How to Clean Nike Shoes

How to Clean Nike Shoes

Nike is definitely among my favorite shoe brands. As one of the world’s biggest athletic equipment companies, they certainly know how to design comfy shoes. Yet, even though anyone can buy Nike, not all of them know how to clean these shoes properly. Hence here I’ll share some handy cleaning tips that you can try at home so your Nike shoes stay sparkly and fresh!

Because of its popularity, Nike has become a bit of an investment for some. It certainly is the case for me, and perhaps for you too. When you ask for recommendations for the best athletics shoes, there’s a strong chance that someone will shout out Nike’s name. Almost anyone would recognize the famous Nike “swoosh” from a mile away.

Nike makes quality shoes out of the box, but keeping them looking beautiful and in good condition for as long as possible can be tricky. We all should put in a little more effort when it comes to keeping them clean.

In this article, I shall share some of the best ways to clean Nike shoes so you can rock your kicks proudly for as long as you can.

Things to Consider Before You Start Cleaning Your Nike Shoes

When cleaning Nike shoes, there are a few things to consider to ensure that the cleaning process is effective and doesn’t damage the shoes. Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Materials: Nike shoes are made from a variety of materials, including leather, suede, mesh (Flyknit), and synthetic materials. Before cleaning your Nike shoes, identify the material and choose the appropriate cleaning method and cleaning solution that won’t damage the material.
  • Cleaning solution: Depending on the material of the Nike shoes, you may need a specific cleaning solution. For example, a leather cleaning solution won’t work well on the mesh material. It’s important to choose a cleaning solution that’s designed for the material of your shoes.
  • Equipment: Having the right equipment is essential for cleaning Nike shoes effectively. A soft-bristled brush or toothbrush can help remove dirt and stains without damaging the material. A microfiber cloth can be used to gently wipe the shoes clean without leaving any lint behind.
  • Type of stain: The type of stain on your Nike shoes will determine the cleaning method you should use. For example, a water-based stain can be removed with a damp cloth, while an oil-based stain may require a specialized cleaning solution.
  • Weather conditions: If you’re cleaning your Nike shoes outside, it’s important to consider the weather conditions. Rain or high humidity can affect the drying time of the shoes, and strong sunlight can cause certain materials to fade or crack.
  • Drying: Once you’ve finished cleaning your Nike shoes, it’s important to allow them to dry completely before wearing them again. Air drying is the safest method, but avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, which can damage the material or cause it to shrink.

By considering these factors and taking the necessary precautions, you can effectively clean your Nike shoes without damaging them.

Nike’s Advice on How to Clean Nike Shoes

Luckily, Nike’s website has a dedicated page showing us how to clean Nike shoes. While there are tons of other shoe-cleaning methods out there, I figured we should start with the version that comes straight from the company.

You can go and check it out on their site or continue reading for a quick overview of what the company experts have to say.

Expert shoe cleaners from Nike recommend performing regular and proper care and maintenance to ensure peak performance, and I absolutely agree with that. This is true not only of Nike shoes but all types of shoes. They will only last as long as you keep caring for them.

#1 Dry Brushing

The first thing you should do to clean your Nike shoes is to dry brush them. The best way to accomplish dry brushing is to buy yourself a quality shoe brush. You can use this product to remove dirt, dust, and fuzz from the outsole, the midsole, and the uppers of your shoe.

If you don’t own a shoe brush, I believe you don’t necessarily need to invest in one. Nike recommends using an old toothbrush in place of a shoe brush. And in my experience, it does work just the same.

#2 Use a Mild Cleaning Solution

Once you have brushed all the loose materials from your shoe, you can continue with a mild cleaning solution. Nike suggests mixing some warm water with just a little bit of laundry detergent.

#3 Clean the Lace

You can use this solution to clean the individual components of your shoes. Start by removing the laces and washing them with the solution, rinsing, and drying them with a rag or washcloth.

#4 Clean the Soles and Dry Them!

You can then clean the soles by applying the solution with a soft-bristled brush. Again, a toothbrush will work perfectly if you don’t have a brush specific to cleaning shoes.

