a pair of Vans that need to be machine washed

Can You Machine Wash Vans?

Vans, iconic for their skateboarding culture and style, have been the go-to footwear for many since their inception in 1966. Loved for their durability and style, these shoes inevitably get dirty over time. This leads wearers to ponder on the best cleaning methods and importantly can you machine wash Vans.

Machine washing Vans is feasible, but caution is essential. For optimal results, remove laces and insoles. Use the delicate cycle with cold water, and avoid harsh chemicals like bleach. After washing, air drying in a well-ventilated area is recommended to maintain their shape and ensure longevity.

We’ll take a closer look at putting Vans in the washer and the other suitable methods

Standard Machine Wash for Vans

Giving your Vans a machine wash is a direct and effective way to restore their look. Here’s a detailed guide to ensure your shoes come out looking fresh:

  1. Preparation:
    • Take out the laces and insoles (if they can be removed).
    • Use a brush or cloth to brush off any dry dirt or debris from the surface.
  2. Protecting Your Vans:
    • Place your shoes inside a mesh laundry bag or an old pillowcase. This helps minimize direct contact with other items and reduces the chances of scuffs or tangles.
    • For added protection, you can also wash them with old towels or soft fabrics, which act as a cushion.
  3. Washing:
    • Use a gentle detergent to avoid any harsh chemicals that could damage the fabric or color of the Vans.
    • Set your washing machine to a cold and delicate cycle, which is gentle on the fabric and helps maintain the shape and color of the shoes.
  4. Post-Wash Care:
    • Once the cycle is complete, take out the Vans and gently pat them with a towel to absorb any excess water.
    • Shape them correctly to prevent any distortions as they dry.
  5. Drying:
    • Position them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
    • Stuff them with white paper towels or white cloth to help maintain their shape while drying.

Remember, patience is essential. Let the Vans dry completely before wearing them to ensure comfort and maintain their structure.

Hand Washing Vans

Hand washing your Vans offers a gentle approach, ensuring the longevity of their appearance and feel. Here’s an in-depth guide to get them looking their best:

  1. Preparation:
    • Remove laces and insoles, setting them aside for separate cleaning if necessary.
    • Gently brush off surface dirt or debris using a soft-bristled brush or cloth.
  2. Setting Up Your Cleaning Station:
    • Use a clean basin or tub large enough to comfortably fit the Vans.
    • Fill it with cold water, ensuring it’s enough to submerge the shoes fully.
  3. Creating a Gentle Cleaning Solution:
    • Mix cold water with a few drops of a mild detergent, ensuring it’s well-distributed. The water should be slightly soapy but not overly frothy.
  4. Cleaning Process:
    • Submerge the Vans in the soapy solution.
    • Use a soft cloth or brush, gently scrubbing each section of the shoe, paying special attention to more soiled areas.
  5. Rinse and Repeat:
    • Empty the basin and fill it with fresh cold water.
    • Rinse the Vans, ensuring all detergent is washed away. You might need to change the water and repeat the rinse if there’s too much soap residue.
  6. Post-Cleaning Care:
    • Gently press the shoes between clean towels to absorb any excess water, ensuring not to twist or wring them.
    • Shape them back to their original form, ensuring no creases or folds that could set while drying.
  7. Drying:
    • Choose a well-ventilated spot away from direct heat sources or sunlight.
    • Place the Vans on a flat surface and allow them to air dry naturally. Consider using white paper or cloth inside the shoes to help them keep their shape.

Once your Vans are dry, they’re ready to hit the streets again, looking refreshed and clean.

Spot Cleaning Vans

Spot cleaning is perfect for addressing specific stains or areas without subjecting the entire shoe to a cleaning process. Here’s how to effectively tackle those stubborn spots:

  1. Preparation:
    • Ensure the shoe is free from any loose dirt by giving it a gentle shake or pat.
    • Set the shoe on a flat, clean surface for easy access to the stain.
  2. Mixing Your Cleaning Solution:
    • In a small bowl, combine cold water with a drop of mild detergent. Stir until it’s well combined.
  3. Application:
    • Dip a clean cloth or soft brush into your prepared solution, ensuring it’s damp but not dripping.
    • Gently dab or brush the stain, using minimal pressure to lift it rather than pushing it further into the fabric.
  4. Assess and Repeat if Necessary:
    • Check the stain after a few gentle applications. If it remains, continue the process, being patient to avoid damaging the fabric.
  5. Rinsing the Area:
    • Using another clean cloth dampened with just cold water, pat the area to remove any soap residue.
    • Blot with a dry cloth to absorb as much moisture as possible.
  6. Drying:
    • Let the shoe air dry in an area with good air circulation. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources which could alter the shoe’s color or shape.
  7. Finishing Touch:
    • Once dry, if your Vans have a canvas material, you can use a soft brush to restore their texture, brushing in one direction.

With spot cleaning, your Vans can maintain a fresh appearance, even when life throws unexpected spills or scuffs their way.


What cycle should I use to wash my Vans in the machine?

Opting for the delicate cycle with cold water is a safe bet. It’s gentle on the shoes and minimizes the risk of damage or shrinkage. Warm or hot water can degrade the glue that holds parts of the shoe together and may also cause unwanted color fading.

Can I use bleach to wash my Vans in the machine?

Bleach is typically too harsh for Vans, especially if they have colors or patterns. It can lead to uneven fading or bleach spots. If your Vans are white and you feel compelled to brighten them up, use a non-chlorine bleach and always read the label for any specific guidelines.

Should I air dry or machine dry my Vans after washing them?

Air drying is the recommended method. Machine drying can generate excessive heat which is detrimental to the shoe’s structure and material. By letting them dry naturally, you can ensure that they maintain their shape and integrity. For faster drying, place them in an area with good airflow.

Should I remove the laces before washing my Vans in the machine?

Yes, it’s a good practice. Removing laces not only allows for a better clean of the shoe but also prevents the laces from getting tangled or knotted during the wash. You can clean the laces separately by soaking them in soapy water, giving them a gentle scrub, and then rinsing them out.

Are there any special instructions for cleaning Vans with designs or patterns?

Vans with intricate designs or patterns can be sensitive to aggressive cleaning. Spot cleaning is often the safest bet. If the design is painted or printed, excessive scrubbing or soaking might cause it to fade or peel. When uncertain, always test your cleaning method on a small, hidden part of the shoe to check its effect.


Vans, with their trendy appeal, deserve proper care. Machine washing is possible, but it’s crucial to follow the right steps and precautions. Whether you choose to machine wash, hand wash, or spot clean, always air dry your Vans to ensure their longevity and maintain their iconic look.