How to Wash Mesh Athletic Shoes

by Melissa King

If you play sports or like to run, you know how dirty your mesh athletic shoes can get. Athletic shoes protect your feet from injury, but they also take abuse out in the field or on the city street. Over time, dirt and stains build up, making your shoes look grimy. Sweat from your feet may also cause the shoes to smell bad. Mesh shoes aren't delicate, so you don't need to worry about damaging them during a cleaning.

Remove light soil by rubbing the shoes with a dry stiff-bristle brush. Scrub the soles as well as the top parts of the shoes.

Soak the shoes in a bowl of hot water with a few drops of mild liquid soap. Continue soaking until the dirt is gone. If your shoes are extremely dirty, soaking them might not be enough to get rid of all the soil. During soaking, replace the water with fresh water when it appears dirty. Allow the shoes to air dry.

Mist the shoes with an all-purpose stain lifter if they still look grimy. Spray the shoes with the stain lifter until they feel damp to the touch. Scrub the shoes with a bristle brush using circular motions. Let the shoes rest for 10 minutes. If a stain persists, dampen a cloth with cool water and squirt some stain lifter on it. Rub the stain with the cloth until it disappears.

Rub the shoe soles with a damp melamine-foam eraser to get rid of stains. For tough stains, press down hard on the eraser and scrub for at least 20 seconds.

Put the shoes in the washing machine if they're still dirty. Take out the insoles before laundering. Remove the laces and put them in the machine with the shoes or a regular load of laundry. Launder shoes with a few drops of laundry detergent in warm water on the normal cycle. Add a capful of color-safe bleach or oxygen bleach if the shoes look dirty. Let the shoes air dry.

Items you will need

  • Bristle brush
  • Liquid soap
  • All-purpose stain lifter
  • Cloth
  • Melamine-foam eraser
  • Laundry detergent
  • Color-safe bleach or oxygen bleach


  • To dry your wet shoes faster, stuff them with crumpled paper towels for a few hours. Replace the wet towels as necessary with fresh, dry ones.
  • Shaving cream may also remove stains on your shoes. Spread a small amount of plain white shaving cream over the surface of each shoe. Let the cream dry and then use a clean brush to remove it.
  • Wear socks with your shoes to prevent odor.


  • Do not put shoes in the washing machine with other garments. Doing so may damage the garments or your shoes.

About the Author

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.

Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images