How to Wash Soccer Cleats

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Soccer involves a lot of running for very long periods. This affects your feet and your soccer cleats. Soccer cleats are essential for soccer games, as they help prevent injuries and improve your performance. I must keep them clean and in good condition for soccer cleats to last longer and give you a boost in performance. 

How Do You Clean Smelly Soccer Cleats?

A soccer cleat

Long hours of playing and grinding on the field will result in unbelievable amounts of sweat. Your feet which are wrapped tight by your soccer cleats will sweat a lot too. The sweat will stick to your soccer cleats causing a smelly odor. 

It’s perfectly normal for soccer cleats, whether they’re indoor or outdoor soccer shoes, to smell if you’re an active person. However, if you take proper care of your soccer cleats, you’ll minimize or erase the smell it creates. 

The most important thing to know is how to clean smelly soccer cleats. Here’s how:

Shake Off Dirt After Every Use

Soccer accessories like shin guards and cleats are always exposed to the ground. This means a lot of dust and dirt will build up on your soccer cleats. After every game or use, always remove the excess dirt that’s stuck to your soccer cleats. 

Knock the cleats together, banging the outsoles together to shake off the excess dirt. You can also use a popsicle stick or a flat screwdriver to remove the dirt that sticks even after shaking them off.  

Use Laundry Detergent to Clean

Now that the dirt has been removed from the soccer cleats, it’ll be a lot easier to clean them. 

First, make a mixture of water and laundry detergent. Only use a small amount of laundry detergent to avoid discoloration and softening of the materials on your soccer cleats

Use a washcloth and dip it in your laundry detergent mixture. Scrub your soccer cleats. Make sure you clean off the stains all over your soccer cleats. 

If the stains are too hard to remove, you can try using a soft-bristled brush to remove the dirt stains. This shouldn’t happen frequently if you regularly clean your soccer cleats. 

If you have soccer cleats with a removable insole, remove the insole first and clean it using the washcloth. Insoles will contain a lot of your sweat and oftentimes smell the most. 

Also, remove the laces (and even remove the cleat studs if possible)and wash them separately.

Rinse-Off the Dirt

Soccer players wearing soccer cleats

Now that you’ve scrubbed through all of the stains in your soccer cleats, it’s time to rinse them off. 

You won’t be using water to rinse off your soccer cleats. It may cause damage to your soccer cleats. 

Instead, use warm water to rinse off the laundry detergent mixture and dirt. Dip a washcloth in warm water. Make sure you’re only using a small amount of water. 

Use the washcloth. Wipe off the laundry detergent and dirt on your soccer cleats. 

Dry Off Your Soccer Cleats

Wipe off excess water from your soccer cleats before letting them out to dry. 

Dry off your soccer cleats by placing them in a cool, dry place. Never expose them to sunlight as it will cause the leather on your soccer cleats to crack. 

If the insides of your soccer cleats are wet, you can use newspapers to help dry them off. The newspaper helps by absorbing the moisture and it can also help retain the shape of your soccer cleats. 

Never use drying equipment like a hairdryer or a drying machine. It will only cause damage to your soccer cleats. 

If you have soccer cleats that are made of leather, you may want to polish them off after cleaning them to keep the leather in good condition. Too dry soccer cleats, especially leather ones, are susceptible to cracks. Use a leather conditioner to polish your leather soccer cleats. 

Can You Put Soccer Cleats in the Washer?

It’s highly recommended not to wash your soccer cleats in the washer. Placing your soccer cleats in a washer can cause damage that may be irreversible. 

However, you can still use a washer to clean your soccer cleats. Be prepared for the consequences. 

Some soccer cleats can be washed by a washer. Some soccer cleats by Adidas can withstand damage from a washer provided you follow the steps for cleaning it properly. 

You can clean soccer cleats in the washer by first removing the laces and insoles. Place them inside a pillowcase. 

Wash them inside the washer using the cold/delicate preset. Make sure it’s tightly inside the pillowcase. Only use mild detergent for cleaning your soccer cleats. 

Woman playing in the field while wearing soccer cleats

Only use a washer to clean your soccer cleats if:

  • Your soccer cleats are washable by a washer
  • You’re okay if your soccer cleats may get damaged by the washer
  • Your soccer cleats are old 

Why Do Soccer Cleats Smell so Bad?

Bad storageBacterial growth
Excessive sweatMoisture and bacteria buildup
Warm environmentGreater bacterial growth

It’s normal for soccer cleats to smell so bad when they’re frequently used. This is true, especially if you’re an athlete who sweats a lot around the feet. 

Your sweat can cause moisture buildup inside your soccer cleats. The moisture and warm temperature inside your soccer cleats are a perfect combination for bacteria to prosper. 

The bacteria will grow and prosper in a moist and warm environment like your soccer cleats. It then produces the bad odor you smell from your soccer cleats.

That’s why regularly cleaning your soccer cleats will help. You remove the smelly odor by stopping the growth of bacteria inside your soccer cleats.

How Do You Dry Soccer Cleats Fast?

You can speed up the drying process by various methods. 

  • Using newspaper. The newspaper helps absorb the moisture inside your soccer cleats speeding up the drying process. Replace the newspaper every 2-3 hours. Newspapers will absorb less when they’re already filled with water so changing them every 2-3 hours will help speed up the drying process. 
  • Use a light breeze or light fan. Air will help blow off the moisture away. Make sure the air blowing is cool. If it’s hot then you will only damage your soccer cleats. 
  • Hairdryer with cool setting. Some hair dryers have this option and it’s great for drying soccer cleats fast. To know if it’s okay to use a hairdryer on your cleats, point the hairdryer towards your skin. If the air it blows is too hot for your skin then don’t use it to dry your soccer cleats.  
  • Refrigerate your soccer cleats. If you don’t mind the smell of your soccer cleats inside your fridge then it’ll be a lot quicker to dry your soccer cleats. The cold air inside the fridge is circulated constantly that will easily dry your soccer cleats.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about washing your soccer cleats.

Can You Wash the Inside of the Cleats?

Yes, it is safe for you to wash the inside of your cleats as long as you follow the right instructions. For instance, you need to be sure to use a soft brush and warm water to do it.

Does Water Ruin Soccer Cleats?

If your soccer cleats are made of leather, yes, water can ruin them. This is why you don’t want to completely submerge your cleats in water. If you do this, the leather will start to crack once it dries.

Why Do My Cleats Stink?

One of the most common causes of cleats stinking is that they are stored in an area with insufficient airflow. If you leave your cleats in a place like this after a match, bacteria will grow inside and cause them to stink.


When it comes to soccer cleats, there are a lot of cares you need to have for them to remain durable. For instance, you need to be sure to follow the right instructions to avoid damaging their leather.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.