How to Clean Basketball Shoes? Best Maintenance Tips

Even the most talented basketball player needs proper shoes. From having a proper grip to providing the ideal comfort to make the best jumps – basketball shoes are what separate the best players from the rest.

But you won’t be able to enjoy everything these shoes have to offer unless you take good care of them. And to do that, there’s no better way than cleaning them consistently.

Here, we’ll teach you exactly that. Everything there’s to know about cleaning basketball shoes and a little more.

Whether you’re an amateur, street, high-school, college, or professional player – you’ll want to know this info. It will help you keep your basketball shoe in the best state possible. So don’t stop reading!

How to Clean Basketball Shoes the Traditional Way?

We want to go directly to the action and help you clean your shoes at once. For that, you can follow the next set of steps:

Clean after Using

Cleaning your shoes is essential. But you need to do so consistently. In fact, there’s no better time to clean them than just before using them.

If you went to a game and played for several minutes, then the shoes are probably all sweaty and dirty.

And sweat is a body liquid, so it is filled with bacteria. If you don’t clean your shoes just after using them for a long time – then there’s a high chance they will smell bad and possibly even wear off faster than expected.

That’s why it is essential to clean them up after using them. Of course, if you used them for a few minutes to buy some groceries or walk across the neighborhood – then you don’t need to clean them.

But if you played in the rain or went through an intense workout – then it becomes even more critical to do so.

In short, try to clean the shoes every time you sweat them off. That will keep them neat and ready for more playing.

Disarm the Shoes

Whether they’re too dirty already or you’re just coming back home from a long game – then the best you can do is to disarm them.

This is all about removing all the components, such as the shoelaces, inner soles, and any other part the shoe may have.

The focus is to let it air out for a few minutes before you start cleaning it.

But still, don’t let it rest for much.

Don’t Let Stains Set in

Once you’ve disarmed the shoes, you can start cleaning them.

We recommend doing this by removing the dirt, debris, or mud first. Any stain or residue on the surface can eventually dry out and set in the material (mesh, canvas, leather, etc.). To prevent that, clean them as soon as you can after taking them off.

Follow these small steps to make this possible:

  1. Grab a soft cloth and dump it into water. Then with the damped cloth, clean the surface softly.
  2. Get rid of any dirt, mud, or debris on the surface. Make sure there’s nothing behind.
  3. You can grab a scrubbing brush and get rid of the most stubborn parts.

This will get the surface free of anything that could potentially stain or eventually leave a mark.

Prepare a Cleaning Mixture

Now that you’ve removed all the residues on the surface of the shoe, then you can proceed to create the cleaning mix that will get rid of the deep dirtiness.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Warm-up some water in the stove then add some drops of dish soap or detergent. Do not use anything harsh or too strong. Stick to something mild without softeners, scents, or anti-grease capacity that can damage your shoes.
  2. Mix the water and the cleaning agent well enough. Make sure there are some bubbles.
  3. Now you can test the cleaning solution with a sponge or cloth. Try cleaning up the entire surface of the shoe once again. Once you finish, do not throw away the mixture. Let it sit while you get into another step.

Clean Laces & Insoles

The shoelaces and the insoles also get dirty a lot. And if you don’t clean them correctly, then they will make your shoes look awful.

That’s why we always recommend cleaning them individually for the best results. Here’s how:

  1. Grab the shoelaces (after removing them) and soak them up in the mixture you made before.
  2. Grab the insoles or inserts (after removing them), and soak them up as well on the mixture.
  3. Let them sit for a few minutes.
  4. Then grab a sponge and scrub and try to get rid of any stain or residues. This will clean the insoles and the shoelaces thoroughly.
  5. In case there are stubborn stains or difficult-to-clean parts, then you add some baking soda powder on top of the shoelaces or insoles. This will help to clean everything better.

Once you’ve cleaned them up – then you can proceed to let them dry. Do not reinsert them until you’ve finished cleaning, and they’re totally dry.

Cleaning the Inside

After getting rid of any stain or residue on the shoelaces and insoles, then you can start cleaning the inside of the shoe itself.

This is the best way to get rid of any bacteria that may want to grow inside. For that, you can do this:

  1. With the same warm water & detergent mixture, damp soft cloth or brush inside.
  2. Then scrub to clean the interior of the shoe. Be gentle and try to clean thoroughly without leaving a single space without scrubbing.
  3. You can always soak the inside of the shoe with the mixture as you won’t need it anymore. Then scrub inside to remove any extra dirtiness. This will be the last step into cleaning your shoes at first. You’re now ready to let them dry.

