Basketball shoes are an inseparable part of basketball history and have a cult-like following of their own. As a beginner, knowing how to clean your basketball shoes is a skill you definitely need to acquire. Not only will that keep your sneakers fresh but will also improve their long-term performance and keep them new for longer. Clean basketball shoes are more grippy on the court and will provide sturdier support for your ankles.
That’s why in this article, we will go through the step-by-step process of cleaning them. We will also give you a few tips on how to maintain them fresh for longer. If you’re looking for great basketball shoes for ankle support, visit my full guide on that topic!
The process of cleaning your basketball shoes involves the following steps:
- Brushing the shoes
- Creating our cleaning solution
- Wiping the shoes
- Removing any residue
- Drying the shoes
- Storing your basketball shoes
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of those steps and see what it takes to get your basketball shoes from dirty to squeaky clean!
Brushing the shoes
Brushing your shoes is something that people often overlook as it seems ineffective at first. The reality is that it is quite effective at removing fine specs of dust and dirt that are going to otherwise discolor the shoe if dissolved in water and left there. Use a shoe brush because it has softer bristles and won’t damage the shoe’s materials.
Creating our cleaning solution
Next up, we need to create our solution. What I find that works best for cleaning all types of basketball shoes are a mix of warm water and mild dish soap. Alternatively, you can use a mild detergent. Mix them until you see bubbles. You can use a bucket or a large bowl for this solution. Avoid harsh chemicals or detergents that will damage or discolor your shoes.
One important thing to mention here is to remove the shoelaces before you move on. If you want to clean them, I suggest putting them in your dishwasher with the insoles and some clothes. Use a low-temperature slow program to clean these in the washing machine.
Wiping the shoes
Now, start wiping the shoe with your water/soap or detergent mix and a clean soft cloth. You can also use the brush from the previous steps here by dipping it in the cleaning solution first. Don’t soak the sneakers in the process, just try to moisten them and apply a bit of pressure in order to scrub the stains out. Cover the whole shoe in circular motions and repeat the process over stains that don’t want to come out.
Removing any residue
While the mix of water and detergent/soap is great for cleaning stains, it can also be damaging for the shoe if it remains there. The chemicals from the soap or detergent can react with UV light, leaving permanent marks on your shoe’s outer surface. That is why you need to thoroughly wipe off the shoes when you’re done cleaning them. Use a different clean cloth for that. It can be a bit damp with clean water or completely dry.
Drying the shoes
Speaking of dry, make sure that your shoes are completely dried out when you are done cleaning them. Some of the best ways to naturally air them are to place them outdoors but not under direct sunlight. It is very important to avoid all types of driers, radiators, hair dryers, and other sources of direct heat that can warp or damage the shoe. A very cool trick to make your shoes dry faster is to stuff them with used newspaper pages. That will absorb any residual moisture that is still inside the shoe.
Storing your basketball shoes
Lastly, make sure you store your basketball sneakers properly. Shoe bags are great but one of the best solutions is surprisingly simple – use their original shoe boxes. Those typically have plenty of room for air to circulate and also often come with bags of silica gel that will take care of the surrounding moisture. Once again, make sure that the basketball shoes are fully dried out before you store them away.
Cleaning the inside of your basketball shoes
Cleaning the inside of your shoes involves similar steps, although it can be done in a few different ways. While soap and water mix is a generally good idea for the inside of your shoe too, in most cases the insole is the main culprit of any bad odors. Most shoes can have their insoles removed. When you take them out, cleaning them becomes rather easy and can be done both with hands and in a washing machine (at a special program for shoes).
Oftentimes, the part of the shoe beneath the insole is rubberized and can accumulate plenty of sweat and dust. Try wiping that off with the same mix of soap and water and a soft clean towel. After you’re done, air your sneakers well before you put them back to storage or wear them on the court.
How to stop basketball shoes from smelling
There are plenty of methods that are known to remove bad odors from shoes. Basketball shoes make no exception and you can use any of the following methods to make your shoes fresh again. Before we get into the individual ways to remove shoe odors, though, we need to first focus on the reason behind all of that. One of the most common reasons for your shoes smelling bad is damaged or old insoles. You can either take them out and clean them or dry them out.
Alternatively, you can even replace the insoles with brand new ones which will solve most of your issues. One basketball shoe that has amazing insoles is the Under Armour Jet Mid basketball shoe! All that aside, let’s now go through some of the tops ways to eliminate bad shoe stench…
Using the freezer
It is no secret that everyone’s favorite method is, well… everyone’s favorite method. That is because it truly works. Freezing your basketball sneakers will kill all the odor-producing bacteria living on your insoles. The key to doing this properly is to put them in a plastic bag before inserting them in sub-zero temperatures. That way, you can protect the shoe’s components from the direct impact of extremely cold air.
