How to Clean Tennis Shoes: Easy Steps to Clean Sneakers

How to Clean Tennis Shoes: Easy Steps to Clean Sneakers

Do you have a pair of shoes specifically used for those early morning runs, tennis games, or intense workout sessions? Maybe it's your beloved Nike running shoes or those trendy mesh shoes that are now begging for a good cleaning.

In this guide, you'll learn how to clean your sneakers effectively. You don't need to worry about ruining your favorite pair, as we have quick and easy steps to spot clean and maintain even the most delicate materials.

Discover how to keep your shoes looking as good as new, without causing any damage.

So if you're interested in preserving those kicks and learning how to clean your shoes without causing harm, then keep reading.

Step-by-Step Guide

Things You Need to Get Started

Before anything else, preparing all necessary items is imperative. Here's what you'll need:

  • Old toothbrush
  • Bowl of warm water
  • Mild soap or detergent (preferably laundry detergent)
  • Clean cloth
  • Baking soda (optional)

Remove the Laces

First things first, take out the laces from your shoes. This step ensures that you can clean every nook and cranny of your shoes without any hindrance. If the laces are soiled, you can put them in a mesh laundry bag and wash them in the washing machine or soak them in soapy water.

Brush off Excess Dirt and Debris

After removing the laces, use a dry clean toothbrush or old toothbrush to gently scrub off the grime and dirt that are clinging to your shoes. Brushing before washing prevents the loose debris from becoming wet and sticking to the fabric, making it difficult to clean later on.

Make sure to reach all crevices without damaging any delicate material. This step ensures you can thoroughly clean your shoes in the next steps, without having to deal with stubborn, dried-on dirt.

cleaning brushes

If you want a more effective brushing, check out our selection of sneaker-cleaning brushes designed specifically for shoe cleaning.

Mix Soap or Detergent with Warm Water

The next step would be preparing your cleaning solution. In a bowl, combine warm water with a few drops of mild dish soap. If the shoes are particularly dirty, you can add a little more soap, but remember not to make the solution too strong.

Dish soap is gentle on fabrics but strong enough to deal with stubborn stains. Stir the solution until it forms a soapy mixture. This solution will be your primary cleaning agent to bring back the sparkle in your sneakers.

Always test a small area first to ensure the detergent won't damage your shoes.

Clean the Shoes

Now, it's time to get down to business. Dip a clean toothbrush into the soapy mixture and start scrubbing the midsole of your clean sneakers. The midsole often accumulates a lot of grime, so make sure to brush thoroughly. Move on to the soles of your shoes next. The treads on the soles can trap a lot of dirt, so pay extra attention to these areas. Remember, the goal is to clean every part of the shoes, not just the parts that are visible.

Once you have cleaned the midsole and the soles with a clean toothbrush, give your shoes a good rinse. Be careful not to soak the shoes, as this could damage certain materials. Instead, use a damp cloth to gently remove the soap.

Air Dry the Shoes

Air drying is an important part of cleaning tennis shoes. Let the shoes dry completely to prevent any moisture-related damage. Place them in an area away from a direct heat source, as this can warp the materials and compromise their fit.

To preserve the shape of your shoes, stuff them with a clean towel. This will soak up any extra moisture and help the shoes maintain their form as they dry. Allow ample time for the shoes to dry before wearing them again to ensure comfort and longevity.

Polish and Protect

Depending on the materials used in your shoes, it may be beneficial to finish with a polish or protector. Leather shoes can benefit from a light coat of shoe polish, while suede shoes may require a specialized suede protector.

Always check the manufacturer's instructions before applying any sort of polish or protector to ensure that it won't damage the material. These extra steps will not only make your shoes look good as new, but also increase their lifespan.

water resistant spray

For all-in-one protection for your sneakers, check out Stone and Clark 5.29oz Water & Stain Resistant Shoe Spray.

Can You Wash Tennis Shoes in the Washing Machine?

washing machine wash

If your tennis shoes are made from canvas, nylon, cotton, or polyester materials, you can safely toss them into the washing machine. Remember to put them in a mesh laundry bag and use a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using bleach and harsh detergents to protect the color and fabric integrity of your shoes.

Here's an easy guide to washing your tennis shoes in the washing machine:

  1. Remove the insoles: Before washing your shoes, take out the insoles. This allows for a more thorough cleaning and prevents them from soaking up too much water.
  2. Put the shoes in a mesh bag: To prevent your shoes from banging around in the washing machine and causing damage, place them inside a mesh laundry bag.
  3. Select a gentle cycle: Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle to protect your shoes from rigorous agitation.
  4. Use mild detergent: Avoid harsh, color-fading chemicals by using a mild detergent to clean shoes.
  5. Add shoes to the wash: Place the mesh bag with your shoes into the washing machine.
  6. Air dry your shoes: After the cycle is finished, remove the shoes from the mesh bag and let them air dry naturally. Avoid using a dryer as the intense heat can warp the shoes and damage the material.
  7. Replace the insoles: Once the shoes are dry, put the insoles back in. Your clean shoes are now ready for your next workout or game!

Additional Tips When Cleaning Shoes With Different Materials

Since there are different materials used in making sneakers, the cleaning methods can differ significantly.

Cleaning Suede Shoes

If you have a new pair of sneakers made from suede, using a suede brush and an eraser can be an effective way to keep them clean. Gently brush off any dirt or stains with the suede brush. For stubborn stains, you can use the eraser. Remember, suede is delicate, so handle your shoes with care.

Cleaning White Sneakers

Keeping your clean white sneakers in their original pristine condition can be a challenge. However, using a solution of warm water, mild soap, and a little bit of white vinegar can help remove stains and restore their whiteness. Apply the solution with a toothbrush, gently scrubbing the surfaces until clean. Always remember to air dry your shoes after cleaning to preserve their shape and condition.

Cleaning Canvas Sneakers

Canvas shoes are usually easier to clean than other materials. A simple mixture of warm water and mild soap can do the trick. Canvas material can withstand rigorous brushing, but be sure to rinse and air dry your shoes properly afterwards. 

Maintenance and Care

White shoes often show dirt and yellowing more than darker colored shoes. Hence, they might require a more frequent cleaning schedule. Remember, your sneakers over time so make sure to follow proper cleaning procedures to ensure your shoes still look as good as new even after several uses.

sneaker cleaning kit

Make sure to check out Stone and Clark's Sneaker Cleaning Kit.


In conclusion, proper maintenance can significantly extend the life of your new pair of shoes. Whether you're sporting sleek suede, classic canvas, or nimble knit shoes, every style has its cleaning method.

Remember to gently clean with a damp sponge to remove any residue, not forgetting the inside and laces. Regularly cleaning your shoes every few weeks can help prevent build-up and keep your kicks looking as fresh as the day you bought them.

With this guide, you can keep your tennis shoes in tip-top condition, ready for any challenge that comes your way.

12PC Leather Shoe Shine & Care Kit for Men & Women

3.5 oz Mink Oil Leather Care Kit with Applicator

Subscribe Us
Subscribe to our newsletter and receive a selection of cool articles every weeks