Washing & Drying Tennis Shoes – Cleaning Basics

Your tennis shoes are bound to get dirty eventually. They may even start to smell a little bit. After all, if you are in the midst of an intense tennis match, you are going to be sweating a lot.

As breathable as tennis shoes may be, they are not going to maintain air flow if the match is a little bit too intense. This will make your shoes smell quite bad.

Smelly Shoes

In fact, for many, it is the stench that encourages them to wash their shoes as opposed to the outside cleanliness.

As you may well know, it is generally not recommended to wash shoes. However, tennis shoes are a little bit different than your average shoe.

They can actually be washed. It isn’t actively encouraged by the manufacturers, but you can certainly clean them if you want to! However, you will need to take a few precautions.

Can Tennis Shoes Be Washed?

Tennis shoes can be washed, but it’s important to make a distinction here. Are they simply dirty or do the shoes have gum or gunk stuck to them?

Washing shoes is encouraged if you want to increase the lifespan of your tennis shoes. However, it is not something that you should be doing every week.

As with all clothes, a wash cycle can be pretty intense. Over the course of several washes, the fabric will start to weaken. This means the more you end up cleaning something, the more likely you are to end up with a pair of useless tennis shoes.

In our opinion, you shouldn’t really be washing your tennis shoes more than once every couple of months. It’s better to wait until you need to as opposed to doing it often as a preventative measure. Never wash a pair of shoes for the sake of washing them. This will ruin the shoes far quicker.

You can wash your shoes in a washing machine. Some people will handwash their tennis shoes, but we do not really see any need to be doing that. Handwashing just takes a lot more time, and it is something that isn’t really required. Why would you want to create extra work for yourself?

Washing Machine

Using Washing Machine – Preparation

If you are planning to wash your tennis shoes in the washing machine, then you may want to do a little bit of preparation beforehand:

  1. Remove The Laces – They cannot be washed. They will ruin your washing machine.
  2. Remove Inner Sole – You do not want water getting trapped under the soles. You can wash these separately. A handwash is fine there or, better yet, replace the soles.
  3. Use a Washing Bag – These are fabric bags that you will often use the wash the more delicate items of clothing (i.e. underwear).

Ideally, you would be washing your tennis shoes on their own with a towel or 2. You should not be overloading that washing machine when you put your tennis shoes in there.

If you put only the tennis shoes in the washing machine, when the ‘spin dry’ happens at the end of the cycle, the shoes will be far too light for all of the water to be pulled out. This means that you are going to be left with some pretty soggy shoes which could take weeks to dry.

Just make sure to add a couple of towels into the washing machine to help balance everything out. The towels should be delicate enough that they won’t damage your shoes, while also adding a little bit of weight into the load.

Using Washing Machine – Correct Settings

Washing Machine Settings

Before we give you all the details, here are the key points of safely setting the wash cycle on your washing machine:

  • Delicate Spin Cycle
  • Warm or Cold Temperature
  • Mild Detergent

When you are setting up the washing machine, make sure that you set it to a delicate spin cycle, and that the temperature is fairly low. If it is too high, then you run the risk of damaging your shoes [1]. The lower spin cycle will ensure that your shoes will not be ‘tossed’ about too much which, of course, will reduce the risk of damaging them.

Most people that wash their tennis shoes will try and use only detergent for the cleaning. While there is nothing that really says you can’t use fabric softener, there isn’t really any need to use it. You want to ensure that there are as few chemicals in that washing machine as possible. This will help to preserve the lifespan of your shoes.

As soon as the spin cycle has been completed, remove the shoes from the washing machine. You need to start drying them out as soon as possible. Leaving them in the washing machine won’t dry them out, and leaving them damp can cause issues.

What Is The Best Way To Dry Tennis Shoes?




Alright. So your tennis shoes have been washed. What next? Can you do what you normally do with clothes and throw them in the dryer? No! You can’t. In fact, this is probably one of the quickest ways to ruin your awesome tennis shoes.


We ONLY Recommend Air Drying

You need to ensure that your shoes are air-dried. Yes. It is going to take a long time. In some cases, it could take overnight for them to be completely dry, but at least you know you won’t be ruining your shoes and looking at a pretty expensive bill to pick up a new pair.

The quickest and easiest way to air dry your tennis shoes, is to prop them up in front of a fan.

When you are air-drying your shoes, try to make sure that you are not doing it in direct sunlight. This will cause the color of your tennis shoes to fade over time. There is also a chance that it could weaken the material that the shoes are made from, which can shorten the lifespan.

One final point note; do NOT wear your shoes until they have fully dried out. It isn’t really going to cause any damage to the tennis shoes, but wet shoes and feet will not be a good combination.

Bacteria thrive in wet environments, and this means both your shoes and your feet are going to end up smelling hideously repulsive. The result is you needing to clean the tennis shoes again, plus the embarrassment of having smelly feet.


  1. https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-select-the-correct-cycle-2145866

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