How to Clean Basketball Shoes | The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

How to Clean Basketball Shoes | The Ultimate Beginner's Guide

Basketball shoes easily top the list of the most vital gears for basketball. As a basketball player, you know your shoes are essentially an extension of your limbs. You have your shoes on when you go to practice, to games, and even for a drive around town. So it’s no surprise that they will get dirty in the process. The best maintenance for all the basketball shoes, irrespective of their brands, style, and price tags, remains simply cleaning the basketball shoes.

This post elaborates on easy DIY methods to clean your basketball shoes, including a particular segment on white shoes. Regular cleaning can reduce odor and traction loss by removing any debris from the grooves. It can also prolong product durability by reducing grime accumulation, which can wear down your favorite shoes. As a general rule of thumb, we request you do not put your shoes in a washer or dryer.

Method 1 – Cleaning Shoes by Hand 

You must clean your shoes as soon as possible after soiling. The stains get increasingly stubborn as they dry. 

Step 1

  • You must check the soles and remove the stones; it is significantly more important if you are into outdoor basketball. 
  • Use a toothpick to extract those stingy stones out of the grooves in your soles.

Step 2

  • Before cleaning your shoes, you must never forget to remove any dirt, mud or debris stuck on its surface.
  • To remove dried-on dirt and mud from your shoes, you can use either a soft-bristled toothbrush (like a toothbrush), or a stiff-bristled shoe brush (like an shoe brush).
  • Use a soft and slightly dampened cloth to wipe off mud or other moist gunk.


For shoes with an absorbent material like canvas, mesh, or suede, allow the dirt to dry up so that it can be cleaned afterward with a stiff-bristled brush. Then you can proceed to clean up the mess, or else the mud will get smeared all over.

Step 3

You need a gentle solution for the cleaning. 

  • For this, you can get yourself a bowl or small bucket and fill it with warm water. 
  • Add a few drops of a mild detergent and move it around till it shows up bubbly. We recommend dish soap to make the solution adequately bubbly in a few minutes. 
  • You can also use a small amount of laundry detergent on a soft sponge or a clean cloth; we advise you to look for a leather cleaner if your shoes are leather.

  • It is a good idea to dodge abrasive cleansers, bleaches, or chemicals for this job if you want to protect the soft texture of your shoe. All of the above can degrade the shoe quality and wear the pair out quicker.
  • Avoid fragranced cleaners and softeners. They can leave a greasy residue on the sole of your shoes, which could affect its traction.

Step 4

  • We suggest you take the shoelaces off the shoes before starting the process; otherwise, they will not be cleaned properly. 
  • The cleaning instructions for shoelaces have been described in the latter part of this article, and they require no additional preparation, so it should not be a significant inconvenience.
How to Clean Basketball Shoes | The Ultimate Beginner's Guide

Step 5

  • You can wipe your shoes with a soft damp cloth and/or soft brush. You are not required to soak the cloth or sponge you use into the water; rather just dampen them a little so that they pick up dirt better. With that, you can now wipe the shoe carefully and allow yourself to re-wet the cloth or brush as you require during cleaning off.
  • To avoid missing seams and creases, trust your fingertip to guide you to the pressure point of the cloth.
  • Sometimes adding a tad bit of ordinary toothpaste, preferably white, to the dampened cloth or toothbrush being used gets the work done.
  • If you are dealing with stubborn stains, generate some force and scrub the shoes with some aggression in a circular motion.

Step 6

  • Unless you want to undo all of the above steps that you have crossed with extreme care to protect your shoes, you should not drop the shoes completely into water or place them under a running tap.  
  • Instead, use a soft and clean piece of clothing; it will provide much better long-term results.
  • Lightly dampen the washcloth with plain warm water and remove the residue from excess soap from the surface of the shoes.

Step 7

  • The best way to harmlessly dry the shoes is through air drying at room temperature. 
  • We suggest you wipe the shoe using a piece of cloth if the surface retains moisture. Afterward, place them in a well-ventilated, warm location around the house to dry.


  • Avoid direct heat sources. Using devices that act as heat sources, such as hairdryers or cloth dryers, can cause the material inside the shoe’s to shrink and crack.
  • A quicker way to dry the insides of the shoes is by stuffing newspaper balls inside them while it is drying. 
  • Don’t abandon your shoes to dry in the sunlight and forget.
  • Choose an airy position away from direct sunlight to avoid the yellow hues that develop on the mid and sole of the shoes.

Step 8

If you want your shoes to last longer in pristine condition, one step to add to your routine is safekeeping.

How to Clean Basketball Shoes | The Ultimate Beginner's Guide
  • For casual basketball shoes, leaving them at the front door or tossing them into your gym bag often serves enough. But if we are discussing your high-end, branded or emotionally meaningful shoes, you should opt for special storage methods.
  • Take the wrinkled newspaper out that you had placed inside the shoes and thoroughly check if the shoes have completely dried.
  • Afterward, you can use large zip-lock bags to pack the shoes individually. 
  • Feel free to add silica gel packs or similar desiccant packets in each bag before you seal them.


