Playing tennis is a fun activity for millions and a profitable job for the selected few. One thing in common with these groups of people is that your shoes will get dirty no matter at what level you play tennis.
Generally, there are four main tennis court materials, and all of them will eventually make your shoes dirty. However, clay fields will do that the fastest, but I suspect you already know that.
In this article, you will learn the step-by-step process for washing tennis shoes, things to keep in mind, maintenance tips, and other valuable knowledge that will save you time, money, and effort!
Before moving on to the how-to -guide, I want to make sure that your shoes won’t get ruined, as there are things to know about shoe materials, among other things. Let’s take a peek at that real quick.
What Kind of Shoes Can You Wash?
Before washing your tennis shoes, you should know what kind of shoes you can wash in the first place to ensure that you can play with them afterward.
Generally, you can wash athletic and everyday shoes made from cotton, polyester, nylon, and canvas by hand or in the washing machine. However, shoes such as dress shoes, heels, boots, or shoes including embellishments such as beads or embroidery should only be washed by hand.
There are many things to know about shoes and washing, but luckily they aren’t complicated. You should wash different temperatures when it comes to the materials, assuming that you choose the washing machine option. Learn more below;
- Cotton: 90°F (32°C)
- Polyester: 120°F (48°C)
- Nylon: 80°F (26°C)
- Canvas: 100°F (38°C)
Above are the general recommendations for the listed materials and their maximum washing machine temperatures. Note that you can wash all of the materials with colder temperatures than the recommendations, and it’s advised to do so just in case.
If your shoes are in too bad condition, you should check my top 8 Adidas tennis shoe recommendations for every play style and court type you can play tennis.
You should use hand washing for other shoe materials, which I will cover below. Let’s check them out!
How to Wash Tennis Shoes?
Washing tennis shoes can be described as art at some point. It will be overwhelming at first as you don’t know what to do, but with proper instructions and a couple of tries, you will become the master.
I have covered a couple of different ways to wash your tennis, walking, or other shoes. Let’s start with hand washing, but you will find other options as well.
Drying your shoes will take time. Remember to find an alternative in the meantime if you need shoes.
1. How to Hand Wash Tennis Shoes?
- Check the Care Label: Before washing shoes, you should always check the manufacturer’s care label inside the shoe. Follow the instructions and temperature recommendations if needed.
- Prepare a Bucket: Find a bucket, plug the sink, or find an alternative and fill it with water following the care labels instructions. Add a dash of liquid laundry powder or dish solution. Remember that the temperature shouldn’t exceed the recommendation but can be colder.
- Remove Laces: Before soaking your shoes, remove the laces for separate cleaning as they are hard to clean when on your shoe. You can clean the laces with your other laundry or do it by hand.
- Remove & Clean Insoles: To do a thorough job, remove the insole (if removable) and clean them separately. Dip the insoles on water & solution mix and add 1 tablespoon of baking soda for the odor. Pat and wipe the insoles, set them aside to dry, and prepare for shoe washing.
- Wash Your Shoes by Hand: Before soaking your shoes, run them under cold water to get most of the dirt off. You should use a toothbrush to get the tough stains off through the cleaning process. Next, submerge the shoes and work them through with a small brush such as a toothbrush or a laundry shoe brush. When complete, remove the shoes from the bucket and run them under cold water to get all the soap off. Shake or lightly squeeze the excess water off.
- Dry Your Shoes: Now that your shoes are clean and not dripping water, airdry them, the insoles, and the laces away from direct sunlight, heat lamps, or musty places where the air doesn’t flow. A warm temperature in the shade where the shoes can get air is the best place to dry them. You can stuff small towels inside and around the shoe to speed up the process.
2. How to Machine Wash Tennis Shoes?
Check the Care Label: Before washing your shoes, you should check the care label inside for instruction and temperature recommendations. Follow them as guidelines and don’t go over the recommended temperature.
- Remove Laces: Remove the laces so they won’t get tangled when on the washing machine. You can wash them with your shoes in the laundry or hand wash them. If you wash them in the laundry, make sure to place them inside a tied pillowcase, washable bag, or a sock so they won’t get tangled. If you are in poor condition, replace them and add new ones to the shoes.
- Remove & Clean Insoles: I also recommend taking off the insoles (If removable) to ensure thorough washing. You can wash them in the laundry or by hand.
- Machine Wash Your Shoes: I recommend placing your shoes inside a pillowcase or a bag so that the parts won’t get damaged inside. Also, wash similar colored laundry simultaneously for a more natural wash instead of empty. Keep the care labels instructions in mind, set the washing machine to the right setting, low spin, add the necessary solutions, and start the was.
