So, suppose you’ve just washed your shoes, or you’ve been out in the rain running errands or whatever, and you’ve taken your wet shoes off to air dry. Then, you get a phone call from someone who wants to do something that will mean you’ll want to put those wet shoes on again. Yuck!
Here’s what you need to do to dry your shoes fast in your dryer without harming your shoes or your dryer:
- Check the care label and consider your shoe’s materials
- Drain water and remove mud, grass, leaves, or pebbles
- Stuff your shoes with small, dryer-friendly fabric items
- Remove lint from the dryer’s lint trap
- Use your dryer rack or string your shoes up
- Partially load the dryer with towels or casual clothes
- Suspend your shoes inside the dryer
- Use air dry or the lowest heat setting and check your shoes
- Consider using a mesh laundry bag
Follow these basic steps, and your shoes should be dry in less than an hour. However, read on to learn more about the kinds of shoes that cannot be dried in the dryer. I’ll also have tips on how to dry shoes more quickly even though they can’t be dried in your dryer.
Look for the care instructions for your shoes. You’ll find them inside of the tongue of your shoe or inside of the heel.
If you see a square that looks like the shape of a dryer and it has a circle inside of it, that means you can safely dry your shoes in the dryer.
If the circle has a dot inside of it, then you can still dry your shoes in the dryer, but only at low heat.
Don’t even think about drying those shoes in a dryer if the square symbol has an “X” marked over it. You’ll find other drying methods below.
Care instructions can fade or wear off, though, so you may need to consider the materials used to make the uppers or the top part of your shoes.
Unless the materials used in decorations or the heel and sole of the shoe dictate otherwise, you should be able to dry any shoe made of fabric in the dryer.
Fabric shoes include canvas, cotton, polyester, and nylon. After all, you machine wash and dry clothes made of these fabrics, don’t you? So, of course, they’re safe to put in the dryer.
There’s one caution to keep in mind about cotton fabric, though. It shrinks, especially after the first few washes. After that, it shrinks less, but it still shrinks. Stuffing shoes made with cotton with small, dryer-safe cloth items helps to reduce shrinking.
Polyester also can shrink, but only if you set the dryer temperature to high.
Nylon has its own problems with high temperatures. Instead of shrinking, it melts.
Shoe materials that shouldn’t go in the dryer include materials used in the upper part of the shoe and the liner, the sole, and the heel.
Leather and suede top the list of shoe materials that should never be dried in the dryer. Putting shoes made of these two materials in the dryer dries them too much.
Both suede and leather warp when exposed to heat. In addition, suede stiffens, and the suede surface can crack and break off of the shoe.
Heat causes leather to stretch, soften, and lose its shape. Leather shoes that have been dried in the dryer can develop wrinkles and creases.
Another type of shoe that you should not dry in a dryer is one decorated with glitter, rhinestones, sequins, crystals, or faux, artificial, or genuine gemstones.
Decorations such as these might be sewn. Gemstones, rhinestones, and crystals might be mounted in metal settings. Decorations that are sewn on or that are mounted in settings are more secure. More often, though, these decorations are glued on.
If the decorations are glued onto the shoe, they are likely to come off in the dryer.
The same is true of shoes decorated with lace or appliques. If the lace or applique is sewn onto the shoe, it will stay where it was sewn. If, however, it was glued to the shoe, it’s likely to come off. Additionally, lace or embroidery on a shoe may be too delicate to dry in the dryer.
To get your shoes to dry faster, you should always remove the liners and let them air dry separately. After all, the liners are made to absorb moisture, and if you’re trying to dry your shoes, the idea is to get the moisture out.
The heels and soles of athletic shoes also may be made of foam or contain gels for cushioning.
The heat from a dryer can cause the gel inside of a shoe to melt. It can harden as it cools, and it can lose the shape of the arch.
Foam soles simply can come apart when exposed to the heat of the dryer. These soles also are usually glued to the upper of the shoe. The heat can cause the sole to separate from the upper, making the shoe unwearable.
Even when you dry your shoes in a dryer, drying them still can take time. If your shoes have water inside them, you can speed the drying process by dumping any water.
