Can You Wash Converse in the Washing Machine?

Converse are durable shoes perfect for daily wear, they have been a popular show choice for many years. I actually recently purchased the  However, with daily wear comes daily dirt. Once they get dirty, how can you clean them?

Traditional converse are a canvas shoe, which means they can be machine washed. Any suede or leather converse shoe should never be washed. However, Converse recommends hand washing their shoes with a damp gentle cloth along with some mild soap. 

Can You Put Converse in the Washing Machine?

Converse are a flat shoe with canvas siding and rubber soles. This means that there are no delicate materials or shapes that can get messed up by a washing machine. You can absolutely wash your converse occasionally, and probably need to prevent some nasty stains.

Will the Washing Machine Damage Your Converse?

If it is done properly, the washing machine will not damage your converse. After washing, you may notice that the shoes feel a little stiff, but this will not last. The next section will give detailed instructions on how to machine wash converse.

How to Machine Wash Converse

1. To machine wash Converse Shoes, you should first remove the laces and soles from the shoes and set them aside. I like to spray the soles down with a commercial odor fighting spray or sprinkle them with baking soda while the shoes wash.

2. The second step is to use a toothbrush to dislodge any loose dirt from the shoes. You can clog your washing machine if you just toss them in all muddy.

3. Next, select a gentle cycle and cold water to wash your Converse. This will prevent the glue holding the shoes together from being damaged.

4. Put the shoes into the machine and start it. Shoes should always be washed alone, as they tend to damage other clothes put in with them.

5. Let the cycle complete, and then put the shoes out to airdry. You can use paper to stuff the shoes and help them dry in the right shape, but I have never found this necessary.

6. Once the shoes are dry, replace the laces and soles. Remember to vacuum up the baking soda if you left it on the soles!

washing converse in machines

Can You Put Converse in the Dryer?

Because Converse are held together with a combination of stitching and glue, it is not a good idea to put them in the dryer. Even lower settings on a traditional dryer can weaken the glue or melt it entirely. This will make the shoe fall apart, especially around the sole. It is simply better to air dry them rather than risking ruining the shoes.

Can Soak Your Converse in Pre-Wash Treatment?

Even though this can seem like a fantastic way to keep them looking new at first, you really should not soak your shoes in pre-treatment. Most pre-wash treatments like Oxiclean contain Sodium Percarbonate, which dissolves the glue holding the shoes together. The shoes may look fine when you take them out of the treatment but come apart the next time you wear them.

How to Keep Your Converse Looking New

Instead of soaking the shoes in harsh chemicals, there are other, safer ways to keep you Converse looking new. Let us go over the two main problems seen in aging shoes: stains and fading of the fabric.

How to Keep Your White Converse Shoes White

How to Keep Your White Converse White

The most popular converse color is white because it goes with everything. However, white is also easy to stain. Over time, white fabrics like the canvas used in Converse Shoes turn yellow or grey. To fight this, we wash our white linens and clothes with bleach. However, you do not want to do this to your Converse. Not only will this be hard on the glue, but it will also actually make them yellow faster. Canvas is prone to turning yellow when exposed to bleach because this is its’ natural color. Snow white canvas is dyed.

Instead, you can remove dirty frequently with a toothbrush, and clean the shoes every few wears. When washing, use a pre-wash treatment to nip stains in the bud. To pretreat your converse, wet a cloth with the pretreatment and rub down the fabric portions of the shoe. Let this sit for 2-3 minutes before throwing them into the washing machine.

How to Keep other Colors Vibrant

Like with white converse, removing dirt promptly and using pretreatments is the best way to keep the color looking true. However, you will additionally want to wash the shoes with as cold of water as you can and look for a color safe pretreatment. In some cases, a laundry detergent with color brightening agents can help reverse fading. If you find your shoes to be getting dull despite all this, redyeing the shoes with a kit can be an option.

How to Remove Stains from Converse Shoes

Removing stains from your converse can often be done with a regular wash and pretreatment – canvas is known for its sturdiness and stain resistance. However, if you have a stubborn stain, then you can try a couple of other solutions depending on the type of stain.

Mud Stains

Mud Stains

Mud stains are the result of dirty water splashing, mud left to dry in the fabric, or general muck that was not removed fast enough. Even after the dirt is removed, a faint outline of the mud remains. To remove dirt stains, a bleaching powder or toothpaste is ideal.

For white shoes, I find the bleach to be the best solution. Spot treatment with bleach is viable for converse even though washing with bleach is not, because the glue is not exposed to the bleach during a spot treatment. Simply apply carefully with a cloth to the affected area, wait three to five minutes, and then rinse.

For other colors, the toothpaste method is dependable. Use a toothbrush and some toothpaste to brush the shoes just like you would your teeth. Wipe off the extra foam, and then wash the shoes as normal.

Oil Stains

Oil Stains are usually the result of food or industrial areas. These are by far the most difficult to get out of clothing. Covering the area in baking soda for two to three minutes, and then washing them may help lift the stain. You can also try a special enzyme-based prewash treatment, which can be found in most grocery stores.

Grass Stains

Grass stains can be tricky to lift because of their bright green color. I find that the best way to remove them is with rubbing alcohol. To do this, wet an old cloth with rubbing alcohol and use a combination of the alcohol and friction to remove the stain. Afterwards, wash out the rubbing alcohol by throwing the shoes in the washer. As a note, this trick is only suitable for converse because they are a canvas shoe – do not try this on other fabrics.

Final Thoughts

Washing converse in the washing machine can be a lifesaver. Every time I do, I see how much of a difference it makes. If you are dealing with stained or dingy shoes, then the techniques here are worth a try before tossing your converse. However, just keep in mind that you will need to remove the laces, the soles, and always allow your shoes to airdry. Putting Converse in the dryer is a terrible idea.