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How To Clean Basketball Shoes: Step By Step Guide

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Whether you're a sneaker fan or simply a fan of the sport itself, you've probably wondered what the best technique is to clean basketball shoes at one stage or another.

Fortunately, we've put together a step-by-step guide to talk you through what we believe to be one of the simplest and most effective methods to get your best basketball sneakers looking like new again.

This is particularly important because any dirt can on your shoes can reduce grip and lead to you slipping across the court which, in turn, may result in injury.

So grab your best Jordan 1s, or any other basketball shoes you have, and follow our top tips right here.

How To Clean Basketball Shoes

As mentioned, the following technique is what we believe to be the most effective method of cleaning basketball shoes; however, there is a slight issue in that not all sneakers are made from the same material.

Don't worry though, because we'll cover a few alternative materials later on, but first, we'll focus on cleaning synthetics and leather sneakers right here.

What You'll Need:

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

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.

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

adidas product image removing stones from basketball shoe soles.
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Credit: adidas

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 whilst 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.

Angelus Easy Cleaner product image of a clear bottle containing light green shoe cleaner.
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Credit: Angelus

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.

Top Tip: 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 to 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.

adidas product image on how to clean a red and blue pair of basketball shoes.
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Credit: adidas

Step 7: We'd recommend adding a protective spray like Crep Protect to your sneakers to minimise 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.

What About Other Materials?

Most modern-day basketball shoes are made from synthetic materials and, on occasion, leather.

However, there are a few instances where basketball shoes feature an alternative material like suede. As a result, here are some of our top tips if you encounter other materials.


Suede is a notoriously difficult material to clean. However, as mentioned in our guide to cleaning suede shoes, it's not impossible.

Air Jordan 1 "Hyper Royal" product image of a white and light blue suede pair of sneakers.
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Credit: Nike

Nike recommends using a suede brush or towel to clean away surface debris, working with the material rather than going against the grain.

You can also use a suede eraser, like this Kiwi eraser, to rub away any stubborn marks on the surface of your shoes as well.


Canvas is not often used to construct basketball shoes; however, it is the material of choice for one of the best basketball shoes from the past Converses.

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star product image of a black canvas shoe with white details.
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Credit: Converse

Thankfully, cotton canvas is a little easier to clean than suede as you can pretty much just use the same technique as leather and synthetics.

We'd recommend using a little less water during the cleaning process though because canvas can take longer to dry.

Things To Avoid Doing When Cleaning Basketball Shoes

According to adidas, the number one thing to avoid doing when cleaning your basketball shoes is to stay away from using a washing machine or dryer.

The intensity of the spin, water, and heat can damage the adhesives which can lead to cracking and deformation of shape.

We'd also advise against placing your shoes next to vents or heaters, or use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. High heat can warp rubber, much like leaving your sneakers to dry in the sun can.

Although some sites will recommend it, we'd suggest you never use any rubbing alcohol, bleach, scented laundry detergent, or fabric softeners when cleaning. These can dry out and crack your sneakers and can sometimes leave a greasy residue.

Finally, avoid using wired brushes or rough sponges because they can leave permanent scratches on the surface of your shoes.

Read More: Best Places To Buy Sneakers - Our Top Picks

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