Basketball Shoes Clean

The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Basketball Shoes Clean

As a basketball player, your shoes are your most important piece of equipment. They are accountable for providing traction, stability, and support, which are essential to your performance on the court. 

However, basketball shoes are also prone to dirt, stains, and odors. The good news is that cleaning your basketball shoes is an easy task that you can do at home with the right tools and techniques. In this blog post, we will provide you with the ultimate guide to keeping your basketball shoes clean and in top condition.

Why Should You Clean Your Basketball Shoes?

1. Prolongs the lifespan of your shoes

Basketball shoes are an investment. They can cost a considerable amount of money, depending on the brand and the features. Therefore, you want to make sure that they last as long as possible. Cleaning your basketball shoes regularly can remove the dirt and debris that can damage the materials. If left unclean, the dirt and sweat can cause the shoes to deteriorate faster, leading to premature wear and tear.

2. Maintains the shoe’s performance

Basketball shoes are designed to provide optimal performance on the court. However, if they’re dirty and sweaty, their performance can be compromised. Dirt and debris can clog the shoe’s traction patterns, making it hard for the player to make sudden movements without slipping. Additionally, sweat can cause the inside of the shoes to become slippery, leading to discomfort and blisters. By cleaning your basketball shoes, you can ensure that they maintain their performance and support.

3. Keeps your feet healthy

Playing basketball can cause your feet to sweat, which can lead to bacterial and fungal infections. Dirty basketball shoes can harbor these harmful microorganisms, increasing the risk of foot-related health issues, such as athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, and foot odor. By cleaning your basketball shoes, you can eliminate the bacteria and fungi, keeping your feet healthy and free from infections.

4. Improves the appearance of your shoes

Basketball shoes are more than just performance footwear. They’re also a fashion statement. Many players invest in stylish and trendy basketball shoes that reflect their personal style. However, if your shoes are dirty, they can look old, worn-out, and unattractive. Proper cleaning can help restore the appearance of your shoes, making them look fresh and new.

5. Sets a good example

As a basketball player, you’re a role model to many, especially young children. By cleaning your basketball shoes regularly, you’re setting a good example of proper hygiene and responsibility. You’re showing your teammates, opponents, and fans that you take pride in your appearance and equipment. Your habits can influence the habits of others, encouraging them to follow your lead.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Basketball Shoes?

1. Decrease in Traction

One of the most important aspects of basketball shoes is traction, which is essential for quick movements and cutting on the court. When you don’t clean your shoes, the soles can become caked with dirt and dust, reducing their ability to grip the court. This can result in slips, falls, and reduced performance on the court.

2. Foul Odors

When you sweat, your shoes absorb the moisture and bacteria from your feet. Over time, this leads to a build-up of unpleasant odors that can be difficult to remove. Not only is this embarrassing, but it can also affect your confidence on the court. Plus, the foul odors can negatively affect those around you, making it a social problem as well.

3. Shortened Shoe Life

When you don’t clean and maintain your basketball shoes, they will wear out faster. Dirt and debris that accumulate on the shoes can lead to scratches and other wear and tear that will shorten the life of the shoes. Not taking care of your shoes can also affect the padding and cushioning inside, which can result in less support and comfort on the court.

4. Increased Risk of Injuries

Perhaps the most serious consequence of not cleaning your basketball shoes is an increased risk of injuries. Dirty shoes can lead to slips and slides on the court, increasing the risk of sprains, strains, and other injuries. Over time, this can take a toll on your body and lead to chronic pain or other long-term problems.

5. Decreased Confidence

Finally, not taking care of your basketball shoes can negatively affect your confidence on the court. When you’re not wearing clean and well-maintained shoes, you may feel self-conscious, which can affect your focus and performance. On the flip side, wearing clean and well-maintained shoes can boost your confidence and help you play your best on the court.

How To Clean Your Basketball Shoes?

Step 1: Remove Excess Dirt and Debris

Before starting the cleaning process, remove any excess dirt and debris present on your basketball shoes. Use a dry brush or a cloth to wipe off any dust, dirt, or small rocks stuck in the treads. This will make the cleaning process easier and more effective.

Step 2: Create a Cleaning Solution 

To create a cleaning solution, mix a small amount of mild detergent or soap with water. Alternatively, you can use a specialized shoe cleaner. Avoid using bleach as it might damage the shoe material. Make sure to create enough solution to cover the entire shoe properly.