Let the Shoes Dry

To let your shoes dry, there’s nothing more important than natural dryness. That means a warm place with proper ventilation with no direct sunlight contact.

Some of the best places can be close to windows, enclosed patios or backyards, and so on.

We also advise against any type of artificial dryers such as cloth dryers, hairdryers, and similar heat sources. They may eventually damage the shoe material and cause cracking, shrinking, or related damage.

After 12 hours or less, your shoes should be ready to start using them again. Arm them once again with the shoelaces and insoles, and there won’t be anything left to do.

Extra Tips to Consider

While we think this guide should be enough to clean your basketball shoes thoroughly, we decided to add a few additional tips to help you do so even better. Here they are:

  • Clean the shoes before they get dirty. Stains, dirtiness, debris, and other common signs of a dirty shoe may eventually be impossible to get rid of. That’s why we recommend cleaning as soon as you take them off if they’re dirty.
  • Don’t leave shoes on gym bags, closets, or similar places after using. This just promotes bacteria growth and bad odor. And you don’t want any of that happening. Instead, store them in areas with open ventilation and proper airflow.
  • Use shoe deodorizers as much as you can to keep your shoes smelling well enough. If you can use the deodorizer before and after using the shoes, then that would be even better. Add some after cleaning them too (once they’re dry).
  • Try to avoid using your basketball shoes in muddy or moist places. Instead, focus on only using them when you’re playing on a basketball court or anywhere dry & clean.
  • If you’re cleaning white shoes and you don’t want them to look dirty, then you can always clean them with toothpaste. This adds a thin layer that keeps them cleaner for long. That will also help you clean the shoes when needed.
  • If you have several basketball shoes, we recommend taking at least a few minutes every week to clean all your shoes thoroughly. This will help you keep them all in pristine condition.

Take all these factors into consideration when cleaning your basketball shoes, and you’ll surely keep them working for several months or even years without problems.

How to Clean Basketball Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Now, cleaning shoes the traditional way is always the best idea. But sometimes, cleaning that way can take too much time and effort, and you may not have any to spare.

For those moments, there’s probably not a better way to clean your shoes than using a washing machine.

It seems counterintuitive at first, but it can actually help you save some time and effort that cleaning them usually would demand. And that can be super helpful if you have other activities to attend.

Here’s how to clean shoes with your washing machine:

  1. First of all, consider the type of shoes you’re cleaning. If they’re Jordan’s – then we advise against it. Cleaning high-end shoes on the washing machine would be disastrous. But if they’re a cheap brand or not as fragile as Jordan’s, then you can proceed.
  2. Some shoe manufacturers recommend for washing-machine cleaning. Read them up and follow them thoroughly. That will help you know whether you should take components off the shoes. And sure enough, whether they can handle the machine wash.
  3. If there aren’t any recommendations or instructions to follow, then you can proceed by getting the shoelaces, inserts, and insoles off the shoes.
  4. Then place the shoes inside the washing machine. Do not start unless you’ve set the washing cycle to the softest and lowest possible level. This will prevent any damage.
  5. Use the cold water setting as well. You can add towels and other clothing items as well as to prevent any damage to the shoes with the interior of the machine.
  6. Do not use too much detergent, either. Use dish soap and some baking soda if you want. But only use a little, less than you would if you were cleaning clothes.
  7. After the primary cycle ends, stop the machine. Do not let the shoes go through the dryer of the washing machine as it can be pretty damaging to your shoes. Even if you added a lot of clothes, it could scratch or deform your shoes.
  8. Clean the shoelaces, inserts, and insoles by hand. Let them soak in some water with detergent then scrub them softly.

Remember, this process is more about taking the risk of cleaning your shoes via washing machine than treating your shoes right. So only follow this type of cleaning if you genuinely have no alternative – or want to save some time.

How to Clean Basketball Shoes Depending on the Material?

Clean Basketball Shoes

Cleaning your shoes the traditional way or using a washing machine may be useful. In fact, those are excellent ways to do so as long as you want to get rid of dirtiness & sweat on your shoes.

But not all shoes are the same. Some are made with mesh material, others are made of synthetic leather, a few of them may have real leather, and you may also find canvas in others. That’s why it is essential to know what material you need to clean and how you can do so.

Here, we want to help you clean your shoes following the right way accordingly. Want to know how you can do this? Then read up:


This mesh material is often nylon. It is one of the most breathable fabrics in the market, and one of the primary options for basketball shoes nowadays.

