How to Clean Basketball Shoes: Tailored Tips for Every Material

How to Clean Basketball Shoes

Basketball shoes, like most athletic footwear, will see a lot of action. Whether you’re shooting hoops in the playground or you’re racing up and down the courts in your high school rivalry game, your shoes will take a lot of beating. So, I believe that it is imperative for you to learn how to clean basketball shoes!

Basketball shoes aren’t cheap either, so you must do whatever you can to make them last longer.

Between scuffs, scratches, dirt, and sweat, it takes some acute care and cleaning. You definitely should check my tips below on how to keep your basketball shoes pristine.  That way, they’ll be able to support your top performance.

I know several effective ways that will help you clean and maintain your favorite pair of basketball kicks. Find out how to properly clean basketball shoes only at Shoerazzi!

How to Clean Basketball Shoes

When it comes to cleaning your favorite athletic wear, you can take some advice from big-name companies. On this occasion, I’ve compiled some information on cleaning your basketball shoes based on the professionals in the industry. Let’s dive into some of my own indigenous DIY methods, let’s hear what the pros had to say.

#1 Dry Cleaning

The best way to clean your basketball shoes is to start with a soft-bristled brush to remove any excess dirt or residue. If you don’t have a brush like this, you can also use an old toothbrush. In my experience, toothbrushes will have the same effect and may even give you better control and reach. Make sure that you remove the excess particles from the outside of your shoes.

#2 Prepare a cleaning solution

After that, you should make a mixture of warm water and laundry detergent or a gentle liquid soap. Again, experts recommend using a specialty cleaner if your shoes contain leather or suede materials so as not to ruin them. I believe that it’s worth buying a special cleaning solution, especially for cleaning expensive shoes!

#3 Wipe thoroughly

Use a sponge, a soft rag, or a cloth and dip it in the warm water and soap solution. Make sure the cloth is not dripping, and use it to wipe. Be gentle and thorough when you clean the dirty areas on your basketball shoes. Continue this step until you have reached your shoe’s muddy areas, including the sole. You may have to rinse and wring out your cloth a few times during this process.

#4 Air the shoes until they dry

Once you have finished cleaning, take a clean, dry cloth and dry off your shoe as much as possible. Leave your shoe out at room temperature and let them air dry. In most cases, it’s best to leave them out overnight to ensure your shoes are completely dry.

Trust me when I say never leave your shoes out in direct sunlight! Doing so can cause the colors on your shoes to fade and may damage certain fabrics and materials. Additionally, I do not recommend using direct heat to dry your shoes, either. Do not use a hairdryer or a machine dryer. The methods may allow you to dry the basketball shoes faster, but in my opinion, the risk of damage is not worth it.

#5 Cleaning the Insoles

It’s just as important to clean the inside of your shoes as it is to clean the outside. In fact, it’s probably more important to clean the inside. After all, it is part of the shoe that comes into direct contact with your feet and collects sweat and odor.

Remember that deodorizing your shoe is not the same thing as cleaning the insole. Deodorizers do a great job of eliminating smells. However, you should still take the time to clean out sweat, bacteria, and skin particles. Based on my experience, doing so will prevent buildup and mildew as well as keep the shoes fresh for longer.

#6 Remove the insoles

Removable insoles are the most accessible types of insoles to clean because you can physically take them out and work with them separately from the shoe. Typically, basketball shoes’ insoles are replaceable.

#7 Dry brushing the insole

Remove the insoles from your shoes and find yourself a gentle scrub brush. Like with the outside of your shoe, if you don’t have a scrub brush of any kind, you can use an old toothbrush too.

Keep the brush dry for this first step. Use it to brush off any loose debris, like dirt, sticks, rocks, leaves, and fuzz.

#8 Cleaning insole with soap and water

Go over the entirety of the insole. The best way to clean removable insoles is with plain and simple soap and water. From here, go ahead and fill a container with hot water. Mix in a few drops of dish detergent or laundry detergent and stir it up to form a gentle cleaning solution.