Step 3: Clean the Shoes 

Using a soft-bristled brush or sponge, apply the cleaning solution to the shoes evenly. Make sure to clean every area of the shoe, including the tongue, laces, and in-between the treads. Be gentle, as excessive scrubbing can damage the material or stitching. If your shoes have stubborn stains, you can use a toothbrush or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove them.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry 

After cleaning, rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue. Then, dry them with a soft cloth or let them air dry in a cool, dry area. Avoid drying them in direct sunlight or using a dryer as the heat can damage the material. Stuffing newspaper inside the shoes can help them keep their shape while drying.

Step 5: Protect and Store 

After cleaning and drying your shoes, it’s important to protect them from future damage. You can use waterproof spray or a sneaker protector to prevent dirt and water from staining your shoes. Additionally, store them in a cool, dry place away from moisture and sunlight. You can also use shoe trees to maintain the shape of the shoes.

How Often Should You Clean Your Basketball Shoes?

1. After every game or practice session

Cleaning your basketball shoes after every game or practice session should be the norm. This will remove any dust, dirt, or sweat the shoes have accumulated during the game, preventing the buildup of bacteria and unpleasant odors. After each use, use a dry brush to clean the surface of your shoes to remove any loose dirt. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe the uppers to remove any remaining dirt.

2. Every week

Aside from regular cleaning after each game, it is essential to deep clean your basketball shoes at least once a week. This will ensure that stubborn stains, and grime are removed, and the shoes maintain their quality over time. Begin by removing the insoles and laces, then hand wash them separately. Use warm water and mild detergent to avoid discoloration and fading. You can also use a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to remove dirt from the outsole. Afterward, wash the shoes with clean water and remove excess with a dry cloth. Avoid using a washing machine as this can damage the shoes’ structure and material.

3. Depending on terrain

The frequency of cleaning your basketball shoes should also depend on the terrain you’re playing on. If you play on an indoor court, you may not need to clean your shoes as often since indoor courts are generally cleaner than outdoor courts. However, if you’re playing on an outdoor court, dirt, mud, and debris can accumulate on your shoes, requiring them to be cleaned more often.

4. Depending on usage

The frequency of cleaning should also depend on how often you use your basketball shoes. If you only use them occasionally, cleaning them after each use may not be necessary. However, if you use them every day, cleaning them every few days or once a week may be necessary to keep them in good condition.

5. Signs your shoes need cleaning

Aside from following a cleaning schedule, here are signs that show that your shoes need cleaning. If you notice a foul odor or buildup of dirt and debris, it’s time to clean your basketball shoes. If the shoes start to lose their grip or have visible wear and tear, it’s also time to deep clean and maintain them.

Can I Clean My Basketball Shoes in the Washing Machine?

The short answer to the question of whether it’s okay to clean your basketball shoes in the washing machine is that it depends on the shoes. Some shoe manufacturers, such as Nike, specifically state on their website that some of their basketball shoes can be washed in the washing machine. However, other manufacturers, such as Adidas, do not recommend it. Before you throw your shoes in the washing machine, check the manufacturer’s website to see if they have any specific cleaning instructions.

If your shoes are safe to clean in the washing machine, there are a few things you should do first. Remove the laces and insoles, and use a soft-bristled brush to remove any loose dirt or debris. Then, place the shoes in a laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them during the washing cycle. Use a gentle detergent and cold water on a delicate cycle. Once the washing cycle is complete, let the shoes air dry. Do not put them in the dryer, as the heat can cause the shoes to lose their shape or even shrink.

If your shoes are not safe for the washing machine, there are still ways to clean them. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any dirt or debris, and then mix a small amount of mild detergent with warm water. Dip a clean cloth into the mixture and use it to gently clean the shoes. When you’re done, let the shoes air dry away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Do not use a hair dryer on them.

Another important thing to keep in mind when cleaning your basketball shoes is the type of surface you’re playing on. If you play on an indoor court, your shoes will likely get less dirty than if you play on an outdoor court. Outdoor courts are often dirtier and can cause your shoes to become more stained or discolored. To prevent this, wipe the soles of your shoes with a damp cloth after every game or practice.

Can you clean basketball shoes with alcohol?

Cleaning basketball shoes using rubbing alcohol is a popular hack used by many basketball players. While it’s true that alcohol can clean shoes effectively, it comes with potential harmful effects that you should be aware of. First and foremost, alcohol is a strong solvent that can break down adhesives and dyes used in shoes. This can result in the shoes losing their color and flexibility, leading to premature damage and wear and tear.

