Are you staring at your dirty pair of Vans, wondering if you could just throw them in the washing machine?
While you want your Vans to look as good as new, you’re aware of the risks involved in cleaning them improperly.
It is not recommended to machine wash suede and leather vans. It’s better to hand wash your Vans, as recommended by Vans®. However, with the right preparation and washer settings, it will be safe to put canvas or synthetic Vans in the washer.
In this guide, we’ll explore the best practices for cleaning Vans shoes, taking into account the official recommendation from Vans and best practices from our own experience.
Table of Contents
How to safely clean Vans in the washing machine
While the official stance from Vans is against machine washing, particularly for their suede and leather varieties, there are instances where you might consider this option for canvas Vans.
You would usually want to use the washer for deep cleaning.
If you decide to proceed, it’s crucial to do so with utmost care to avoid damaging your shoes.
You should only machine wash canvas or synthetic vans! Seude and leader Vans should not be machined washed
1. Pre-treat your shoes
Before washing your shoes, address any stains by applying a gentle pre-treatment solution.
For stubborn stains like mud, oil, or grease, opt for an enzymatic stain remover or a suitable commercial product.
Apply this treatment directly to the stains and allow the shoes to sit for a bit while you prepare the washing machine.
2. Choose the right washer settings
The washing machine can be quite harsh on shoes, so it’s important to use the gentlest cycle available.
This usually means selecting a ‘delicate’ or ‘hand wash’ cycle on your machine, which uses a slower spin and less aggressive tumbling.
Equally important is the water temperature. Always opt for cold water, as hot water can cause the glue in your shoes to melt and the fabric to warp or shrink.
3. Select the appropriate detergent
The choice of detergent can make a significant difference. Some detergents can degrade the fabric of your Vans, leading to fading and weakening of the material.
A mild detergent, preferably one that is bleach-free and designed for delicate fabrics, is your best bet.
To reduce the duration of soaking, wait until your top-loading washing machine is halfway filled before adding the shoes.
4. Use a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase
To provide extra protection for your Vans during the wash cycle, place them inside a mesh laundry bag or an old pillowcase to act as a barrier, reducing direct exposure to the intense mechanical action inside the washing machine.
It’s a simple step that can go a long way in preserving the integrity of your shoes.
5. Balancing the Load
An unbalanced load can cause your washing machine to vibrate excessively and potentially damage both the machine and your shoes.
To prevent this, add towels or soft garments to the load. These items act as a buffer, absorbing some of the forces during the spin cycle and ensuring a more balanced, gentle wash for your Vans.
6. Air dry your Vans
After machine washing your Vans, it’s crucial to air-dry them instead of using a dryer. The dryer can cause the canvas and soles to dry out, leading to cracks along the seams and potential damage to your dryer.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t mind the risk of cracking, you can try placing them in the dryer with a few towels to reduce the impact of the jostling.
How to clean Vans shoes
If you prefer to err on the side of caution or have Vans made of more delicate materials like suede or leather, we recommend alternative cleaning methods.
Hand washing offers a gentler approach to cleaning your Vans.
Start by mixing a mild detergent with water to create a cleaning solution.
Using a soft brush – a toothbrush works well for this – gently scrub the shoes. Focus on areas that are particularly dirty or have stains.
The key here is to be gentle and thorough, ensuring that you don’t saturate the shoes with water, which can damage the material and the structure of the shoes.
Special Considerations for Suede and Leather Vans:
- Suede Vans require a very careful approach. Water can stain and damage suede, so it’s best to use a specialized suede cleaner and a suede brush. These are designed to clean effectively without the need for water. If your suede shoes are merely dusty or have light dirt, a simple brushing might be sufficient.
- Leather Vans, on the other hand, can be wiped down with a damp cloth. Apply a leather cleaner to address any stains or areas with built-up dirt. After cleaning, it’s advisable to use a leather conditioner. This helps to keep the leather supple and prevent it from drying out and cracking, ensuring your Vans stay looking good for longer.
These methods, while more time-consuming than throwing your shoes in the washer, offer a safer alternative that aligns with the care instructions recommended by Vans.
How to dry Vans shoes
After cleaning your Vans, whether by hand or cautiously in the washer, the way you dry them is crucial to maintaining their shape and appearance.
Improper drying can lead to issues like shrinking, warping, or the breakdown of materials.
The safest method to dry your Vans is air drying.
- After washing, gently shake off any excess water from your Vans.
- Place your Vans in a well-ventilated area to air dry.
- Stuff your Vans with white paper towels or newspaper.
Avoid Machine Drying! It might be tempting to speed up the drying process using a tumble dryer, but this is generally not recommended. The intense heat and tumbling action can be too harsh, leading to the issues mentioned earlier. If you’re in a hurry, using a fan to blow air over the shoes can help speed up the drying process without the risks associated with machine drying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can all types of Vans be washed in the washer?
No, it’s not recommended to wash suede or leather Vans in the washer. Canvas Vans can be machine-washed cautiously, but hand washing is safer and more aligned with the official care recommendations.
How often should you wash your Vans?
Wash your Vans as needed, depending on how often you wear them and how dirty they get. Overwashing can shorten their lifespan, so it’s best to clean them only when necessary. You should machine wash your Vans only once every six months.
Can you clean Vans with laundry detergent?
Yes, you can clean Vans with laundry detergent, but it’s important to use a mild, bleach-free detergent and dilute it with water. Apply the solution gently using a soft brush or cloth, focusing on soiled areas.