Can I Put Cycling Shoes in a Washing Machine or Dishwasher?

Through the dirt, mud, and rain, your cycling shoes can take a real beating. Keeping your shoes clean is the best way to increase their lifespan. But the challenge is figuring out how to clean them.

You wash your jerseys, shorts, and the rest of your cycling kit in the washing machine. But what about your shoes? Can you put them in the washing machine? What about the dishwasher?

Can You Put Cycling Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Cycling shoes can be washed in a washing machine without risk of damage. As long as the shoes are washed using cold water on a gentle cycle, they’ll be fine. It’s also a good idea to wash them with other items, such as large towels, to keep them from rattling around inside the machine and getting beat up.

Washing your shoes in the washing machine is a convenient way to clean them. But washing machines can sometimes be harsh on shoes, so it’s not something you want to do all the time.

How to Wash Cycling Shoes in a Washing Machine

The washing machine may be shoe friendly, but there are some measures you should take to ensure your shoes last as long as possible.

1. Wash Them With a Load of Towels

Throwing your shoes in with a load of towels keeps your shoes safe from the hard walls inside the washing machine. The towels will create a soft environment for your shoes and prevent them from banging around in the machine, especially during the spin cycle. 

2. Wash In Cold Water

To keep your cycling shoes from suffering heat damage, wash them in cold water. Hot water can deform your shoes and cause colors to fade. Heat may be an effective way of molding uncomfortable cycling shoes to your feet, but if they already feel great you don’t want a hot washing machine cycle to ruin them!

3. Wash on a Gentle Cycle

To avoid any chance of damage make sure you are washing your shoes on the gentle cycle. Most cycling shoes (especially for road biking) have a hard sole: running these shoes on a fast cycle will send them flying around inside the machine, potentially damaging them or the machine itself. Cycling shoes may be expensive, but so is repairing your washer.

Can You Put Cycling Shoes in the Dryer?

Cycling shoes can not be put in the dryer. The dryer can damage the soles and the fabric of your shoes. The heat can melt the glue that keeps the soles together and will be very rough on the shoe’s fabric. You could also damage your dryer as the shoes tumble around inside.

How to (Safely) Dry Cycling Shoes

The best way to dry your cycling shoes is by air drying them. Although this will take much longer than the dryer, there is something you can do to speed up the process: use newspaper.

Using newspaper in and around your shoes can speed up the drying process significantly. Here is how you do it:

  1. Loosen your shoe laces/straps
  2. Remove the soles of your shoes and set them aside to dry separately
  3. Crumple up some newspaper and stuff it in your shoes
  4. Take the remaining newspaper and wrap it around your shoes
  5. Place the shoes in front of a fan or in the sun to speed up the process even more

Can You Put Cycling Shoes in the Dishwasher?

Cycling shoes can be washed in the dishwasher as long as no heat or detergents are used. Detergents are too harsh to use on your shoes. And heat can cause the shoes to deform. But if your dishwasher allows you to use only cold water, it will be safe for washing your shoes.

Dishwashers get very hot in order to sanitize your dishes. So, making sure your dishwasher is set to only use cold water during washing is extremely important.

You also need to be wary of the soap you are using. Regular dish detergent will be too harsh on your shoes. Use a mild dishwasher soap to ensure your shoes come out in good condition.

How to Wash Cycling Shoes in a Dishwasher

Here are the steps you need to take when washing your shoes in the dishwasher:

  1. Remove the insoles of your shoes
  2. Place your shoes and your insoles upside down on the top rack of your dishwasher
  3. Use a mild dish detergent (do not use dish soap or laundry detergent: you don’t want your dishwasher to overflow with bubbles)
  4. Turn off the heated washing and drying cycle and start the dishwasher
  5. Once your shoes are washed, use the air drying method to dry them

Remember, this method can only be employed if your dishwasher has a cold wash setting. If it doesn’t, do not wash your cycling shoes in the dishwasher.

The Best Way to Wash Cycling Shoes

The best way to clean your cycling shoes is by hand washing them. Hand washing leaves little to no risk of damage. Cleaning them by hand with care is the best way to make sure they last a long time. 

If you choose to wash your shoes by hand, there are a few things you will need:

  • A (soft) brush or damp cloth
  • warm/cool water
  • Dish soap
  • A dry towel

How to Wash Cycling Shoes By Hand

1. Remove the Insoles

Your insoles will need special attention because they absorb most of the sweat that comes off your feet. To clean the insoles you can soak them in a bucket of warm soapy water. Don’t have a bucket? Just soap them up and run them under warm water.

2. Soak Shoes in Warm, Soapy Water

This step is optional depending on how dirty your shoes are. If they are covered in dirt, you’ll want to give them a deep cleaning, in which case you will need a bucket of water. If you’re giving them a light cleaning it’s fine to just rinse them in the sink.

3. Clean Off Dirt with a Soft Brush or Cloth

Use a soft brush or cloth and scrub off all the dirt. If your shoes are extra dirty, don’t be afraid to submerge them in the water for a while. Dunk and scrub your shoes and make sure you get all of the dirt off of them.

4. Rinse Off Soap

Use warm water to rinse off all of the soap on your shoes. Make sure you rinse off all of it, as you don’t want a layer of soap drying on your shoes and becoming slick.

5. Towel Off and Air Dry Your Shoes

Use a towel to wipe off excess water and allow you shoes to air dry. To speed up the drying process follow the guidelines using newspaper above.

Using shoe powder can also speed up the drying process a bit.

6. Replace Insoles

Once they’re dry, stick your insoles back into your shoes and you’re good to go!


JJ here - I've spent a lot of time on a bike, including completing the 3,000+ mile Southern Tier Route (CA to FL). I started Cycling Beast to "demystify" cycling topics, and to help people overcome roadblocks and level-up their skills.

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