How do professional laboratories assess the washability of shoes?


Recently, the shoe washing machine has been gaining popularity and buzz among consumers. Compared with manual cleaning, it is certainly much more convenient and effortless. But do you know the potentially-disastrous consequences on the shoes after machine-washing? Not all shoes are made for machine washing which could miserably rubbish your favourite shoes.

In order to accurately assess the washability of shoes, national and international standards have been in force for long. Today, our experts is on hand to give you an in-depth overview.

Testing Standards

  • ISO 19954:2003 Footwear — Test methods for whole shoe — Washability in a domestic washing machine
  • QB/T 2887-2007 Footwear – Test methods for whole shoe – Washability in a domestic washing machine

Testing Conditions

1. Equipment

 The laboratory uses professional washing equipment of horizontal roller and front feeding type in the test, which is completely different from the shoe washing machine sold in the market.

2. Detergent

Non phosphate ECE reference detergent.

3. Ballast

10 pieces of white, square cotton fabric with weight of (125±5) g/m² and side length of (50±2) cm.

Testing Procedure

1. Wash

Just wash one shoe (usually the left one) and the other (the right one) for post-test comparisons. A complete washing procedure is as follows:

2. Dry

After the washing process, the shoes should be completely dried. This step is especially important. Be sure to allow the shoes to dry naturally. Ventilation can be used for speed. 

3. Assess

After all the above steps have been completed, the shoes should be evaluated finally. Usually, depending on the specific condition of the shoe, some or all of the following are checked:

1) Color change: any color change caused by washing, including self-decolorization in various parts of the shoe, and color staining caused by color migration.

2) Size change: If there is any deformation on the shoe, it will be considered a size change. For example, the length and width of the shoe change, the uppers deformation and so on.

3) All kinds of damage: any damage on the shoes after washing, including accessories falling off, parts decolorization, etc.


4) Bonding strength of the upper and sole: if necessary, you can also measure the bonding strength of the upper sole of the shoe, and compare the changes in the bonding strength of the shoe before and after washing.

Based on our professional experience, the cloth slippers used indoors are more prone to distortion and deformation after washing, as observed from the change in length and width. And for sneakers after washing, toe spring is easy to deform. The type of glue used in adhesive shoes and adhesive process should not be downplayed, otherwise the adhesive strength of the bottom will decrease significantly after washing, resulting in detachment. Contrary to general belief, the material on the upper part does not have a clear propensity to decolorize.  Drastic decolorization is rare, but if it does happen, it is most likely the color migration.

PFI has more than 65 years of professional experience in footwear industry. Please feel free to contact us and consult with our experts for more shoe testing technology.

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