How to clean trainers

Keeping your creps looking box fresh isn’t easy. Realistically, your beloved new trainers are going to be magnets for grot and grime the moment you step out of your front door. However careful you are, it’s pretty much impossible to prevent your once pristine trainers from suffering the odd scuff or stain. For some the ‘worn in’ look adds character but for those of you who prefer your trainers to look spotless for as long as possible, we’ve put together a handy guide that will take you through the essentials of trainer cleaning. Learning how to wash trainers can be a bit of a game changer. Got a favourite pair of trainers that have seen better days? A good wash can give them new life and extend their longevity.

How to wash trainers in the washing machine

Even if you’re vaguely aware that trainers can be cleaned in the washing machine, actually going ahead and subjecting a favourite pair of trainers to a spin cycle probably feels like a bit of a risk. To some extent you’re right to exercise caution. There are a few important factors to consider before bunging your best trainers into a washing machine and hoping for the best.


Can you put trainers in the washing machine? 

Not all trainers are machine washable so it’s a good idea to check for a washing label. If you can’t find a label, have a look on the manufacturer’s website to see if there’s any washing advice. Ultimately, it’s better to be safe than sorry – if you can’t find confirmation that your trainers are machine washable it’s probably wise to handwash them.

Check out our product care page for advice on how to look after New Balance men’s and women’s running shoes as well as kid’s New Balance trainers.

Machine washing your trainers

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to wash shoes in a washing machine: 

• Remove laces and insoles. You can clean laces separately by leaving them to soak in a strong solution of stain remover.  

• Scrub off any accumulated mud and dirt. 

• Don’t put the trainers into the washing machine alone. Ideally you want to load them along with items that will cushion their impact as they tumble around in the drum. This will reduce the likelihood of them damaging the washing machine. Towels are a good option. 

• Use a cold wash. Hot washes can cause the colours on your trainers to fade. Your washing machine probably has a ‘Cold Wash’ setting but if not set it to the lowest temperature possible – 20°C should be fine.  

• Use a liquid detergent. Powder detergents sometimes fail to fully dissolve in a low temperature wash and can become engrained in crevices like the seams of a trainer. Generally speaking, liquid detergent is a better option for cold washes. 

• Leave your trainers to dry naturally. Heat can warp plastic and rubber so it’s best to avoid radiators and tumble dryers. Try hanging your trainers from the back of the heel using a peg. If possible, hang them outside, where they’ll dry out a bit quicker. 

• A nifty trick for drying the insides of your trainers more quickly and thoroughly: stuff your wet trainers with silica gel bags (the small bags that look like salt sachets and are often found in packaging), which absorb moisture.  

How to clean white trainers

It probably goes without saying that white trainers are more likely to need an occasional deep clean than darker coloured trainers. Even the lightest spattering of dirt will stand out on a pristine white trainer.

Washing white trainers in the washing machine as described above is an option, as long as they’re machine washable. We recommend taking a look at our product care page for advice on caring for New Balance women’s and men’s trainers.

If they aren’t suitable for the washing machine you can handwash them using the following advice.  

How to clean white leather trainers

Start by removing the laces – you can clean these separately by leaving them to soak in a strong solution of stain remover.  

It’s a best to avoid using harsh cleaning products like laundry detergent on leather. Instead, using an e-cloth, wipe them with a weak solution of washing up liquid. Using an old toothbrush can work well but be gentle – it’s easy to damage leather if you’re too aggressive. Try to avoid excessively soaking the leather and wipe off the muddy water with a dry cloth as you go. 

How to clean canvas shoes

Canvas is more robust than leather so you can use strong laundry detergents and apply a bit more elbow grease. If you’re struggling to shift stains, you could try a liquid or gel stain remover, following the product instructions. Generally speaking, cleaning canvas shoes can be approached in the same manner as cleaning clothes.  

Can you put canvas trainers in the washing machine?

Canvas shoes are much more likely to be machine washable than leather shoes, but we would still recommend checking for washing instructions before attempting to machine wash a valued pair of trainers. If you’re happy to give it a try, follow the ‘how to wash shoes in a washing machine’ instructions above. 

How to clean suede shoes

Suede is a beautiful fabric that can lose its velvety lustre frustratingly quickly, but it’s also a particularly fragile material so it’s wise to approach cleaning suede shoes with a degree of caution and some specialist cleaning tools.  

Firstly, a suede brush is an indispensable bit of kit if you want to keep your suede shoes looking their best. It’s a good idea to use a suede brush once a week for general cleaning – this will dispense with most surface dust and dirt and keep the suede looking fresh. To tackle deeper dirt stains you’ll need a suede eraser – often packaged along with suede brushes. A suede eraser works a lot like a pencil eraser, shedding particles that will, hopefully, lift engrained dirt from the surface of your shoes. 

Can you wash suede trainers in the washing machine

Water is suede’s sworn enemy so using a washing machine to clean your suede shoes is a strict no-no. Instead of water you could try using white vinegar or rubbing alcohol – apply a small amount to a cloth and gently rub it into a stained area.