Don’t Put Vans in the Washer (Do These Instead)

Vans are classic shoes that hold up for a long time. They can take a beating from skateboarding or general everyday wear without needing replacement. But can you actually put Vans in the washer?

Vans do not recommend putting the shoes in the washer. Instead, remove the insoles and laces, then hand-wash your Vans with warm water and a small amount of mild detergent.

Do not put Vans shoes in the dryer as well. Instead, wrap your damp Vans shoes in a towel and press any excess water out before leaving them to air dry (avoiding direct sunlight).

Regardless, your Vans are bound to need cleaning at one point or another.

Whether you’ve got mud-encrusted suede Vans or stinky canvas ones, here’s what you should do instead of putting them in the washer or dryer.

Can You Put Vans in the Washing Machine?

You can put Vans in the washer, but you shouldn’t.

There’s a good chance you’ll damage your Vans shoes if you try to take a shortcut via the washing machine. The washer will surely ruin leather or suede, and the canvas can be iffy. Even if you put them in a pillowcase, Vans shoes could still get damaged.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t wash your Vans shoes using other methods. With a little effort, you can still get your shoes looking and smelling fresh, DIY-style.

You might find other sources claiming you can stick your Vans in the washing machine, but hand washing is more thorough and won’t ruin your shoes. So let’s get to it.

How To Handwash Vans

What you need to do to restore your Vans depends on the material. Though canvas is a thinner material than leather or suede, it’s still hardy. In some respects, it washes more easily than leather or suede because you don’t need specialized products to treat canvas.

No matter the material, you’ll need to remove and clean your shoelaces and insoles first. The rubber soles and strips should all be cleaned the same way.

You can begin cleaning the rubber material with a mixture of warm water and laundry detergent. If you need to attack the rubber parts with a stronger cleaning method, ensure that you cover the upper with tape first. A magic eraser is handy to remove tough scuffs and stains.

1. Washing Canvas Vans

Before washing canvas Vans shoes, it’s recommended to remove loose dirt or mud using a shoe brush, taking care to clean the rubber strips and bottoms. Spot-clean stubborn stains by pre-treating them with a stain remover. Apply directly to the stains and leave for 15 minutes.

To deep-clean canvas Vans, remove the insoles and laces, then hand-wash the shoes with warm water and a small amount of mild detergent. Wrap your damp Vans in a towel and press any excess water out before leaving them to air dry.

Clean your laces in a bowl of warm water mixed with a small amount of mild detergent. Clean the insoles by scrubbing them with a mix of baking soda and mild detergent on a toothbrush. Leave them for 15 minutes before rinsing and air drying.

2. Washing Suede Vans 

Before deep-cleaning suede Vans shoes, it is recommended to use a soft suede brush to remove surface dirt from the tops, sides, and bottoms of your shoes.

To deep-clean suede Vans shoes, use a small amount of specialist suede cleaner on a toothbrush and work it into the stained areas of suede. Clean the rubber strip and bottoms with soap and water, using a toothbrush or soft-bristled scrubbing brush.

Leave your suede Vans shoes to air dry.

3. Cleaning Leather Vans

Before deep-cleaning leather Vans shoes, it is recommended to remove surface grime from the bottoms, sides, and tops of your shoes with a leather shoe brush.

To clean leather Vans shoes, use Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel and a synthetic brush. Leave your leather Vans shoes to air dry naturally for 24 hours.

Following the simple steps above is good enough, but you can also choose to apply a waterproofing product to the leather and the stitching (again, we recommend Nikwax).

How to Clean the Inside of Vans Shoes

To clean the inside of Vans shoes, use a paste of baking soda and mild detergent. Lay down a towel on your work surface, then take a small brush or toothbrush and work the past into the inside of the shoes. Leave it for 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water and air dry.

How to Bleach the White Strip on Vans Shoes

Most Vans shoes have a white rubber strip that runs around the outside of the sole. If the white strip has become yellow, your first instinct might be to use bleach, but that could make it worse. 

Before working on the white strip of Vans shoes, use masking tape to cover the upper material of the shoe, to avoid damaging the top or sides with any stray cleaning product.

Once the upper is protected, do this to unyellow the white strip on Vans shoes:

Take an old toothbrush, dip it into white vinegar or rubbing alcohol, and gently buff the white rubber in small circular motions. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth and you’re done!

Instead of white vinegar or alcohol, you can also choose to use lemon juice or acetone. However, in our experience, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol produces the best results.

You can use the same method to clean the rubber bottoms of your Vans shoes too. Just be sure to get the loose dirt and grit off of the rubber bottoms first with a tough brush.


Vans have the potential to go the distance and be your go-to shoe for a long time. Whether you like the worn look or not, you’ll need to wash your Vans at least once in your lifetime. 

But, can you put Vans in the washer? No, you really shouldn’t. To protect the condition and fit of your Vans, try hand washing them using one of the methods mentioned above.