How To Clean Mystery Stains on Tennis Shoes

I’ve been thinking about shoes lately. I love a good well-made pair of casual shoes because when you find the right pair, you seem to wear them constantly. I’m a big believer that shoes are an investment for our wardrobe and long term health, but having great shoes is knowing how to keep them clean and fresh- and looking fabulous!


My friend’s mystery stained Nike shoes

How-To-Remove-Mystery-Stains-on-Tennis Shoes-dont-look-under-the-rug-amy-bates-cleaning-tips.png

Tennis shoes are meant to be worn, but it’s the worst of luck to have them get dirty the first day you take them out. And that is exactly what happened to my friend Janell when she bought her husband a brand new pair of Nike tennis shoes. She’s not exactly sure what happened, but he did come back with a chainsaw and chainsaw oil in hand, and the residue splattered all over the breathable mesh fabric was greasy. I suppose he may have been reluctant to come completely clean (lol! Bad humor... but I can't resist!) I wanted to take a stab at the mystery oil stain and help out my friend...and her husband:

  1. I wet the shoes down with water
  2. Added Dawn soap directly to shoes
  3. Set shoes aside for about an hour
  4. Threw them in the washer in a lingerie bag
  5. Allowed them to air dry in the sun

Not a very scientific cleaning process but it worked like a charm and the tennis shoes came out of the washer devoid of the mystery stains! I got extra brownie points with my friend, and was surprised to find that the simple cleaning tip of using soap and water worked so well!


My son’s stinky tennis shoes

I am not only the owner of a cleaning business, but the mother of two boys who are always on the go. After sports practice they love to kick their shoes off as soon as they get in the car. It seems to be a common prank to pull on mothers everywhere. How long does it take for a Mom to notice the feet have been freed from the shoes? In my car? About 30 seconds before my eyes water. Here is a picture that demonstrates exactly how smelly Andrew's socks are:

Anytime you wear athletic shoes for exercise or sports, your feet are going to sweat into the shoe and leave an very unpleasant smell! I have a cleaning tip that only requires two main items:

  1. Newspaper
  2. Baking Soda

Both are way cheaper, and not to mention more environmentally friendly, than a spray deodorizer! Check it out here:


A note on running shoes

I live in Tulsa and running groups and races are very popular, and runners are very particular about their gear. I am more of a pilates gal myself, so for advice on high-end running shoes ASICS recommends these great cleaning tips in their article, “How To Clean Running Shoes - 3 Tips For Keeping Cleaning Shoes”:

  1. Wash the sockliner or insole separately if you’re able to remove them. This will help make the inside of your shoe fresher. Laces can be washed or just replaced.

  2. Remove surface dirt such as mud and grit. Use an old toothbrush or nail brush, a little warm water and a gentle, anti-grease soap. This should take care of the dirt, and is fine to do once in awhile. I don't recommend soaking the shoe for lighter cleaning jobs.

  3. Dry your shoes naturally and don’t place them near a radiator. Direct heat will alter the shape of the shoe. Open out the shoe and then stuff the inside with kitchen paper or newspaper. The paper will absorb the dampness inside the shoe. A shoe takes about twelve hours to dry out.

#happycleaning - Amy