Can You Wash Shoes in the Dishwasher?

Shoes in dishwasher

You can wash shoes that do not have leather parts in a dishwasher. The procedure is straightforward, just like washing dishes. However, your dishwasher should have a low setting to prevent damaging the shoes.

Precautions When Using Dishwasher to Clean Shoes

Here are some things to remember before choosing to wash your shoes in the dishwasher.

Before putting your shoes in the dishwasher, ensure it has a low or “No” heat setting and a “Dry with No Heat” option

Dishwashers are designed to operate at extremely high temperatures to sanitize dishes when cleaning them. However, these temperatures can damage your shoes by causing shrinkage, softening the adhesives, and cracking finishes.

Ensure that your dishwasher has an easy-to-clean filter drain

While you want to get rid of as much excess dirt from your shoes as possible before putting them in the dishwasher for cleaning, some dirt will most certainly accumulate on the filter drain. The filter drain should be easy to access for cleaning.

Air dry the shoes

Although there is an option to dry the shoes in the dishwasher, the high drying temperatures will most likely damage the shoes.

Only wash the shoes in the dishwasher

It may sound obvious but check that there is no utensil in the dishwasher before placing the shoes in. Although you will be using the top rack, check the lower racks for any utensils. A spoon or fork may have been left there by mistake.

How to Clean Shoes in a Dishwasher

What You Need

  • Dishwasher
  • Mild dishwasher detergent
  • Soft-bristled shoe brush
  • Paper towel
  • Clean water
  • Small laundry bucket
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda


Dust off the Shoes

Start by dusting off the shoes or sneakers to remove any loose dirt and debris. Make gentle, repetitive strokes on the shoes’ upper and sole to remove dirt. Then, turn them over and remove excess dirt from the sole.

Remove Inner Sole and Shoe Laces

If the shoes have removable shoe laces and inner soles, remove them and put them aside for handwashing.

Put the Shoes in the Dishwasher for Cleaning

You may wash 1-3 pairs of shoes on the dishwasher at a time as long as they fit on the top rack. Turn the shoes upside down and place them on the top-most rack. If there is a shoe odor you would like to get rid of, spray both the upper and the interior with a white vinegar mixture before placing them in the dishwasher.

Set the dishwasher to “No heat” or the lowest heat setting. Then, add mild dishwashing detergent to the dishwasher. Close the dishwasher door and run a cleaning cycle.

Clean the Insoles and Shoelaces

As the dishwasher runs the cleaning cycle, wash the insoles and shoelaces. Depending on how dirty or smelly the shoe laces and inner soles are, you may need to pre-soak them before cleaning.

To pre-soak them, put warm water in a small laundry bucket, add 5-10ml of dishwashwer detergent, and ¼ cup of white vinegar or a tablespoon of baking soda. Stir to mix the solution thoroughly.

Fully submerge the shoe laces and inner soles in the water and allow them to soak for 30 – 60 minutes.

Remove each from the water and scrub to remove any remaining dirt or tough stains. Rinse them in running water or in a bucket with clean water.

Air Dry the Shoes, Inner Soles, and Shoelaces

Once the cleaning cycle is complete, remove the shoes from the washer and allow any residual water to drain. Fold some paper towels and stuff them inside the shoes. They absorb excess water from the shoes’ interior, allowing them to dry faster. They also help the shoes to retain their structure. Some people recommend stuffing the shoes with newspapers instead of a kitchen towel, but it tends to leave ink marks.

Lay the shoes, inner soles, and shoelaces on a drying rack in a cool, dry, and well-aerated place away from direct sunlight and heat. Allow enough time for the shoes to dry completely to prevent mold and fungus growth.

Clean the Dishwasher Interior Thoroughly

After you remove the shoes, clean the dishwasher thoroughly, making sure to disinfect it and drain the filter. Pull out the bottom rack to get easy access to the drain line. Inspect it for any debris and dirt particles that may have accumulated and remove them.

Fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with vinegar and place it on the top rack. Close the dishwasher and run a complete wash cycle on the hottest setting. Sprinkle baking soda on all the racks and run another wash cycle on the hottest setting.


Although using a dishwasher is not the most recommendable method of washing shoes, it is effective. Set the dishwasher on the lowest heat setting to prevent the shoes from getting damaged by high temperatures.

If you intend to use the dishwasher for cleaning utensils afterward, you need to clean it thoroughly to get rid of dirt and restore hygienic conditions. A dishwasher with an easy-to-clean drain filter will be easy to clean.

FAQ: Can You Wash Shoes in the Dishwasher?

What are the benefits of using the dishwasher to wash your shoes over a washing machine?

Regular washing of your shoes in a dishwasher causes them to wear down. The seams and hems may come apart, and it also removes labels. The heat from the washing machine may also cause the soles to curve. The constant knocking of the shoes against the walls of the washer may damage the machine’s drums.

On the other hand, there are no guarantees that the dishwasher will not damage your shoes. The harsh dishwashing detergents may weaken the fabric of the shoes and cause them to tear or soften the adhesive.

What are alternative methods of cleaning shoes?

Handwashing is the most recommended method of washing shoes. It enables you to be meticulous with the cleaning process and to handle the upper gently. It also limits the amount of water that gets inside the shoes preventing damage and mold growth.

You could also wash certain types of shoes in a washer. This method is most applicable for mesh, fabric, or canvas shoes.

Shoes made of leather, vinyl, rubber, or suede should not be put in a washer. Note that even when it is appropriate, repeatedly cleaning shoes in the washer damages them. So, you can alternate between machine washing and handwashing.

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