Stones and pebbles could dent your dryer’s drum. They also are small enough to escape the drum and get caught in the rim, where they can interfere with the drum’s rotation. The motor, however, will keep trying to turn the drum and could burn out.
Another way to speed up the drying process is to stuff your shoes with things like socks and washcloths. Socks, washcloths, and similar items absorb water and, as I mentioned, help prevent shrinking and warping. You may want to consider using socks that aren’t cotton to avoid them getting shrunk in the process — cotton can easily shrink in the dryer.
Consider removing the lint from your dryer’s lint trap. A lint trap will catch most lint from laundry before it enters the dryer’s vent. Removing lint from the dryer’s lint trap helps increase the amount of air the dryer produces. It will also improve the airflow. By doing this, you’re also reducing the drying time.
Some dryers come with a dryer rack. If your dryer does, you can be sure that it also has a setting for stationary drying.
All you’ll need to do is put the dryer rack in the dryer, set your shoes on the dryer rack, and set the dryer to air dry your shoes without tumbling.
If your dryer doesn’t have a dryer rack but your shoes have shoe strings, you can still dry your shoes in your dryer. Take the four ends of the shoestrings and tie them in a double knot near the tips. You’ll use the knot to hang your shoes, but you don’t need a noose.
If you’re not using your dryer rack, you can load your dryer with a small load of towels or work or casual clothes. Even though you’re going to hang your shoes using the dryer’s door, your shoes can still thump a little against the door if you have a front-load dryer.
The towels and clothes reduce the thumping and help absorb some of the water from your shoes.
To suspend your shoes inside the dryer, hold them by the knot. Hang the shoes with the toes pointing up at the center front of your dryer’s lid. The heels and soles should face the front of the dryer, especially if you have a front load dryer.
Close the lid so that the knot remains outside of the lid.
If your shoes fall into the dryer, tie the shoestrings of another pair of shoes to the shoestrings of the pair you want to dry, and let the second pair act as a weight to keep the drying pair suspended.
Alternatively, you can attach an actual exercise weight, or anything else, to provide a counterbalance to keep your shoes hanging high.
Even though you’ve made sure that it’s safe to dry your shoes in the dryer, you should still set your dryer to air dry if that setting is available. Air dry simply blows unheated air on your shoes.
If your dryer doesn’t have an air-dry setting, use the lowest heat setting you can.
You do want your shoes dry, but you should avoid overdrying them. Let your shoes dry for 20 minutes, and then check them. If they aren’t dry, begin checking them every five minutes.
If your dryer doesn’t have a dryer rack and your shoes don’t have shoe strings, you’ll have to put up with some thumping, but you can still dry your shoes in the dryer. Just put them in a mesh laundry bag with that small load of clothes or towels.
Having a pair of shoes bumping around in your dryer’s drum can do some damage, though. You run the risk of denting the drum. What dents the drum on the inside creates a bump on the outside.
That bump on the outside of the drum can bump against other dryer parts and interfere with or stop the rotation of the drum. Your dryer could end up needing some serious repairs.
So, before you dry your shoes again, find out if a dryer rack is made to fit your dryer. If not, you have 2 options:
- Buy a dryer strap that has a suction cup on each end of the belt. The strap goes across your shoes with the suction cups attached to the drum. Your shoes’ toes should be up against one of the fins inside the drum.
- Get a dryer shoe bag. This is a cloth panel with straps that go around the dryer door. The cloth panel goes on the inside of the door. You place your shoes between the door and the cloth with the heels and sole against the door.
If you are looking for a dryer bag, check this Shappy Mesh Laundry Bag that attaches to the dryer door and keeps your shoes in place while they dry.
FAQs About Drying Shoes in the Dryer
You can dry most shoes made of fabric in the dryer. These include shoes made of canvas, cotton, nylon, and polyester. However, some fabric shoes should not be dried in the dryer.
You should not dry fabric shoes in the dryer if the shoes:
- Have foam soles and heels.
- Have a cushioning gel in the soles and heels.
