How To Clean Vintage Basketball Shoes

Do you need to learn how to clean vintage basketball shoes? Wearing old basketball shoes means you are out of style, but calling them vintage makes them cool again. Cleaning vintage basketball shoes takes a little extra effort. Vintage items can be fragile and you need to clean them gently with mild cleaners. Keep your old kicks looking great and retain their shapes by doing it the right way.

You will need:

  • Mild detergent
  • Toothbrush
  • Two clean cloths
  • Tea tree oil
  • Pillow Case
  1. Prepare the vintage basketball shoe for cleaning. Remove the shoe laces and place them in a small pillow case. Tie the top of the case in a not to keep the shoe laces inside and machine wash and dry as normal. Once the shoe laces have been removed, gently lift the tongue of the shoe out to expose more of the inside of the shoe. Wipe away any loose dust or dirt from the basketball shoes.
  2. Combine one part tea tree oil with four parts water. Dip a cloth into the mixture. Wring out any excess liquid to keep it from dripping or getting the inside of the shoe too wet. Carefully wipe the inside of the shoe and concentrate on the soles and the toes. The tea tree oil will clean and disinfect the shoe.
  3. Wipe the outside of the shoe gently with a mixture of mild detergent and warm water. Use the second clean cloth for this part of the job.  Pay extra attention to any areas which show discoloration. Dip the clean toothbrush in the soapy water. Gently scrub away any stains that were not wiped away with the cloth. Rinse out the cloth well and wipe your vintage basketball shoe over again.
  4. Turn the vintage basketball shoe over to inspect the bottom of the shoe. Use your toothbrush to gently scrub away any dirt in the ridges. Dip the cloth into the soap and water mixture to wipe away any smudges on the side of the soles. Finally wipe the bottom of the shoe with the same cloth.  Rinse the cloth well and wipe the soles of the shoes again to remove any soap residue.
  5. Dry the vintage basketball shoes indoors. Set them in a warm dry place and leave them to air dry. Do not use the dryer. Also, avoid drying in the sun which could fade your vintage item.
  6. Store your vintage shoes in a shoe box. This will protect them from the light and dust until ready to be worn. Use a cardboard box instead of plastic to allow the shoes to breathe.  Keep them in an area with low humidity and your vintage basketball whose will last a long time.


  • Strong detergents and cleaners can damage the thread in the shoes causing them to not last as long.  
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