How To Clean Football Cleats: Step By Step Guide

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It's important to properly maintain your football cleats to maximise their performance on the field, but figuring out how to clean them isn't always so straightforward.

Fortunately, we've put together a step-by-step guide to talk you through the process, including a few dos and don'ts along the way to ensure your sports footwear stays in great condition.

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So, grab your best football cleats and follow our top tips to help you prepare them so they're ready for your next game.

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How To Clean Football Cleats?

When it comes to maintaining football cleats, there is a lot of cross-over with cleaning soccer boots; however, there are a few minor differences to take into account along the way.

As a result, the following is what we believe to be the best method of cleaning football cleats made from synthetic materials.

What You'll Need:

  • Bowl
  • Mild soap
  • Soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush
  • Shoe cleaner
  • Wipes
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Old newspaper
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Step 1: The cleaning process should start as soon as you leave the field. Remove your cleats before you walk on any hard surfaces and bang the soles together to remove loose chunks of dirt before they dry.

adidas' cleaning setup for cleaning football cleats featuring a brush, toothbrush, and a bowl of water.
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Credit: adidas

Step 2: To completely clean your cleats, remove the laces and soak them in a bowl of warm water mixed with mild soap as you continue with the rest of the steps.

Top Tip: To tackle the odor, you can remove the insoles and run them through a cold wash inside a pillow.

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adidas football cleat insoles product image of pink and blue insoles.
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Credit: adidas

Step 3: With most of the excess dirt removed, dip a soft-bristled brush into another mix of warm water and shoe cleaner, like this Angelus Easy Cleaner, and begin working it over the uppers in a circular motion before tackling the sole plates.

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

Top Tip: An old toothbrush works well for cleaning around the studs and any hard-to-reach areas. If you have metal studs, we'd recommend removing them completely and cleaning them separately.

Step 4: Once the ingrained dirt has been removed, you can use a baby wipe to mop away any residue, and a microfibre cloth to dry off.

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Step 5: Stuff the cleats with newspaper and leave them to dry naturally at room temperature next to the laces and insoles.

Step 6: When your cleats are bone dry, remove the newspaper, relace them, reinsert the insoles, and reattach the studs if applicable so they're ready to pack in your best gym bag for game day.

What About Other Materials?

Most cleats are made from a synthetic material these days; however, there are some that utilise leather or knitted fabric in their construction.

Don't worry though, we've got a few top tips for you if you do encounter an alternative material in the cleaning process.

Knitted

Material such as adidas's Primeknit or Nike's Flyknit are becoming increasingly more common among football cleats; however, they're still relatively easy to clean using the aforementioned method.

The main difference is they may take a little longer to dry as the water soaks into the fabric as seen on these Nike Alpha Menace Elite 2s.

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Nike product image of a pair of high-top black cleats.
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Credit: Eastbay Blog

Using slightly less water should help prevent increased water retention, and avoid using harsh soaps in the cleaning process as the chemicals might wear away any coating or finish applied to the uppers.

For more information on cleaning knitted material, check out our guide to cleaning mesh and running shoes which are both typically made from knitted fabric.

Leather

In many respects, leather cleats are easier to clean than synthetic ones as the material should be slightly tougher so you can press a little harder with your brush.

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Nike product image of a black leather cleat with synthetic white details.
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Credit: Nike

It might even be a good idea to apply a polish or oil to your leather cleats for some extra shine, although this isn't essential.

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The cleaning method is essentially the same, but make sure you avoid using any hard or wired brushes during the process as either of these can scratch the surfaces of your cleats.

For more information, check out our guide to cleaning leather shoes right here.

What Should You Avoid Doing When Cleaning Football Cleats?

It's important to clean your football cleats carefully to prevent yourself from causing any irreversible damage.

As mentioned in our guide to cleaning running shoes, we'd suggest you avoid placing your cleats in a washing machine (except when cleaning the insoles) or a tumble dryer.

Unless the label says otherwise, most cleats aren't machine washable, so continually cleaning them this way will eventually cause them to become damaged.

We'd also recommend avoiding any abrasive household cleaners, particularly those containing bleach, as this can dry out the surfaces and even stain your cleats in some cases.

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Furthermore, you shouldn't really use wire brushes for cleaning, particularly with leather cleats, as the harder bristles can cause you to scratch the surfaces as previously mentioned.

Finally, avoid drying your cleats in any form of direct heat because you can melt the glue and deform the shape of your cleats this way.

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