Dip the brush in the solution and scrub the soles of your shoes, drying them with a towel or washcloth. I really recommend that you dry them well because moisture can attract mold if you aren’t careful.

#5 Clean the Upper Parts and Dry Them

Finally, you can use this same solution along with your brush or a soft cloth to clean the uppers. Be careful not you soak your shoes too much with the solution. Use a dry towel to blot and dry as much as possible before setting them out to air dry at room temperature.

Alternative Methods to Clean Nike Shoes

While Nike’s cleaning tactics are undoubtedly ideal, there are tons of different ways that you can clean your shoes and keep them looking fresh and nice. I’ve tested the following methods myself, and they work really well too. Check ’em out!

Magic Erasers

Have you ever used a magic eraser to clean a shoe? Unbelievable right? At first, I was skeptical too.

These cleaning sponges, formally called melamine sponges, are marketed as magic erasers in the cleaning world because of their strong ability to remove stains, dirt, and scuffs without the help of additional cleaning products.

In the shoe world, these products can be just as helpful. Plus, You can get yourself a pack of these sponges for a very reasonable price.

When you want to clean your shoes, dip the sponge in a little bit of water. Then gently run it over scuffs, dirt, and markings on your shoe.

I find that magic erasers can be a bit abrasive. So, it’s vital that you work gently and lightly so as not to do any harm to your Nike shoes. There’s no need to scrub hard with these products. Take it easy and let the sponge do the work for you.

Magic erasers tend to work best on plastic, rubber, and leather materials rather than absorbent fabrics and suede. So, keep that in mind when you go to clean your Nike.

Wet Wipes

Like magic erasers, wet wipes can be a sure-fire trick to always keeping your favorite kicks clean. Wet wipes are fantastic because you can buy yourself a travel-sized pack to keep with you at all times. I firmly believe that this product is essential for every Nike owner. Whenever you go, you should bring one!

Whether you’re going to shoot some hoops, hit the road for class, or are on your way to the movies, you can carry a pack of wet wipes with you to save your shoes from unexpected messes. In fact, wet wipes have saved me on multiple occasions.

If you find yourself in a sticky situation where your Nike’s have taken on some mud or a spilled drink, you can immediately grab a wet wipe to solve the case at the source. No need to wait until you get home or can get your hands on a more sophisticated product; wet wipes will address the mess before it dries and solidifies to your shoe.

Prolonging Nike Shoe Life Span

As a Nike shoe enthusiast and collector, I understand the importance of taking care of my sneakers to make them last longer. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a beloved pair of shoes deteriorate over time due to lack of care. That’s why I want to share with you my tips for preventing damage and prolonging the lifespan of your Nike shoes.

1. Always store your shoes properly

Avoid throwing them in a pile in the corner of your room or cramming them into a shoebox. This can lead to misshapen shoes and even creases in the material. Instead, invest in a shoe rack or use the original shoebox to keep them organized and in good condition.

2. Be mindful of how you wear your shoes

While Nike shoes are designed for athletic performance, wearing them for activities they aren’t intended for can cause unnecessary wear and tear. For example, don’t wear your running shoes for basketball or your skate shoes for hiking. Each type of shoe is designed for a specific purpose, and wearing them for other activities can lead to damage and a shortened lifespan.

3. Clean your shoes regularly

This may seem like common sense, but many people neglect this step. Dirt, mud, and other debris can get trapped in the material of your shoes and cause staining or even deterioration. Use a soft-bristled brush or a damp cloth to gently remove any dirt or grime from your shoes, and be sure to follow the specific cleaning instructions for your particular Nike shoe model or use the alternative methods that I’ve explained above.

4. Consider investing in shoe protectors

There are several options on the market that can help prevent stains, scratches, and other damage to your shoes. Shoe protectors can be particularly useful for lighter-colored shoes or shoes made with more delicate materials.

5. Be sure to rotate your shoes

Wearing the same pair of shoes every day can cause them to wear out more quickly. By rotating your shoes and giving them time to rest between wears, you can prolong their lifespan and keep them looking and feeling their best.

