How to Wash Tennis Shoes?

How to Wash Tennis Shoes

Cleaning or washing your shoes is a very much regular task that you must be doing as and when required. Things require a lot of special attention when it comes to washing you’re your tennis shoes or sneakers.

 It is mainly because of the stuff required where all methods don’t work as intended. In shoe washing, you need to be careful with the stuff of the footwear. Once you determine the stuff then you could wash it using the most appropriate method.

Any wrong selection of method could ruin your shoes, which in case of the tennis footwear are believed to be quite expensive. These challenges shouldn’t hold you back from cleaning or washing your shoes. It is all about knowing the right washing technique with the cleaning tools and material, and you will be good with the entire process.

Here, we will provide you with step by step guide to know the tried and tested method of washing your tennis shoes at home with no secondary or professional help required. 

Let us first list down the essentials that you will require for washing your tennis shoes properly. The following is a list of items that you must-have for the washing process:

The above are the mandatorily required stuff. You may also have the following optional items to make the entire process easier, convenient, and better:

Step by Step Guide to Wash your Tennis Shoes with Care

Video Credit: DIYholic

The steps mentioned below for washing tennis shoes are required to be followed in the given order. If you follow these steps as it is then it is guaranteed that your shoes will get thoroughly cleaned with no damage caused to the stuff of the footwear.

Laces Removal All tennis shoes come with laces so you need to remove them first to get access to the footwear for deep cleaning. Once you have removed the laces then it is recommended to put those laces into the mesh-type laundry bag. This would help you a great deal so that your laces don’t get tangled in storage or during their separate wash. You must inspect your laces in every wash. If they are rough and frayed then just replace them with a new set. If they are OK, then you could either wash it separately or put that mesh bag with laces to be washed with your shoes that we will be mentioning later here. 

#1, Removal of Excess Dirt

There is no point in tossing your shoes right away in the machine unless you are done with pre-cleaning. For this purpose, you need to remove the excess dirt on your shoes. This is most particularly the case with the sole of the shoes where debris and dirt get caught.

For this purpose, you need to have a stiff brush to treat the caught dirt in the outsoles of the footwear. If you see any dirt caught on the fabric of the footwear then make sure you use a cleaning brush with soft bristles or otherwise, the stuff could get ruined. This is also the step to inspect your shoes for any damage. If there are open stitches or you see any opened glue then go for the repair of the shoe first before you could proceed with the washing.

#2, Cleaning the Insoles of the Shoes

The insoles of your shoes need to be removed before washing your shoes. They need to be treated and cleaned separately. You need to wipe the insoles with a clean cloth that is dipped in a cleaning solution.

The cleaning solution is very easy to make where you need to add 1 tablespoon of baking soda into 1 cup of warm water. Once you are done treating your insoles then set them aside for air drying on their own. You can move on with the next steps to complete the washing of your tennis shoes.  

However, it is important to mention here about some different aspects of cleaning the insoles here. If they are stink then you must treat them with baking soda which would absorb the unpleasant odor of the insoles, which is a quite natural thing with footwear. Baking soda could also absorb the moisture from the insoles which could result in smelly insoles. 

This is a method that you could refer to much frequently even if you are not required to do the entire washing process of your footwear. This is especially useful if you experience smelly shoes on regular basis after your game of tennis. Using baking soda is important also when the exterior fabric of your shoes has rigid stain marks. Baking soda could easily clean it by using the advised procedure with the insoles. 

#3, Adding in Towels to the Washing Machine

This is a key step where towels are known to act as scrubbers for removing any of the exterior or residue soil in the wash cycle. It will also remove the squeaking which you may hear otherwise when the soles rub against the drum of the machine. The towel in the machine should be of similar color to the shoes or they could just be white so that their color doesn’t get on your shoes. It will protect your shoes during the machine wash and it will help with better cleaning as well. 

#4, Setting Up Shoes for Washing

You may go with either hand-wash or machine wash approaches for tennis footwear. It is highly advised that you follow the washing instructions that are provided by the manufacturer of your footwear. Acting anything not following the given instructions could ruin your shoes. Generally, tennis shoes are safe for machine washing. You can remove the loose dirt by rinsing the outsole of the footwear with cool water. Next, put your shoes inside a mesh bag and toss them in the washing machine.

