Last Updated on November 14, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Can you wash TOMS shoes in the Washing Machine or do you need to find other methods to clean their footwear?
Whilst I like TOMS shoes because they are lightweight and good for the summer they are nowhere near as robust as leather shoes and much harder to clean. Finding shortcuts to keep them looking good is always tempting but should you really put your TOMS in the washing machine or are they going to get ruined?
Here’s what the brand has to say and what I have discovered from owning and maintaining these canvas shoes over the years.
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Cleaning TOMS Canvas Shoes the Manufacturers Instructions
TOMS is clearly a shoe care specialist and is very clear about the cleaning process that should be followed with their shoes.
TOMS only recommends hand cleaning your shoes and does not recommend using a washing machine to wash your shoes in case they damage the integrity of your footwear.
In fact, they don’t recommend running water or any form of direct heat being used in case it causes damage.
These are very clear instructions but what if you don’t want to pay attention to what the brand says and are willing to take a chance on doing things differently?
Can You Wash Toms in The Washing Machine?
Whilst plenty of brands give specific instructions on how to keep their shoes looking good it doesn’t mean that everyone listens.
Sometimes people are happy to take a chance because their TOMS shoes are old so they have nothing to lose or because they are too lazy to bother.
If you are going to go your own way and are happy to take a faster route then there are some things you can do to mitigate the risk of ruining your canvas shoes. Just be aware that if things go wrong and you don’t follow the manufacturer’s advice you won’t be able to do anything about it.
So if you want to wash TOMS in the washer make sure you do the following:
- Don’t use a hot wash. Cold water is less likely to cause damage.
- Use a gentle cycle on your machine to avoid agitation which can destroy your shoes.
- Make sure you remove any insoles before you place them in the machine.
The key to using a washing machine to wash TOMS without destroying them is using a cold short cycle with minimal spin.
Just note that every time you wash your shoes you are more likely to create long-term damage so use this method sparingly.
Washing TOMS Shoes In a Washing Machine To Minimize Damage
To try the washing machine method of cleaning TOMS I recommend a cautious approach. This method is only suitable for canvas TOMs. Never put leather or suede TOMS into a washing machine.
Before you begin make sure your TOMS are dry and then before attempting to use the washing machine use a soft-bristled brush to remove any dirt or debris that might be on your shoes.
Next, remove the insoles from your shoes. These are going to be cleaned separately and shouldn’t go in the washer.
Place your shoes in a mesh laundry bag to protect them and place them in the drum of the machine. I also usually place a towel in the machine as well to protect the shoes as they are moving around. Make sure the towel is a similar color to your shoes so there is no change of dye running.
Use a mild detergent in the machine. A mild detergent such as Woolite will not be as harsh as regular washing detergents and will be less likely to fade your shoes.
Then place your shoes on a cold gentle cycle. Remember hot water is very bad for your shoes and can cause any glue holding parts of your shoes together to disintegrate.
Drying Your Shoes
When the gentle cycle on your washing machine has finished you are going to need to dry your shoes.
Do not even think about using a tumble dryer to do this because the heat can shrink or warp your shoes. You are going to need to air dry your shoes naturally to get rid of the excess moisture.
I tend to stuff my shoes first with a paper towel to help them maintain their shape and then place them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
Don’t be tempted to speed up the process by using a heat source to dry them or you can damage your canvas shoes.
How To Wash Toms Removable Insoles
Some TOMS shoes have removable insoles and others don’t. If you want to know how to clean non-removable insoles you can read my article on how to do this. If your TOMS insoles are removable you can do the following steps.
Get a small bowl of water that has some gentle laundry detergent mixed into it. Mix together and then get an old toothbrush or soft-bristled brush and dip it into the mixture. Now use the brush to gently rub your insoles with the mixture.
The mild laundry detergent and water should remove any dirt or smells. When the detergent has done its work now get a bowl of cold water and dip your brush into it. Use this to rub off any excess detergent so the insoles are now clean.
Now let your insoles air dry before placing them back into your shoes.
