Can You Put Leather Sneakers in the Dryer?

You were careful to follow the manual for your leather sneakers, hand-washing with mild soap and applying leather conditioner with a damp cloth. But now you're wondering how to dry your leather sneakers. If you take a shortcut and place them in a dryer, you'll get an unpleasant surprise. Discover why placing your leather sneakers in a dryer is a bad idea, and learn what to do instead.


Leather sneakers should not go in the dryer.

Genuine leather is made of animal hide or skin, soaked in a salt solution to preserve the hide from deteriorating, and then tanned. The hide is then cleaned, sorted, split and tanned again. Chemicals involved in the tanning process lubricate and soften the leather while strengthening it. Since leather not only comes from animals but has undergone a lengthy process to earn its color and shape, it requires special care. In addition, leather is sensitive to outside elements, and direct heat from a dryer causes leather to stiffen or even flake. It is nearly impossible to repair damaged leather once it experiences flaking.


A safe solution is to use a towel to soak up any excess moisture, and then simply let the leather sneakers dry at room temperature. Keep the shoes away from excessively damp or sunlit areas when drying. The sneakers take longer to dry if the area is too moist, but too much natural sunlight alters the coloring. Stuff the leather sneakers so they maintain their shape once fully dried. The entire process can take two to three days.


Press leather sneakers with a mini-iron to help restore their shape. Place a brown paper bag over the leather; it protects it from the heat. With the dry iron on medium heat, use a press-and-lift motion to apply heat. The motion also helps not to stretch the hide. Use this method only if the size and shape of the leather sneakers permit easy pressing.


Keep your leather sneakers at the front of your closet, and stuff them with newspapers for safe storage. This prevents the leather from getting too stiff or molding. Never store in plastic or any material that does not allow for proper ventilation. Invest in a leather cleaning cloth or water-repellent for routine cleaning.

About the Author

Sophia Jesenia Gonzalez began writing professionally in 2005. A fashion writer and stylist based in New York City, she has worked for publications including "The Record," "New York Magazine" and "Life & Style Weekly." Gonzalez is a William J. Fulbright Scholar and holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and French from Penn State University.