How To Wash Tennis Shoes (Machine Washing vs Hand Washing)

Avid players know that a good pair of tennis shoes are as essential for a good game as any other piece of sporting equipment.

The right tennis shoes:

  • Provide support and stability, focusing your body’s power outward into your shots
  • Prevent strains and injury, keeping you in the game longer
  • Boost reaction times and add bounce, enhancing your speed and agility

For people who take their tennis game seriously, finding the shoes that work best for their feet, their style of play, and their court, can be a long process of trial and error.

If you’ve found the brand, style, and size that are best for your game, it’s a good idea to stick with that brand.

However, don’t let brand loyalty keep you from trying new pairs. Shoe design and technology advance rapidly, and there may be new features you’re missing out on.

Furthermore, your gameplay evolves over time, and your body changes with age. Make an effort to try a new model every couple of years to see if there is a better fit for your current needs.

Can You Put Tennis Shoes in the Washing Machine?

Generally, it’s not recommended to wash your tennis shoes in a washing machine.

It is because washing machines are mainly built to wash clothes by rigorously spinning at a very high speed. This ensures maximum cleanliness in a short time.

On the other hand, tennis shoes are different from clothes, though; they need extra attention and maintenance. The rigorous spinning process and the textured washing chamber of a washing machine can potentially damage your shoes.

Even though it’s not recommended to wash shoes in a washing machine, it’s not an absolute dead end.

You can get your tennis shoes cleaned using a washing machine without any trouble by following some instructions. The goal here is to ensure a clean and unharmed shoe.

But this does not mean that you can wash just about any shoe using a washing machine, even when following proper instructions. Leather shoes are an absolute no. 

How To Wash Tennis Shoes in Washing Machine

Now, before getting to the washing part, it’s important to know some essential things. What you will need are:

  • A washing machine (OF COURSE!)
  • Liquid detergent
  • A cloth bag (preferably mesh)
  • Baking soda (3 tbsp)
  • A shoes or sneaker cleaning brush (an old toothbrush will do fine) 
  • Thick towels

Now let’s get to know the steps you want to follow to wash tennis shoes in a washing machine. The steps are divided into two sections for better understanding. 

Part 1: Prepare Your Shoes

The washing machine won’t do all the work. There are a few things you want to do before putting your beloved shoes into the washing machine.

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These steps include deodorizing the sneakers and some pre-cleaning. Follow these steps:

1. Sprinkle your shoes with 3 tablespoons of baking soda a night before and leave it overnight. This step is optional – you can totally skip it if you don’t have enough time. But this is an effective way of deodorizing a pair of smelly sneakers

2. Your shoes may be very dirty and filled with excess dirt or mud. So, first things first, you need to clean the excess mud off the shoes with a damp cloth or towel. Scrubbing isn’t necessary. Get as much dirt off as possible. 

A good tip, in case there is too much dirt stuck on the sole, is to bang the shoes together a few times. Some of the dirt will come off.

3. Now, you need to clean the sole. For that, pour some warm water into a small bowl and put some liquid detergent into it.

Dip the toothbrush into the detergent water solution. Scrub the sole with the brush. Make sure to scrub hard enough to get most of the dirt out. 

4. Use clean water to rinse the areas you have scrubbed to get rid of any soap residues. 

5. Shoelace and insoles can collect a lot of dirt. So, it’s recommended to remove it and put it in the washing machine separately.

Part 2: Put Your Shoes in Washing Machine

This is the part where you will put the tennis shoes in the washing machine. Following these instructions:

1. Put the shoes in a mesh cloth bag. It will help prevent any external damage caused by the spinning of the washing chamber. Make sure to seal the bag properly. 

2. Don’t put the shoes alone in the washing machine. Put at least two thick towels with it. This is to ensure extra protection caused by the spinning. You can either put in the insoles and shoelaces as well or wash them separately later on.

3. Configure the washing machine and set it to the lowest spin settings, cold or mildly warm water, and extra rinse.

High spin is never good for tennis shoes or sneakers. Hot water can cause the shoes to discolor and melt the glues, basically ruin them for good.

4. Use liquid detergent and avoid any type of fabric softeners. 

5. Run the washing machine. 

Caution: Avoid the dryer option of your washing machine at any cost. Air drying is the best way to get your sneakers wrinkled up. You can read more about drying tennis shoes in this post.

How to Wash Tennis Shoes or Sneakers (Hand Washing Tips)

How to Wash Tennis Shoes or Sneakers by Hand

While many canvas shoes are safe for machine washing, and many people advise cleaning shoes that way (or in a dishwasher!), machine washing is not recommended for high-performance athletic shoes.

