Summary: Tennis shoes are a staple in many people’s wardrobes. They are comfortable, versatile, and perfect for various activities. However, with frequent use, they can quickly become dirty and smelly, especially if you wear them for sports. So, how do you keep your tennis shoes looking and smelling fresh? Here’s the ultimate guide on how to wash tennis shoes.

Why Is It Important to Clean Your Tennis Shoes?

Cleaning your tennis shoes is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to maintain their overall appearance. Dirty shoes can look unsightly and unprofessional, which can impact your confidence on the court. Secondly, cleaning your tennis shoes helps to extend their lifespan. Dirt and grime can accumulate in the shoes, which can cause them to deteriorate over time. This can lead to a loss of cushioning and support, which can affect your performance and even lead to injuries. Finally, regular cleaning can help prevent the buildup of bacteria and fungi that can cause bad odors and foot infections.

How Often Should You Clean Your Tennis Shoes?

The frequency of cleaning your tennis shoes depends on how often you play and the condition of your shoes. If you play frequently and your shoes are exposed to dirt, mud, and sweat, it’s recommended to clean them after every use. However, if you only play occasionally, you can clean them every few weeks or as needed. It’s essential to keep an eye on the condition of your shoes and clean them when they start to look dirty or smell bad.

Read More: Sneakers vs Tennis Shoes: A Comprehensive Comparison

How to Clean Your Tennis Shoes

Step 1: Remove Dirt and Debris

Before washing your tennis shoes, it’s important to remove any excess dirt and debris. This will prevent the dirt from embedding itself deeper into the fabric during the washing process, which can damage the material and make it harder to clean.

Here’s how to remove dirt and debris from your tennis shoes:

  1. Use a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush to gently scrub the soles and sides of the shoes. This will help loosen any dirt and debris that is stuck to the shoes.
  2. Use a dry cloth or paper towel to wipe away any loose dirt and debris.
  3. For stubborn dirt and stains, you can use a mixture of mild soap and warm water to clean the affected areas. Apply the mixture with a soft-bristled brush and gently scrub the area. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with water and dry the area with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Once you’ve removed as much dirt and debris as possible, you can move on to the next step in the cleaning process.

Step 2: Pre-treat Stains

If your tennis shoes have stubborn stains, you may need to pre-treat them before washing. Here are some tips on how to pre-treat stains on your tennis shoes:

  1. Identify the type of stain: Different stains require different pre-treatment methods. For example, grass stains can be pre-treated with a mixture of water and white vinegar, while oil-based stains may require a pre-treatment with dish soap.
  2. Apply the pre-treatment solution: Once you’ve identified the type of stain, apply the pre-treatment solution to the affected area of the shoe. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the stain.
  3. Let the pre-treatment solution sit: Depending on the type of stain and the pre-treatment solution used, you may need to let the solution sit on the stain for a certain amount of time. Check the label of the pre-treatment solution for instructions.
  4. Rinse the pre-treated area: After letting the pre-treatment solution sit, rinse the affected area of the shoe with cold water to remove the pre-treatment solution and the stain.

Note: It’s important to avoid using hot water when pre-treating stains, as this can cause the stain to set in and become more difficult to remove.

By pre-treating stains before washing your tennis shoes, you can increase the chances of removing stubborn stains and ensure your shoes look their best.

Step 3: Choose the Right Washing Method

Now that you have removed the dirt and pre-treated any stains, it’s time to wash your tennis shoes. The washing method you choose will depend on the materials of your shoes and the degree of cleaning they need.

Here are some options to consider:

  1. Handwashing: If your tennis shoes are made of delicate materials, such as mesh or knit, or if they have intricate details that may get damaged in the washing machine, handwashing is the way to go. Fill a basin with warm water and a small amount of mild detergent. Use a soft-bristled brush or a clean cloth to scrub the shoes gently, paying extra attention to any stained areas. Rinse thoroughly with cool water.
  2. Washing machine: If your tennis shoes are made of sturdy materials, such as leather or synthetic leather, and they have no intricate details that may get damaged in the washing machine, you can use this method. First, remove the laces and any inserts from the shoes. Place the shoes in a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase to protect them from getting tossed around too much. Add a small amount of mild detergent to the washing machine, and set it to a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using fabric softener or bleach, as they can damage the shoes. Once the cycle is complete, remove the shoes from the washing machine and let them air dry.
  3. Spot cleaning: If your tennis shoes have only a few dirty spots, you can spot clean them instead of washing the entire shoe. Use a clean cloth dipped in warm water and mild detergent to gently scrub the stained areas. Rinse with cool water and let air dry.
  4. Dry cleaning: If your tennis shoes are made of delicate materials, such as suede or nubuck, you should take them to a professional cleaner. Dry cleaning is the best option for these materials as it uses a solvent instead of water to clean the shoes.

Remember to always check the care label on your tennis shoes before washing them, as it may have specific instructions on how to clean them. Also, avoid using a dryer to dry your tennis shoes as the high heat can damage the shoes. Instead, stuff them with newspaper or a towel and let them air dry in a well-ventilated area.

Step 4: Air-dry Your Tennis Shoes

After washing your tennis shoes, it’s important to let them air-dry completely before wearing them again. Here are some tips for air-drying your tennis shoes:

  1. Remove any excess water: Use a dry towel to gently press and remove any excess water from the shoes. Avoid wringing or twisting the shoes, as this can damage the shape and structure.
  2. Stuff the shoes: Stuff the shoes with paper towels or clean, dry rags to help them retain their shape and absorb excess moisture.
  3. Choose a well-ventilated area: Place your shoes in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Direct sunlight or heat can cause the shoes to shrink or become discolored.
  4. Allow time to dry: Depending on the level of dampness, it can take several hours or even a full day for tennis shoes to air-dry completely. Be patient and resist the urge to wear them until they are completely dry.
  5. Avoid using a dryer: Never use a dryer or other heat source to dry your tennis shoes. The high heat can cause the shoes to warp or shrink, ruining their fit and comfort.

By following these tips, you can properly air-dry your tennis shoes and help them last longer.

Tips for Maintaining Your Tennis Shoes

  1. Store your tennis shoes in a cool, dry place when you’re not using them.
  2. Use shoe trees or stuff them with crumpled paper to help them maintain their shape.
  3. Avoid exposing your shoes to extreme heat or direct sunlight, as this can cause the materials to deteriorate.
  4. Don’t put your tennis shoes in the washing machine, as this can damage the materials and cause them to lose their shape and support.
  5. Use a specialized shoe cleaner or waterproofing spray to protect your shoes from dirt and moisture.

Read More: How to Clean White Sneaker Soles [9 Amazing Ways]


Washing your tennis shoes is an essential part of their care and maintenance. By following these steps, you can ensure that your shoes stay clean and fresh, while also prolonging their lifespan. Remember to remove dirt and debris, pre-treat stains, choose the right washing method, and air-dry your shoes. With these tips in mind, you can keep your tennis shoes looking and feeling their best for your next game on the court.


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