Can You Put Work Boots in The Washing Machine? (I’ve Tested This On My Own Boots)

Nobody likes a dirty pair of work boots, especially if they start to smell. An easy solution would be dumping them in the washing machine to come out sparkly clean as if they were clothes, right?

In order to create a good article for you and for the Best For My Feet community, I’ve decided to do something that’s not very wise. I’ve decided to wash my awesome Timberland steel toe work boots using the washing machine.

Why this is not wise? 

Because every article you’ll read on the internet will tell you not to wash your work boots in the washing machine. And there’s no better way to find out the truth than actually test it and see for ourselves.

I’ve washed my work boots in the washing machine so you don’t have to. In case something goes wrong with my experiment … you can learn from my experience and save yourself some money and headaches.

What was the result of washing my safety boots in the washing machine?

If you’re here for a quick answer: The boots were completely fine but the washing machine got a little dent in the drum.

For more details keep reading to find out about how I washed the boots and how the machine got the dent and also what you can do to help avoid that! For additional tips and ideas check out how I wash my work boots without ruining them here.

Let’s get into it…

myself putting my work boots in the washing machine

What should you consider before putting your work in boots in the washing machine?

Work boots handle extreme conditions in the outdoors and workspace well, but not the insides of a washing machine.

Why?

First, the leather.

As tough as it is, leather is not designed to be thoroughly soaked for long periods. That’s before even considering the heat inside a washing machine, which will only damage the material even more.

Second, the construction of your work boots.

Adhesives in your work boots keep it together alongside the stitching.

Detergents, combined with the heat and spinning of a washing machine, will result in the adhesives holding your work boots melting off.

If your work boots come out intact somehow, everything from the outsole to the rest of your work boot will take a hit, which could impact their ability to protect your feet.

Even if a work boot is waterproof, it doesn’t mean that you can toss it into a washing machine like you would with a t-shirt.

So the most important thing to consider and to remember here is to not wash your work boots with hot water in order to avoid some of the above-mentioned potential damages.

I’ve washed mine using the fast 15 minutes program with cold water.

Can you put steel toe work boots in the washing machine?

Unlike casual footwear usually made from cotton, polyester, and other washable materials, a steel-toed work boot is made out of leather, suede, or other animal-based materials that swell up, lose their shape or wear out from excessive exposure to water.

This means that just as with your leather jacket, a washing machine will irreversibly damage the leather fibers and eventually lead to the leather losing its shape, durability, as well as reducing its lifespan.

An additional risk is that the steel in the toe cap could damage the washing machine’s door or the drum by repeatedly kicking them as the steel toe boots are spinning inside the machine.

Can you put composite toe work boots in the machine?

Faced against the constant spinning and heat of a washing machine, even a lighter composite toe work boot won’t fare any better in a washing machine.

Like steel-toed work boots, composite work boots can come out wholly ruined after taking a spin in the washer.

Can you wash your Timberland work boots in the washing machine?

As you could see, in order to create this article and the video if we can wash work boots in the machine I have used my Timberland PRO Pit Boss work boots.

timberland work boots in the washing machine

So yes, you can wash your Timberland work boots in the washing machine. Although I have to warn you that there are some risks involved. The leather of your boots or the washing machine could get damaged. 

In my case, the washing machine got a little dent.

Once my Timberland boots have been washed, I let them dry naturally and the next day I’d apply some mink oil or some kind of leather conditioner and they should be good to go for another few months.

What’s worse can happen if you put your work boots in the washing machine?

Work boots are tricky beasts, and there is a good chance they would survive a rumble in the washer. The thing is, it all comes down to your luck.

At best, your work boots come out clean.

Realistically, expect any of these scenarios:

  • The leather loses its shape and texture from getting soaked
  • The adhesives holding your boots together melt off or becomes weaker from detergents.
  • The shoelaces get lost, entangled, or destroyed.
  • Depending on the type of insoles used, they could come out deformed and lose their padding.

Will the work boots ruin the washing machine?

Wet work boots are heavy. If you’ve ever stepped in a lake and continued walking, you’ll know just how hard it is to walk in wet boots due to their weight.

