How To Wash Tennis Shoes (5 Easy Steps)

By Lin
Last update:

Washing your favorite pair of tennis shoes can be a bit of a challenge, especially when it comes to removing all the dirt, mud, and sweat that accumulates on them during a long day of playing.

how to wash tennis shoes

Machine washing is the most effective and efficient way to clean your tennis shoes, as opposed to hand washing, which can be more of a hassle and messier for those who aren’t experienced in shoe care.

By the end of this article, you’ll learn how to clean your shoes in 5 easy steps, as well as a tested cleaning solution for those white shoes of yours to look brand new.

Table of Contents
– Which Type of Shoes Are Machine Washable?
– Check the Care Label
How to Wash Tennis or Athletic Shoes
How to Wash White Tennis Shoes
What Shoes Are Not Machine Washable?
What’s Next

Which Type of Shoes Are Machine Washable?

Most fabric shoes like athletic shoes or sneakers are machine washable, with materials like cotton, canvas, nylon, and polyester.

Check the Care Label

Double-check the shoe care label to see if they can be washed in the washing machine. (In rare circumstances, some fabric shoes are not machine washable)

How to Wash Tennis or Athletic Shoes

Supplies You Need

  • dish soap
  • mild laundry detergent
  • two mesh garment bags
  • baking soda or white vinegar (optional)

Tools Needed

  • soft brush (or an old toothbrush)
  • paper towel
  • microfiber towel or soft cloth

Step 1. Remove the laces and insoles

Removing the shoe’s laces and insoles from the shoes.

Step 2. Clean Laces and Insoles

Mix warm water with a small amount of mild laundry detergent or dish soap. Brush off any stuck-on debris and on laces and insoles, and rinse them in warm soapy water.

Put the shoelaces in a mesh laundry bag ready for washing together with the shoes.

Air dry the insoles unless otherwise stated in the care instructions. Be careful that machine washing your insoles could leave them waterlogged, which could take days to dry.

Step 3. Treat Stains

Apply the mild laundry detergent to an old toothbrush. Clean the uppers and outsoles thoroughly to remove loose dirt and stains. Repeat it if it’s necessary for those heavy-duty oil spots or stains.

Step 4. Toss in the Washing Machine

Put your shoes in a mesh garment bag to keep them from forcefully tumbling around in your washer. Throw both mesh laundry bags of shoes and laces into the washing machine, along with a few old towels to help balance the load. Ensure the towels are old—newer ones could leach excess dye that could stain your shoes.

Set your washing machine on a delicate, cold water cycle with the least amount of spin. Use liquid detergent or laundry pods because powder detergent can get stuck in the shoes if it doesn’t dissolve properly.

Step 5. Air Dry the Shoes

Stuff your shoes with paper towels to absorb excess moisture and help keep their shape as they dry. Dry them in the sun if you can, it’s fast and can help with odors.

Note: Shoes may take a few days to air dry, and we don’t suggest using a dryer because the heat and tumbling can damage or warp shoes.

How to Wash White Tennis Shoes

Supplies You Need

  • dish soap
  • baking soda
  • white vinegar

Tools Needed

  • soft brush (or an old toothbrush)
  • paper towel
  • microfiber towel or soft cloth

Step 1. Clean Shoe Laces & Insoles

Remove shoe laces and insoles, and clean them with warm soapy water. Mix the one tablespoon of baking soda in the hot water, and soak the shoe laces for 30 minutes. Air dry completely.

Step 2. Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Add one tablespoon of hot water, white vinegar, and baking soda in a bowl. Mix all of it until it looks like a paster. If you need more amount of cleaning solution, just stick with the ratio 1:1:1 (hot water, white vinegar, baking soda).

Step 3. Clean the Shoes by Hand

Apply the mixture to an old toothbrush that you don’t use. Clean the uppers and outsoles thoroughly. Rinse in clean warm water and repeat it if it’s necessary.

Step 4. Ary Dry

Stuff your shoes with paper towels to absorb excess moisture and dry the shoes in a well-ventilated space (no direct sunlight) for a few hours. When it’s dry out, slap the shoes and remove the dry paste left on the shoe surfaces.

What Shoes Are Not Machine Washable?

To keep the out-of-the-box look and prevent damage, these types of shoes should never be placed in a washing machine:

  • Leather shoes
  • Suede shoes
  • Vinyl
  • Rubber

These types of shoes should only be washed by hand. Still unsure? Check your shoe’s care label to determine if their material is machine washable.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you wash tennis shoes?

The frequency of cleaning your shoes depends on how often they are worn. To ensure they stay in great condition, try to clean them as less as possible. We advise to only wear your tennis shoes on the tennis court, and store them in a shoe bag or tennis bag once you have finished playing to avoid them picking up dirt from the roads.

How do you remove odor from shoes?

Spread baking soda over the insoles and let them sit for a full day to deodorize and soak up the remaining moisture. For better results, you can dry the insoles in direct sunlight and in a well-ventilated spot after washing them.

What types of shoes can I put in the washing machine?

Most fabric shoes are machine washable. Specifically, they’re made of cotton, nylon, canvas, or polyester. Do not put shoes made of leather or suede in the washer. Be sure to check the care instructions to verify that the shoes are machine washable before wash.

Do I need to add disinfectant to my wash cycle?

If you are worried about potential germs or athlete’s foot fungus, it might be a good idea to use a disinfectant. The disinfectant must contain 80% pine oil and should be added to the warm water cycle for it to be an effective solution.

Which type of washing machine is best for washing shoes?

The front-load washer is the best for shoe washing. Because shoes come out cleaner than the top-load washer. Moreover, Top-load machines can be rough on fabrics because of the agitator.

What setting should I use to wash shoes in the washing machine?

Wash shoes in a gentle, cold water cycle with a slow or no-spin setting. Remember to place them in a closed mesh bag with the laces and insoles removed.

Is it better to wash tennis shoes in the washing machine or dishwasher?

Only fabrics athletic shoes are machine washable. We don’t suggest washing in the dishwasher, because the high-heat drying cycles will completely damage the shoe.

What’s Next

Now you know how to wash tennis shoes, just prepare all the supplies and tools you need and start washing them. Any questions? Please feel free to email us with your questions.

Photo of author


Editor of All Points Tennis and a huge Roger Federer fan, I've spent countless hours studying his moves, especially his forehand and one-handed backhand. I also love writing about all the technical stuff like rackets and strings. I'm super pumped to share my insights with fellow tennis lovers here.