How to clean basketball shoes: step by step guide

Whether you are a fan of sneakers or just a fan of the sport itself, you have surely wondered what is the best technique for cleaning basketball shoes at one point or another.

Luckily, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to walk you through what we think is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get your best basketball sneakers looking brand new.

This is especially important because any dirt on your shoes can reduce grip and cause you to slip on the court, which can lead to injury.

So grab your best Jordan 1s or any other basketball shoes you have, and follow our top tips here.

How to clean basketball shoes

As mentioned, the following technique is what we believe to be the most effective method for cleaning basketball shoes; however, there is a slight issue in that not all sneakers are made from the same material.

Don’t worry though, as we’ll cover a few alternative materials later, but first we’ll focus here on cleaning synthetics and leather sneakers.

What you will need:

  • Mild soap
  • Big bowl
  • shoe cleaner
  • Towel
  • Soft-bristled brush or toothbrush
  • Shoe protectors
  • old newspaper

Step 1: Start by removing any stones or debris from the soles of your shoes, then remove the laces and place them in a mixture of mild soap and warm water.

Trick : Adding a touch of baking soda to the mixture can help clean white shoelaces.

2nd step: Grab a soft bristle brush and start brushing any excess dirt from your sneakers. The idea is to remove any larger patches of mud while they’re dry.

Step 3: Mix a little shoe cleaner in another bowl of warm water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. We recommend something like Angelus Easy Cleanser for basketball shoes.

Step 4: Apply the cleaner to your sneakers with a cloth in gentle circular motions. For more stubborn stains, you may find that using your soft bristled brush works best.

Trick : A toothbrush can be particularly effective in cleaning some of the more difficult to reach areas.

Step 5: Once clean, lightly dry your shoes with a towel to remove excess soap and help them dry a little faster.

Step 6: Add some old newspaper to your shoes and let them and your laces dry naturally, away from direct heat or sunlight.

Step 7: We recommend adding a protective spray like Pancake Protect to your sneakers to minimize how often you need to clean them. Again, use as directed.

Step 8: Let your basketball shoes dry again and they should be ready for your next game.

What about other materials?

Most modern basketball shoes are made from synthetic materials and occasionally leather.

However, there are a few instances where basketball shoes feature an alternative material like suede. Therefore, here are some of our top tips if you come across other materials.


Suede is a notoriously difficult material to clean. However, as mentioned in our suede shoe cleaning guide, it’s not impossible.

Nike recommends using a brush or suede towel to clean surface debris, working with the material rather than going against the grain.

You can also use a suede eraser, like this Kiwi eraserto also remove stubborn marks on the surface of your shoes.


Canvas is not often used to make basketball shoes; however, it is the material of choice for one of the best basketball shoes of the past. converse.

Fortunately, cotton canvas is a bit easier to clean than suede, as you can pretty much use the same technique as leather and synthetics.

We recommend using a little less water during the cleaning process as the canvas may take longer to dry.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning Basketball Shoes

According adidasthe first thing to avoid when cleaning your basketball shoes is not to use a washing machine or dryer.

The intensity of spin, water and heat can damage the adhesives, which can lead to cracks and shape deformations.

We also advise against placing your shoes next to air vents or heaters, or using a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. High heat can warp the rubber, much like leaving your sneakers to dry in the sun.

Although some sites recommend it, we suggest that you never use rubbing alcohol, bleach, scented laundry detergent, or fabric softener when cleaning. These can dry out and crack your sneakers and can sometimes leave a greasy residue.

Finally, avoid using wire brushes or rough sponges as they can leave permanent scratches on the surface of your shoes.

Read more: Best places to buy sneakers – Our top picks

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