will find out.

How To Wash Leather Tennis Shoes?

girl hands washing sneakers in a bowl of water

You have several options when it comes to cleaning leather tennis shoes. However, one of the safest ways to clean them is pretty straightforward and only requires a few items.

This is what you will need:

  • A soft brush or cloth
  • A toothbrush
  • A bucket with warm water
  • Laundry detergent or a washing machine
  • Non-gel whitening toothpaste (with no artificial dyes)
  • A small towel
  • A microfiber cloth

The first thing you will need to do is remove any dirt or clay stuck to the shoe. Next, use a soft brush or cloth to wipe the dirt off the shoe.

Once the brush has gone off the shoe, any attached dirt should be loosened and come off with ease.

Next, you will need to remove the shoelaces. Again, you have two options here.

You can put them in the washing machine with other matching colors or soak them in a bowl of warm water mixed with laundry detergent.

Now that the laces are being washed, you need to clean the shoe itself.

With a wet (but not saturated) cloth, gently dampen the shoe’s exterior.

It’s important not to drench the shoe completely as this will have a similar effect as the washing machine soaking it.

After you have rubbed over the shoe with the damp cloth, most of the dirt should have been removed.

Next, take a tiny bit of toothpaste and gently rub it into any stains on the shoe with your finger.

Now that the toothpaste is applied, you can take a small toothbrush. With the toothbrush, start scrubbing over the stains in gentle circular motions.

Keep doing this until the stain is removed.

Note that if it is a large stain, it might not come off with this method.

Now you can remove the toothpaste from the shoe. Again, I recommend using a small towel.

The toothpaste should come off easily, but if you have trouble, you can wet the towel with a little warm water.

Finally, you can dry your shoes off. The easiest way is to use a microfiber cloth, but a towel will also do the job.

To summarize, these are the steps you need to take:

  1. Loosen and remove any dirt stuck to the shoes
  2. Take off and clean the laces
  3. Gently wet the shoes exterior
  4. Use toothpaste to remove any stains
  5. With the toothbrush, scrub the stains away
  6. Remove the toothpaste
  7. Dry the shoes off

What Training Shoes Can Go Into The Washing Machine?

Woman putting pair of sport shoes into washing machine

The message so far is clear. If the shoes are made from leather, keep them far away from the washing machine.

Is it possible to clean other types of training shoes in the washing machine, though?

As long as the sneakers you wash are made from synthetic materials such as polyester, they will be fine going through the washing machine.

Most shoes that can be washed in the machine will come with a care label.

Care labels come with information on how the item should be washed.

It would include, for example, the temperature the items should be washed at and other important information.

Washing training shoes in the washing machine can be broken down into four simple steps.

  1. Remove the laces from the shoes. Make sure you scrub off any excess dirt. You can use the toothbrush method again here.
  2. Place your sneakers inside a wash bag and then inside the machine. By using the bag it will stop the shoes getting trapped inside the machine, especially on the rubber section between the door and the main drum.
  3. Place some towels into the machine with the shoes. This will hopefully stop the sneakers banging against the drum whilst on cycle.
  4. Set the machine at a cold (Usually 85ºF / 30ºC) temperature to prevent discoloring.

Related: Can Tennis Shoes Be Used For Running?

Final Words

I am not a fan of leather tennis shoes because they are not very breathable and are harder to maintain.

Nonetheless, I can understand why people who own them want to take extra care when cleaning.

Do you have any magic tips when it comes to cleaning tennis shoes?

I’m not the most gifted when it comes to cleaning, so I’d be interested to hear from others who have alternative ideas.