How To Clean Tennis Shoes: A Step-By-Step Guide

  • 4 min read
  • Jul 21, 2023
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Tennis shoes are an essential part of any athlete’s wardrobe. Whether you’re a professional player or just enjoy hitting the court on weekends, keeping your tennis shoes clean is important for both their longevity and performance. In this article, we will guide you through a step-by-step process on how to clean your tennis shoes effectively.


Tennis shoes go through a lot of wear and tear, both on and off the court. From dirt and grime to sweat and odor, they can quickly become dirty and smelly. Cleaning your tennis shoes regularly not only keeps them looking fresh, but it also helps maintain their traction and support.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of various cleaning methods, provide you with a detailed step-by-step process, and answer some frequently asked questions to ensure you have all the information you need to clean your tennis shoes effectively.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cleaning Tennis Shoes

Before diving into the cleaning process, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of different methods:

Method Advantages Disadvantages
Dish Soap and Water – Easily accessible
– Gentle on shoe material
– May not remove deep stains
– Requires scrubbing
Baking Soda and Vinegar – Effective for removing odor
– Natural cleaning agents
– May discolor certain shoe materials
– Requires thorough rinsing
Machine Washing – Convenient and time-saving
– Removes dirt and stains effectively
– Can damage shoe structure
– May cause shrinkage
Specialized Shoe Cleaners – Specifically formulated for shoe materials
– Easy to use
– Can be expensive
– May not be readily available

Now that you’re aware of the pros and cons, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of cleaning your tennis shoes:

Step 1: Remove Loose Dirt and Debris

Start by removing any loose dirt and debris from your tennis shoes. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently brush off any dirt or dust. Be thorough and pay attention to the areas between the sole and upper, as well as the laces.

Step 2: Prepare a Cleaning Solution

Next, prepare a cleaning solution based on the method you’ve chosen. If using dish soap and water, mix a small amount of mild dish soap with warm water in a bowl. For baking soda and vinegar, create a paste by mixing equal parts of both ingredients.

Step 3: Apply the Cleaning Solution

Using a soft cloth or brush, apply the cleaning solution to the entire surface of your tennis shoes. Ensure that you cover all areas, including the sole, upper, and laces. Be gentle but thorough, paying extra attention to any stains or discoloration.

Step 4: Scrub and Rinse

For deep stains or stubborn dirt, use a soft brush to gently scrub the affected areas. Be careful not to scrub too hard, as this could damage the shoe material. Once you’ve finished scrubbing, rinse your tennis shoes under running water to remove any residue.

Step 5: Air Dry

After rinsing, gently squeeze out any excess water from your tennis shoes and stuff them with crumpled newspaper or a clean towel to help them retain their shape. Place them in a well-ventilated area and allow them to air dry completely. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, as these can damage the shoes.

Step 6: Clean the Insoles and Laces

While your tennis shoes are drying, take the opportunity to clean the insoles and laces. Remove the insoles if possible and wash them separately with mild soap and water. For laces, soak them in a bowl of warm, soapy water and gently scrub them before rinsing.

Step 7: Reassemble and Store

Once your tennis shoes and accessories are completely dry, reassemble them by inserting the insoles and lacing up the shoes. Give them a final wipe with a clean cloth to remove any remaining residue. Store your clean tennis shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: Can I clean my tennis shoes in a washing machine?

A1: While machine washing can be convenient, it is not recommended for all types of tennis shoes. Some shoe materials may be damaged or shrink in the machine. It’s best to check the manufacturer’s instructions or opt for hand cleaning methods.

Q2: How often should I clean my tennis shoes?

A2: The frequency of cleaning depends on how frequently you use your tennis shoes. As a general guideline, aim to clean them at least once a month or whenever they appear visibly dirty.

Q3: Can I use bleach to clean my tennis shoes?

A3: Bleach is not recommended for cleaning tennis shoes, as it can discolor and weaken the shoe material. Stick to mild cleaning agents like dish soap or specialized shoe cleaners.

Q4: How can I remove stubborn stains?

A4: For stubborn stains, you can try using a soft toothbrush or a magic eraser. Apply a small amount of cleaning solution to the stain and gently scrub in a circular motion. Rinse thoroughly afterwards.

Q5: Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process?

A5: It is not recommended to use a hairdryer or any direct heat source to dry your tennis shoes. High heat can warp the shoe structure and cause damage. Patience is key when it comes to drying them naturally.

Q6: Are there any specific cleaning methods for white tennis shoes?

A6: White tennis shoes require extra care to maintain their brightness. You can try using a specialized whitening agent or a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to remove stubborn stains. Always test on a small area first.

Q7: Can I clean my tennis shoes without water?

A7: While water is the most common cleaning agent, there are dry cleaning options available. Look for specialized shoe cleaning foams or sprays that require minimal or no water for cleaning.


Now that you have a comprehensive guide on how to clean tennis shoes, it’s time to put this knowledge into action. Remember to choose a cleaning method that suits your shoe material, follow the step-by-step process diligently, and always prioritize the longevity and performance of your tennis shoes.

By keeping your tennis shoes clean, you not only ensure their durability but also maintain optimum performance on the court. So, go ahead, give your tennis shoes the TLC they deserve and enjoy your next game with confidence!

Take the first step towards cleaner tennis shoes today and unlock their full potential!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for cleaning your specific tennis shoe model.