How to Clean Basketball Shoes: Tailored Tips for Every Material

How to Clean Basketball Shoes

To make your basketball shoes last longer and maintain their performance, it’s crucial to learn how to clean basketball shoes properly. Basketball shoes go through a lot of wear and tear, from playing on the court to braving the elements outdoors.

Since they’re not exactly budget-friendly, taking good care of them is essential. In this guide, I’ll share effective tips for cleaning and maintaining your beloved basketball kicks. Discover the best ways to keep your shoes in pristine condition right here at Shoerazzi!

I. Cleaning Kits Items You Need

Cleaning Kit ItemsFunction
Soft Bristle Brush or Old ToothbrushPerfect for removing loose dirt and debris from the shoe’s surface without causing any damage.
Mild Soap or DetergentClean your shoes from stains, dirt, and debris. Choose non-abrasive cleaners.
Warm WaterAs a solvent for creating a cleaning solution with the mild detergent.
Microfiber Cloth or SpongeScrub away stains and dirt gently.
Shoe Deodorizer (optional)Help freshen the shoes up after cleaning.
Shoe TreesMaintain the shoe’s shape while cleaning and drying.
Old Newspaper or TowelsMaintain the shoes’ shape and absorb excess moisture during the cleaning process.

II. How to Clean Any Material Of Basketball Shoes

a. How To Clean Basketball Shoes : Mesh, Flyknit, Primeknit, Synthetic, and Textile

This step-by-step guide covers cleaning techniques for various basketball shoe materials, including mesh, flyknit, primeknit, synthetic, and textile. So, let’s keep your kicks fresh and ready to help you perform your best on the court.

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#Step 1: Prepare the Shoes

If possible, remove the shoelaces. This makes cleaning easier and more effective.

#Step 2: Remove Loose Dirt and Debris

Gently brush or wipe off any loose dirt or debris from the shoe’s surface, including the sole, sides, and upper.

#Step 3: Create a Soapy Solution

Mix a few drops of mild detergent with warm water in a small bowl. Ensure the detergent is gentle and free of harsh chemicals.

#Step 4: Scrub the Shoes

Dip a soft brush or cloth into the soapy solution. Then, gently scrub the synthetic material using a circular motion. Clean the entire shoe, paying extra attention to scuff marks or stains.

#Step 5: Rinse Thoroughly

Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue. You can use a separate clean cloth or rinse under a faucet.

#Step 6: Clean and Disinfect the Insoles

If the insoles are removable, you can follow the same cleaning steps to clean them. To disinfect them, focus on the insoles as they absorb sweat and odor. Mix equal parts vinegar and water, and place the insoles in this solution for about three hours, ensuring they remain submerged (use paperweights or rocks to weigh them down if needed).

#Step 7: Dry the Shoes

at the shoes dry with a clean towel to remove excess moisture. Ensure they are completely dry to prevent odors and maintain their shape. If you removed the shoelaces, ensure they are dry before reattaching them.

b. How to Clean Nubuck Basketball Shoes

Source: Freepik

#Step 1: Prepare the Shoes and Cleaning Kits

Remove the shoelaces and prepare the cleaning kits needed, such as a nubuck brush or soft brush, a nubuck eraser, a microfiber cloth, a towel, and water.

#Step 2: Brush Off Loose Dirt

Use a nubuck brush or a soft brush to gently remove any loose dirt or dust from the nubuck material. Brush in one direction to maintain the texture.

#Step 3: Use a Nubuck Eraser

If you have any stains or marks, use a nubuck-specific eraser to gently rub the stained areas in a circular motion. If you don’t have a nubuck eraser, a clean, damp cloth can be used as an alternative.

#Step 4: Dampen a Cloth

Dampen a clean microfiber cloth with water. Make sure it’s not soaking wet; it should be slightly damp.

#Step 5: Wipe the Nubuck

Dip a sponge, soft rag, or cloth into a warm water and soap solution, ensuring it’s not dripping, and gently wipe the dirty areas. Be thorough as you work your way to the muddy areas, including the sole. Rinse and wring out your cloth as needed during the process to achieve the best results.

#Step 6: Air Dry the Shoes

Allow the shoes to air dry naturally. Do not use direct heat sources like radiators or hairdryers, as they can damage the nubuck.

#Step 7: Use Shoe Fragrance

For improved fragrance and keep away stinky odor, consider adding a few drops of essential oil to the vinegar and water mixture before soaking, giving your insoles a fresh laundry detergent-like scent while effectively eliminating bacteria and odors.

c. How to Clean Neoprene Basketball Shoes

#Step 1: Remove the Laces

It is crucial to make it easier for you to clean every inch of the shoes thoroughly.

