Can You Put Leather Shoes In The Washer? [Handy Or Harmful]

Written By Sunny

Are you thinking about tossing your dirty leather shoes in the washer for a thorough cleaning?

Stop right there! Although the process may seem convenient, some things are there to consider. Before you take the plunge, do you even know whether leather shoes can handle machine cleaning?


Have no fear! As in this article, you’ll know if you can safely clean your leather shoes in the washer or not.

So, without any ado, let’s jump to the article!

Can You Put Leather Shoes In The Washer?

No, you can not put leather shoes in the washer. Because the agitation and tumbling of a washing machine can damage the leather while causing discoloration and shrinking of the shoes. Instead of a washer, you should clean leather shoes by hand using mild soap and warm water.

Over time, your classy leather shoes can accumulate dirt, scuffs, or even stains, which can make them appear dull and worn out. But, no matter how dirty they get, never put your leather shoes in a washer, since your precious shoes may get ruined there.

However, during a washing cycle in a machine, your shoes face loads of heat and toppling, which is not ideal for leather. As genuine leather is highly sensitive to heat and pressure, it can get crooked when exposed to such an environment.

On the other side, you can make your worn-out leather shoes new again by cleaning them by hand using mild soap and a damp cloth. But you can clean your shoes safely in a washer if they are made of fake leather or pleather.

So, if you don’t wanna ruin your leather shoes while cleaning, keep them away from a washer.

What Happens If You Put Leather Shoes In The Washing Machine?

When you can put shoes like crocs in the washing machine easily, shoes made of genuine leather don’t hold them well in a washer.

Though cleaning leather shoes in the washing machine may seem handy, you’ll face some problems with your shoes during the process.

So, let’s take a look at what can happen when you decide to put leather shoes in a washing machine.

1. Wrinkled Leather

Leather is known for its ability to hold its shape exceptionally well, but it’s also prone to losing shape if not properly taken care of. So, if cleaned in a washer, leather shoes can get wrinkled because of the water.

During the cleaning process, your leather shoes get completely drenched, causing the shoes to stretch. And when the shoes dry up, the leather tries to get back into shape but fails to do so, which ultimately causes wrinkle formation.

However, it’ll be quite difficult for you to get rid of the wrinkles in your shoes, if the leather shrinks after cleaning in a washer. So, the easy solution is, just don’t toss your leather kicks in the machine.

2. Discoloration or Fading of Color

If you wash your leather shoes in the washer, they may get discolored. When exposed to heat and water during the process, the leather may lose its natural oil and dyes.

However, most leather shoes are dyed with chemicals that are susceptible to water. So, if leather shoes are soaked in water, the color may fade, leaving behind a dull and faint look.

3. Stretching of Leather

Another thing that can happen when you put leather shoes in a washer is that the shoes can get misshapen because of stretching.

When exposed to the harsh environment of the machine, the leather can stretch out due to the added weight of water. This can lead to a permanent change in the shoe’s shape. After drying, the shoes can’t return to their previous shape, resulting in a larger and ill-fitted shoe.

4. The Shoes May Come Loose

Most leather shoes have components such as glue, stitching, or embellishments that can become loose or damaged in the washer.

Furthermore, due to the continuous rubbing with the machine’s agitator and water, the glue or stitching may fail to hold the shoe parts together.

However, fixing this may seem easy, but no matter how hard you try, it’s not possible to get the same adhesion quality as before.

5. The Shoes May Become Stiff

Another problem that can arise when you wash leather shoes in the washing machine is that the leather may lose its natural oils. These oils are important because they help to keep the leather supple and flexible.

However, if the leather loses these oils, it can become stiff and brittle, which can even cause the shoes to crack.


Overall, putting your leather shoes in the washer may result in ruining them in such a way that is beyond repair. Yet, you’ll be relieved to know that there are a bunch of ways to clean your muddy leather boots.

So, if you don’t wanna damage your leather shoes while cleaning, it’s best to avoid the washer and use any of the alternative cleaning methods.

4 Best Alternative Ways To Clean Leather Shoes

Now, as you know it’s not okay to clean leather shoes in a washer, you may wonder about what other options can be.

