Can I Wash Light Up Shoes? (The Best Washing & Drying Tips)

You are the parent of ever-growing children, and you know there are only three sizes of shoes: too small, just right, and too big. You also know that “just right” was yesterday. 

So you gather up the kiddos and head to the shoe store. You want to buy an affordable, sturdy, goes with everything pair of shoes.

Your child wants the white light-up, kicks with Paw Patrol or Elsa on them. Well, they are pretty awesome. 

With new shoes on tiny feet and smiles all around, you all head back to the car, when suddenly, SPLASH.

Those beautiful light-up shoes found their way into a mud puddle. How will you wash those brand-new light-up shoes?

While throwing them in the washing machine with the rest of the muddy clothes may seem to be the easiest option, it may not be the best choice for light-up shoes’ longevity.

Most manufacturers do not recommend submerging light-up shoes in water, whether it is washing machines, swimming pools, or even heavy rainstorms. The electronic components in the LED lights are not made to survive a trip through the washing machine, where not only do they get soaked, they get bumped around. However, you can try baby wipe, magic sponge, or the down and dirty scrub approach. 

However, parents know that we sometimes take drastic measures to save a favorite toy, blanket, or pair of Transformers shoes. 

Before risking those sparkling lights in the sudsy waves, try these three suggestions for cleaning your child’s favorite shoes. Then read on for how to machine wash them as a last resort.

How To Clean Light Up Shoes Without Water

The Baby Wipe Approach 

Baby Wipes

If you are dealing with shoes that are just dirty or dusty from a hard day out on the playground, try wiping them down with a couple of baby wipes.

That will knock off the surface dirt and anything else that is recently sticky or crumb-covered from the day’s adventures.

The Magic Sponge Approach 

For light-up shoes that are well-worn or scuffed, especially if they are white or light-colored, a baby wipe won’t remove the scuff marks. In this case, try a “magic” cleaning sponge. Just wet, squeeze, and scrub.

The sponge will crumble away, but the rubber part of the shoes will return to its original shine.

The eraser may also help remove some stains from the fabric parts of shoes and the insole. Be sure to let the insoles and shoes fully dry before your child wears them again.

The Down And Dirty Scrub 

When those favorite flashing shoes have literally been dragged through the mud, they will need a more thorough cleaning.

Start by knocking off all the dried mud and dirt that you can. Then, get after the ground-in dirt with some warm water, dish soap, and an old toothbrush.

The toothbrush will reach in all the grooves and clean out the dirt. Rinse with a clean damp cloth and let them dry thoroughly in the sun.

If they are smelly from sweaty baby feet or their trip through the mud, sprinkle baking soda in them while they are sitting in the sun and let it absorb the smell. 

How To Machine Wash Light-Up Shoes

Sometimes, as parents are well aware, disaster strikes. Your child’s shoe becomes the collection site for ice cream, popsicles, juice, or potty accidents.

The only remaining options are to machine wash the shoes or throw them away.

Rather than toss them, you may as well give the washer a try. Many parents report success when they wash shoes with care. Be aware – the lights may not work after washing.

Supplies For Washing Light-Up Shoes

First, gather your supplies. You will need a couple of mesh washing bags with zippers available at the dollar store. Also, gather up a few old towels that also need to be washed.

You may as well accomplish two chores at once. Go for the old towels, though. You don’t want to spoil nice towels or have them fade onto the shoes. 

Machine Washing Light-Up Shoes

Rinse off the shoes. Get any large pieces of debris or obvious dirt off of them. You don’t need mud in your washer. 

Take the laces and insoles out of the shoes. Spray them with your choice of stain remover or oxi-powered cleaner and put them into one of the zippered mesh bags.

This will allow the laces and insoles to wash more completely. Spray the shoes inside and out with the oxi-powered cleaner as well and zip them into the other mesh bag.

Washing Machine

Add the two mesh bags and towels to the washing machine and wash on cold with your usual detergent.

The towels will help move the shoes around the washer, so they don’t just sink to the bottom and stay there.

They will also help balance the load and reduce the thumping that results from having shoes in the washer.

Drying Light-Up Shoes

After the wash, set the shoes, insoles, and laces out in the sun to dry. It may take ten to twelve hours for them to dry out completely.

Most shoe manufacturers do not recommend putting shoes in the dryer, even the non-light-up kind. 

Which Light-Up Shoes Can Go In The Washer?

If your light-up shoes need to take the plunge, consider what materials they are made of first. Nylon or canvas shoes with a rubber sole are the most likely to survive the washing machine.

Memory foam shoe components should be fine in the washing machine with cold water only, but the foam absorbs a lot of water, so drying time is increased. 

Never put leather or suede shoes into the washing machine because the water will destroy the material.

Shoes with gel inserts may not survive the washer. The components may separate or become damaged.  Shoes like Sketchers Twinkle-Toes may lose some of their sparkles or glitter in the washer.

On the other hand, some shoes, like StrideRite light-up shoes, are specifically made to go through the wash.

They are created to be sturdy enough for the toughest kids to play in and are easily washable for busy moms.

StrideRite’s instructions are to close all the hook and loop closure, tie the laces and throw them in the washer. Wash on cold with your usual detergent and air dry. 

Drying Wet Shoes

The key to drying wet shoes is patience. The way to dry shoes that best preserves the soles and the fabric uppers is to place them outside in the sun and let them dry thoroughly.

In addition to drying, the sun’s UV light will also help by killing bacteria that can cause foul odors. If you need to dry shoes indoors, set them near a fan to ensure good air circulation.

Drying Wet Shoes In The Dryer

Again, most shoe manufacturers do not recommend putting shoes in the dryer. The tumbling and heat can damage the soles of the shoes and the dryer. However, if you are determined, here are a few options for the best result possible.

Drying Rack 

Some dryers come with a flat drying rack. If your dryer has one, you might consider using it so the shoes won’t be tumbling around.

Some parents report success putting the shoes on the rack and drying them at the lowest temperature. 

Shoelaces In The Door 

One of the problems with putting light-up shoes through the dryer is that each time they thump, they light up, draining the battery a little more. If they have survived the washer, you want them to survive the dryer as well.

Then, holding the tied laces outside the dryer door, close the door so the shoes are suspended inside the dryer. Run the cycle on the lowest heat.

Towels In The Dryer 

A third method to reduce the impact on your dryer is to throw towels in the dryer with the shoes.

The towels probably won’t stop them from lighting up in the dryer and running down their batteries, but it should reduce the wear and tear on the dryer itself.

It will also reduce the thumping and therefore not drive you crazy while they dry. Again, always use the lowest heat if you are putting shoes in the dryer.

Shoes made with leather, suede, Naugahyde, gel, and memory foam components should not be placed in the dryer.

Leather, suede, and Naugahyde are likely to crack and become misshapen. Gel and memory foam components may come apart when exposed to heat.


Keep your little ones happy with their light-up shoes. Try to avoid submerging them in water or other muddy, sticky situations.

Whenever possible, spot or surface clean the shoes with baby wipes, magic eraser sponges, or a scrub brush and soapy water.

A little baking soda can go a long way toward refreshing the smell of well-worn shoes. If you must machine wash light-up shoes, use a mesh bag, cold water, and dry in the sun. 

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