Wash Basketball Shoes in Washing Machine: Ultimate Cleaning Guide

Ever looked down at your basketball shoes after a game and thought, “Wow, those used to be white”? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Keeping your kicks clean isn’t just about looking good; it’s about preserving the life of your shoes.

You might be hesitant to toss your beloved sneakers into the wash, but with the right technique, it’s a slam dunk for freshness. Let’s lace up and dive into the steps to get your basketball shoes looking and smelling like new again without damaging them or your washing machine.

Preparing your shoes

Before tossing those dusty hoops shoes into your washing machine, you’ve got to prep them right. Trust me, as someone who’s seen their fair share of game time, I know a thing or two about keeping basketball shoes in top condition.

Remove Surface Dirt

First things first, knock off the loose dirt. Just a few taps should do the trick. You don’t want chunks of the court ending your washing machine’s MVP run.

Take Out the Laces and Insoles

Next up, remove the laces and insoles. Washing them separately is key; it ensures no nooks or crannies are left unclean. Plus, this step cuts the risk of warping, which can throw off your shoe’s fit.

Rinse Them Off

Give your shoes a quick rinse under cold water to shed any remaining dirt. Think of it as a pre-game warmup—they’ll be ready for the main event without the heavy lifting.

Use a Soft Brush

Got some stubborn spots? Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub those away. Remember, be gentle—you’re aiming for a win, not an injury.

Choose the Right Detergent

Opt for a small dose of mild detergent. You’re shooting for fresh, not a chemical bath. And hey, if your shoes could talk, they’d thank you for the TLC.

Mesh Bag Bonus

If you’ve got a mesh laundry bag, use it. It’s like a strong defense, protecting your shoes during the wash cycle.

Check the Washing Machine Settings

Ensure the settings on your machine are dialed in. Use cold water and a gentle cycle—it’s the equivalent of playing smart, not hard.

Remember, you’re not just sprucing up your gear; you’re setting yourself up for peak performance. Clean shoes mean better grip, a fresher feel, and you staying at the top of your game. So take the time to do it right, and watch your court presence soar.

Cleaning the exterior

When it’s time to tackle the exterior of your basketball shoes, think of it as prepping for a big game. You’ve got to be thorough and careful because the condition of the surface not only affects appearance but can also influence your performance on the court.

First things first, wipe away any loose dirt or mud that might’ve hitched a ride on your shoes. If you skip this step, you’re setting yourself up for a messier wash cycle, and that’s the last thing you need. Picture this step like a warm-up; it’s essential but just the beginning.

Once the loose dirt is out of the way, focus on stubborn spots and scuffs. Remember that time you brushed off defenders and made that game-winning shot? Well, now you’ll need to channel that focus into gently brushing the tougher stains with a soft-bristled brush. Just like strategizing your plays, use the right technique—circular motions tend to work best.

Grab yourself a soapy solution – a mix of warm water and mild, bleach-free detergent. Think of this like selecting your equipment; just as you’d choose the best sneakers for a game, pick a cleaner that’s strong enough to get the job done without causing damage. Dip your brush in the soapy mixture and meticulously work it over the exterior, taking care not to soak the shoes.

As you scrub, pay attention to the overlays, the creases, and the eyelets where grime loves to hide. It’s like covering all bases defensively – miss a spot, and it could come back to haunt you. A toothbrush can be just the right tool for these areas, small and precise, like a point guard threading the needle on a tight pass.

Once you’re satisfied, wipe down the shoes with a damp cloth to remove any soap residue. This is the equivalent of reviewing game tape—eliminating minor mistakes that could impede your game… or in this case, the cleanliness of your kicks.

Removing the laces and insoles

Before tossing your kicks into the machine, take out the laces. They can tangle or snag, both damaging the machine and the shoes. Plus, you’ll want to clean these separately to ensure they don’t harbor any hidden grime.

Here’s how you handle it:

  • Pull out each lace gently to avoid damaging the eyelets.
  • Soak ’em in a solution of warm water and a little detergent.
  • Scrub them with your soft brush if they’ve got some tough spots.

Let’s talk insoles. Removing the insoles is crucial. Not only does it help them keep their shape, it also hinders those funky sweat smells from becoming permanent residents.

Follow these steps to give your insoles the TLC they deserve:

  • Ease ’em out. If they’re glued down, check if your manufacturer advises against removing them.
  • If it’s safe, hand wash them to avoid breaking down the material.

When you clean your insoles by hand, you’re avoiding the compression and heat of the machine, which can warp and wear them down. Trust me, your feet will thank you for the extra effort.

