Keep Your Shoe Game on Fleek: How to Clean Tennis Shoes

how to clean tennis shoes

Tennis shoes have been around for decades, and they’re one of the most popular types of shoes on the market today.

While these shoes might be both trendy and comfy, they can get incredibly dirty incredibly fast. In fact, the average shoe is covered in over 421,000 bacteria, and 90% of that bacteria gets transferred onto whatever your shoes touch.


Picking up all these bacteria may be unavoidable when you’re out of the house, but you can cut down the amount you bring into your home by keeping your shoes clean.

We’ve put together this guide to help you learn how to clean tennis shoes.

So let’s get started!

Can You Throw Your Tennis Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Most tennis shoes will survive a ride in the washing machine without a problem. But that doesn’t mean you should just throw your shoes in the wash without a second thought.

The washing machine isn’t a good match for all tennis shoes, especially for more athletic shoes like running shoes.

Read the label of your shoes before throwing it in the wash. If your shoes have any leather or suede, you should hand wash them instead. Shoes that contain EVA foam can absorb too much water in the washing machine and become damaged. Because of this, you should also stick to hand washing these types of shoes.

While many shoes are safe to go through the washing machine, hand washing is always less risky.

How to Wash Dirty Tennis Shoes in the Washing Machine

If your shoes are washing machine safe, there are still a few things you should do before dropping them in a load of laundry.

Here’s what you should do first.

Take out the Laces

Always take the laces out of your shoes before you run them through the washing machine. Otherwise, the laces can tangle around other items and get knotted or stretched out.

This is also a good time to examine your laces for any particularly dirty spots or frayed sections.

If you notice any dirty spots, rub some laundry detergent on the area. This will help it come out easier in the wash. Laces that are frayed and in bad shape might be worth replacing rather than cleaning.

Make sure you measure your laces if you do decide to replace them. Otherwise, you could end up with laces that are too short—or long—for your shoes.

Rinse off the Shoes

Rinse off your shoes with water to remove any loose dirt or debris. You can also use a brush to remove dirt (though this is easier done when the shoe is dry).

Get Some Mesh Bags

You should have two separate mesh bags when you clean your shoes in a washing machine. Put your shoes in one and your laces in the other.

Start a Load of Towels

Putting your shoes in with a load of towels will keep them from banging against the sides of the washing machine. This will help protect the machine and your shoes.

Let Your Shoes Dry

When your shoes are done in the wash, don’t put them in the dryer!

Instead, let them sit and air dry. This can take a while, so if you want to speed up the process, stuff your shoes with cloth or paper. The cloth/paper will absorb water from inside the shoe, making them dry faster.

How to Wash Dirty Tennis Shoes By Hand

If your shoes are too delicate (or too expensive) to put in the washing machine, you can give them a gentler clean by hand.

Here’s a quick guide that’ll teach you how to clean tennis shoes yourself.

Take out the Laces

Again, start by taking out the laces. The best way to wash these is to put them in the washing machine (just like before), but don’t forget to inspect them first.

If you find any dirty spots, scrub some detergent around the area. And remember, if the laces look too dirty or too old, it’s a better idea to buy new laces instead.

Remove the Insoles

Take out any insoles and srub them with a cloth and a baking soda/water solution. (One tablespoon to one cup of water should do the trick.)

If they are still smelly when they’re dry, you can sprinkle some more baking soda over the top. This will help absorb any remaining moisture and odor.

Scrub the Inside and Outside of the Shoes

Mix some mild liquid detergent and warm water together. Then use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the solution into both the inside and outside of your shoes. If the brush leaves any residue on the surface of the shoe, you can wipe it away with a damp cloth.

Let Your Shoes Dry

Again, let your shoes air dry. You can stuff them to help speed up the process or—if you really need them right away—use a hairdryer to make things even faster.

Learning How to Clean Tennis Shoes the Right Way

Learning how to clean tennis shoes doesn’t take a lot of work.

If you have an average pair of shoes, you can most likely just throw them in the washing machine with a load of towels. But it’s always safer to wash your shoes by hand. This will ensure the shoes don’t take any damage in the washing machine.

Want to learn more about the best tennis shoes for men and women?

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