How to Clean Your Shoelaces [8 Mistakes to Avoid]

How to Clean Your Shoelaces

Shoelaces have typically been made of materials like cotton, hemp, or leather. With advancements, other synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon are also used to create a variety of shoelaces.

Are your shoelaces looking dull and dirty? To clean your shoelaces make sure to follow the basics:

  • Remove excess dirt and pretreat stains.
  • Soak in water and soap for up to 30 minutes.
  • Scrub gently.
  • Rise and hang dry.

Later, I’ll explain step-by-step instructions on how to clean your shoelaces to make them look fresh and brand new.

Cleaning your shoelaces just takes a bit of patience if you want to do it right. This article will help you to learn how to clean your shoelaces the right way. We’ll explain how to hand wash and machine wash your shoelaces.

Steps To Handwash Your Shoelaces

10 Steps to handWash your Shoelaces

If you’re looking to keep your shoelaces looking their best, it’s better to wash them. It might take a little longer but doesn’t take a lot of effort to get good results.

First, let’s check out things you will need:

  • Bowl, Bucket, or Sink 
  • Warm Water   
  • Soft Toothbrush
  • Laundry Detergent (Dish soap can work also)
  • Stain Treatment (if needed)
  • Bleach (if needed for white shoelaces)
  • Rubber Gloves (when using bleach)
  • Drying Rack (somewhere to hang the shoelaces to dry)

Steps to Follow

  1. First, remove the shoelaces from the shoes. 
  2. Remove any excess dirt by running the shoelaces under running water. You can use a toothbrush to remove stuck on debris, but if it’s not coming off, don’t scrub too hard.  
  3. Spot treat the stained areas with a spot treatment or laundry detergent. I personally like to use OxiClean versatile stain remover to remove stains and then allow them to sit while getting ready to wash them.  
  4. Prepare a cleaning solution by filling your sink or bucket with warm water and a small spoon full of detergent. Mix solution so that the soap is dissolved.
  5. Place the shoelaces into the solution. Let them soak for up to half an hour. If your white shoelaces are very stained or yellow, add a small spoon full of bleach the last 5-10 minutes. (Don’t forget to use rubber gloves if you use bleach) 
  6. After the shoelaces have completely soaked, remove them from the water or drain the sink. 
  7. Take a soft toothbrush and scrub away any remaining dirt or stains.  
  8. Thoroughly rinse off the laces under a clean stream of water and gently ring them out.
  9. Hang the shoelaces to dry.
  10. If they are still not totally clean, you may want to repeat the process or get new laces. 

If your shoelaces are extremely dirty or yellow, a small amount of bleach solution might not be good enough. Instead, soak them in a stronger bleach solution. I prefer using Clorox bleach for this purpose; you can give it a try as well.

To create a stronger bleach solution, fill a bucket with a gallon of hot water. Put three tablespoons of bleach in it and follow the above-mentioned steps. The only difference is that you need to soak your shoelaces for five minutes and not half an hour.

Steps To Machine Wash Your Shoelaces

10 Steps to Use a Washing Machine for your Shoelaces

If you have a washing machine and your shoelaces are made of cotton or other washable material, it is usually fine to use it to wash them. You can take a look at the article I wrote about washing your shoes if you want. It shows how I personally washed and dried my shoes and shoelaces. 

It may save you a lot of time and extra work to use a washing machine. You can even make it a part of your normal laundry routine by throwing them in with a load of regular clothes.

To machine wash your shoelaces, you may need the following items:

  • Soft toothbrush 
  • Stain treatment
  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach
  • Mesh bag 
  • Drying rack

Steps to Follow:

  1. Remove the laces from the shoes. 
  2. Run the shoelaces under clean water. Use a soft toothbrush and scrub off any excess dirt or mud. 
  3. Use any laundry detergent to treat any stains on your shoelaces. The one I would recommend is OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder for cleaning noticeable stains. 
  4. After applying stain treatment to your laces’ stained and discolored areas, let them sit for 20 minutes. 
  5. Place the laces in a mesh lingerie bag and close the bag to prevent your shoelaces from getting tangled during the wash.
  6. Throw the bag into the washing machine with detergent. If you have other laundry items, it’s ok you can wash with it, just be cautious of colored laces. 
  7. If the washing items are all white, add a cap full of bleach in the washer to brighten your shoelaces.
  8. Run a wash cycle.
  9. When the wash cycle is done, take out the bag and remove the laces from the bag.
  10. Hang the laces on a drying rack and let them air dry. Do not put them in the dryer on high, as it can cause the laces to shrink, or it might melt those plastic tips. 

Mistakes to Avoid While Washing Shoelaces

Avoid Mistakes when cleaning shoelaces

Let’s discuss a few mistakes that people generally make while washing shoelaces.

