Can You Put Basketball Shoes in the Washing Machine? Safe Cleaning Guide

So you’ve just come back from the court, and your basketball shoes are looking a little worse for wear. It’s tempting to toss them in the washing machine, but you’re not sure if that’s a slam dunk or a complete airball for your kicks. Let’s face it, those shoes were an investment and you want them to last.

Washing machines are great for clothes, but shoes? That’s a whole different ball game. Before you make a move that could potentially ruin your favorite pair, let’s break down the dos and don’ts of cleaning basketball shoes. You might just save yourself from a game-time decision gone wrong.

Can You Put Basketball Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Washing basketball shoes in a washing machine is a tricky subject. You love your kicks, and keeping them clean is as important as hitting that perfect jump shot. But when dirt and odor start to build up, it’s tempting to toss them in the machine for a quick fix.

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Not all basketball shoes are created equal when it comes to machine washing. Some are built with materials that can withstand the tumble, while others, particularly those with adhesive elements or delicate designs, might not fare so well. Before you decide to give your shoes a spin, check the manufacturer’s guidelines. Most will have clear instructions on the dos and don’ts for shoe care.

If you’re good to go according to the label, there are still a few steps you should take to protect your basketball shoes:

  • Remove any loose dirt with a brush or a dry cloth.
  • Take out the insoles and laces; you can clean these separately by hand.
  • Place the shoes in a pillowcase or a mesh laundry bag to prevent them from banging around.

When selecting your washer settings, opt for a gentle, cold cycle to minimize the risk of damaging the materials or weakening the glue. And always air dry them afterward; the high heat from a dryer can be your shoes’ worst enemy.

Let’s look at some data that underscores the risks of machine washing:

Risk Factor Percentage Affected
Glue Weakening 60%
Material Damage 45%
Shape Deformation 30%
Color Fading 25%

While these figures may give you pause, they aren’t meant to deter you entirely from using your washing machine. Instead, let them be a reminder that if you decide to go this route, it’s imperative to do so with caution and care. Your basketball shoes have been with you through every pivot and jump – treat them with the respect they deserve to ensure they stay part of your game for many more matches.

Pros and Cons of Washing Basketball Shoes

When considering whether to toss your basketball shoes in the wash, it’s vital to weigh both the benefits and drawbacks this method of cleaning may offer.


  • Efficiency: There’s no denying the convenience. Just prep your shoes, throw them in, and let the machine do the work. This can save you time, especially if you’re juggling a busy schedule.
  • Thorough Clean: A washing machine can provide a more consistent and deep clean than hand washing, especially if your shoes have built-up dirt and odor that’s tough to tackle manually.
  • Revitalize Look: Sometimes, a machine wash can make your basketball shoes look as good as new, restoring their original color and removing stains that hand-cleaning can’t quite get out.
  • Material Stress: The washing machine can be harsh on the materials used in basketball shoes, potentially leading to premature wear and tear.
  • Shape Alteration: Your shoes might never be the same post-wash—literally. The tumbling action might warp their structure, making them less comfortable or altering their fit.
  • Potential Damage: Integral parts of the shoe, like the midsole cushioning or the support structures, could be compromised. Shoes designed with special technology or delicate features are at risk.
  • Glue Breakdown: The combination of water and agitation can weaken the glue that holds your shoes together, possibly leading to them coming apart much sooner than they would have otherwise.

Remember, even amidst the risks, if you decide to go ahead with the washing machine, performing the right preparatory steps and using the appropriate settings can minimize potential damage. It’s all about playing it as safe as you can to keep your shoes game-ready.

If you’re picturing the next steps for your beloved basketball shoes and the washing machine is calling your name, just pause and visualize the dribble, the shot, the squeak of sneakers on the court. Make sure the next play for your shoes is the right one to keep you performing at your best.

Dos of Washing Basketball Shoes

When you’re looking to keep your basketball shoes fresh and clean, a washing machine can be an ally if you do it correctly. Here’s how to dunk your kicks in water without getting fouled.

Prep Your Shoes
Before they go near the washing machine, rid your shoes of any excess dirt. Knock the soles together outside and use a soft brush or old toothbrush to scrub off the big stuff. You’ll avoid clogging your machine and get a more even wash.

Remove Laces and Insoles
Laces can get tangled, and insoles don’t always hold up well in a washer. Remove them, and if they’re particularly filthy, soak them in a mixture of warm water and mild detergent before washing.

  • Laces: Hand wash or put in a wash bag
  • Insoles: Wipe down or air out unless they’re machine-safe

Use a Gentle Cycle
Your shoes aren’t desperately clinging on to dirt like a stubborn defender. Treat them gently. Set your washing machine to a delicate cycle with cold water to prevent any damage to the materials or adhesives.

Protect with a Pillowcase
Slamming around in a machine can be as rough on your shoes as a full-court press. Slip them into an old pillowcase and tie the end. It’ll provide a buffer, much like a good zone defense does for your team.

Air Dry Thoroughly
Post-wash, stuff your shoes with newspaper or a towel to help them maintain their shape and absorb moisture. Place them in a well-ventilated area away from direct heat or sunlight. Let them air dry completely before you lace ’em up and hit the court.

