How to Clean Basketball Shoes

Basketball shoes are an important investment. Not only do they cost quite a bit of money, but keeping them in tip-top shape allows you to play at the top of your game.

Dirty shoes don’t just look off, they also affect how you play. Extra grime cuts down on traction, which then causes you to slip and slide around the court. Clean sneakers come with no such issues.

Shoe maintenance is vital, but it is not as easy as you might think. The following guide covers the process, gives key pointers, and uses extra tips to shine light on what it takes to keep your footwear in tip-top shape.

All About the Upkeep

There are many parts to a basketball shoe, and they all need to be washed during a thorough clean.

First, check the soles for any loose rocks or similar small debris. This won’t be a big concern for people who play indoors, but it is something to be aware of during the cleaning process. Use a toothpick to go inside the grooves and knock anything out that doesn’t belong.

Next, take a soft brush dipped in soapy water and gently scrub off any dirt build-up on the harder parts of the shoe. The bottom areas tend to have the most grime. That is where your focus should be.
Once that’s done, use a damp cloth to gently wipe down the sides of the shoe. Scrub any tough stains, but do your best to not overwork the softer material. If you have white shoes, adding a bit of toothpaste to the cloth can give them extra shine.

After the cleaning process, lightly rinse down the shoe to get rid of any leftover suds. Then, drop the laces/insoles in the washing machine and set the rest of the shoe outside to properly air dry.

The Importance of Proper Storage

Storing your shoes is a big part of keeping them clean. Most players simply throw their footwear into their bag or the back of the car as soon as they’re done playing. That may not seem like a big deal, but it puts pressure on the seams, which can cause your shoes to lose their shape.

Always do your best to keep your sneakers in an open room or outdoor space with a lot of airflow after you finish on the court. That will give them time to dry out in-between sessions and keep them fresh. A spritz of shoe deodorizer goes a long way here as well.

Use as Directed

Though it may be tempting, you should never wear your shoes outside if you can avoid it. While some models are dual-use, most indoor basketball shoes are specifically made for the hardwood.

Wearing your shoes outside, even if you’re just going for a stroll, raises the chances that they will get grimy or dirty. Such use also causes more general wear because you’re using them on hard, unforgiving surfaces like asphalt or concrete.

If you want your shoes to last it is best to put them on right before getting on the court. Even wearing them to the gym creates unnecessary stress on the sneakers.

Quick Tips: What Not to Do

The above steps will keep your shoes clean for years. However, there are a few things that, while they seem like good ideas, you must avoid as well.

1. Never put your footwear in the washing machine or the dryer. Though a quick spin might be tempting, it can cause lasting damage to the soles and seams. Repeated drying sessions are especially detrimental.

2. In addition, always air dry your shoes when possible. Using vents, heaters, or even hair dryers can warp the rubber in the soles. This may not be something you notice right away, but it can severely lower your shoe’s longevity.

3. It is also important to avoid cleaning your shoes with scented laundry detergent, rubbing alcohol, and bleach. Such substances can leave behind greasy residue, and some stronger brands may even crack the soles.

Eco-friendly laundry detergent is fine on your sneakers, but more traditional options do more harm than good.

A Long Term Investment

Basketball shoes are a player’s best friend, and they need to be handled with care. It is easy to get complacent with shoe care, especially if you play a lot, but constant upkeep goes a long way.

You should clean your shoes about once a month, but that can be more or less depending on how often you play and what surfaces you play on. Just remember there is more to the process than a simple wash. It is the extra steps, such as storage and drying methods, that keep your favorite pair in great shape.

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