How to Clean Soccer Cleats: 9 Easy Do’s and Don’ts for Shiny Boots

Despite your best intentions, it’s inevitable that your soccer cleats will get dirty. So how to clean soccer cleats?
clean soccer cleats - toothbrush

It happened. You broke the promise and now you need to know the cleaning process for how to clean soccer cleats.

You know the promise. We’ve all done it. 

You open up the box of your brand new cleats. The intoxicating smell of leather cleats permeates the air. The beautiful shininess of the white cleats almost blinds you.

After all, you’ve researched the best soccer cleats for you, and you’re convinced that these boots will bring Messi-like skills to your game. Or at least help your little one feel more confident on the field.

You make the promise that you will cherish them forever, and keep these beautiful cleats clean. It’s what we do as soccer players…

clean soccer cleats - muddy field

… And then, we play soccer.

Someone steps on your foot during a match. Or your game is played on the muddiest field known to man, and the muddy soccer ball destroys your boots. Or the sky opens and rain soaks you through. And over time, those shiny boots start losing their luster. 

The thing is – it’s important to keep your soccer shoes in good shape – and not just to keep the promise you made on day one. Keeping cleats clean can help prevent them from becoming worn out and increase their longevity.

Read on to learn 5 do’s and 4 don’ts for how to clean soccer cleats.

How to Clean Soccer Cleats in 5 Easy Steps

clean soccer cleats - remove dirt

1. Do a Quick Clean

If your boots get wet and dirty, it’s important to clean off the gunk right away and make sure they dry. This will help prevent the material from tearing or wearing out. 

Post-practice or match, just bang your cleats together to get rid of excess dirt and mud. Remove any obvious dirt clumps with a brush, a popsicle stick, or even your hands before putting them in your soccer bag or backpack. You may even want to keep a plastic bag with your soccer essentials to place extra-dirty cleats.

When you get home, you can finish deep cleaning your cleats.

clean soccer cleats - laces

2. Remove and Clean Laces and Soles

Clean laces help make your cleats look new, and clean soles keep odors away. 

While you cannot put your cleats in the washing machine (see #1 no-no below), using a washing machine is an effective way to clean the laces and soles. First, remove laces by unthreading them and then remove the soles, if possible. Secure them in a pillowcase, tied at the top, or use a special mesh bag to keep them together. 

Run the cycle on cold/delicate and remove promptly. 

(Helpful hint: As a 2-for-1, wash them with soccer pinnies, which also need to be washed in cold water.)

3. Spot Clean the Shoes

The easiest way is to use warm, soapy water.  This solution won’t damage any of the materials or color of the shoe.

Fill a tub with warm water and use a small, dime-sized amount of laundry detergent or dish soap. Grab an old toothbrush, soft-bristled brush, or washcloth, and gently scrub the dirty areas of the cleats. 

Soak the washcloth in clean water, wring slightly, and use the damp cloth – along with some elbow grease – to spot rinse the areas to get the suds off.

4. Air Dry

This is a crucial step, as anyone who has played soccer in slightly damp boots will tell you. (Hi there, blisters!) You want to make sure your soccer cleats are completely dry before you wear them again.

While there are no fast ways to do this, there are a few tricks to help your soccer cleats dry a little more quickly:

  • Find a dry, well-ventilated place. This should be indoors or in a shady spot, as direct sunlight may damage your boots. 
  • Stuff them with wads of newspaper. The paper will absorb the wetness and help remove any lingering odors, as well.
  • Line them up by the refrigerator vents. Place your boots alongside the bottom of your refrigerator – on the floor, not inside!  The constantly blowing air can act as a gentle drying fan. You can use a hair dryer for this too, in small spurts, on the lowest temperature.

5. Relace and Go!

When everything is dry – the laces, soles and boots, it’s time to reassemble them. Relace those cleats, put the soles back in, and head out to the pitch!


How to Clean Soccer Cleats: 4 No-No’s

1. Do not put cleats in the washing machine or dryer.

You may be tempted to throw your cleats in the washing machine and dryer to wash them quickly. Resist the urge. This will undoubtedly damage many cleats. 

2. Don’t sink your boot.

When hand-washing, never fully submerge your boot in the sink or wash bin. Use a washcloth or old toothbrush to spot clean instead. 

3. Do not clean your boots right before a game.

You’ll want to make sure your cleats have plenty of time to dry before wearing them. Since tossing them in the dryer is highly discouraged, one hour before game time is not the right time to clean your soccer cleats! Is there anything worse than wearing wet shoes to play soccer? I’m not sure.

4. Never store wet cleats.

Water can cause mold and terrible odors, and will quickly ruin your cleats. Always store them in a dry, well-ventilated area.


There you go! 5 do’s and 4 don’ts for how to clean soccer cleats.

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