The advantage of this material is how well it breathes or ventilates feet. At the same time, it blocks dirt, debris, dust, and even moisture from getting inside.

But cleaning it is not as easy as it seems. However, you won’t have to waste any time or effort if you do it correctly. Here’s how:

  1. Grab a dry brush at first. Try getting something with soft bristles such as boar or horsehair. A toothbrush may also be helpful to prevent any damage to the mesh. Then try to get rid of any residue on top of the shoe with the brush you chose.
  2. Then mix some baking soda and vinegar inside a bowl. Damp a soft cloth in the mixture and then pass it over any stain, dirt, mud, or sign of dirtiness on the shoes.
  3. Let the shoes dry, and that’s it.

Mesh doesn’t require too much work because it is synthetic as it comes from nylon. But still, you will want to clean it well enough – so follow these steps.

Synthetic Leather

In contrast with real leather, this type of material is not as resilient. But with the right cleaning, there’s nothing to worry about.

It is essential to mention, however, that it tends to get dirty faster than real leather – so cleaning becomes vital to do every time after using.

If your basketball shoes contain synthetic leather, then do this:

  1. Mix a mild laundry detergent or dish soap in a bowl with warm water. Then grab a cloth and wipe it down on the dirty areas of the shoe.
  2. If there’s an area with a stain or difficult-to-clean spot, then you can scrub with the softest possible brush. Try to use the mixture to get rid of the stain faster.
  3. For white shoes, you can always use some baking soda. It is way better than detergent for white shoes because it doesn’t have some of the chemicals that detergent contains, can be dangerous on white synthetic leather. Avoid scrubbing with a brush as you can scrub the color off.
  4. Finish up by wiping the entire leather surface of the shoes with a soft rag to remove the remaining detergent or baking soda. Make sure there’s nothing left – and let it as dry as possible.

Remember to be as gentle as possible with this material as it is somewhat fragile. If you’re careful enough, then you can clean your synthetic leather basketball shoes without problems.

Real Leather

It is not common to find basketball shoes made of genuine leather – but you may still do so. This happens with high-end or premium shoes like Jordan’s Special Edition and similar ones. And sure enough, you will want to clean them as gently as possible to prevent any damage.

If you have one of these real leather basketball shoes, then you can do this by following the steps:

  1. Grab a dry cloth or super-soft brush and get rid of any debris, dust, or dirt on the surface. Remember to brush or wipe as gently as you can.
  2. Then damp soft cloth or towel with some water. Wipe the surface of the shoe once again with care. Try to get rid of any remaining residues on the surface.

3.Proceed by wiping toothpaste over any stain or difficult-to-clean residue. But use your finger as softly as you can in a circular motion. Do not go too harsh to prevent any damage to the leather.

  1. Once you’ve cleaned even the smallest stain or residue left, then you can proceed to wipe again with a soft cloth to remove the toothpaste. That will be enough to clean your leather shoes.

Remember, leather is slightly more resistant than other materials, but they’re also more expensive. You don’t want to spend too much money on shoes that you cant take care of. So clean them correctly following these steps.


The final material to consider is the canvas. It is similar to mesh as it is often made of nylon, but it is more absorbent and easy to get dirty.

Luckily, cleaning canvas shoes is not as difficult as it seems. You just need to be as gentle as you can because it can be somewhat fragile if you aren’t too careful – even more vulnerable than synthetic leather.

Here’s how to clean canvas basketball shoes:

  1. Mix warm water and gentle detergent or dish soap in a bowl. Mix until you see bubbles. Canvas is more fragile towards chemicals than other materials, so you should be ultra-careful with chlorine or harsh chemicals.
  2. Then grab a soft cloth and damp it into the mix. You may also use a soft brush. Wipe or brush the dirtiness away from the canvas as gently as possible while trying to get rid of any stain or residue.
  3. Do not pour the mix or water directly into the shoes. That would eventually damp them completely and possibly damage the material. Use only the brush or cloth.
  4. In case the canvas gets saturated or dampened, then you can place some newspapers inside to let it dry and prevent any growth of bacteria.
  5. Let them dry in warm natural air. Do not use any artificial dryer.

This will be enough to get your canvas basketball shoes ready to be used again.

Clean Your Basketball Shoes Now!

Keeping your basketball shoes clean will provide excellent experience in the long run. Not only you will look better on the court, but they will also stay neat and safe for long.

Otherwise, your shoes may deform, break, smell, or just look awful over time. And you surely don’t want any of that.

So follow our advice to the letter depending on the type of cleaning you want to do – and don’t let your shoes get ugly.

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