Use your scrubbing brush to perform the rest of the cleaning. Dip the brush in the soap and water solution and scrub your insoles with a circular motion. Continue this motion across the top and bottom of your insole.

I highly recommend that you pay close attention to the toes and heels. This part typically collects the most bacteria and sweat and may have darker stains.

Your insoles are most likely made of synthetic foam material, so be cautious not to get them too wet. They definitely shouldn’t ever be saturated in water.

After you have generously cleaned both the top and bottom of your insole and worked out as much of the stains as possible, use a clean cloth or a sponge to remove any soap residue remaining.

#9 Air the insole to dry it

When you’re finished cleaning, let your insoles air dry thoroughly. You can hang them on a clothesline or dry them on your dish rack. Wherever you leave them to dry, make sure that they are getting plenty of airflow. Leave them overnight to ensure that there is no moisture left, and do not throw them in the dryer.

If your insoles are not removable, you can still clean them with a toothbrush. Doing so will allow you to reach the back of your shoe. You’ll only be able to clean the top of the insole, but that’s certainly better than not cleaning them at all.

#10 Disinfecting

Even though your basketball shoes look brand new now after you’ve finished cleaning, it is not over yet! A real clean involves disinfecting along with removing dirt and scuffs.

One great way to disinfect your basketball shoes is to use vinegar. In fact, I’ve been using vinegar for years and years to a great effect. And it’s a common household item, making it easy to get your hands on when you need it.

Vinegar will not only disinfect your basketball shoes, but it will also work to get rid of stubborn smells. It is also easy to use! The bacteria and sweat accumulating inside your shoes won’t stand a chance against this home remedy.

#11 Disinfecting insole using a vinegar solution

The only part of your shoe that you need to disinfect is the insole since that is the part most likely to absorb your sweat and take on odor.

Start by mixing equal amounts of vinegar and water in a container or directly in your sink. Remove the insoles from your shoe and place them in the solution, completely submerged. You can leave them there for about three hours.

You might find that your insoles float in the solution, so use something substantial to keep them weighed down. I believe something as simple as paperweights or heavy rocks can work.

#12 Rinse and Dry the insole

After the three hours have passed, remove your insoles from the solution and empty the contents of the container or your sink. Rinse your insoles to completely remove the solution and leave them out to air dry.

The best way to let them dry is somewhere that offers excellent airflow and circulation. You can leave them on your disk drainer or hang them on a clothesline.

Leaving them in the sun can also help kill any remaining bacteria that might be present.

Once your insoles have completely dried, you can place them back in your shoes. You should leave them out to dry at least overnight, if not longer, to ensure there is no moisture left in them.

Not only can you use this method to get rid of bacteria and odors, but you can also use it as an opportunity to make your shoes smell better. Add a few drops of essential oil to your vinegar and water mixture. Essential oils come in a large variety of smells, from lavender and mint to tea tree and pine.

Soaking your insoles in this water will remove bacteria and infuse a great smell in your insoles as if you just washed them with fresh-smelling laundry detergent.

Read Also: How to Clean Running Shoes

Other Tips to Clean Basketball Shoes

Aside from cleaning your basketball shoes on a regular basis using safe methods, there are a few other things you can do to make sure your best athletic gear stays in tip-top shape for the season.


The way your store your basketball shoes can have a big impact on how long they last and how long you can keep them looking new. In my case, the gym back is perfect for transporting my shoes to games. But yes, it isn’t the ideal place to keep them stored.

If you take the time to empty your gym back, you’re more likely to keep your shoes in good shape for longer.

Keeping your shoes in your gym bag can misshape them. Among all of the other things you have in there, your shoes can get crushed under various items. When left for too long, they can lose their shape or get bent the wrong way.

Do not leave your shoes in a gym bag after a long usage!

At the same time, leaving your shoes in your gym bag after a long practice or an intense game can lead to some unpleasant odors. Your shoes and all your clothing and other gear are sweaty and smelly post-dribbling action. So yeah, I do not recommend leaving your basketball shoes jam-packed with damp, musty clothing.

I can tell you that improper storage can lead to an immense buildup of odor. In fact, the moisture in your bag can lead to mildew and overall damage.