Secondly, using alcohol may not be effective in removing all types of stains, especially on leather or suede shoes. Alcohol can set stains instead of removing them, leaving a permanent mark. Therefore, it is crucial to check if your shoes are made of materials that are safe to clean with alcohol before using this method.

Moreover, using alcohol to clean basketball shoes can cause damage to your shoes if used excessively. When applied to shoes, alcohol speeds up the drying process, leading to cracks and weakening of the shoes’ material. This can be disastrous for the shoe’s longevity, especially if they are regularly exposed to alcohol.

If you choose to use alcohol for cleaning your basketball shoes, it is essential to dilute it before using it. Mix it with water in a 50/50 ratio and apply it sparingly on a soft cloth or sponge, then clean your shoes carefully. Make sure to test the solution on a small, inconspicuous part of the shoe before cleaning the entire shoe to prevent any damage.

Can I clean shoes with wet wipes?

Wet wipes have become a staple of many households, especially for parents with young children, as they are convenient and hygienic. These wipes are designed to remove dirt and stains from surfaces, and the same goes for your shoes. However, it’s important to note that not all wet wipes are made equal, and some may contain harsh chemicals that can damage the finish of your shoes.

Before you start cleaning your shoes with wet wipes, it is essential to read the label and check for any harmful ingredients. Always opt for wet wipes that are free from alcohol, bleach, and other harsh chemicals. Using a wet wipe with harsh chemicals can strip off the protective layer of your shoes and make them more prone to scuffing and staining.

Wet wipes are great for cleaning the surface of your shoes, but they are not the best solution for deep cleaning. For instance, if your shoes have mud or other tough stains, using a wet wipe would not be effective. In such cases, it’s recommended to use a soft-bristled brush to remove the dirt and stains and then use a wet wipe to clean the surface.

Another important thing to keep in mind while using wet wipes is to avoid using them on delicate materials such as suede or patent leather. These types of shoes require a different cleaning technique, and using wet wipes can cause discoloration and damage the surface.

What to avoid when cleaning basketball shoes?

1. Soaking Them in Water

One common mistake that people make is soaking their basketball shoes in water to clean them. While this may seem like a solution to remove stubborn dirt, it can cause severe damage to the material of the shoe and the glue used to hold them together. When the glue weakens, it can cause your shoes to lose their shape and structure. Instead of soaking your shoes, use a damp cloth to wipe them down, and if needed, use a mild soap or cleaner specifically designed for your shoe’s material.

2. Using Harsh Chemicals

Using harsh chemicals such as bleach, ammonia, or other household cleaners can corrode the material of your basketball shoes. These chemicals can damage not only the shoe’s material but also the color, making them look faded or worn out. Some materials, like leather or suede, require special care, so using abrasive cleaners can cause permanent damage. Instead, select cleaning solutions that are formulated specifically for your shoe’s material.

3. Putting Them in the Washer or Dryer

Putting your basketball shoes in the washing machine or dryer may seem like a quick and easy way to clean them, but it’s not recommended. The harsh agitation of the washing machine can tear or damage the material of the shoe, and the heat from the dryer can also cause damage, such as melting the glue used to hold them together. If you need to clean your shoes, the best option is to hand wash them using a soft-bristled brush and gentle detergent.

4. Scrubbing Too Hard

Some people think that scrubbing their basketball shoes extremely hard will get all the dirt and grime off of them. However, hard or excessive scrubbing can cause damage. Using a stiff brush or too much pressure can scratch the surface, causing permanent damage to the material or color. Instead, use a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to gently remove any dirt and grime.

5. Forgetting to Dry Them Completely

After cleaning your basketball shoes, it’s crucial to dry them completely before wearing them. Moisture can cause mold and bacteria to form, which can lead to an odor and even illness. Never put wet shoes in direct sunlight or near a heat source, as this can cause material damage. The best way to dry your basketball shoes is to air dry them in a well-ventilated area. If you need to speed up the drying process, use a fan.


Cleaning your basketball shoes should be an essential part of your athletic gear care routine. Follow these steps to keep your shoes in tip-top shape and prolong their durability. Regular maintenance and care of your shoes can make a significant difference in their lifespan, performance, and appearance. With a little effort and time, you can maintain your basketball shoes like a pro.  So, grab your brush and cleaning solution and take the first step towards keeping your shoes clean.

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