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Firstly, if the shoes have leather or faux leather, too much water can damage the uppers and shorten the life of the shoes. Secondly, excessive heat can cause tennis shoes to lose their shape and bounce.

For tennis shoes in particular, with specially engineered lateral support systems, machine washing is not recommended.

Here is the best way to clean your tennis shoes in order to preserve their attractiveness and functionality for as long as possible:

  • Remove the laces. These can be machine washed in a mesh laundry bag on the gentle cycle
  • Remove the insoles
  • Use a dry, soft brush or a dry, clean cloth to gently remove surface dirt and debris
  • Mix a small amount of warm water with a small amount of mild laundry detergent to make a slightly soapy mixture
  • Dip a sponge or soft cloth into the soapy water, squeezing out the excess until it is damp, and use it to wipe the shoe clean
  • Using the damp soapy sponge or cloth, gently scrub at dirtier areas of the shoe
  • To remove scuff marks or more stubborn dirt, use a Magic Eraser or a small amount of toothpaste on a soft brush to gently scrub the affected area clean
  • Once the shoe is clean, use a clean damp cloth or sponge to wipe away any soap or cleaning residue
  • Stuff the shoes with newspaper to absorb moisture and preserve the shape, and let them dry completely before wearing.

Insoles can be cleaned using the same method of a soft cloth and mild detergent with warm water. If the persistent odor is a problem with the insoles, they should be replaced.

Continue Reading: How To Dry Tennis Shoes Faster: 6 Best & Easy Ways

How to Store Your Tennis Shoes

How to Store Your Tennis Shoes

Maybe you found a great price on your favorite pair of shoes. Maybe you’ve just decided to stock up on your standby, in case the manufacturer discontinues or changes the tennis shoes you’ve come to rely on.

Or maybe you live in a harsher climate, and only play tennis in milder months. Whatever the case, you may find yourself wanting to store your tennis shoes for extended periods of time.

Storing shoes can be problematic, because if they are too dry, the rubber, plastics, or adhesives may become brittle and fragile, damaging even an un-worn shoe.

On the other hand, moisture can introduce mildew and compromise the integrity of fabric shoe components over time.

The best way to store tennis shoes and still have them perform well later is to use a plastic vacuum bag that allows you to suck out all the air. Store the shoes in a sealed bag, protected from air, sunlight, temperature extremes, and moisture.

If you don’t have a vacuum bag, stuff the shoes with silica packets and wrap them in acid-free tissue paper. Put them in a zip-closure plastic bag and squeeze out as much air as possible.

Store them in a plastic bag, protected from air, sunlight, temperature extremes, and moisture.

Also Read:  How to Stop Tennis Shoes from Squeaking

Following these tips will allow you to store your tennis shoes and preserve their performance for months or even years later.

Also read: How to Clean Tennis Balls: 2 Quick & Easy Ways

How to Maintain Your Tennis Shoes in Peak Condition

The best maintenance plan for your tennis shoes depends on how frequently and how hard you play, but remember that moisture not only contributes to odor, it is also harmful to the life of your shoes.

And keep in mind that odor is also a sign of the presence of bacteria, which may be associated with other harmful conditions for your feet.

To keep your shoes in peak condition:

  • Tennis shoes should dry out thoroughly between games. If you play more than 2-3 times a week, get a second pair of shoes and alternate, to give each pair time to dry between wearing
  • Never store your shoes in a damp environment, as this may contribute to the presence of mildew inside the shoe, but also don’t store them in direct sunlight, as UV rays can damage the materials
  • Never wear tennis shoes without clean, dry socks. If you have unusually sweaty feet, consider changing your damp socks for a fresh pair after a couple of hours of play
  • If the odor is a problem, or you live in a humid environment and want to dry the inside of your shoes thoroughly, take a clean pair of socks and fill them with kitty litter (ideally the kind with baking soda added). Put the kitty-litter-filled socks inside your shoes, where they will absorb odors and moisture

Preventing moisture and odor extends the wearable life of your shoe and is also healthier for your feet, and can help prevent athlete’s foot and other skin problems.


Following these steps on how to wash tennis shoes will keep your tennis shoes looking sharp, smelling good, and supporting your game for years to come.

Treat your shoes with the respect they deserve and maintain them like the rest of your sporting equipment. Your feet will thank you.

Read More: Can You Put Tennis Shoes in the Dryer?

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