Don’t Put Shoes in the Dryer (Do These Instead)

When shoes get wet, it can take frustratingly long for them to dry out again. Instead of shelving your favorite shoes for a few days, you may be wondering: can you put shoes in the dryer?

Never put shoes in the dryer. The high heat can damage their construction or cause them to shrink. Using the dryer can also permanently warp your shoes, which will affect their fit.

If you decide to use the dryer, make sure to set the dryer on low heat. In this post, you will learn more about the dangers of putting shoes in the dryer and what to do instead.

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Can You Put Shoes In the Dryer?

You can put shoes in the dryer, but the high heat may damage their construction or cause them to shrink. While some shoes might be fine in the dryer, it’s best to avoid tumbling your shoes.

Here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t put shoes in the dryer:

1. The high heat from the dryer can shrink or melt components

Most modern shoes have a complex, multifaceted design. They contain a variety of different materials, some of which may be sensitive to heat or pressure.

Throwing your shoes in the dryer may shrink or melt certain components, distorting the shape or aesthetic of your shoe. Certain materials may permanently shrink or expand when heated, including common synthetic plastics and vinyl such as PVC.

Glue may lose its bond, leading to disintegration.

2. Suede and leather can suffer damage

Luxury materials like suede and leather are also heat-sensitive. They may also suffer water damage when submerged, so it’s best to avoid getting this type of shoe wet in the first place.

Remember, suede and leather shoes require special cleaning solutions. Instead of simply tossing them in the dryer, you should take the time to learn how to take care of them properly.

3. Potential for fading and color bleeding

Additionally, the heat from tumble drying may affect dyes and lead to fading and bleeding. If you try to tumble dry your shoes with other clothing articles, you may see some color transfer.

If you have white canvas shoes, for example, they can turn pink if you accidentally drop them into the dryer along with red clothing. Black canvas shoes can also turn orange.

4. Small items can get lost in the dryer

Shoes with delicate elements and decorative accents may sustain damage thanks to the mechanical action of tumble dryers. As shoes bounce around the dryer drum, they can lose items such as jewels and sequins, buckles, straps, buttons, and zippers. 

Even if a tumble doesn’t ruin your shoes, it could damage your dryer.

Not all units are suited to handle hard or bulky objects such as shoes. Front-load washer and dryer units are particularly prone to damage from heavy loads and bulky items.

Are My Shoes Dryer-Friendly?

While most shoes won’t fare well in a dryer, some are designed for easy washing. Manufacturers will clearly mark shoes that are safe to go in your dryer.

Just like most clothing that includes cleaning instructions on the tag, most shoes will often have this information printed on the tongue or insole. Try looking it up right now.

Shoes that can safely go in the dryer should display the tumble-dry symbol alongside cleaning instructions. This symbol appears as a small square with a circle in the center. 

Dots in the center of the circle indicate the safest dryer temperature for your shoes. One dot indicates you should use only low heat, while two dots mean you should use medium heat. Three dots indicate the need for high heat. It’s as simple as that.

When the symbol’s circle shows as blacked out, it means you can’t use any heat. Your shoes can handle the tumbling motion of the dryer, but high heat may melt or distort components. 

On the other hand, if your shoes contain a tumble-dry symbol with an X through the circle, it means that you should never put them in the dryer.

Even a single tumble is likely to cause permanent damage.

2 Safe Methods to Dry Shoes

Even if your shoes are dryer-friendly, too many tumbles can have them breaking apart before their time. To lengthen your shoe’s lifespan, it’s best to find gentler ways to dry them out.

1. Air-drying method

Air drying is one of the best ways to dry your shoes out, regardless of materials. While it might take longer than a dryer, air drying your shoes ensures that you won’t see any dramatic distortion.

The easiest way to air-dry shoes is to leave them in a dry, open area for up to 24 hours. While sunlight can speed up the process, keep in mind that not all shoe materials are UV resistant. Leather and suede can dry, stiffen, and crack when exposed to sunlight.

Excessive UV exposure will also fade dyes, leading to muted colors. For shoes with UV-sensitive materials, it’s best to air dry in a cool, dark environment. 

If you want to speed up the air-drying process without risking sun exposure, you can use a fan. More airflow means faster evaporation, so it will take less time for shoes to dry completely. 

However, if you have the means, hanging footwear by the laces is the best way to air dry and will speed up the process even more by improving airflow around the body of your shoes. 

2. Towel-drying method

Towel drying is not the most optimal, but it is a faster method. If air drying is too slow, you can dry your shoes faster by blotting water with a rag, towel, or piece of paper.

Using a towel allows you to soak up excess water and speed up the drying process. It’s also gentle on most types of shoes, including those with leather, suede, and dyes.

To towel-dry your shoes, first, brush off any excess water. Crumple up a towel or newspaper (something absorbent to stuff into the inside of the shoe). Next, wrap the outside of the shoe in a towel or newspaper to absorb exterior moisture.

Doing this will absorb excess moisture in the insole and cushioning.

Once your shoes are wrapped and ready, leave them in a well-ventilated area for around 12 hours. For faster results, replace old towels or newspapers when they begin feeling damp. 

Just remember to brush off any excess water before towel-drying your shoes. This step is particularly important for leather and suede shoes, as the material is sensitive to moisture.

Wrapping Up

Now you know whether you can put shoes in the dryer or not.

In most cases, it’s best to avoid tumble-drying sneakers and other shoes. The heat and the mechanical pressure can destroy common shoe materials and lead to permanent damage. Even shoes that are dryer-friendly may have a shorter lifespan with frequent tumbles.

Instead of throwing your shoes in the dryer, dry them slowly and gently. Air drying and towel drying are the best ways to dry your favorite pair of kicks without risking any damage.

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