Method 2 – Cleaning Shoe Components 

How to Clean Basketball Shoes | The Ultimate Beginner's Guide

To ensure each part of the shoe is appropriately cleaned, we suggest taking different measures for each. While entirely different washing routines are not required, here are some general tips to follow:

Stained Soles

  • Take some plain white toothpaste on a toothbrush, dip it into a mild cleaning solution of warm water and scrub off the soiled bits and stains. Finally, make it spotless by using a clean cloth to remove any residues. 
  • Another suggestion is to stir baking soda in water and make a paste to replace the toothpaste.

The Leather Panels/Components

  • You can take a dab of the same basic white toothpaste and use your fingertips to dunk it into water lightly. 
  • Next, use circular motions to scrub the leather portion of the shoe to make it squeaky clean and let it dry. 

Canvas Basketball Sneakers

  • Basketball shoes are often made of absorbent materials like canvas. They can withstand more dampening and aggressive cleaning if they have to fight obstinate stains.
  • In case the canvas feels too damp, you can utilize a dry towel to extract excess moisture from it. 
  • Stuffing newspapers into them and airdrying overnight should do the work.

The Shoelaces

  • Earlier, we mentioned that it is difficult to fully clean both the shoes and laces simultaneously; therefore, we recommend you clean them separately. 
  • Use the cleansing materials for shoes to scrub the shoelaces too. 
  • If the shoelaces have become excessively worn out or too dirty, replacing them is an option to consider. 


The common issue with insoles/inserts is odor control:

  • Remove them from the shoe and allow them to dry before putting them back in
  • You can sprinkle some baking soda too.
  • In cases of urgency, placing a dryer sheet within each shoe will enable them to dry faster, even overnight.
  • For best results, you should prioritize washing basketball shoes by hand, with a gentle cleanser, and air-dry them.

Can White Basketball Shoes be Cleaned too?

If you’re cleaning white basketball shoes, you’re likely to deal with stubborn stains that won’t get away no matter hard you try. There’s a secret to quickly getting rid of any stains and making your shoes as white as snow.

How to Clean Basketball Shoes | The Ultimate Beginner's Guide

How to Clean White Basketball Shoes and keep them white? 

White basketball shoes tend to cause a little more hassle when it comes to cleaning because of how easy it is to soil them. Here we try and present the best methods we could come up with:

Method 1- Toothpaste

  • We have already sung praises of toothpaste one too many times in this writeup, here’s adding one more to the list: yes, you can use toothpaste to clean your white shoes.
  • After wearing your white basketball shoes, wipe them with a clean cloth or a soft-bristled brush using the solution that combines toothpaste, detergent, and water. 
  • Wiping the shoe with a soft sponge removes residues and boosts the longevity of the whiteness. 
  • You can attempt to raise the proportion of toothpaste to detergent to water according to how stubborn the stains are in order to amplify the cleaning solution’s strength accordingly.

Method 2- OxiClean

  • Another component to add to your cleaning routine for white shoes is the OxiClean, a washing liquid solution that fights soils by oxygen. 
  • For this, you need to soak your shoe in a mixture of OxiClean with water.
  • After taking it out, a gentle brush can help you remove any kind of stain from your white basketball shoe. 
  • However, we do not recommend this method for regular use because soaking shoes weaken it. 

Method 3- Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

  • You can also use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to clean your white basketball shoes. 
  • The size of the area to be cleaned or the shoe’s shape will determine the volume of hydrogen peroxide or baking soda required for the solution.
  • One to two tablespoons of each ingredient should be sufficient. We recommend that you use one part water to one part hydrogen peroxide and two parts baking soda.
  • The more mixture you need, the more baking soda needs to be added proportionately to form the paste. Apply it to your shoe and set aside for the paste to become dry; finish off by washing it off with a damp sponge and air-drying the shoes. 

Also you can watch this video:

Should You Clean Your Shoes In The Washer?

Basketball shoes are likely one of the most important valuables for a basketball player. Normally, most shoe manufacturers recommend you not to put their product in a washing machine, especially if the shoes are precious to you. If the harshness is too much, the shoes can easily get discolored or even damaged permanently. 

Final Words

The cleanliness of your basketball shoes goes beyond sheer appearance and substantially impacts your performance. It can give you the boost of confidence you need on your big day at the court! Wearing dirty sneakers can weaken your grip and obstruct your movements across the court; sometimes, they may even cause injuries from slipping and sliding across the court. Squeaky-clean sneakers can play a significant role in facilitating your comfort and improving your performance by bolstering every step-back shot and quick crossover.  Before closing our basketball shoes cleaning guide, we would like to say that cleaning your shoes the right way will significantly contribute to keeping your shoes not only clean but also in good shape for longer. Basketball shoes affect the way you perform on the court, so the shoes deserve proper care. If you maintain your shoes as you keep wearing them, it’ll keep their appearance crisp and sharp. 

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