If your insoles are too dirty or smelly and are looking shabby you can always buy new insoles to place in your TOMS instead of washing them. TOMS doesn’t make replacements but there are plenty of insoles available that you can cut to size that will work with your shoes.
How To Clean Your Shoes By Handwashing
I am a big believer in following the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to looking after your shoes. Yes of course you can do the easy or lazy way but if it ruins your shoes you have made an expensive mistake.
Handwashing shoes is of course a little more labor intensive but it is less likely to damage the integrity of your shoes.
To handwash your TOMS start as before by brushing off any surface dirt or grime. I also get a damp cloth and wipe the soles so they are clean. Also, remove the insoles from your shoes so you can clean them separately.
I know that some people recommend using a stain remover on your shoes for any obvious marks before cleaning but this can be a bad idea. Stain removers can bleach your shoes making the marks worse. Only do this if you are prepared to ruin your shoes.
Now get a bowl of cold water and add your mild detergent. Dip a soft-bristled toothbrush into this mixture and then gently brush your shoes with the mixture.
Remember handwashing does not involve dunking your canvas TOMS in water and saturating them.
When you have finished with the detergent mixture follow the same process with just cold water to remove it so your shoes are clean. Then allow them to air dry.
You can stuff some paper towels into them so the shoes keep their shape as they dry.
Can You Wash TOMS in The Dishwasher?
Can you put shoes in the dishwasher? Well, it should go without saying that placing canvas TOMS in the dishwasher to clean them is a very bad idea. Dishwashers use very hot water for cleaning which is going to damage most shoes.
There are some shoe designs such as plastic Crocs or flip-flops that might get away with being placed inside a dishwasher but there is always a risk that you could damage them.
My view is to stop watching YouTube or TikTok videos where people are touting it as a good idea and stick with following what the manufacturers recommend.
Freshening Up Your Shoes
Can you wash TOMS shoes in the washing machine well no and sometimes you don’t even need to wash them at all.
In many cases, you just need to keep your TOMS smelling fresh and the uppers clean to keep them looking good. Smelly TOMS shoes are often the real problem rather than dirt and marks and that can be easily resolved by taking a little extra care when you wear your shoes.
Don’t for example wear them out when it is raining. TOMS don’t like rain and getting them wet doesn’t just get them damp but can cause smells as well.
Even when you wear your shoes in the nice weather make sure you brush off any dust or dirt from your shoes before putting them away.
Stick to wearing your TOMS in the nice weather and when you wear them put on some no-show socks. Socks help to absorb moisture from sweat produced by your feet. This stops the sweat from seeping into your shoes and causing bad smells.
Also, make sure that when you have finished wearing your shoes for the day you allow them to air dry fully before re-wearing them. I sometimes place a deodorizing powder like baking soda inside my shoes to neutralize the smells. You can add a few drops of essential oils to this if you want a specific smell.
As an alternative, you can also use dryer sheets to keep them smelling fresh.
Protecting Your Shoes To Keep Them Looking Good
Are canvas shoes waterproof? Well in the case of TOMS no they aren’t which means that they stain and mark easily especially if you wear them in wet weather.
This is why prevention is always better than cure when it comes to looking after your TOMS. I recommend using a shoe protector spray to keep yours looking good.
Shoe protector sprays like Crep Protect are a way of making sure your shoes stay good for longer. This spray repels oil, water and stains which is why it is so useful to use on Canvas shoes that are harder to clean.
Also don’t forget to store your shoes properly between each wear. If you pile your shoes on top of each other you are more likely to mark them. Use proper shoe storage so all your shoes have space and room to breathe.
How To Wash Shoes Without Ruining Them
So to sum up can you wash TOMS shoes in the washing machine no you are not supposed to. You might get away with it by taking precautions but equally, you might make an expensive mistake. To look after your TOMS shoes:
- Handwash them to keep them clean
- Take precautions to keep them smelling fresh and avoiding marks
- If you use the washing machine use a cold wash.
- Do not use hot water, bleach or harsh detergents for cleaning.
- Don’t use the spin cycle on the machine.
- Don’t use a dishwasher to wash your TOMS.
- Do not put toms in the dryer.
- Air-dry your shoes
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