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How To Clean Your Basketball Shoes

    how to clean your basketball shoes

    Let’s face it, buying basketball sneakers (or any kind of sneaker) can be an expensive hobby to have. Therefore you really have to know how to clean your basketball shoes. Unless you’re a big baller and got it like that or play in the NBA, you can’t just go up and get a fresh new pair every time your kicks get dirty.

    Got scuffs, dirt, grime, or even a foul odor on your basketball sneakers? Don’t trip, you don’t have to buy another pair of kicks. There is still hope as all is not lost because today we’re going to go over a few tips that help revive those dirty basketball sneakers of yours.

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    How To Clean Your Basketball Shoes: The Cleaning essentials:

    Here are the basic essentials that you’re going to need in order to clean your basketball shoes:

    • A cleaning solution (soap and water will do)
    • A scrubbing tool such as a brush with bristles that are both soft and strong enough for any job/material. A toothbrush can also come in handy if you need to touch up and do some detailed work on certain parts of the shoe.
    • A rag/towel/cloth

    The first thing you’re doing is to go removes the laces, insoles, and lace locks (if any) from your shoes. Put those aside for now, we’ll get to those later on.

    Next, you prep your cleaning solution. If you don’t have an actual shoe cleaner, you can make your own by combining hot water with soap/oxy clean/baking soda, etc. It’s not expensive and it gets the job done. Fill up a bowl or bucket with hot water then put a generous amount of your cleaning product of choice onto the water. Get your brush and mix in the cleaning product with the water real good until it begins to lather up. You’re now ready to go.

    Start by dipping your cleaning brush onto the cleaning solution and begin brushing your shoes. Don’t be shy with it either. Make sure you hit all the spots of the sneaker. This includes the entire upper, the lining and the entire inside of the shoe, the outsole, midsole, everything!

    If you’re brushing the shoe and it’s no longer lathering up, don’t hesitate to dip your brush onto the cleaning solution several times to make sure the sneaker is getting enough soap to help get rid of all the grime, dirt, sweat stains, odor, etc. Once you feel you’ve gone over every part of the shoe at least a couple of times, let the shoes sit for 3-5 minutes. By doing this you’re allowing the cleaning solution to do its job and letting it penetrate onto the sneaker.

    While you’re letting the sneakers sit for those 3-5 minutes, go ahead and grab your laces and insoles so you can clean those too. Grab your laces and go ahead and drop them onto the bowl. Once they’ve been in there for a few seconds get them out and begin cleaning them with the brush as well. If your laces are white, for best results we suggest you use baking soda or oxy clean to help get the laces as white as possible. Once done, hang them on the side and let them dry as well.

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    How to clean the insoles and laces

    Cleaning the insoles is a part of the process that should not be forgotten. I mean think about it, what other part of the shoe absorbs more sweat than the insoles? None. The answer is none! To clean your insoles put them flat on the ground, throw a little bit of the cleaning solution on them to get them nice and wet and you guessed it, begin wiping away!

    While flat on the surface, hold one end of the insoles with one hand in place and start scrubbing the insoles with the brush to get rid of all unwanted residue and stains. By doing this step, not only will your shoes look clean, they will also smell clean!

    Once you’ve cleaned your laces and insoles, those 3-5 minutes are most likely up. So what you do next is you get your rag and begin wiping your shoes until all the residue is removed and the shoes are dry. When you finish drying up your shoes, depending on how well you cleaned them and how dirty the shoes were, you may need to go over them with the brush once more to make sure you get all the spots on the shoes.

    At times you may find some more dirt on areas such as the ankle collar, on the traction of the outsoles, around the eyelets and branding, or maybe you even just missed a small spot on the toe. Whatever the case may be, just go ahead and dip the brush inside the cleaning bowl once more and go over any of the spots that need some extra TLC.

    If that doesn’t work, go ahead and grab that toothbrush that I told you about earlier, put some cleaning solution on it and do some fine detail work on those stingy parts of the shoe that still have some work to do. This should do the trick.

    Related: The Evolution of Basketball Shoes 

    Final Stage On How To Clean Basketball Shoes

    history of basketball shoes

    Lastly, let the shoes sit to dry for as much time as needed. Once they’ve dried up, go ahead and put the laces and insoles back in. That’s it, you’re good to go. The shoe may not look deadstock or “brand new”, but they will for sure look cleaner, brighter, and smell much better than before.

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    How To Clean Basketball Shoes: The FAQ

    Can you wash basketball shoes?

    Clothes can be cleaned with a washing machine but you cannot do the same for your basketball shoes. Though you’ll need warm water, a shoe brush, and a damp cloth, it is not advisable to soak your basketball shoes for a deep wash, just like you do your clothes.

    Does water ruin basketball shoes?

    Deeping your basketball shoes completely into water isn’t the best way to clean them. If you continue to wash your shoes in this way, it will not last as long as possible. Your best bet is to follow the guide in this post on how to clean basketball shoes without damaging them.

    Is it OK to wear basketball shoes casually?

    The answer is yes. But it is somehow dependent on the durability of the basketball shoes you bought. Whatever the case, always try to put out your shoes for air drying after each usage interval. This will help to avoid obnoxious odor.

    How do I stop my basketball shoes from smelling?

    Always try to air out your shoes after using them. Besides, it is important to clean your basketball shoes from time to time. By doing this, you’ll be sure of getting a long lifespan as well as a fresh smell each time you want to wear your basketball shoes.

    Where can I buy basketball shoes online?

    Some of the best basketball shoes on Amazon can meet your preferences both in terms of budget, durability, and lifespan. However, you can still check your local retailer. Before you place an order, don’t forget to check the return and replacement policy in case of any defects. This will make it easier for your to get a refund or replacement if there is a good reason for that.


    There’s really no science to it. All it takes is some time, effort and patience. If done properly, your sneakers will be looking fresh on the blacktop while you’re draining jumpers right in the face of your opponent.


    Further Reading:

    Find out who made it to the Top 10 of heaviest NBA players

    12 Best Basketball Shoes for Big Man