- Dry Your Shoes: When the wash is complete, remove the shoes with your laundry and air dry them away from direct sunlight, heat lamps, or musty areas.
3. How to Clean Leather, Suede or Nubuck Shoes?
Even when you won’t find tennis shoes from these sensitive materials, a traditional hand wash or machine wash isn’t an option if you want to keep these shoes in good condition. For these shoes, follow the instructions below;
- Read the care label: Before you start the cleaning process, always read the care label for things of note. These might include special instructions and water temperature recommendations for the material.
- Remove the Laces: Removing the laces is necessary as you can’t effectively wash them by hand when they are on the shoe. You can hand or machine wash your regular laces, or if they are in poor condition, I suggest replacing them.
- Clean Loose Dirt: You should do a small pre-clean before the actual cleaning process. Remove loose dirt, dust, and debris off the shoe, so you don’t spread it and make the shoes dirtier than they are.
- Mix Water & Soap: Keeping the care label in mind, mix warm water with dish soap or liquid laundry powder. Also, get two pieces of clean cloths and a towel.
- Clean Your Shoes: Submerge a clean cloth in the water & solution mix and start cleaning the surface of your shoes. Depending on the exact material and instructions, you can use a shoe brush or an old toothbrush to remove the toughest stains.
- Wipe Your Shoes: Use the second clean cloth to wipe off the soapy water and dry it with a towel.
- Condition Material: Before you’re finished, you should condition the shoe with the right conditioner. For example, apply a leather conditioner to leather shoes for extra protection and maintenance. Let the conditioner sit for 15 to 30 minutes and rub the shoe thoroughly. A great product for that is Leather Honey Conditioner or one of similar fashion.
- Let Your Shoes Dry: To dry your shoes, place them in a place where they can get air and aren’t under direct sunlight or heat lamps. Let the time do its thing.
How to Remove the Smell Out of Shoes?
Even when you have cleaned your shoes quite thoroughly, the weeks or even months of sweaty odor can remain. Luckily, there is a way on its own the deal with it!
Eliminate bad smells from shoes by using deodorizers that come in many forms, such as sprays or bags. Alternatively, you can make a homemade deodorized by adding ¼ cup of baking soda and ¼ cup of baking power inside a coffee filter sealed with a rubber band, left overnight inside the shoe.
These are the easiest and most effective ways to remove unpleasant odors from shoes. However, there are many more that you can use, such as essential oils or lime slices placed inside the shoe. A bar of soap also means business for this purpose, or you can find a new set of insoles altogether!
How to Maintain Cleanliness On Tennis Shoes?
Maintaining your shoe’s cleanliness is as important as cleaning itself. If you don’t do anything to maintain your shoes, you will often notice yourself cleaning them. In addition, maintenance will likely improve the shoe’s lifespan. So how do you care for your shoes? These are just some of the real-life examples;
- Remove the excess dirt from time to time
- Spray your shoes with a waterproof protector
- Replace laces and insoles when needed
- Use shoe trees to retain the shoe form
- Keep the odor at tolerable levels with a shoe deodorizer
- Condition delicate materials such as leather
- Get more than one pair of shoes and alternate them
By following just some of these tips, your shoes will look, smell, and last far longer than if you were to neglect these steps. I recommend doing a slight cleanup from time to time and the use of shoe trees and shoe deodorizers for shoe maintenance.
Although, every other idea is important as well. For example, you would be surprised how much longer your shoes last just by owning at least two pairs!
Other things you should keep in mind include the tightness of tennis shoes and their expected lifespan. You certainly don’t want to overwear tennis or any other kind of shoes as it will negatively impact comfort and performance.
My Favorite Tennis Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Below you’ll find my top tennis equipment recommendations would like.
- Racket: My preferred tennis racket is the Wilson Ultra 100 V3. This racket is made from graphite and carbon fiber, making it durable, firm, and easy to swing. The racket weighs 300g, making it lightweight yet not too lightweight to generate power. The racket’s main benefit is power. I like to add multifilament strings to the racket, such as Wilson NXT Soft 16 (recommended tension 52lb/23.5kg), because they are comfortable and soft on the arm with a great feel to the game.
- Tennis balls: Best tennis balls are always pressurized, and I like them having extra-duty felt, which is fit for hard court play. I like Penn Championship Tennis Balls, and so does the ITF because these balls are approved for competitive play. So yes, these are the real deal.
- Tennis shoes: I can’t stress enough the importance of comfortable and supporting shoes. ASICS Gel-Resolution 8 tennis shoes are unique because the balance between durability and support mixed with comfort is something out of the ordinary.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.