How to Wash Tennis Shoes: A Step-by-Step Guide for Fresh and Clean Kicks

The care and cleaning of tennis shoes will ensure better performance on the court and prevent injuries, infections, or bad odors

Keeping tennis shoes clean is recommended for two reasons: to maintain performance in the game and to avoid possible infections or foot injuries.

First, regarding performance, keeping tennis shoes clean will provide greater grip or sliding on the court. Dirty soles can hinder quick and precise movements. In turn, the grooves of the sole can accumulate dirt or dust, leading to poor balance or stability for the player.

Photo by Kristian Egelund on Unsplash

On the other hand, hygiene is fundamental for injury prevention. The accumulation of sweat inside the shoe can result in bad odor, fungal infections, or skin injuries. Keeping the inside of the shoes clean will prevent these complications. Here is a brief guide to maintaining your shoes like the first day.

Preparing tennis shoes for washing

  • First, removing dirt and soil with a soft brush or dry cloth is essential before washing.
  • Second, remove the laces and insoles and wash them separately by hand or in the washing machine. If necessary, you can replace them with new ones.
  • Third, check the material of the shoes and determine the most appropriate method: by hand or machine. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Hand-washing tennis shoes 

Dirty tennis shoes

Hand washing may be the most feasible option if the shoes are made of more delicate or unsuitable materials for the washing machine. The washing process is straightforward. Follow these steps:

  1. Remove the laces and insoles from the tennis shoes and wash them separately or replace them with new ones, if necessary.
  2. Mix a detergent or shoe cleaner with warm water in a container.
  3. Dip the soft brush or cloth in the water with the detergent and gently rub the tennis shoes.
  4. Rinse the tennis shoes with clean water until there is no trace of detergent.
  5. Dry the tennis shoes with a towel to remove excess water.
  6. Place the tennis shoes in a cool and well-ventilated place to air dry. Avoid direct exposure to sunlight as it can damage the shoe materials.

Machine washing tennis shoes 

If, on the other hand, you decide to wash your tennis shoes in the washing machine, I advise you to follow these instructions and precautions to avoid damaging them.

Precautions and considerations to keep in mind: 

  • Remove the laces and insoles from the shoes before washing to avoid tangling and ensure they are properly washed. 
  • Avoid washing shoes with other garments to prevent them from getting damaged or stained. 
  • Use a gentle cycle and cold water to avoid damaging the shoes.

Protect your shoes and your machine: 

  • Use a bag or cover to protect the shoes and prevent them from getting damaged during washing. 
  • Add clean bath towels to cushion the tennis shoes during washing. This will help reduce friction and noise in the washing machine. 
  • Do not add fabric softener to the washing machine, as it can damage the tennis shoes.
Tennis shoes being put inside the washing machine

Drying process: 

  • I do not recommend using a dryer to dry tennis shoes, as this can damage the material and cause them to deform. 
  • After washing, filling the tennis shoes with paper or towels is appropriate to help them maintain their shape while they dry. 
  • Place the tennis shoes in a ventilated area to air dry, and remember that direct exposure to sunlight can damage the shoe materials.

Maintaining your shoes

As we have seen, cleaning tennis shoes is essential. However, maintaining them between washes will also be essential to prolong their lifespan and avoid possible infections and unpleasant odors.

To control bad odors, use odor neutralizers or place dryer sheets inside the shoes when not in use. Additionally, avoid wearing tennis shoes for other activities, which can cause excessive wear and tear and reduce lifespan.

Maintaining your tennis shoes

If your tennis shoes have stains, use a cloth or brush to remove surface stains. You can use some detergent or stain remover if that’s not enough. Ensure not to use too much detergent or apply too much pressure to avoid damaging the material. 

Lastly, it’s recommended to quickly clean your tennis shoes with a damp cloth after each use to prevent dirt and sweat from accumulating.


Is it okay to wash tennis shoes in the washing machine?

Washing tennis shoes in the washing machine is possible if you do it cautiously to avoid damaging the shoes or the washing machine. It’s essential to read the previous recommendations, such as using gentle cycles with cold water or protecting the shoes with a cover. Adding towels for cushioning and avoiding washing the shoes with other clothes is also recommended. The washing machine is not recommended if the shoe material is delicate or contraindicated. Therefore, it’s essential to verify the manufacturer’s indications and care.

How often should I clean my tennis shoes?

The frequency will depend on the amount of use and maintenance given to the shoes. If they’re cleaned and aired regularly, the number of washes will be reduced. If you use them regularly, washing them at least once a week is recommended. If you use them less frequently, you can clean them every two or three weeks.

How to wash shoes in the washing machine without a mesh bag?

If you don’t have a cover to protect your shoes in the washing machine, you can try putting them inside a pillowcase. Tying the pillowcase tightly prevents the shoes from coming out during the wash cycle. It’s also recommended to insert towels to cushion and prevent them from hitting the washing machine wall. However, you can wash tennis shoes in the washing machine without a cover, although it’s not recommended as it can put the shoes or machine at risk.


The care and cleaning of tennis shoes will ensure better performance on the court and prevent injuries, infections, or bad odors. 

  • Remember that not all tennis shoes can be hand or machine washed. Some materials can be damaged by water and detergent, so always check the manufacturer’s care label before starting the cleaning process. 
  • Before washing tennis shoes, I recommend removing the laces and insoles. Wash them separately to ensure proper cleaning and replace them if necessary. 
  • Always check if they can be machine washed and follow the previously described recommendations. 
  • Make sure to select gentle cycles on your washing machine. Avoid using bleach or abrasive cleaning products, as they can damage tennis shoes. 
  • Keep in mind that good maintenance of your tennis shoes will favor and prolong their useful life. Clean them frequently and allow them to refresh and air out in outdoor areas always after use. 
  • Finally, use powder to absorb moisture, sweat, and putrid odors.

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