Rather than keeping your shoes in your bag, take the time to remove them and keep them either in an open room or a decent-sized closet with plenty of airflow. I believe it is crucial that you let your shoes air out and dry before taking them elsewhere.

Many people like to store their basketball shoes in the original box that they came in. So I do not recommend that you throw away the boxes. Once you have let your shoes dry and air out after your game or practice, try keeping them in the box that they came in. Doing so keeps them away from harm, like getting accidentally kicked on your bedroom floor.

Plus, keeping them in the same place every day will ensure that you never wind up late because you’re looking for your shoes!

Use a Deodorizer

Whether you’re using a store-bought deodorizer made for shoes or you’re trying a DIY method, a deodorizer is a great way to keep your basketball shoes in top shape. Cleaning your shoes is one thing, but taking care of the smell is another.

I usually use specialized deodorizers to freshen up my shoes. After several games and practices, there’s a good chance that they smell awful. It’ll make the game less fun if you wear a stinky pair of basketball shoes.

One effective DIY method of deodorizing your shoes is to use baking soda. I’ve used this method myself before, and it is easy and simple. There’s a good chance there’s already some baking soda in your kitchen cabinets. You can use that immediately.

Sprinkle some baking soda directly inside of your shoes and let it sit overnight. In the morning, simply tap your shoes out over a trash can, and you’re good to go. Based on my observation, baking soda will absorb the bad smells in your shoes.

You can also use baking soda to deodorize your removable insoles. To do it, I usually place a few tablespoons of baking soda in a large Ziploc bag or a plastic container with a lid. Then, I take the insoles out of my shoes and put them in the bag or container with the baking soda.

If you want to try it, too, make sure the baking soda completely covers the tops of your insoles. Seal the bag or place the lid on the container and let them sit overnight.

The next day, remove your insoles from the baking soda and shake off any excess powder. Let them air out for a few minutes before placing them back in your shoes.

Read Also: Best Cleaners for Your Shoes and Shoe Deodorizer.

Frequently Asked Question

How do I clean smelly basketball shoes?

As I’ve explained above, smelly basketball shoes can be caused by the accumulation of sweat and bacteria. It is a sign that your shoes need a deep cleaning because it is unsanitary. Not only that wearing stinky shoes bad for your style, it is also not good for your feet.

I recommend that you try vinegar or baking soda to remove the bad odor of your basketball shoes! Those two ingredients can be used as shoe deodorizers. If you are curious about how to apply it, check my explanation above. I’ve tried this method before myself, and it works. You should try it too!

How Should I dry my basketball shoes?

The best way to dry your basketball shoes is by airing them out under a shade. I do not recommend using a hot hair dryer or direct sunlight. They both will weaken the structural integrity of your shoes over time. I believe the glue may get affected.

If it is raining outside or if there is not much wind, I recommend that you use an electric fan. Hang the wet basketball shoes and blow them with the cool wind! I’d like to remind you again that you should never store your basketball shoes when they are still wet!

Should I use a basketball shoe cleaner mat?

Using a basketball shoe cleaner mat can be a useful tool in keeping your basketball shoes clean and in good condition. The mat is designed to effectively clean the soles of your shoes, removing dirt and debris that can build up during play. If you regularly play basketball and want to keep your shoes in top condition, using a shoe cleaner mat can be a convenient and effective way to do so.


Keeping your basketball shoes clean is imperative! Whether you play basketball competitively or casually, maintaining your shoes’ inside and outside hygiene is very important. I believe that if you wear clean shoes, your performance will be a lot better. You do not want your opponent to look down on you for wearing a stinky pair of shoes!

Now some people wear basketball shoes for fashion, so keeping them clean is even more important. Stains and bad smells would affect your style negatively. So, I suggest that you clean them regularly!

Plus, cleaning your basketball shoes will prolong their lifespan. In my opinion, this type of shoes can be quite expensive. So you’d want to take care of them more carefully.

In any case, I have outlined everything that I know about cleaning basketball shoes. Now it is up to you to apply my tips and trick at home!