While you’re at it, give the inside of your shoes a quick wipe to say goodbye to any loose dirt that’s sneaking around. Remember, those hidden spots are havens for bacteria, and a fresh pair of shoes is more than just about looks—it’s about hygiene and health too.

After you’ve prepped your laces and insoles, it’s time for the shoes to have their own moment in the wash. But remember, every piece of your basketball gear deserves attention if you want to stay at the top of your game.

Washing the shoes

After prepping your basketball shoes, it’s time to move on to the main event: washing them. Remember, a clean pair of kicks can make a difference in your game, just like a properly executed play.

Choose the Right Setting on your washing machine. Ideally, you’ll want to use a gentle cycle with cold water to prevent any damage or shrinkage to the shoes. Heat can be a real game-changer – and not in the way you want.

Before you toss them in, place your shoes in a Mesh Laundry Bag or pillowcase. This will help to prevent them from banging around in the machine. Think of it as defense; it’s there to protect!

Add a Gentle Detergent, just like you’d select the right gear for a big game. You don’t need a lot, just enough to get the job done. Avoid any bleach or harsh chemicals that might make your shoes look worn out before their time.

While your shoes are taking their spin in the machine, let’s talk strategy. Many players don’t realize that regular cleaning not only keeps shoes fresh but can also Preserve the Shoe’s Materials and Adhesives. Just like a player’s shooting form, consistency is key.

If you’ve got other laundry to do, now’s a good time. Just be sure not to include heavy items like towels or jeans with your shoes. You’re aiming for an even playing field, and heavy items could throw off the balance, leading to an uneven wash.

Alright, your shoes are in the wash. Just like watching game footage, this step may not be the most exciting part of your routine, but it’s crucial for keeping those shoes ready for action. Stay tuned, and we’ll jump into what to do once the buzzer rings on your washer’s cycle.

Drying the shoes

After your shoes have had a spin in the washing machine, you’ve got to get them dry. Proper drying is critical for maintaining the structure and material of your basketball shoes. Air drying is the safest method. Start by placing old newspapers or paper towels inside the shoes to absorb excess moisture. This also helps them maintain their shape as they dry.

Never place basketball shoes in the dryer. The high heat can warp the soles and weaken adhesives, leading to a less supportive shoe than you started with. Instead, find a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight to avoid any damage or discoloration to the shoes. Direct heat or sunlight can break down the materials of your shoes more quickly.

If you’re drying them outdoors, choose a shady spot. Indoors, a room with a fan or an open window can provide good air circulation without the added heat. Make sure to loosen the tongue and any straps to allow air to flow through the shoes for even drying.

Rotate the shoes periodically and replace the newspaper or paper towels if they become too damp. This will ensure that the drying process is as efficient as possible. Depending on the humidity and air circulation, it might take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours for your shoes to fully dry. Be patient — allowing shoes to dry thoroughly before using them again helps prevent the growth of bacteria and mold, which can cause odors and break down materials over time.

Remember, your performance on the court isn’t just about the skills you’ve honed; it’s also influenced by the gear you use. Taking care of your basketball shoes by washing and drying them properly can help extend their life and, by extension, your performance in the game. Keep an eye on your shoes as they air out, and you’ll be back on the court with that fresh shoe feel in no time.


You’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to keep your basketball shoes clean and game-ready. Remember to treat them with care, from pre-wash prep to the final stages of air drying. Regular maintenance doesn’t just keep them looking fresh—it’s key to preserving their quality and your performance. So go ahead, give your kicks the spa day they deserve, and you’ll both be ready to hit the court with your best foot forward. Happy washing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I wash basketball shoes in the washing machine?

Yes, basketball shoes can be washed in a washing machine. Use a gentle cycle with cold water and place the shoes in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase.

What should I use to clean basketball shoes?

Use a gentle detergent for washing basketball shoes. Avoid bleach and harsh chemicals to prevent damage to the materials and adhesives.

Should I remove laces and insoles before washing basketball shoes?

Yes, remove the laces and insoles before washing to ensure a thorough clean inside the shoes.

How do I dry basketball shoes after washing?

Air dry the shoes in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Use old newspapers or paper towels inside the shoes to absorb moisture and maintain shape.

Why is it important to clean basketball shoes regularly?

Regular cleaning improves grip, provides a fresher feel, enhances performance, and preserves the materials and adhesives of the shoes.

Can I include other items in the wash with basketball shoes?

To prevent damage and maintain the washing machine’s balance, avoid including heavy items like towels or jeans when washing basketball shoes.

How can I maintain the shape of my basketball shoes while drying?

Place crumpled newspapers or paper towels inside the shoes to absorb excess moisture and help maintain their shape during the drying process.

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