How to Clean Basketball Shoes – 5 Easy Steps

Having clean basketball shoes provides better traction, support, and longevity versus dirty, dusty shoes. The outsoles and midsoles get packed with grit and grime from outdoor courts, leading to reduced grip and contaminated foam cushioning.

The uppers also get covered in dust, dirt, and sweat stains. Not only does this look bad, but it can degrade the materials faster. Luckily, with the right tools and cleaners, cleaning your basketball shoes is a quick and simple process.

Supplies Needed:

  • Warm water
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Old toothbrush
  • Clean towel
  • Laundry detergent (for removable insoles)
  • Canvas sneaker cleaner (optional)
  • Soft bristle brush (optional)

5 steps to clean basketball shoes

Step 1: Remove Laces and Insoles

Start by removing the laces and insoles (if removable) from your basketball shoes. This allows you to clean all surfaces of the shoe without obstruction. Removing laces also allows you to give them a good cleaning separately.

Step 2: Use a Toothbrush With Dish Soap

Mix a small amount of mild dish detergent with warm water in a bowl. Take an old toothbrush and dip it in the soapy solution. Gently scrub the toothbrush over the uppers, using a circular motion.

Make sure to scrub any visibly dirty areas and the crevices/grooves of the traction pattern on the outsole. The toothbrush allows you to apply light agitation to lift dirt from the materials.

Step 3: Wipe With a Clean Towel

After scrubbing with the toothbrush, use a clean towel dampened with warm water to wipe away any bubbles and residual dirt. Wipe over the entire upper, around the outsole, and any other areas you scrubbed. The towel helps lift away loosened grime after scrubbing.

Step 4: Rinse Under Sink

To finish cleaning the upper, rinse the entire shoe under warm running water from the sink. Hold the shoes under water and rub lightly with your hands to dissolve any remaining soap or dirt. Rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear.

Step 5: Stuff With Paper Towel to Dry

After fully rinsing, stuff paper towels or newspaper tightly inside the shoes to absorb excess moisture. Let the shoes air dry completely before wearing them again. The stuffed paper helps wick moisture for faster drying.

Things to Avoid:

  • No bleach or harsh cleaners that can damage the shoes’ materials
  • Avoid putting shoes in the washing machine or dryer, which can ruin them
  • Don’t scrub aggressively, which can scuff or scratch the uppers
  • Don’t use hot water, which can cause materials to warp or shrink
  • Don’t soak shoes for extended periods, which can damage adhesives
  • Avoid using a wire brush, which can scratch and puncture shoes
  • Don’t place damp shoes near direct heat to dry, which causes cracking


Cleaning your basketball shoes doesn’t require heavy duty chemicals or expensive products. With just some mild dish soap, an old toothbrush, and a towel, you can make your shoes look fresh in just 5 easy steps.

Focus on gently scrubbing the crevices and wiping away dirt. Avoid harsh cleaners or excess water that could damage the materials. Follow these simple tips regularly to maintain top performance and keep your basketball shoes looking like new.

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