Can You Put Air Forces in the Washer Without Damaging Them?

Can You Put Air Forces in the Washer Without Damaging Them?

by jacky chou
Updated on

Nike Air Force 1s are an iconic pair of sneakers many people have. They go well with formal and casual outfits. If you have white ones, you probably know that they can catch stains quite easily. Depending on your approach, washing your Air Force sneakers can help them last longer or destroy their integrity.

Can you put Air Forces in the washer? This post will discuss this and alternative methods of cleaning Air Force 1s.

Let’s begin!

How to Wash Air Force Ones in a Washing Machine

Can you put Air Forces in the washer? The simple answer is yes! You can clean your white Air Force Ones in the washer, but there’s an essential consideration to keep in mind.

Cleaning your Nike air force ones in a washing machine is an intense process that affects the strength of the leather uppers. As such, we don’t recommend you clean your sneakers in the washer more than twice in the same year. This can cause your shoes to wear out much faster than they should.

Before we delve into how to machine wash your Air Force Ones, let’s see the necessary items.

What you’ll need

  • Laundry bag
  • Shoe trees
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Washing machine
  • White, old rugs or clothes

What to do

white nike air force 1s in a washing machine

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  1. First, remove the shoelaces from your air force ones and put them in the laundry bag. Insert the shoe trees in the sneakers to ensure your shoes maintain their shape during and after the wash. The shoe trees will end up rusting from the cleaning process, but that’s better than your shoes paying the price.
  2. Put the Air Force Ones in the laundry bag with the laces and zip it. Place the laundry bag in the washer and set it to a delicate cycle.
  3. Add the old white rugs or clothes into the washer. These garments will prevent the shoes from hitting the washer as they spin inside. It’s important to use old clothes since they can absorb stains from your shoes.
  4. Pour laundry detergent into the washer, close the lid, and run the washing machine.
  5. Once the wash cycle is complete, remove your Air Force 1s and place them outside under a shade to dry. Remove the shoe trees and put the shoes on a clean cloth. Alternatively, you can set the shoes close to a fan or an open window. They should be dry after 24 hours.

Things to Note

  1. You shouldn’t use the washing machine to dry your Air Forces. This is because the drying process uses a lot of heat which will damage the leather in your shoes.
  2. If you put your Air Force 1s in direct sunlight, the leather will shrink as your sneakers dry. Instead, you should put your sneakers away from direct heat sources to ensure you don’t damage them in the cleaning process.
  3. Don’t air the shoes in a humid place because it could encourage mold growth. That’s why you should dry your shoes in a well-ventilated space.

How to Hand Wash Air Force Ones

Cleaning Nike Air Force 1s

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If you don’t have a washer available, don’t worry. You can still learn how to clean Air Force 1s by hand. This is actually the best way to clean your white Air Forces since it doesn’t damage the shoe materials.

What You’ll Need

  • Shoe tree/old newspapers
  • Cleaning solution
  • Large bowl or basin
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Hard bristled brush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rubber gloves

What to do

  1. Remove the shoelaces from your dirty Air Force Ones. Put a shoe tree in each of your shoes, but if you don’t have any, you can stuff old newspapers instead. This will prevent the shoes from shrinking and forming creases as you wash them.
  2. Take your basin or bowl, add 3 cups of water, and add two teaspoons of laundry detergent or dish soap to create a cleaning solution. If you already have a store-bought cleaner, that also works. Unfortunately, cleaners meant for suede shoes aren’t suitable for cleaning your white Air Force 1s.
  3. Lather your soapy water and soak the shoelaces inside your basin. This will allow the cleaning solution to battle the stains in your shoelaces as you continue washing the shoes.
  4. Wear gloves and start cleaning your white shoes. Take your soft brush, dip it inside the cleaner, and rub your shoes’ exterior leather. Next, scrub the heel where there’s lining because this part absorbs sweat from your feet. Finally, lift the tongue and flick the brush back and forth on it without much force to avoid wearing it out.
  5. If you still see dirt or stains on your shoes, take the hard bristled brush, dip it in the cleaning solution, and scrub the sneakers again. Scrub every inch of your Air Forces until you notice the stains lifting.
  6. Next, take a soft cloth or microfiber towel and wrap it around your index finger. Dip the cloth in the solution and rub your sneakers to eliminate any scuff marks visible on the leather. It can take several minutes to rub scuff marks off your shoes, so don’t lose patience if the stain is still visible after a minute of rubbing.
  7. After eliminating dirt and stains from your Nike Air Force 1s, the next thing to do is pour clean water into a basin and soak a clean cloth inside it. Take the cloth and wring it, then wipe off the soap from the entire shoe.
  8. Once you blot away the soap from the shoe, air dry them in a shaded place outdoors or place them near a fan or window. It’s essential to avoid drying your sneakers in direct sunlight or heat. It could take up to 24 hours for your shoes to dry properly.
  9. Ensure you keep the old newspaper stuffing or shoe trees inside the sneakers as they dry. This will ensure they retain their shape and lower the chances of creasing as you wait for them to dry.