#Step 2: Shake Off the Loose Debris

Use a soft brush or cloth to gently remove any loose dirt or debris from the neoprene material. Pay attention to seams and creases.

#Step 3: Make Neoprene-Specific Cleaning Solution

Fill a bowl or basin with lukewarm water. Ensure it’s not too hot, as high temperatures can damage neoprene. Then, add a few drops of mild dish soap to the lukewarm water. Avoid using excessive soap, as it can be challenging to rinse out entirely.

#Step 4: Gently Clean

Gently wipe down the neoprene material with the damp cloth, paying extra attention to any stained or soiled areas.

#Step 5: Clean the Insoles

If they are removable, you can physically take them out and work with them separately from the shoe. Find yourself a gentle scrub brush. You can use an old toothbrush if you don’t have a scrub brush. Keep the brush dry and use it to brush off any loose debris, like dirt, sticks, rocks, leaves, and fuzz.

#Step 6: Use Soap and Water!

To clean removable insoles, inspect them first, then make a mild cleaning solution with hot water and a bit of detergent.

Scrub the insoles gently with a brush, paying attention to the toes and heels. Avoid over-saturating foam insoles. Finish by wiping off any soap residue with a clean cloth or sponge.

#Step 7: Rinse and Pat Dry

Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water to remove any detergent residue. Then, pat them dry with a clean towel to remove excess moisture. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources like hairdryers or machine dryers to prevent color fading and potential damage to the materials.

#Step 8: Use Neoprene Conditioner

Neoprene conditioner can help maintain the material’s flexibility and appearance. If you have it, apply it according to the product’s instructions.

#Step 9: Re-Lace and Wear

Once your neoprene basketball shoes are completely dry, re-lace them if you remove the laces.

Read Also: How to Clean Running Shoes

III. Easy and Effective Methods to Clean Your Basketball Shoes

a. Using Dish Soap

Step #1: Materials you need

To clean your basketball shoes effectively, you’ll need a few materials:

  • A bowl or basin to hold your basketball shoes
  • Mild dish soap
  • A soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush
  • A clean cloth or sponge
  • Warm water
  • A towel

Step #2: Remove laces and insoles

Before I start cleaning, I always take out the laces and insoles from my mesh sneakers. This makes it easier to clean all the nooks and crannies and ensures a thorough job.

Step #3: Mix a cleaning solution

Next, I create a cleaning solution by adding a few drops of mild dish soap to a bowl of warm water. I make sure not to use too much soap, as excess soap can be tough to rinse out.

Step #4: Pre-treat stains

If my sneakers have any stubborn stains, I gently scrub the affected areas with the toothbrush or soft-bristle brush using soapy water. This helps to loosen up the dirt and stains.

Step #5: Soak the basketball shoes

Now, I place my mesh sneakers in the bowl with the cleaning solution. I ensure they are fully submerged and leave them to soak for about 10-15 minutes. This helps to break down dirt and grime.

Step #6: Scrub gently

Using the soft-bristle brush or toothbrush, I lightly scrub the entire surface of the sneakers, paying special attention to the mesh areas. Be careful not to scrub too vigorously to avoid damaging the material.

Step #7: Rinse

After scrubbing, I will always thoroughly rinse the shoes under running water. Make sure to remove all the soap residue to prevent any potential discoloration.

Step #8: Dry properly

To dry them properly, I pat the shoes with a clean towel to remove excess water. Then, I stuff them with paper towels or old newspapers to help them maintain their shape while drying. I place them in a well-ventilated area and avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause the colors to fade.

b. Using Toothpaste

Step #1: Prepare materials

I always start my shoe-cleaning process by gathering the necessary materials. For cleaning basketball shoes with toothpaste, you’ll need the following:

  • A bowl of warm water
  • A soft bristle toothbrush (choose the old ones!)
  • Mild toothpaste (non-gel, non-whitening)
  • A clean cloth or sponge
  • A towel
  • A pair of your dirty basketball shoes

Step #2: Remove the laces

The next step is to remove the shoelaces from your basketball shoes. This will allow you to clean the shoe’s surface more effectively.

Step #3: Pre-clean surface dirt

Before applying toothpaste, I like to give my shoes a quick pre-cleaning to remove any loose dirt or debris. Use a dry cloth or brush to gently wipe off any surface dirt. This ensures that the toothpaste can work on the deeper stains and scuffs.

Step #4: Apply toothpaste

In this step, it’s time to apply the toothpaste. Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste onto the soft-bristle toothbrush. You don’t need a lot; a pea-sized amount for each shoe should be sufficient.