Drying them out
Another way to deal with bacterial growth and the bad scent associated with it is to dry the shoes out. You can do that by placing them near (not next to) an air vent. That will greatly reduce the humidity in the air inside the shoe which will prevent potential growth.
Using Baking Soda
If any of the previous tricks don’t work, you can always rely on baking soda to finish the job. That powdery substance is amazing at absorbing odors and a lot of people put some of it on their shoe insoles overnight. Just remember to wipe it off the shoes the next day.
Using fruit peels
Peels from grapefruits, oranges, lemons, or limes work wonders when it comes to bad scents. The citrus smell of these peels will greatly improve the way your shoes smell thanks to all the essential oils in them. Combining this method with baking soda or the freezer trick is going to give even better results.
You can also use teabags from black tea that will neutralize most scents too. Black tea is also a known bactericide so it will reduce the bacterial population as well. Lastly, using odor removers is the obvious choice but they are often pricey and don’t always guarantee great results.
Peak-performing shoes will also help you jump higher. However, there are other methods to improve your vertical jump by quite a lot. If you’re interested in one of the best programs out there, click here to read more about it!
How to maintain your basketball shoes
Keeping your shoes fresh and like new is as hard as actually cleaning them all the time. That’s why there are a number of things you can do in order to extend the life of your favorite basketball shoes. Some of the best maintenance tips are:
- Store them properly
- Be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to shoe stains. If your shoes are dirty, clean them as fast as possible to prevent the stain from going deeper into the fabric.
- Wear them only when you’re going to play on the court
- Don’t use a washing machine unless absolutely necessary.
- Never use a drier as those can damage or even permanently ruin your basketball shoes.
- Never use rubbing alcohol, hard detergents, bleach, or fabric softeners. These can further dry out your shoes and even crack certain materials used in them.
- Don’t dry your basketball shoes with a hairdryer. Also, don’t put them near hot vents for them to dry quicker.
Storing them properly
Proper storage is key to the long-term durability and a lot of people don’t take it seriously enough. One of the most common mistakes young basketball players make is to put their warm shoes in their carry bag after a long game. If you do this frequently enough, it can cause the shoes to lose their overall shape. That also means they will lose the amount of ankle support they had from the factory. One easy solution to that is to keep your shoes in a well-ventilated area for some time after playing with them.
After the shoes have dried out you can take them home. At home, storing them in their original box is a good practice compared to some commonly used alternatives. Adding a shoe deodorizer after a long game is also helpful to prevent bad odor buildups.
Lastly, in regards to wearing your basketball shoes on the court only – make sure you limit outside exposure to a minimum. Basketball shoes are designed to be used indoors and using them outside can accelerate their aging process and can further cause them to lose grip. The UV rays from the sun can also discolor the shoes over time. Playing on the court only will also mean fewer maintenance procedures and fewer cleanings, ultimately prolonging their life even more.
If you also want to learn how to clean your basketball and maintain it over the years, click here! Now, let’s answer some commonly asked questions…
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you wash your basketball shoes in the washing machine?
Yes, in fact, most washing machines have a cold cleaning program that is designed specifically for shoes. It runs with cold or lukewarm water for around half an hour. For the best results, make sure you use liquid detergent.
Can you dry your basketball shoes in the drier?
No, never put your shoes in the drier. One of the main reasons for that is because the excess heat there can damage the shoe. Moreover, the heat can loosen the glue that holds your shoes together and completely ruin them.
Is it okay to wear basketball shoes every day?
Just like good basketball shorts, basketball shoes are great for everyday use mainly because they are lightweight and provide a ton of support for your ankles. Whether the price is worth it, though, that’s a whole other question.
How to make my basketball shoes grip better?
The first thing you have to do in order to add more grip to your basketball shoes is to keep the soles clean. Additionally, try using a special grip lotion for the soles, and more importantly – keep the court clean as well. Dirty shoes or courts tend to have less traction and will feel more slippery as opposed to clean ones.
How do you clean white basketball shoes?
White shoes are, in general, trickier when it comes to removing stains from them. If they’re made out of leather, you can use a bit of pure white toothpaste to buff the stain out. Mix the toothpaste with mild dish soap and lukewarm water and dip the shoes carefully until the stain is removed. Wipe any excess solution off the shoes when you’re done and make sure you dry them out properly!
Learning how to clean your basketball shoes is a crucial piece of knowledge every beginner player should have. Shoes are sacred in the game of ball and taking good care of them is vital for their long-term durability and performance. Cleaning your shoes on a monthly basis is a good practice. That combined with wearing them on indoor courts only will help you prolong their life even more. If you feel like there are some bad odors building up inside, you can use a deodorizer or wash and dry the insoles of the shoes separately.