Taking care of your Nike shoes can go a long way in prolonging their lifespan and keeping them in great condition. By following these tips, you can prevent damage and ensure that your shoes look and feel like new for years to come. Trust me, your future self (and your wallet) will thank you for it!

Read Also: Best Deodorizers for Shoes and Best Cleaner for Shoes

Common Questions About Nike Shoe Maintenance

Since Nike shoes are so popular around the world today, it’s no surprise that many wearers and fans of the products have similar questions in common about maintaining and cleaning them. I shall address a few of these questions here for you today.

Are Nike Shoes Waterproof?

Nike has several styles of shoes that are waterproof or water-resistant, from activewear to leisure shoes, to boots. You can visit the Nike site to see specific styles and models of water-resistant footwear.

Remember that most water-resistant shoes work to repel water, but the insides still shouldn’t get wet. I can tell you that understanding the shoes’ characteristics is crucial to know before you start cleaning them. You should do your best not to saturate the insides when working on them.

Can I Wash My Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Nike specifically does not recommend putting their shoes in the washing machine, nor do they condone drying them in the dryer as well as using harsh cleaning products like bleach. They also recommend cleaning your shoes as soon as they get dirty, if possible.

With that as a caveat, many people do, in fact, wash their Nike’s in the washing machine, following care instructions to get the best possible results.

The first step in washing your shoes in the washing machine is to determine whether or not the materials your shoes are made of will take on damage or not. For example, it is commonly known that suede shoes should not get wet, so they shouldn’t go in the washing machine.

I also do not recommend putting any leather shoes in the washing machine. Basically, any animal-based fabrics are a no-go in the washing machine. You should also avoid putting any delicate materials, like satin or silk, in the machine as well.

However, trainers, sneakers, and other shoes made from cotton, nylon, and polyester will do just fine. You can always double-check to see if your shoes have a care label; many will tell you if you should hand wash only.

How to Clean Shoes Using Washing Machine

After you have checked out the care label on your shoes, you can prepare them for the washing machine. Do so by removing the laces and brushing off any loose dirt. Focus on cracks and crevices, as well as the eyelets. Remove any excess dirt, dust, and fuzz that you can to ensure a more effective clean.

Because shoes are more substantial than the clothing you usually throw in the washing machine, you should protect both them and your machinery from damage by putting them in a mesh laundry bag. Doing so will stop them from getting snagged on the inside of the drum.

Here’s something neat that I discovered when I did a cleaning experiment: you can always substitute a laundry bag with a pillowcase if you don’t have one. Putting your shoes in a bag will also reduce the noise and damage caused by the shoes banging against the drum. I think throwing in some old towels to serve as a buffer will work too.

Wash your shoes at cooler water temperatures to help prevent the colors of your shoes from running or fading. When washing colorful shoes, you should also use a color-specific detergent rather than a standard one.

When your shoes have finished washing, leave them out to air dry rather than tossing them in the dryer as you would for clothes. I find that the high heat of a dryer can cause significant damage to your Nike. The hot air may melt the plastics and glue or cause the shoe to shrink!

Put your shoes in a warm, dry place and let them sit for several hours to dry completely. You can even try hanging them on a clothesline. Be careful of too much sun exposure, though, as this can also cause the colors to fade. I learned that the hard way! Fast drying is not ideal for Nike. Slowly drying them in the air is the best.

How Can I Clean My Insoles?

Most Nike shoes have removable insoles, which makes it super easy to clean and maintain them. Because your insoles come in direct contact with your socks and your feet, they’re likely to get dirty pretty quickly.

Sweat and odors from your feet can cause your insoles to be the first part of your shoe to need replacing. But, I believe that regular cleaning can definitely help them last longer. It’s super important to remember that while we all want the outside of our shoes to look great, the inside should not be neglected.

When you’re dealing with a removable insole, the first thing you need to do when cleaning them is to take them out of the shoe. As I’ve mentioned before, most insoles are made of foam and other synthetic materials. So it’s important not to get them too wet during the cleaning process.

