Shoes get dirty pretty quickly. In fairness to them, they do spend all their time sandwiched between your feet and the ground. Dirt, sweat, and grime are pretty much par for the course.
If you want to keep your shoes looking clean and stylish, then you’re going to need to wash them. Expert advice suggests you clean your shoes every two weeks, depending on the type and make of your shoes.
Of course, washing your shoes every two weeks means you need a way to quickly dry them. The thick layers and dense soles in shoes can make them incredibly difficult to dry naturally.
You might be tempted to throw your clean, but wet, shoes into the dryer. However, this may not be the smartest choice.
Let’s take a closer look at what dryers do to your shoes and what the best way to dry your shoes actually is.
Putting Shoes in the Dryer
The bottom line on putting shoes in the dryer depends on the kind of shoes. Ultimately, most shoes, particularly everyday footwear like sneakers, can be dried in the machine as long as you follow some basic rules.
First up, always check the label of the shoe.
The label tells you things like the size and materials of the shoe, but it should also have cleaning and drying information.
These symbols are pretty weird and often have little connection with the actual machine they’re trying to represent. Honestly, it’s like trying to read hieroglyphs.
The symbol you’re looking for is a square with a circle inside of it. It might also have a dot inside the circle.
If you see the square with the circle, it means that the shoes can be put in the dryer. If there is a dot in the circle, then you have to use the low-temperature setting.
However, if there is a cross through the symbol, it means that the shoe can’t be put in the dryer at all. If you ignore that advice, then you’re likely to end up ruining your shoes.
As a final note, some shoes print this symbol on the inside sole. This is particularly common with slip-on shoes or shoes that don’t have a tongue.
Sometimes the washing information rubs off the shoes, or it just wasn’t printed in the first place. If this is the case, then you need to consider the materials the shoes are made of.
Some fabrics and materials do better with heat than others. Meanwhile, there are some fabrics that you should never put in the dryer.
Shoes made from canvas do the best in the dryer. The rough material is hardy and not prone to shrinking or melting.
Shoes like Converse, Vans, and DC’s are made from canvas with a rubber sole. If you’re wearing other brands that look similar, make sure that the upper is actually made from canvas. Sometimes cheaper fabrics are used.
They might look the same, but they often perform worse in the heat.
Cotton is another common fabric used for the upper part of your shoes. Cotton can go in the dryer, but it is prone to shrink at high temperatures. To combat this, you need to make sure you stuff the shoes before you put them in the dryer.
Stuffing the shoes with socks or rags will help keep the cotton stretched and help it hold its shape. The only issue with stuffing your shoes is that it can take longer for them to dry out.
The other material that you can machine dry, is nylon or polyester. Usually, athletic shoes are made from these materials because they are breathable and flexible.
If your shoes are made with either of these materials, your best bet is to dry them at a lower temperature. Both materials are prone to shrinking or melting when exposed to higher temperatures.
In terms of materials to avoid, you definitely don’t want to put suede or leather in the dryer. Suede warps and becomes brittle when exposed to high temperatures.
Leather performs in a similar fashion. It warps, creases, and crinkles when exposed to heat. If you throw leather shoes in the dryer, they will come out in an entirely different shape, filled with wrinkles, creases, and cracks.
How to Machine Dry Shoes
If your shoes can go in the dryer, then you need to follow a few basic rules to keep both your dryer and your shoes safe and clean.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is to fill your dryer with towels. Don’t just drop your shoes into the drum on their own.
If you only have your shoes in the dryer, they are going to fly around the drum. This can cause a lot of issues for both the dryer and your shoes.
First and foremost, if your shoes are rocketing around your dryer, they might knock the drum off balance or out of alignment. This happens more frequently than you’d think.
The other issue is that your shoes can become seriously damaged. As they bash against the sides of the drum, the fabric and soles are getting knocked into different shapes and positions.
The fabric is also more flexible at that point in time, so it’s going to change and compress more than normal.
By filling your dryer with towels, the shoes don’t have the room or the opportunity to rocket around the drum. Plus, you’re not wasting time running a cycle with only your shoes in the drum.
The other thing to consider is stuffing your shoes. This will help them retain their shape throughout the wash.
You can stuff your shoes with old rags, socks, scarves, or small shirts. These items should be dry and dryer safe.
Avoid overstuffing your shoes because this can stretch them out. Remember that the materials become more pliable in the dryer, so overstuffed shoes will probably stretch to that shape.
Use the Door
A great way to stop your shoes from tumbling around is to let them hang from the door. To do this, remove the laces down to the last set of eyelets, then tie both pairs of laces together with a knot.
Put the shoes in the dryer, but hold onto that knot in the middle of the laces. You need to shut the door while keeping hold of the knot. This will jam the laces in the door and cause the shoes to hang.
In this position, the shoes will benefit from the heat of the dryer but won’t get bashed around.