Step #5: Scrub carefully

Using the toothbrush, start scrubbing the dirty areas of your basketball shoes in a circular motion. Be gentle but firm to avoid damaging the shoe’s material. Concentrate on areas with stains or scuffs, and remember that the toothpaste will also help eliminate odors.

Step #6: Wipe clean

After scrubbing, dampen a clean cloth or sponge with warm water. Use it to wipe off the toothpaste and any loosened dirt from the shoe’s surface. Rinse and wring out the cloth or sponge as needed.

Step #7: Repeat if needed

If some stains or scuffs remain, I recommend repeating steps 4 to 6 until you’re satisfied with the results. However, avoid excessive scrubbing, as it could damage the shoe’s material.

Step #8: Rinse and dry

Once you’re done cleaning, rinse off any remaining toothpaste residue from your shoes with clean water. Make sure there’s no toothpaste left on the shoe’s surface. Then, pat your shoes dry with a clean towel.

Step #9: Re-lace and dry thoroughly

Re-lace your basketball shoes once they are clean and dry. Allow them to air dry completely, preferably at room temperature. Avoid exposing them to direct heat sources like radiators or direct sunlight, as this can damage the material. Instead, I recommend arranging the shoes in front of a fan to accelerate the drying process.

c. Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Step #1: Gather your essentials

First, gather all the materials you’ll need to clean your basketball shoes with hydrogen peroxide:

  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%)
  • Warm water
  • Soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush
  • Mild dish soap
  • Clean cloth or paper towels
  • A bowl

Step #2: Remove shoelaces

To begin, I recommend removing the shoelaces from your basketball shoes. This will allow you to clean them more thoroughly and ensure that no stains are left behind.

Step #3: Brush off loose dirt

Using a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush, gently brush off any loose dirt or debris from the surface of your basketball shoes. I never skip this procedure, as it helps prepare the shoes for the more profound cleaning process.

Step #4: Mix a cleaning solution

In a bowl, mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and warm water. For most cleaning situations, I always use a 1:1 ratio and it works well. Then, add a few drops of mild dish soap to the mixture and stir it gently to create a soapy hydrogen peroxide solution.

Step #5: Test on a small area

Before applying the cleaning solution to the entire shoe, you better test it on a small, inconspicuous area. I also do this method to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration. Wait a few minutes to see if there’s any adverse reaction.

Step #6: Apply the solution

Dip your soft-bristle brush or toothbrush into the soapy hydrogen peroxide mixture, then gently scrub the surface of your basketball shoes. Focus on any stained or dirty areas. I strongly advise using a circular motion for better results, but avoid excessive scrubbing to prevent damage to the shoe material.

Step #7: Rinse and repeat

After scrubbing, use a clean cloth or paper towels dampened with plain water to wipe away the cleaning solution and any loosened dirt. If necessary, I usually repeat the scrubbing and rinsing process until your shoes are clean to your satisfaction.

Step #8: Clean the shoelaces

If your shoelaces are dirty, soak them in the remaining hydrogen peroxide solution or replace them with new ones if needed. I do this, and it goes well!

Step #9: Air dry

Place your clean basketball shoes and shoelaces in a well-ventilated area to air dry. Avoid using direct heat sources like radiators or hairdryers. But I recommend trying a fan to speed up the drying.

d. Using Saddle Soap

How to clean basketball shoes
Source: Instagram/shoeshame_com

Step #1: Cleaning kit preparation

I’ve been cleaning shoes for years, and the first thing I always do is gather my materials. For this job, you’ll need:

  • A soft brush or an old toothbrush
  • Saddle soap
  • Two clean, dry cloths or rags
  • Warm water
  • A small container

Step #2: Brush off loose dirt

I start by removing any loose dirt or debris from the surface of the shoes. I take my soft brush or toothbrush and gently brush away any dirt, dust, or mud that may be stuck to the shoes. It’s important to do this step to avoid grinding the dirt into the shoe during the cleaning process.

Step #3: Mix saddle soap solution

Next, I prepare a saddle soap solution. I fill a small bowl with warm water and then wet one of my clean cloths with it. I then rub the cloth on the saddle soap to create a lather. You don’t need a lot of soap – a little goes a long way.

Step #4: Clean the shoes

Then, I take the soapy cloth and start gently cleaning the surface of the basketball shoes. I use small, circular motions to work the saddle soap into the leather. Be sure to pay extra attention to any stained or heavily soiled areas.

Step #5: Wipe clean

After I’ve thoroughly cleaned the shoes with saddle soap, I take my second clean cloth and dampen it with clean water. I use this damp cloth to remove the saddle soap and any remaining dirt or soap residue from the shoes. This step ensures the shoes are left clean and free from soap.