Doing so can ruin the insoles completely.

In my opinion, the best way to clean your insoles is by using regular, old-fashioned soap and a little bit of water. The mixture should be more than enough to get them shining.

#1 Dry Brushing the Insole

Start by cleaning your insole the same way to would the outside of your shoe. Take a shoe brush or an old toothbrush and remove any debris, including dirt, dust, lint, twigs, or pebbles.

#2 Prepare Cleaning Solution

Prepare your solution by filling a container or your sink with hot water. Add a few drops of mild soap, like dish detergent, and mix it in well with the hot water.

#3 Scrub Your Insole

Take your brush and dip the bristles in the solution. Using a circular motion, carefully and gently scrub your insoles. You will likely find that the most stained portions of the insoles are at the toes and the heels. It’s especially important that you focus on these areas, as this is where bacteria are most likely to build up.

Scrub both the top and the bottom of your insoles, dipping your brush in the hot water solution as needed to rinse and start fresh. Once you have finished cleaning both sides of the insoles, use a clean, dry cloth or sponge to remove any excess cleaning solution and residue.

#4 Dry Your Insole in the Air

Leave your insoles out to dry completely. You can hang them outside to dry or leave them in the dish rack, but it’s best to leave them in a place where they will get excellent air circulation. Make sure that your insoles are thoroughly dry before you put them back in your shoes to avoid mildew and smell build-up.

If your shoes do not have removable insoles, you can use this same method but with a toothbrush to let you reach all the way to the toes. It will be more difficult to clean your insoles this way, but not impossible.

You can also try steaming the inside of your shoes to kill bacteria with handheld steaming. I do not recommend using a steamer on suede shoes, as it can damage the material.

What’s the Best Way to Reduce Shoe Odor?

I happen to know a lot of home remedies designed for getting rid of shoe odor once and for all. Yes, there are various products on the market made specifically for shoe odors, but when my budget is running out, these alternative methods come in handy. And so, I shall talk about it at length here! You can try these at home for little to no cost.

Whether you use your Nike’s for athletics or leisure, there’s a good chance they’ll pick up some bacteria and odors along the way. It’s various kinds of bacteria, along with moisture, that causes your shoes to smell. Not to mention, you have your sweaty feet in them all day.

#1 Dryer Sheet

One trick you can try is to put dryer sheets in your shoes. Dryer sheets leave pleasant, clean-smelling fragrances behind and are great for eliminating odors. Using them couldn’t be simpler, either: place one dryer sheet in each shoe and leave them overnight. By morning, you’ll have fresh-smelling kicks.

#2 Charcoal

You can also try using charcoal. I find that charcoal is really good at absorbing odors. Take some activated charcoal and put it inside an old sock. Place one sock in each shoe and leave them overnight.

#3 Baking Soda

Sometimes, I also use baking soda to kill odors. Baking soda is a wonderful option because there’s a good chance you already have it in your kitchen pantry. You can sprinkle some baking soda directly inside your shoes and leave them overnight. Shake them out the next morning and leave them to air out for an hour or two, and you’ll be good to go.

#4 Clean Cat Litter

If you’re a cat owner, you’re also the proud owner of a superb shoe-odor eliminator! After all, cat litter is designed to absorb odors.  Again, put some litter inside of a thin sock or a cloth pouch. Leave one in each of your Nike overnight to let it absorb the bad smells from your shoes.


Whether you spend your time in your kicks hanging out at the coffee shop with your friends or hitting the trails for a daily cross-country style run, you’re probably going to get a lot of use out of your Nike. Take the time to properly care for them so that you can enjoy them to their full potential.

I believe that knowing how to properly clean your Nike shoes is very important. Nike is not exactly a cheap shoe brand, so keeping them in pristine condition is a must. That way, your shoes will last longer. Plus, you do it for hygienic purposes; one likes smelly shoes, after all. In any case, if you are a shoe fanatic like me, cleaning your shoes is just as important as collecting them.