Do Tennis Shoes Shrink In The Dryer? (Everything You Need to Know!)

Part of the risk of wearing shoes is walking around in muddy puddles, or being rained on, or walking in wet areas – leaving your shoes drenched. However, you might not have the time to air-dry the same shoes, and are considering speeding up the drying through throwing them in the dryer and leaving them there for some time. You might also want to shrink down a pair of shoes that are too big for you since that is the major difference that determines whether you have uncomfortable or comfortable footwear.

You need to keep in mind though, that machine drying is not suitable for all types of shoes, as it will ruin some materials. This raises an important question: can you dry tennis shoes in a dryer? After all, the tumbling and heat present in these machines might be a concern when you are handling athletic shoes, as their structure and component materials might not handle the dryer machine conditions very well.

What kind of shoes work well for dryers?

This will depend on the materials that make up the shoe, so you will need to check the shoe label or tag to make sure it is safe for machine drying. Some materials such as gel-core inserts and leather can easily suffer damage from the heat in the dryer – so if the shoe label does not indicate it is safe for drying using the machine, then it is best to use another method entirely.

The best materials that can handle the heat are cloth or canvas shoes, but many athletic shoes are not made from these materials.

Here are some tips to help you in the drying process:

  • Loosen the shoelaces until they are almost 15cm or 6 inches long. Ensure they remain loose around the tongue of the shoe, otherwise this area will not dry off. In addition, drying shoes that are without aces can lead to damage, both to them and the dryer itself.
  • Tie the laces from both shoes into one knot, so that the shoes remain together throughout the drying stage. Just make sure that this knot is not too tight, or else it will be very difficult to undo it once you are done. Tying them together will also prevent the laces from getting stuck in the machine, and will stop the shoes from slipping.
  • Hold the shoes in the dryer door by the laces, allowing them to point downwards. Open the door and place the soles against its inner side while keeping the laces straight up. While this can work best for a top-loading dryer, it works best with front-loading dryers.
  • Close the door, while the laces stick out at the top, while the shoes must remain in the center area of the door. Ensure the knot of the shoelaces is above the door to avoid the shoes falling inside, even as they spin.
  • Operate the dryer on the lowest heat setting to reduce the chances of damaging the shoes, and also avoid the chances of odor developing in the shoes. Allow it to run for a full cycle before checking, and if they are still wet, you can run it for an extra 20 minutes at a time while checking for any signs of wetness.

Shrinking tennis shoes (canvas ones)

  • Fill a spray bottle with water, and spray the shoes until they soak completely
  • Using the strategy above, put them into the dryer and leave them there for about 10 to 15 minutes
  • Try them on, and repeat the process if they are still too big for you.

Factors to think about when selecting a tennis shoe

Sometimes it is better to prevent the problem of buying a shoe that is too big, and you can do so by keeping certain factors in mind when you go shopping for them. They are mainly three, which are:

  • Playing style – there are two styles you mostly play in; the baseline player, and the serve-and-volley player. Baseline players enjoy playing along the court’s backline, and the shoes will require plenty of lateral support and well as a very durable sole (due to the constant horizontal movements). For a serve-and-volley player, you are charging the net frequently, which means sliding your back foot along the court. You therefore require a shoe with a reinforced toe (durable toecap), as well as a medial within the shoe arch.
  • Type of court surface – for a concrete surface (hard court), you need a shoe that is more durable, because the soles will wear out faster. Check the outsole and upper, which will mostly use vinyl or leather materials. For a clay court (soft court), the traction of the shoe must be non-damaging, while if you prefer multiple courts, you should get those specifically for multi-court use.
  • Shoe fit and foot type – foot types are in three varieties: under pronation, neutral, and over pronation, which you can find out through doing a ‘wet test’. If you have over pronation, the wet test reveals that your entire foot leaves an imprint on the floor surface, and you will require stabilizing shoes due to the tendency of your foot to roll inwards. For neutral feet, a visible space will be present in the arch area during the wet test, and it allows you to try on any tennis shoe. For under pronation, the imprint has a wide gap and the visible part of your foot is small. This means that the feet tend to roll outwards as you stride, so you need a flexible shoe that allows for quick movement.

Final thoughts

It is quite easy to shrink down tennis shoes using a machine, as long as they will fit in that environment. However, you also need to take care to avoid doing it for too long, or else she will be subject to long-lasting damage and the development of odors (as is the case when the shoe is exposed to high temperatures for a long time).