  1. Washing your shoes is one of the most common mistakes that I’ve seen people make. It is important to avoid washing the shoes with your shoelaces laced up. 
    • If your shoes are made of leather or artificial leather, you should avoid washing them. They don’t usually handle being washed well. It might seem easier to throw the whole shoe into the wash, but it’s worth it, to prevent damage to your shoes.
  2. There is a chance that your shoelaces will get tangled inside your washing machine. To avoid this, either place the shoelaces inside a washing bag or an old pillowcase and Knott it properly. Consider using a gentle cycle when washing the laces to ensure they come out in the best condition.
  3. Another mistake that some people make is thinking it’s OK to wash their laces in the sink with their hands while using a bleach solution. Bleach can start to irritate the skin and even burn it in higher concentrations. To prevent this avoid direct skin contact with clean and use of gloves while washing.
  4. The use of stiff brushes for washing the shoelaces is also not recommended. It can also harm leather shoelaces. If you don’t have a soft brush I think a sponge or possibly a clean scouring pad could be a good alternative if used gently. 
  5. If you have leather shoelaces, it is not usually a good idea to soak them in water. Leather shoelaces can be wiped clean with water, but should always be conditioned to prevent cracking and drying out.
  6. The shoelaces should be dried out in a towel or shaded area. Ensure your shoelaces avoid direct sunlight for extended periods as it will cause them to fade and the laces will lose their vibrant color.
    • I also advise that the shoes shouldn’t be replaced until the laces are completely dried, otherwise it will leave stains on the shoes.
  7. Avoid exposing colored shoelaces to bleach, unless they have already been washed a couple of times. Some bleaches/cleaners are color-safe. and are used to safely brighten colored materials.
    • Regular bleach will not only damage the color of shoelaces but also harms the fibers and materials over time. In my opinion, shoelaces shouldn’t be soaked in bleach for any longer period. Also, I prefer using detergent instead of bleach.
  8. Using a dryer to dry shoelaces is a big no for me as it can be terrible for the material and construction of shoelaces. It is harmful to the elasticity of the fibers making it less stable when laced. It is always better to let your shoelaces air dry.

When to Buy New Laces

Do You Need New Shoelaces_

Even after cleaning your shoelaces, you may find them dirty, yellow, or stained. This is because they have old stains and the laces have weathered over time. It’s likely time to get yourself a brand new pair of shoelaces.

Here are a few indications to look for before buying new shoelaces.

  1. Shoelace Durability: There is always an expiration date for everything, and clothing can only endure for so long. The same goes for the shoelaces. They have a durability period, after which they become tattered and frayed. Plastic aglet used in regular cotton shoelaces aren’t usually excellent quality and can quickly have wear and tear occur. If they have come off your shoelaces, it may be a signal that you need new shoelaces.  
  2. Difficult to Clean: When you clean your regular shoelaces, they will come out as fresh, clean, and bright. But if they are still yellow, dirty, and blemished, it’s time to get new ones. 
  3. Shoelace Length: If you feel your shoelace length is too short or too long, I recommend buying a new pair of the perfect size. 
  4. Transform the Shoes: If you feel bored with your shoes, you can easily get them transformed by buying new trendy shoelaces of different colors. Just replace your old shoelaces with the cool and stylish new ones, and voila you are done!


Here are a few things to keep in mind before you buy a new pair of shoelaces. They are:

  1. Type of shoes: First, look at what type of shoes you have, so you can buy new laces. Whether they are casual shoes, hiking, or athletic.  
  2. Type of shoelaces: Then decide the type of shoelaces, if you want round shoelaces, flat shoelaces, specialty shoelaces, oval shoelaces, or tubular shoelaces. 
  3. I would recommend you get an elastic shoelace as it allows you to slide your shoes on and off without getting too tight on your foot. 
  4. If you have athletic shoes, I think getting a bubble lace would also be a good choice. They stay tied better as compared to regular shoelaces. 
  5. Shoelace color: Then comes an interesting part i.e., shoelace color. Decide which shoelace color you want. You can either go for the same color as your old laces or go for a new color. I feel getting new shoelaces in different colors is a great idea to change your shoes’ overall look. But whatever you choose, it should look good in your shoes. 
  6. Shoelace Length: Last but not least, the shoelace length is significant. Decide what shoelace length you want. A simple way is to look at your old shoelaces and the way they are tied. Are they too short, too long, or just perfect! Measure the length of your old shoelaces and add or subtract length according to your choice. 


Have you ever thought about how important shoelaces are in our life? Strange! But that’s true! A milestone in a child’s life is to learn how to tie their shoelaces. We tie them before heading out to work, school, or office and untie them when we get home.

Shoelaces ensure the proper fit of our shoes as well as prevent any injury from happening. Since they have become a vital part of our lives, we can ensure that they are properly cleaned and replaced when needed.

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