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How to Wash Basketball Shoes

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As an integral part of your basketball gear, it’s important to keep your shoes clean and well maintained for peak performance. Here’s how to properly wash your basketball shoes to remove dirt, bacteria, and odors.

You might also be interested in our review of Best Insoles for Basketball Shoes, you can check it out here.

Supplies Needed

  • Mild liquid detergent
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Old towel
  • Washcloth
  • Pillowcase or mesh bag
  • Laundry detergent (for machine washing)
  • Disinfecting spray
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Old toothbrush

Preparing Your Basketball Shoes

Before washing, prepare your shoes:

  • Remove shoelaces and any inserts.
  • Use a brush to knock off excess dirt from the outsoles.
  • Loosen any caked on mud with an old towel dampened with water.
  • Check labels for any washing instructions.
  • Stuff shoes with an old towel to help them retain shape.

Hand Washing Method

For basic cleaning, hand washing works well for basketball shoes:

  1. Fill a sink or tub with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent.
  2. Use a washcloth to scrub the upper, sides and toe of the shoes. Get into crevices with a toothbrush.
  3. Clean the outsoles using a bristled brush and pay special attention to the treads.
  4. Rinse shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap.
  5. Stuff shoes with towels and let fully air dry. Don’t machine dry.
  6. Once dried, use disinfecting spray on insoles and insides.

Machine Washing Method

For deeper cleaning, basketball shoes can be washed in the machine:

  1. Remove laces and insoles first.
  2. Place shoes in pillowcase or mesh bag and tie ends. This prevents banging around.
  3. Wash on gentle cycle in cold water with mild detergent. No bleach.
  4. If needed, pretreat stubborn stains by rubbing with detergent.
  5. Air dry only. Don’t machine dry as heat can damage shoes.
  6. Stuff with towels while drying to retain shape.
  7. Disinfect insoles before putting back in.

Removing Odors

Smelly shoes can be freshened up:

  • Sprinkle baking soda inside shoes and let sit overnight. Tap out excess.
  • Spray inside with antibacterial spray. Allow to dry fully.
  • Place dryer sheets or coffee grounds inside shoes when not in use.
  • Lightly spray inner lining with diluted white vinegar. Allow to dry fully.

Caring For Your Shoes

To maximize the life of your basketball shoes:

  • Allow shoes a day to fully dry between wears. Rotate pairs.
  • Replace insoles every 4-6 months for fresh cushioning.
  • Disinfect footbeds and insides frequently with spray.
  • Use cedar shoe trees to help maintain shape when storing.
  • Store shoes on a rack, not floor, when not in use.
  • Avoid getting leather shoes soaked to prevent damage.
  • Inspect shoes before and after each use for signs of wear.
  • Re-lace loosely for air circulation when storing shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you clean basketball shoes?

Clean shoes every 2-3 wears to prevent bacterial growth. Wipe down with disinfectant after each wear. Do a deep clean as needed or monthly.

Can you put basketball shoes in the washing machine? 

Yes, you can machine wash in cold water on a gentle cycle if placed in a pillowcase. Remove insoles first. Always air dry.

What is the best way to dry basketball shoes?

Air drying is best. Stuff with towels to absorb moisture faster and hold shape. Never machine dry as heat damages shoes.

How do you get smelly basketball shoes to not stink?

Baking soda, vinegar, antibacterial spray, dryer sheets and coffee grounds can help deodorize smelly shoes. Maintain drying between wears.

Should basketball shoes be washed by hand or machine?

For a basic clean, hand washing works well. For a deeper clean, machine washing in a pillowcase is safe but always air dry after.