Here are the 3 best alternative ways to clean your leather shoes instead of using a washing machine:

1. Cleaning The Shoes By Hand

The best way to clean your leather shoes is by handwashing them using soap and warm water. This is by far the finest way to clean your filthy leather shoes without ruining them.

By following the below easy steps, you can clean your leather shoes while retrieving the previous look.

  • Remove the laces and brush off any loose dirt using a soft brush or a rag.
  • Make a cleaning solution by mixing mild detergent or soap with warm water.
  • Damp the rag in the cleaning solution and clean thoroughly, while putting extra attention to any stubborn stains or scuffs.
  • Wipe all the water or any soapy residue from the shoe surface using a dry cloth or sponge. And let the leather shoes dry by keeping them in an airy place.
  • Clean the shoelaces separately using the same cleaning solution and set them aside for air drying.

With these quick and easy steps, you can wash work boots and any other leather shoes safely and effectively.

2. Spot Cleaning

Another effective way to wash your leather shoes is spot cleaning. If your shoes have a small stain or scuff, you can spot-clean them with a damp cloth or sponge.

Also, use a mild soap or leather cleaner and gently rub the affected area in a circular motion. Once you’re done, wipe the area with a dry cloth and allow it to air dry.

So, don’t let your leather shoes get dirty by spot-cleaning them regularly if you don’t want them going through a rough cleaning process.

3. Leather Conditioner

Using a leather conditioner to polish your leather shoes can be an easy alternative to machine cleaning. Because, leather conditioner nourishes and moisturizes the leather while restoring its natural oils, and also prevents cracking and drying.

So, just follow the below steps to apply a conditioner to your leather shoes effectively:

  • Put a small amount of conditioner onto a soft and clean cloth.
  • Using a circular motion, thoroughly apply the conditioner covering all the leather portions of the shoes.
  • Now, polish the shoes with a clean and dry cloth and let the leather shoes dry in the air.

So, if you want to keep your leather shoes looking fresh and new, buff them with leather conditioner regularly, instead of plunging them in a washer.

4. Professional Cleaning

When your leather shoes need a deep clean due to tough stains, it’s best to take them to a professional cleaner, rather than putting them in a washer. That’s because a professional cleaner will have the necessary tools and expertise to safely clean and restore your leather shoes.

So, don’t get upset if your leather shoes get filthy, just take them to a professional shoe cleaner.

Moreover, with these easy cleaning ways, you can make your worn-off leather shoes shine like new again. While avoiding the harsh cleaning process of the washing machine.


Can I Wash Fake Leather Shoes in The Washing Machine?

Yes, you can wash fake leather shoes in a washing machine. Because, unlike genuine leather, shoes made of fake leather or pleather can handle the vigorous tumble and harsh environment of the machine cleaning cycle. But, keep in mind to use a cold cycle, as hot water can cause the shoes to shrink.

Can You Put Leather Shoes In The Dryer?

No, you can not put any kind of leather shoes in the dryer. Because materials like, leather, suede, rubber, or foam are very much vulnerable to high heat. So, if you put your leather shoes in the dryer, they may get wrapped, shrank, cracked, or discolored due to exposure to high heat.

Parting Thoughts

With a classy and sleek look, leather shoes can elevate any outfit, but a pair of grubby shoes can do the opposite.

But, when it comes to cleaning leather shoes in a washer, hopefully, this article will guide you till the end and will help you find out the best option for cleaning them.

And if you got any more doubts regarding this topic, let me know in the comment box.

Happy cleaning!

About The Author
Sunny is all about action and activities. He finds it difficult to contain himself. Be it motorcycling, playing football, or exploring the great outdoors, he loves to keep his legs busy.Sunny quickly realized the importance of footwear to keep himself going healthily. This was when he decided to share all his knowledge and expertise regarding different footwear and their significance.Now, he’s on a mission with this humble platform by his side. With time he plans on doing bigger and better things.Apart from his writing and other hobbies, he loves spending time with his cat Sophie. He loves to cook for his friends and family too.

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