Step #6: Dry the shoes

I leave the cleaned shoes to air dry naturally. I avoid exposing them to direct heat sources like radiators or the sun, as this can damage the leather. Once they’re completely dry, I’ll usually stuff them with newspaper to help them keep their shape.

Step #7: Optional conditioning

If my basketball shoes are made of genuine leather, I may follow up with a leather conditioner after they’re completely dry. This step helps to maintain the leather’s suppleness and keep the shoes looking great for a longer time.

Step #8: Final touches

Finally, I give the shoes a once-over with a soft brush to restore their shine and ensure there’s no remaining dust or dirt. I take pride in my well-maintained basketball shoes, and these final touches really make them look their best.

e. Using a Cloth and Warm Water

how to clean basketball shoes

Step #1: Grab your cleaning kit items

Gather all the materials you’ll need for cleaning your basketball shoes, including:

  • A clean, soft cloth
  • A small bowl of warm water
  • An old toothbrush or a soft bristle brush

Step #2: Take out the laces

To begin with, I always start by removing the shoelaces. This makes it easier to clean the entire shoe, including the tongue and eyelets. Set the laces aside for a separate cleaning or replacement.

Step #3: Wipe off surface dirt

Take the clean, soft cloth and gently wipe the surface of your basketball shoes to remove any loose dirt or dust. This will prevent any dirt from scratching the shoe’s material during the cleaning process.

Step #4: Prepare warm, soapy water

Fill a small bowl with warm water, and add a few drops of mild dish soap. Mix it until you have a slightly soapy solution. Be sure not to use too much soap, as it can leave residue on your shoes. I usually use a 1:1 ratio.

Step #5: Dip the cloth

Dip the corner of your cloth into the soapy water, ensuring it’s not overly saturated. You don’t want to soak your shoes, just dampen the cloth.

Step #6: Clean the shoe’s surface

Using the damp cloth, gently scrub the shoe’s surface. I advise you to go in a circular motion to lift the dirt thoroughly. Pay extra attention to any stained or dirty areas.

Step #7: Clean the tongue and eyelets

Don’t forget to clean the tongue and the eyelets (the holes where the laces go through). I generally use the toothbrush or a soft-bristle brush for these areas, dipping it in the soapy water and scrubbing gently.

Step #8: Rinse with clean water

After cleaning, rinse the cloth thoroughly with clean, warm water, and then wipe the shoe’s surface again to remove any soap residue. Make sure you don’t leave any soap behind.

Step #9: Dry the shoes

To dry your basketball shoes, place them in a well-ventilated area at room temperature. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources. Instead, you can set them up with a fan, as the blowing air is cool and assists in a faster drying process.

IV. Tips to Clean Basketball Shoes On The Go

Use baby wipesKeep disposable wipes or a damp cloth in your bag to quickly wipe off surface dirt and sweat as soon as you’re done playing.
A travel-sized cleaner is a must!Carry a small bottle of sneaker cleaning solution or a portable sneaker cleaning kit for more thorough cleaning when needed.
Take your brush!Pack a compact soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush to remove dirt from the shoe’s grooves and crevices.
Opt for spot cleaningAddress stains immediately with a stain remover pen or a small amount of mild detergent mixed with water on a sponge or cloth.
Store in ziplock bagsStore your shoes in resealable plastic bags when not in use to prevent dirt and odors from spreading to the rest of your bag.

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

V. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I clean smelly basketball shoes?

To clean smelly basketball shoes, start by removing the insoles and laces, then gently scrub the exterior with a mild detergent and water solution. For the interior, use a mixture of water and vinegar or baking soda to eliminate odors. Allow them to air dry completely before reassembling and wearing them.

How should I dry my basketball shoes?

The best way to dry your basketball shoes is to remove the insoles and laces, then allow them to air dry at room temperature. Avoid using direct heat sources like radiators or hairdryers, as excessive heat can damage the shoes’ materials and shape. Stuffing them with newspaper or a dry cloth can help absorb moisture and maintain their form during the drying process.

Should I use a basketball shoe cleaner mat?

Using a basketball shoe cleaner mat can be beneficial as it helps remove dirt and debris from your shoes before entering a court or indoor space. However, it’s not strictly necessary, and you can also clean your shoes effectively without one using other methods like wiping or brushing.

VI. Conclusion

Maintaining clean basketball shoes is crucial for both performance and style. Clean shoes enhance your performance and prevent embarrassment due to odor. For fashion-conscious wearers, stains and odors negatively impact style.

Regular cleaning not only preserves their appearance but also extends their lifespan, which is especially important given their cost. The tips provided can help you maintain your basketball shoes effectively.