The advantages of a machine-washable shoe are many, ranging from sustainability to foot health. First of all, machine-washable shoes can be washed regularly, easily and thoroughly, which eliminates odor and moisture from the shoe and can be a great option for certain foot-related issues.
“Washing your shoes inside and out decreases the likelihood of developing fungal (i.e., athlete’s foot), viral (i.e., warts) or bacterial infections in the feet,” Nelya Lobkova, DPM, board-certified podiatrist at Step Up Footcare, says. “Washable shoes also tend to have softer uppers, which accommodates people with wide feet or forefoot deformities such as bunions or hammertoes.”
Machine-washable sneakers are also a great option if you want to extend the life of your shoe and keep it out of the landfill for as long as possible. Most washable sneakers are made from eco-friendly fibers such as wood, wool and sugarcane — and some are even made from recycled material that is made to hold up through the entire wash cycle.
That said, machine-washable shoes differ from nonwashable shoes in that they have a single outsole that is stitched onto the upper material of the shoe and should be worn with that in mind. “These types of shoes do not have a separate midsole, which offers additional support and structure to the shoe,” Lobkova says. “Thus, machine-washable shoes should be worn for shorter periods of standing/walking, and also they are not recommended for high-impact activity such as running.”
Interested in lacing up your own pair of machine-washable shoes? We’ve rounded up some of the best options online for the whole family — from lightweight shoes to hiking boots and everything in between.
Vince Camuto Women’s Cabreli Washable Flat Sneaker ($65.59; amazon.ca)
“Since washable shoes have a solid outsole, they need to incorporate a rubber tread on the bottom of the shoe for optimal grip,” Lovkova says. This may stand out as a different color at the bottom of the shoe but will typically look something like the thermoplastic sole on these washable sneakers from Vince Camuto.
Vivaia Aria 2.0 Women’s Washable Ballet Shoes ($99.99; amazon.ca)
According to Lovkova, a good washable shoe would have at least a 3/4- to 1-inch thick outsole to provide a good amount of cushioning to the shoe. Cushioning provides shock absorption and will make the shoe much more comfortable. These ballet flats from Vivaia offer a sophisticated look without sacrificing comfort.
Propét Women’s Washable Shoe (starting at $42.88; amazon.ca)
The upper of the washable shoe should be soft and flexible in order to avoid blisters or wounds forming at pressure points. For instance, canvas is a rough upper material that can cause skin breakdown if worn for a long time, whereas wool or leather, like this pair from Propét, will bend and flex with your foot.
Propét Women’s Washable Walker Evolution Oxford (starting at $54.91; amazon.ca)
The most important part of shopping for machine-washable shoes is to make sure the label explicitly confirms that they are machine-washable, as with these shoes from Propét. The colorful textile and specially designed outsole could easily be mistaken for a regular pair of sneakers — but they were made to be thrown in the wash.
Vince Camuto Women’s Celiste Washable Sneaker (starting at $58.42; amazon.ca)
Looking for a machine-washable shoe that’ll transcend seasons? The Vince Camuto Women’s Celiste Washable Sneaker will do just that. This backless sneaker is crafted from a durable cotton canvas that is warm but breathable and can easily be worn without socks for the summer or with a pair of thicker wool socks come fall.
Sperry Men’s Bahama 2 Washable Sneaker ($200.84; amazon.ca)
According to Eva Petruzziello, founder and sustainability expert at Simple n’ Delight, you should be on the lookout for new sustainable materials that are made from natural fibers such as wool, hemp or pinatex, such as the Sperry Men’s Bahama 2 Washable Sneaker. Not only will they last through multiple washes, but they’re much better for the environment.
Skechers Men’s Gowalk 5 Apprize-Double Gore Slip-On (starting at $59.89; amazon.ca)
These Skechers shoes are sustainably made and machine-washable — yet it is recommended to remove insoles before washing. The Air Cooled Goga Mat Insole is crafted for extra comfort but will last much longer if washed by hand.
Propét Men’s M3850 Wash & Wear Slip-On (starting at $60.48; amazon.ca)
Featuring a durable rubber sole and 100% leather exterior, these wash-and-wear slip-on shoes from Propét promise to last for decades — without showing wear or getting smelly. They’re slip-resistant and feature a stretchable neoprene collar for added comfort.
The Forever Sneaker ($95; everlane.com)
Looking to reduce your environmental impact even further? Petruzziello suggests finding machine-washable shoes that are made from recycled materials and also have an end-of-use program. The Forever Sneaker by Everlane ticks all these boxes — and also happens to look super stylish.
Jan & Jul Machine-Washable Knit Shoes (starting at $33.99; amazon.ca)
The Jan & Jul Machine-Washable Knit Shoes are so adorable we kind of wish they came in adult sizes! Crafted from advanced lightweight material with an air-ventilated insole, these airy sneakers are both super comfortable and breathable but also wash and dry in a jiffy — which is great news for parents of little ones who love to splash around in puddles and mud.
Native Kids’ Miles Junior Sneaker (starting at $74.16; amazon.ca)
These lightweight sneakers from Native are totally waterproof and odor-resistant but can easily be thrown in the wash when they start getting too visibly dirty. The environmentally friendly manufacturing process results in a super-comfortable sole that molds to the foot with every wear. These shoes are also extremely lightweight and easy for little fingers to slip on and off.
Skechers Girls Sport Machine-Washable Sneaker (starting at $49.99; amazon.ca)
These lightweight Skechers Girls Sport look just like a regular kids’ shoe — but they can be thrown in the wash without worrying about fading or warping. The jet black shoes come with a pair of hot pink laces for extra appeal. Just be sure to remove laces before throwing them in the washing machine to ensure they wash well and keep their shape.
Stride Rite Machine-Washable Leather Boot (starting at $65.08; amazon.ca)
Now here’s a stylish little shoe for fall! The Stride Rite Machine-Washable Leather Boot was made for toddlers (ages 1 to 4) and features a leather exterior and rubber sole that are both long-lasting and easily washable. The boot also comes with an adjustable strap that’ll help keep their boots in place even while running and climbing.
Stride Rite Dive Boy’s Machine-Washable Athletic Sneaker (starting at $71.09; amazon.ca)
Featuring a man-made sole and sturdy arch support, these athletic sneakers are perfect for active little ones. Those looking for a wider fit will particularly love these washable sneakers, as the insole is removable and allows for a much more comfortable wear — especially for kids with flatter or wider feet.