The Best Way to Clean Your Basketball Shoes

First off, clean your shoes immediately after they get dirty. Don't leave them!

Dirty basketball shoes not only take away from your personal style and the way people view you hygienically, they also reduce your grab when playing which could also take away from your game skills and sometimes cause injury. When cleaning basketball shoes it is important to know that it is never a good idea to put them in an automatic cleaning machine as they may shrink. Do not completely immerse them in water, as this too may ruin the material the shoe is made of. I speak from personal experience.

So how do you clean your shoe without using a large bucket of water or the laundry machine?

Remove lose dirt

The biggest dirty shoe alert is usually the muddy prints you leave behind when you walk. The first step of cleaning is to take a stiff brush and use it to remove all dirt and mud that is stuck on the soles. Rubbing the brush back and forth is most effective. 

Use a toothbrush to clean the side soles as this area is usually sensitive and may be damaged by the stiff brush

Remove stuck dirt

Take a sponge and some detergent in a basin of water or you can apply the detergent to the sponge and use running water. Using the sponge, rub to remove any stubborn dirt that was not removed with the brush. Do not use saddle soap because although it can smoothen leather, it can also weaken shoes that deal with excessive pressure. Detergents used in cleaning dishes are the best to use.

If the stubborn stains are grease or oil, consider using a melamine sponge to rub them off. Remember to always rinse the cloth with water to remove dirt and keep it moist.

Top and sides 

Do not use a brush or the melamine scrub for these areas. Instead find a soft cloth or nylon scrubber for extra tough stains. Remember to use detergent used for washing dishes as most of the others can be too harsh. Continue the rubbing process, for as long as it takes, until the stains disappear.

Rinse off detergent

Put warm water in a basin and use a clean cloth to rinse off the detergent used to clean. Rub several times so it is completely clean and free from the soapy feel.


Airing the basketball shoes is crucial. It allows them to completely dry off. However, do not air them in way of direct sunlight. UV rays are known to discolor. Air them in room temperature conditions.

Inner soles

Remove the inner soles and rinse them in detergent once in a while and when they get worn out, replace them.