Cleaning black tennis shoes
Discover simple cleaning tricks for tennis, suede and leather shoes.
By: Jennifer Lifford
Remove dirt, debris and scuffs easily with this quick three-step method for hand washing or throw them in the washing machine for an easy solution.
3-Step Hand Washing Method
- Begin by removing the laces. Use a cotton swab to remove the buildup in the lace holes.
- Brush away loose dirt or debris. Use an old toothbrush to remove any mud and dirt embedded in the grooves on the sole as well as scuffmarks or other stubborn stains along the sides of the soles.
- To clean the upper part of a tennis shoe, use water mixed with dish soap or detergent to remove any stains, Rinse clean. Wipe your shoes off with an old towel and set them out in direct sunlight to dry.
Tip: Scrub the sole with an old toothbrush using rubbing alcohol or a thick paste made from baking soda and water. Rinse with water and repeat as necessary.
Washing Machine Method
Give tennis shoes a thorough cleaning by tossing them in the washing machine.
- Remove the laces and brush shoes to remove any loose dirt from the edges or soles.
- Place the shoes and laces in the washing machine along with a few towels. Put the shoes and laces in a pillowcase to prevent any marks on the machine’s drum.
- Add laundry detergent as usual. Add a cup of vinegar to help disinfect and reduce any odor.
- For black or colored canvas shoes, wash with cold water to avoid fading. Otherwise, wash on warm.
- When the wash cycle ends, set your shoes out in the sunlight to dry. Stuff the inside with paper towels to absorb excess water and sprinkle some baking soda over the insoles to help with any odor.
Easily clean up suede shoes with a suede brush (found at any department store) and some white vinegar.
- Gently brush off dirt using a suede cleaning brush, brushing in one direction rather than back and forth.
- Use a gum art eraser or a little white vinegar on a cloth (make sure to blot carefully over the stain rather than rub) for tough stains.
- Follow all cleaning with another gentle brushing using a suede cleaning brush (again, moving it in just one direction).
- Dry with a sponge or microfiber cloth. It is best to apply a suede protector following each cleaning.
It’s best to use a cleaner specifically made for leather (available at most department stores) so you don’t risk damaging the shoe’s quality. Use a soft towel with the cleaner to gently wipe across the leather.