Can you wash trainers in a washing machine?

Trainers-on-wash-line Trainers will survive washing in the washing machine, and even come out nice and clean. But if they are too heavy you risk damaging the plastic paddles in the drum. Especially with cheaper washing machines.

So washing trainers in a front loading washing machine can cause the plastic drum paddles (sometimes called drum lifters) to come loose or even break. This in turn can cause damage to laundry that subsequently snags on the sharp holes revealed.

Dirty trainers Having said all that, some washing machines now have special programmes for trainers. If yours does and the drum paddles break I would complain to the manufacturer.


Or if you get nowhere, complain to the retailer under the sale of goods act. Clearly if they provide a special programme to wash trainers then washing machine must be capable of carrying out the wash without breaking.

Washing trainers could now be more dangerous

Recent developments have seen some manufacturers making washing machines where the drum paddles (or lifters) can no longer be replaced.

With some you can’t even replace the drum because the drum cannot be taken out due to having a sealed outer tub. This makes washing trainers in a washing machine even more risky because if a paddle breaks on one of these the machine is as good as scrap.

Is a special trainer wash bag the answer?

I’ve seen several nesh bags claiming they protect the washing machine whilst washing trainers but I’m at a loss as to how.

The ones I’ve seen are just net bags with a little bit of slightly padded material every inch or so all around. The damage trainers can cause to a washing machine is when they get tossed around as the drum rotates. They may get taken up to the top of the drum and then fall down onto a paddle.

If they are pretty light they may be OK, but the potential is to damage cheap plastic paddles on poorly made washing machines or work them loose by continually hitting them during washes.


I would have though that placing them together in one bag would double the weight and make them more likely to damage the paddles? I wouldn’t have thought the light padding would help much but it might.

My daughter always washes trainers and has so far had no problems, so try to use your own judgement. Keep a close eye on the plastic drum paddles. Are they working loose? Watch the trainers revolving inside the drum – are they hitting the paddles hard? Some washing machine drum paddles are fixed in the drum so that they cannot be replaced.


Put other things in with trainers?

One suggestion is to put several old towels or similar in with the trainers. This may help cushion the trainers from the paddles.

Broken drum paddles?

If you have loose or broken drum paddles you can buy them here if they are replacable on your machine Washing machine drum paddles (or lifters)

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7 thoughts on “Can you wash trainers in a washing machine?”

  1. can washing ugg boots in a washing machine cause the washing machine drum to go off centre? my husband says it can cause the drum to go offline? is this true

  2. Hello Sara: I’ve never heard of these boots but a quick check online shows they look mostly bigger and heavier than trainers so they are even more likely to damage the plastic paddles in the drum.

    They can’t physically cause a drum to go off centre permanently but they may be impossible to distribute round the drum evenly so the washing machine could go out of balance and bang around on spin, either that or with modern washing machines fitted with out of balance detection software they may just not spin at all.

    American washing machines tend to be top loaders, which aren’t as good as front loaders in many ways although they are probably a bit more reliable Which is best, a top loader or a front loader? (washing machine)

  3. Many indesit washing machines come with a programme for your trainers – I know because, as a keen runner, this is important to me!

    check this one out you can wash your trainers easily;

    [ link removed as it no longer worked – model seems to have been discontinued ]

  4. The Indesit washing machine is one of the cheapest available and the paddles (or lifters) commonly come loose. Trainers could cause problems particularly in cheap washing machines with plastic drum paddles (lifters) and most engineers would advise against washing them in a washing machine. However, I’m sure there are plenty of people who might say they wash trainers without incident.

    If any washing machine does have a special wash program for trainers then at least they can’t charge you for repairs to the lifters under guarantee as it’s clearly an endorsement to do so. However, I believe the programmes are more a response to public demand and a potential sales advantage to people wanting to wash trainers in the machine. They may not really care that trainers are likely to loosen or even cause the lifters to come away over time because they can sell plenty of replacements.

  5. In a Hotpoint washing machine this can be achieved by using the Wool cycle, as the machine runs at distribution speed throughout!

  6. Just put my RocketDogs in for a wash ( very smelly ) & some slippers & a hand towel to buffer hopefully some of the banging around in the drum.
    The cycle is an easy care wash in at 40*, 1200 spin cycle, 1 hour & 35 mins wash cycle. I hope my thing’s & washing machine survives the cycle! It’s also extremely late now so will see in the morning if everything’s ok!… I’ve also shut my kitchen door to try & help prevent the sound banging around everywhere. Will post update tomorrow to tell you all how well the slippers & trainers/plimsolls have washed.

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