How To Properly Clean Basketball Shoes

Last updated on October 31st, 2022 at 02:21 am

We all want to get the most out of our basketball shoes at all times. Not because we paid lots of money for them, but because their perfect fit and style suit us best.

Basketball shoes tend to often get dirty, thus cleaning them regularly is essential to keeping them in perfect working condition. It is important to note that keeping your basketball shoes clean is not only about the aesthetics but also about the overall performance of the shoe.

Proper traction helps us play at a higher level. Dusty outsoles on the other hand can often lead to reduced traction which may lead to slipping and reduced overall performance. 

Apart from not being able to cut, jump or shoot properly, you will also be more susceptible to injuries. Thus, it is important to ensure that your basketball shoes are always clean. 

If your basketball shoes tend to pick up plenty of dust, then you might want to settle for another pair that’s suited for dusty courts.  

We reviewed some of the best traction shoes in the market recently. You might want to check them out. Moreover, a lack of regular or proper cleaning can also lead to the formation of smell-causing bacteria. 

Apart from washing your shoes regularly, there are plenty of other ways that you can keep your basketball shoes from smelling.

It’s important to note that we cannot clean all shoes the same way. Thus, how exactly does one clean basketball shoes properly?

How Do You Clean Basketball Shoes/Steps

1. Remove Debris from the Outsole

When cleaning basketball shoes, it’s important to first begin by cleaning the outsole. The outsole tends to collect the most dirt and dust and thus, you might want to clean this first before going to the upper section, laces or innersole.  

To effectively remove dirt and debris from the outsole, you should use a soft brush or wet washcloth.

The next step would be to wipe or gently scrub the outsole with a wet brush or washcloth. Always ensure that you have plenty of water and soap with you.

When doing it’s important to ensure that you access the groves, considering this is where most of the dirt tends to hide.

If you do not have a soft brush, then you can always use a toothpick or toothbrush to access the grooves. Ensure that you properly scrub off the dirt.

2. Wipe the Shoe with Cloth

Once you have successfully removed debris from the outsole, the next step would be to wipe the shoe using a wet cloth. Before wiping the shoe, it’s important to ensure that you are using an eco-friendly laundry detergent or soap. Warm up the water first before wiping your shoes.

If you have a white outsole, then you might want to add a little bit of toothpaste into the mix so that you get a brighter and more colourful finish.

Once you have finished wiping the shoes, you should now get clean warm water and gently wipe off the soap from the shoes.

3. Wash Insole and Laces

You can either wash the insole and laces by hand or use a laundry machine. If you decide to use the laundry machine, then you should adjust it to a cold and delicate setting.

On the other hand, if you decide to wash them by hand, then you can always use an eco-friendly laundry detergent with warm water.

Pro tip: Dish detergent is more effective than bar soap as it contains more detergent molecules (surfactants).

Meaning, they will break grease, dirt or whatever stains are on your basketball shoes more easily in comparison to regular soap.

4. Additional Steps/Whitening Soles

1. Use Toothpaste

For quite a long time, basketball players have been using toothpaste to clean their white-soled sneakers. Before cleaning your outsole with toothpaste, it’s important that you settle for non-gel white toothpaste.

Any other toothpaste will not give you the desired result as others might end up staining your sneakers.

When cleaning your shoes, it’s important to first apply the toothpaste onto a toothbrush and then run the brush across the outsole. You might want to put more emphasis on the stained or dirty sections.

Once you are done, you should leave the toothpaste on the outsole for a minimum of 10 minutes. Finally, wipe the outsole using a damp washcloth or towel.

2. Use Hydrogen Peroxide

Just like toothpaste, hydrogen peroxide is also another effective way of cleaning your white basketball sneakers. When using this method, it’s important to first mix ½ tablespoon of water and hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon of baking soda.

Mix the three gently until you get a pasty mixture. Using a toothbrush, gently brush the entire shoe while paying emphasis to all the affected areas.

Once you are through, you should then begin applying a second layer of the mixture across the shoe almost immediately. The next step would be to take the shoe outside and leave it in the sun for about 3 to 4 hours.

To remove the dried paste, simply smack the toe pair of sneakers alongside each other

Quick tips:

Clean off new stains quickly

It’s important to ensure that you do not give mud, grime or dust time to settle in. When you let mud or dust settle in, the harder it is going to be cleaning the shoe.

Thus, when you pick dust during your regular training sessions, it is important to wipe off the shoe first when you get back home. Use a regular cotton cloth soaked in mild detergents to wipe off your shoe at least once every day.

Doing this will go a long in ensuring that your shoes remain in tip-top condition.

Avoid harsh detergents

When cleaning basketball shoes, it is important to avoid harsh detergents at all costs. Harsh detergents, chemicals and bleaches tend to eat the uppers of your basketball shoes.

Many basketball shoes come with fine-quality uppers like leather and mesh. Harsh chemicals will not only discolour your shoes but will also end up burning them.

Instead, when cleaning your basketball shoes, it’s important to always settle for mild detergents like dish soap. When whitening the outsole, you can either use toothpaste or detergent with a toothbrush.

Storing Basketball Shoes

Maintaining basketball shoes often comes down to how committed you are. If you own high-end basketball shoes, then it’s important to always keep them in perfect condition.

This might mean not only regularly cleaning them but also acquiring storage bags. Upon cleaning basketball shoes it’s important to ensure that they have properly dried up before placing them in gym bags. Alternatively, you can also place them in huge zip-close bags individually.

You can get amazing zip-close bags for basketball shoes directly from Amazon here.

If you still have access to silica gel packs, then you should place at least one in each bag before closing.

Always remove shoelaces

When cleaning basketball shoes, you might be tempted to leave the shoelaces on. However, cleaning your basketball shoes with the laces on might not give you the desired outcome.

Apart from being not able to successfully cleaning the collar of the shoe, the shoelaces will also not end up getting clean as you might have wanted. Hence.

When cleaning your basketball shoes, always remove the shoelaces first and then wash them separately. You should then wait for the basketball shoes and the laces to dry up before returning the laces to the shoe.


Can you machine wash basketball shoes?

Because of the delicate nature of basketball shoes, you should never machine wash your basketball shoes. Most basketball shoes tend to come with leather, synthetic leather and mesh uppers. Machine washing tends to be harsh on these types of materials and thus might end up damaging or discolouring these materials.

Instead, you should only wash your basketball shoes using a damp cloth and a toothbrush for the outsole. Handwashing your basketball shoes will not only improve their lifespan but it also go a long way in keeping them in perfect condition.

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