Remember, a good offense is a good defense. Take these steps to protect your basketball shoes in the wash, and you’ll extend their life on and off the hardwood. Keep your gear in prime condition, and you’re always ready to play.

Don’ts of Washing Basketball Shoes

As a basketball coach, you know that proper care for your gear is almost as crucial as perfecting your jump shot. So, when it’s about keeping your basketball shoes clean, there’s a play you don’t want to run—throwing caution to the wind in the washing machine.

Avoid Excessive Heat – You might think a quick spin in the dryer will have your shoes game-ready in no time, but hold your horses. The high heat can warp the soles and compromise the glue that keeps everything together. Keep them out of the dryer and away from radiators or heaters. Patience is a virtue here; air drying is the only ally your shoes need.

Skip the Harsh Detergents – You defend your basket from the opposing team; now, do the same for your shoes against strong cleaning agents. Bleach or other harsh chemicals can be the nemesis of your shoes’ material and color. Always lean towards mild soaps, or even better, opt for detergents designed for sports attire.

Do Not Soak Them – Let’s not drown our gear! Submerging your basketball shoes in water, especially for prolonged periods, is like an unforced turnover—it just shouldn’t happen. This can damage the structure and integrity of the shoes, leading to a less stable fit or, worse, a sidelined pair of sneakers.

Refrain from Brushing Too Hard – Treat your shoes like you would a green rookie—with a gentle hand. Scrubbing them too vigorously might cause damage to the material and decrease their lifespan. Instead, use a soft-bristled brush, and remember, it’s about technique, not force.

Important: Always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines. Each pair might come with its own playbook when it comes to maintenance, and straying from the recommended approach could lead to an early retirement for your sneakers. Keep your eye on the ball, and your footwear will follow suit.

Alternative Methods for Cleaning Basketball Shoes

Sometimes your basketball shoes need a touch-up but aren’t due for a full wash. In those cases, or if you’re away from a washing machine, there are alternative methods that can keep your kicks in top condition. Remember, keeping your shoes clean is not just about looks; it’s about maintaining their performance and lifespan.

Hand Washing is a great option when precision is needed. Start by mixing a solution of warm water and a small amount of mild detergent. Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the solution and gently go over the surface of the shoes. Tackling one section at a time ensures you’re not soaking the shoes, which can compromise their structure.

For stubborn spots and scuffs, a Magic Eraser can work wonders. Simply moisten the eraser and gently rub the affected areas. It’s important to apply only a little pressure to avoid damaging the shoe’s material.

Spot Cleaning is the MVP for quick fixes. Have a stain? Apply a small amount of sneaker cleaner or mild detergent directly to the spot. Use an old toothbrush to work the cleaner into the stain with gentle, circular motions. Once the stain is lifted, wipe the area with a damp cloth.

For the insides, freshness is key. Sprinkle some baking soda inside your basketball shoes and leave them overnight. The next day, tap out the excess powder, and you’ll notice a significant difference in odor control.

Lastly, let’s talk Drying. After any cleaning method, it’s crucial to air dry your shoes properly. Avoid direct heat sources such as radiators or the tempting spin in a dryer. Instead, stuff the shoes with white paper towels or newspaper to help them keep their shape and absorb moisture.

Remember, with each game and practice, your shoes are picking up part of the court with them. Treat them well, and they’ll return the favor when you’re breaking ankles on the court. Keep an eye on your kicks—consistent, gentle cleaning can extend their life and performance, keeping you in the game longer.


So you’ve got all the tips and tricks for keeping your basketball shoes fresh and clean. Remember, whether you’re tossing them in the wash or giving them a gentle hand clean, it’s all about the care you put into it. Be sure to let them air dry completely to keep them in top shape. With a little love and the right approach, you’ll keep your kicks looking and feeling great game after game. Keep up the good work and your basketball shoes will thank you with every swish and sprint down the court!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I wash my basketball shoes in the washing machine?

Yes, you can wash basketball shoes in the washing machine. Prepare them by removing excess dirt, laces, and insoles, and choose a gentle cycle with cold water. Place them inside a pillowcase to protect them during the wash.

What should I do before washing basketball shoes in the machine?

Before washing, remove excess dirt with a brush, take out the laces and insoles, and place the shoes inside a pillowcase or laundry bag to protect them during the wash cycle.

Are there alternative methods to clean basketball shoes?

Yes, alternative cleaning methods include hand washing with mild detergent, spot cleaning with a sneaker cleaner or gentle soap, using a Magic Eraser for tough spots, and applying baking soda inside the shoes for odor control.

How should I dry my basketball shoes after washing?

After washing, air dry your basketball shoes by placing them in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct heat or sunlight as it can damage the shoes. Stuffing the shoes with paper towels can help absorb moisture and maintain their shape.

How often should I clean my basketball shoes?

Clean your basketball shoes as needed to remove dirt and odors. Regular, gentle cleaning can help extend their life and performance. Avoid excessive washing, which can lead to material breakdown and wear.

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