- Have decorations that could come off in the dryer, such as sequins, glitter, crystals, genuine or man-made gemstones,
- Have delicate decorations such as lace or embroidery.
Leather and suede shoes should never be dried in the dryer.
If shoes are allowed to tumble in the dryer, they can dent the drum. A dent on the inside of the drum means there’s a bump on the outside of the drum. That node can rub against, collide with, or block the parts that operate the dryer.
If the node stops the drum from rotating, the dryer’s motor can burn out.
The heat from the dryer dries out leather and suede shoes. Both suede and leather shoes warp in the dryer. Dryer heat also damages foam heels and soles and gel cushioning inside of the heel and sole.
Leather shoes can lose their shape and develop wrinkles and creases. Suede shoes become stiff, and the suede can break off of the shoe.
Foam soles and heels are glued to the shoe. They can separate from the shoe, and the foam can come apart in the dryer.
The cushioning gel in the heels and soles of some shoes can melt when exposed to dryer heat. Not only does it not resume the same shape when it cools, but it also hardens. So, the gel no longer either cushions your foot or supports it with its shape.
What Is the Best Way to Dry Shoes in the Dryer?
The best ways to dry shoes in the dryer are by setting the dryer to air dry without tumbling and placing your shoes on a dryer rack. Tie the 4 shoelace ends together near the tips. Catch the knot on the outside of the dryer door. When your shoes hang in the dryer, their toes should be up.
Other ways include:
- Fasten your shoes to the dyer’s drum with a dryer strap that has suction cups on each end.
- Attach a dryer shoe bag to your dryer door by its straps. Place your shoes between the cloth panel of the shoe bag and the interior of the door. The toes should point up, and the heels and soles should be against the door.
Any of these methods are acceptable.
Your shoes won’t make any noise if you dry them in the dryer on air dry without tumbling and placing your shoes on a dryer rack. If your shoes don’t have laces, or you don’t have a dryer rack, a dryer strap, or a dryer shoe bag, put them in a mesh laundry bag.
You can tumble your shoes with a small load of casual clothes or towels. You’ll still hear some thumping, but the clothes and laundry bag will soften it.
If you need to dry shoes that you can’t put in a dryer, you can try the following ideas:
- Stuff your shoes with newspapers or socks, washcloths, or other small fabric items that will help absorb the water.
- Set your shoes in front of a fan or a room air conditioner. Tie a double knot in the shoe strings and use an S-hook to hang your shoes in front of a larger fan or room air conditioner.
- Set your shoes on a register whether you’re using the furnace or the air conditioner.
- Air dry your shoes outside but protect them from the sun by putting them in the shade.
- Dry your shoes in a large container of brown or white rice. Or put rice inside a pair of socks, remove the liners, and put the sock inside your shoes.
- Put baking soda or cat litter inside a pair of socks to dry your shoes.
- Hair dryers can be used to dry any type of shoe, including suede and leather shoes.
You can, and should use, the suggestions above as often as possible for drying shoes that are safe to dry in the dryer and those that aren’t dryer safe. It’s better for both your shoes and your dryer. On the other hand, you should never dry your shoes in the oven. The heat can make them weak, and they might fall apart.
If your shoes get wet frequently, it is worth investing in a shoe dryer.
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The Kooder Boot and Shoe Dryer (available on Amazon) is an excellent product. It both dries and sanitizes shoes and removes odors. Many people reported leaving the Kooder Boot and Shoe Dryer in their shoes and boots overnight. They find no problem with using it with any shoe or boot material, including rubber boots. Another great feature is that the drier can be adjusted by up to one inch to fit shoes of various sizes.
You can dry your shoes in the dryer effectively using the tips shared throughout this article. If you don’t have a dryer, you can always choose alternatives that don’t call for one, such as stuffing your shoes with newspapers or socks, washcloths, or other small fabric items. Air drying your shoes outside but putting them in the shade is also another great way.
If you can avoid using the dryer, consider using the non-dryer options I’ve listed. Relying less on a dryer is not only better for the planet, but it helps extend your shoes’ lifespan.