How to Clean Tennis Shoes

Photos by Julia Fuller 2008

You wear your tennis shoes just about anywhere and they get dirty. Think about it: You wash your clothing after each wearing but rarely your shoes. When cleaning a regular, inexpensive pair of tennis shoes, it's fine to throw them into the washing machine with a load of similarly colored laundry. However, never put them into the dryer. Drying your shoes in the dryer tends to cause cracking and reshaping of the soles. Here are some easy steps to get those tennis shoes looking and smelling almost like new.

Inspect the soles of your shoes for gum, dirt, or other objects picked up in your travels. Use the tine of a fork to remove these items.

Look at the sides of the soles of your tennis shoes to check for ground in dirt. If there is quite a bit of dirt, use an old toothbrush and brush back and forth until most of it is removed. If necessary, put a little dish-washing detergent on the bristles of the toothbrush.

Loosen the shoelaces and lift the tongue of the shoe to expose as much of the inside as possible.

Put the shoes into the washing machine with similarly colored clothing. Add a scoop of Oxi Clean, your normal detergent, and fabric softener. Set your washing machine on the normal settings that you would use for the color of clothing placed in the load with the tennis shoes.

Remove the shoes when the cycle is complete. Inspect the shoes for any remaining dirty spots. If you find some areas that are not as clean as you would like, repeat step one. If you repeat step one, rinse the dish soap off before continuing.

Open the shoes up by lifting the tongue and loosening the laces to expose as much of the inside of the shoe as possible. Place the shoes under a fan for several hours, possibly even overnight. Don’t forget to turn the fan on medium speed.

Tighten your laces up and put the tongue back down where it belongs.