When a soaked boot spins around endlessly in your washing machine, you’re running the risks of denting the washer’s drum due to the sheer force of a soaked work boot slamming it repeatedly.

This is especially true if your work boots have steel reinforcements such as steel toe caps or steel shanks.

Not only would you damage your work boots, but you’ll also need to call in a repairman or send in your washing machine for maintenance.

After washing my work boots, I’ve seen a little dent on the washing machine drum. This happened even with the towel I’ve put inside the machine with the specific purpose of avoiding these dents as the boots are being washed.

I’m pretty sure it would’ve been worse without the towel. And maybe it would’ve been a good idea to put a couple of towels in there instead of just one. 

So keep this in mind if you’re going to wash your work boots in the washing machine!

Best alternative methods to clean your work boots without using a washing machine

Now that we’ve established that washing machines and work boots do not mix, it’s time to discover what are the right ways to clean your work boots without damaging them.

Follow these methods to clean your work boots safely:

6. Remove odors with vinegar and baking soda.

If your work boots are starting to wreak, spray a mix of 50% distilled white vinegar and 50% water inside the lining and interior, then let your work boots dry up for around 30 minutes.

Once your work boots dry up, fill them with baking soda and leave them overnight for the baking soda to get rid of the odors.

5. Wash shoelaces separately by hand

Shoelaces often get ignored, but they’re just as important as the rest of your work boot. Untie them from your boots and give them a good clean using mild soap and warm water to get them spotless and dirt-free.

Unlike a washing machine, you won’t have to worry about the tips coming off or the threads getting loose when you hand wash them. 

4. Wash insoles by hand

Insoles are the padding that keeps your feet comfy, and while they technically can be washed in a washing machine, it’s best to do it by hand to prevent them from deforming or melting.

Use warm water, disinfectant, and mild soap to wash your insoles thoroughly.

3. Scrub off dirt

We mentioned earlier in the article that leather is tough, especially for getting rid of grime and dirt.

To get rid of caked-up dirt, first make sure the dirt dries off, then thoroughly scrub the leather with a brush to get rid of anything trapped in the leather’s fibers.

2. Disinfect your work boots

Dirty work boots, even if they appear clean on the outside, can lead to athlete’s foot or other types of bacteria building up.

From time to time, make sure to use a foot spray to prevent bacteria from causing odors and foot infections. Here’s how I disinfect and sanitize my work boots when they get stinky.

1. Wear socks and switch between work boots

While not exactly a cleaning method, wearing different work boots lets each pair last longer and gives the pair you last wore the chance to dry out.

In addition, wearing socks prevents sweat from getting absorbed by the lining of your work boots.

We’ve previously covered even more complex ways to get your work boots cleaned up, so make sure to head on to our DIY work boots cleaning guide to get the full lowdown to get your work boots spotless and back in action in no time.

If you prefer to watch the video instead, check out the video on the BestForMyFeet YouTube channel.

Putting your work boots in the washing machine: The takeaway

As tempting as it is to go the easy route, a washing machine is not the best way to clean a pair of dirty boots. It’s the easiest and most comfortable for sure!

But I’d recommend you to take a few hours over the weekend and try to clean your work boots using other safer methods mentioned in this article.

Especially if your work boots are made of leather. It’s a bit less risky if they are made from some synthetic material.

If you really want to go for the easy one and wash your safety boots in the washing machine make sure you:

  • You choose a program that washes with cold water 
  • Use some towels or sponges, whatever you have to avoid dents in the machine’s drum
  • Don’t put too much detergent 

In my experience, it was the washing machine that came off worse every time I washed my work boots in the machine. Either the drum got dented or one of the drum paddles came off or worse: the machine stopped working due to the continuous banging.

Before I sign off, remember, just like your work boots do not go inside a washing machine, they’re also not meant to go in a dryer, which arguably is even worse.


Team Members Working On This Page

Adrian – Editor / Webmaster

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!

Jessica Flynn
Jessica Flynn – Writer And Researcher

Love technology, going to the beach, take care of my body, and writing (amongst other things). You’ll see my face around here a little bit since I’m responsible for part of the research and writing of some of the articles you’re reading on BestForMyFeet.com. I hope you’ll find our content helpful and enjoyable! See you around, thanks for reading!


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