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How to Clean Basketball Shoes: A Comprehensive Guide

If you're an avid basketball player, you know how important it is to keep your basketball shoes clean. Not only does dirt and grime on your shoes reduce grip, but it can also lead to injury on the court. Fortunately, we've got you covered with our top tips for fresh kicks.

In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through what we believe to be one of the simplest and most effective methods for cleaning your basketball sneakers. So whether you're rocking your best Jordan 1s or any other basketball shoes, follow our tips to get them looking like new again.

How To Clean Basketball Shoes

Cleaning basketball shoes is an essential part of maintaining their quality and prolonging their lifespan. The following technique is what we believe to be the most effective method of cleaning basketball shoes, but it's important to note that not all sneakers are made from the same material. In this section, we'll focus on cleaning synthetics and leather sneakers.

What You'll Need:

Here's a list of items you'll need before you start cleaning your basketball shoes:

  • Mild Soap
  • Large Bowl
  • Shoe Cleaner
  • Towel
  • Soft-bristled Brush or Toothbrush
  • Shoe Protector
  • Old Newspaper


Follow these eight simple steps to clean your basketball shoes like a pro:

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. Adding a touch of baking soda to the mixture can help clean white laces.

Step 2: Grab a soft-bristled brush and begin to work away any excess dirt from your sneakers. The idea is to remove any larger areas of mud while dry.

Step 3: Mix some shoe cleaner into another bowl of warm water as per the manufacturer's instructions. We'd recommend something like Angelus Easy Cleaner for basketball shoes.

Step 4: Apply the cleaner to your sneakers with a cloth in gentle, circular motions. For more ingrained stains, you may find using your soft-bristled brush works best. A toothbrush can be particularly effective at cleaning some of the harder-to-reach areas.

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

Step 6: Add some old newspaper into your shoes then leave them to dry with your shoelaces naturally, away from any direct heat or sunlight.

Step 7: We'd recommend adding a protective spray like Crep Protect to your sneakers to minimize how often you need to clean them. Again, use per the instructions.

Step 8: Leave your basketball shoes to dry again, and then they should be ready for your next game.

Following these steps will help you keep your basketball shoes clean and in good condition. Remember that different materials may require different cleaning techniques, so be sure to research the best methods for your specific shoes.

What About Other Materials?

If you come across basketball shoes made from materials other than synthetic or leather, here are some tips to keep them clean and in good condition.


Suede is a challenging material to clean, but it's not impossible. Nike recommends using a suede brush or towel to remove surface dirt, working with the grain of the material. You can also use a suede eraser to get rid of any stubborn marks on the surface of your shoes.

Cleaning Supplies for Suede
Suede brush or towel
Suede eraser


Although canvas is not a common material for basketball shoes, it was the material of choice for one of the most iconic basketball shoes of all time - the Converse. Cleaning cotton canvas is easier than suede, and you can use the same technique as you would for leather and synthetic materials. However, it's best to use less water during the cleaning process as canvas can take longer to dry.

Cleaning Supplies for Canvas
Mild soap
Soft-bristled brush

Remember to always check the manufacturer's instructions before cleaning your basketball shoes, especially if they are made from alternative materials. With the right care, your basketball shoes can last longer and perform better on the court.

Things To Avoid Doing When Cleaning Basketball Shoes

When it comes to cleaning your basketball shoes, there are a few things you should avoid doing to prevent damaging them. Firstly, never use a washing machine or dryer to clean your shoes as the intense spin, water, and heat can damage the adhesives, leading to cracking and deformation of shape.

It's also important to avoid placing your shoes next to vents or heaters, or using a hair dryer to speed up the drying process, as high heat can warp rubber, similar to leaving your sneakers to dry in the sun.

Avoid using rubbing alcohol, bleach, scented laundry detergent, or fabric softeners when cleaning your basketball shoes as these can dry out and crack your sneakers and leave a greasy residue.

Lastly, refrain from using wired brushes or rough sponges as they can leave permanent scratches on the surface of your shoes. Instead, use a soft-bristled brush or a microfiber cloth to gently remove dirt and stains.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure your basketball shoes stay in great condition for longer.

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