#5, Setting Up the Washing Machine

The tennis shoes require a specific washing machine requirement and compatible detergent to be used. The detergent that you must use here should be the heavy-duty one. The detergent should be compatible with the fabric of the shoes. The tide or Persil type detergents are the most recommended ones here. If you have doubts then you can have a second opinion and don’t just go with your instinct. The water temperature inside the washing machine should be warm. The recommended cycle type to be used must be the regular one. Make sure that you don’t over-try anything with the settings here. You must stick to the basics given.  

#6, Add in your Shoes in the Washing Machine

 Once you have ensured everything as mentioned above then you can simply toss the footwear in the machine and start it. Just to reiterate, your shoes need to be in a mesh bag and with towels in the machine. If your washing machine comes with a flexible speed option then go with the lower setting. This would inhibit the washing machine from getting unbalanced. You may consider going for an extra washing machine cycle if you feel that the dirt is still not gone properly. 

#7, Drying Shoes after Washing

Once the shoes have been washed in the washing machine thoroughly then you can remove them from the washer. You need to shake it a bit so that the residual water from the footwear could drip away easily. It should be placed next on a clean and dry shoe rack. The drying rack must be placed in an ideal spot that is excessively well ventilated as well. The idea here is to let the shoe air dry easily and as quickly as possible.

It is also desirable to stuff the inside of your shoes with white tissue paper from the white cotton towels. This would prevent any possible chances of color transfer. On top of that, this would also help the shoes to retain their shape. Make sure that you must never use newspaper instead of the recommended white cotton or paper towels. The newspaper ink is known for transferring very quickly which would ruin the entire washing process, and most importantly your shoes.

#8, Using Air Dryer

 If you are in rush and don’t have the time for air drying your shoes then you may use an air dryer for the purpose as well. However, there is nothing like air-drying your shoes which remains the most optimal method of drying your tennis shoes. But, if you follow the instructions for effective use of the machine dryer then there is no harm in it. For drying your shoes in a machine dryer, make sure that you set the dryer cycle on air-only. Make sure that you never make use of the hot setting of the dryer ever. The high heat could easily warp your footwear. It may also melt the glue and tear the footwear apart. This is the glue that the manufacturer must have used during the manufacturing of your footwear. 

#9, Polishing your Footwear

When your shoes are entirely dried up after wash then you may think about polishing to make them look as good as a new pair. You may choose white, black or any polish as per the color of your shoes. Make sure that you choose the polish which is specifically made for the shoes and it must be compatible with the stuff of your footwear. These polishes are very frequently available in the market which is compatible with tennis shoes or sneakers etc. Applying this polish would go on to touch up any possible scuffs on your footwear and more specifically on the leather or mesh material that your shoes have.

Once you are done with polishing then you may think about applying the conditioner to the shoes as well. This conditioner stuff is desirable for keeping the exterior of your shoes neat and clean. On top of that, it also prevents the stuff of your shoes from cracking as well. In the case of the canvas shoes, the protective spray used for the fabric would aid in repelling the dirt as well. Furthermore, the conditioner would prevent any stains from getting deeply imprinted on your footwear.

Once you are done with all the above steps then you can reinsert the insoles in your shoes which must have been dried up by now. The same should be done with your cleaned and washes shoelaces which would bring your shoes back in order. If you have washed your shoes at the end of your tennis season and are not looking to use them again anytime soon, then they must be properly stored. They must be packed in a proper shoebox. Cleaning is pivotal before storing your shoes even, let alone using them on regular basis. You have done well if you have followed all the instructions regarding the shoe washing as mentioned above. 


Washing your tennis shoes is a pivotal activity if you want to enhance your life and you are expecting to look smart with your footwear all the time. This could be done easily by following some basic steps that require specific tools and materials to be used which are applicable for washing the tennis shoes. This tennis shoe washing could take time so you need to plan it accordingly on your off day when you are not looking to use your shoes.

The only time taken is in air drying them which also has an alternative of using the machine dryer if you are having that facility at home. The instructions shared above are tried and tested and they ensure that the integrity of your footwear remains intact while the shoes get thoroughly cleaned. Lastly, you must ensure about washing your shoes even if you want to keep them in storage.

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