Keeping the shoes white will ensure they go well with every type of outfit, including white jeans.

How to Remove Stains and Odors from Air Forces

cleaning stains from white Nikes

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White Air Forces can catch tough stains easily. Sometimes, the standard washing procedures won’t get the stains out, and you’ll need advanced methods to remove them. Here are some ways to deal with odors and stains in your Nike Air Force 1s.

1. Non-Gel Toothpaste and Water

A creative way to remove stubborn stains from your white shoes is by using non-gel toothpaste and water. It’s essential that the toothpaste is white to avoid staining your shoes further.

Squeeze some toothpaste on the stain and use your finger to rub the toothpaste all over the area. Then, hold an old toothbrush under running water and use it to scrub the stain off.

Use a paper towel or wet cloth to remove the toothpaste once the stain lifts. Gel-like toothpaste can leave residue on your shoes, so you should use non-gel toothpaste like the ones with baking soda.

2. Baking Soda for Deodorizing Insoles

Foot odors can quickly transfer to your Nike Air Force 1s and make it a nightmare to remove them in front of other people. Luckily, there’s a simple solution. With some baking soda and a large air-tight box, you can freshen up your sneakers in no time.

With the tongue lifted, place your shoes in the box. Place 1 1/2 cups of baking soda in a glass and place it inside the box between the shoes. Seal the box and wait for 24 hours.

The baking soda will absorb the odors from your shoes and leave them smelling clean. If there’s still a stench in the shoes, pour the baking soda directly on the insoles in the sneakers and wait for 24 hours. Then, machine washes the sneakers, and you’re done.

3. Magic Eraser

A magic eraser is usually meant for removing stains from drywall. However, it can also help to lift dirt and scuff marks from your Air Force 1s.

You can find this sponge-like material in a nearby cleaning supply store. Dip the eraser in your sneaker cleaner and use it to scrub the scuff marks on your white sneakers. White sneakers can go well with a pair of shorts, jeans, or khakis.

4. Bleach and Detergent

cleaning white shoelaces

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Your shoelaces could also prove challenging to clean. If your washing efforts haven’t lifted all the stains from your shoelaces, here’s what you can do.

  • Take a bowl and add chlorine bleach to half the capacity.
  • Fill the bowl with liquid laundry detergent and mix up the solution.
  • Soak your shoelaces in the mixture and wait for about an hour.
  • Finally, clean your shoelaces as you normally would and air dry them.

5. Lighter Fluid

If you have paint or gum stuck to your soles, you should use lighter fluid to remove it. Scrape off the larger chunks of gum or paint using a toothpick. Wear gloves, pour one tablespoon on a cloth, and scrub the paint or gum off.

Unfortunately, this method is only suitable for white Air Forces. If you have a pair of another color, you should use lighter fluid since it’ll remove the color.


You can wash your Air Force 1s in a couple of ways. Can you put Air Forces in the washer? Yes, you can. However, throwing them in your washing machine isn’t the best way to do it since it damages the leather if you do it more than twice a year. We recommend hand washing your Air Force 1s if you want to ensure they last as long as possible.

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jacky chou


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