How to Wash Tennis Shoes by Hand and in the Washing Machine

Jennifer L. Betts
Shoe cleaning

Cleaning would be easier if everything could just be thrown in the washer. Thankfully, cleaning your shoes can be just that if you have the right kind. Learn the different methods for cleaning tennis shoes and when you can wash your sneakers in the washer.

Hand Washing Tennis Shoes

Did you child step in a mud puddle with their new sneakers? Did you spill mustard on favorite pair of kicks? There comes a time when you need to give your shoe a bath.

How to Wash Running Shoes

Running shoes are typically made of a mesh skin and a rubber or foam sole. This makes them perfect for running but a little cumbersome when it comes time to clean them. To wash your running shoes, grab:

  • Toothbrush
  • Laundry detergent
  • Clothes
  • Sink or bowl
  • Sponge

Armed with your ingredients in hand, you're going to unlace your shoes. Next, you'll follow these washing steps:

  1. For a foam sole, use water on the toothbrush to scrub any stains.
  2. Wipe the water away with the cloth. Some areas might take a bit more scrubbing then others.
  3. Mix about a teapsoon of laundry detergent in two cups of water.
  4. Swirl it around and dip your toothbrush in.
  5. Scrub the fabric and work your way down to the rubber sole, scrubbing away the stains. (You want to avoid using the detergent on the foam sole.)
  6. Dip your sponge in the water and wipe away all the suds.
  7. Use the cloth to dry.
  8. To refresh the laces, put them in a delicates bag and throw them in the wash.
Woman tying shoelaces

Cleaning Light Colored or White Sneakers

White sneakers were all the rage in the 80s, and it's a trend that has come back into style. Make sure you get those white Jordans pristine by using the right tools.

  • Vinegar or bleach
  • White cloth
  • Toothbrush

You are going to use either vinegar or bleach for this method. If you opt for bleach, you'll mix one part bleach with about five parts water. With your mixture in hand:

  1. Dip the toothbrush into the mixture or vinegar.
  2. Scrub the shoes, paying special attention to the heavily soiled areas.
  3. Rinse with warm water.
  4. Use the cloth to dry.
  5. If the shoes are canvas or nylon, you can even opt to throw them in the washer.
White Shoes

Machine Washing Tennis Shoes

Luckily, canvas and nylon sneakers can go in the washing machine, making cleaning a breeze. However, prior to just throwing them in, you're going to want to give those soles a little scrub. What you'll need is:

  • Baking soda
  • Toothbrush
  • Small bowl
  • Cloth

Grab your shoes and remove the laces. You only need to scrub the soles, unless there are areas that need a bit of pre-treating.

  1. Mix equal parts baking soda and water to create a paste.
  2. Dip the toothbrush in the paste.
  3. Scrub the sole to remove any stains.
  4. Give cloth stains a little scrub as well.
  5. Remove the liners from inside of the shoes.
  6. Throw the shoes in a mesh bag or even a pillowcase and don't forget to add the laces.
  7. Put the shoes in the washer using a mild detergent.

If you are not a fan of the banging noise in the washer machine, you can throw your shoes in with a load of like colors or towels. This will give the washer a bit of padding. Pull them out and your shoes are ready for drying.

Putting sneakers into washing machine

Washing vs Stain Treating Shoes

Your shoes aren't always going to need a complete cleaning. Sometimes, you can use a bit of vinegar on a cotton ball to give them a little refreshing or to remove small stains. Whether you spot clean or wash is a matter of knowing what to look for:

  • Small stains need spot treatment, while large mud stains will require a wash.
  • A spill on a shoe will require stain treatment since you don't want it to spread by throwing them in the washer.
  • Multiple small stains from wear would also be easier to wash.
  • Shoes that are looking dingy or yellowed will benefit from washing rather than stain treatment.

Cleaning Your Tennis Shoes

Shoes are meant to get dirty. That is literally their purpose. Make sure that your shoes don't get too dirty by knowing when and how to clean them properly. Now grab those dirty sneakers and give these cleaning hacks a try.

How to Wash Tennis Shoes by Hand and in the Washing Machine