How to Clean Bowling Shoes

Any avid bowler worth his salt knows that bowling shoes are just as important as the bowling ball you use. Considering how bowling shoes can affect the outcome of a game, a bowler needs to both wear bowling shoes and take his pair of shoes seriously by keeping them squeaky clean. 


2-Part Method to Clean Bowling Shoes 

Bowling shoes aren’t meant to last a lifetime. Like any product on the market, they are also subject to wear and tear. 

Constant use of the shoes can flatten the soles. After all, when sliding, the pressure of your entire body is exerted onto the shoes. 

After some time, the shoes stop gliding as smoothly as they used to because of the increased friction. Fortunately, there are things you can do to ensure your bowling shoes stand the test of time. 

Some choose to use a washing machine to wash their shoes. While this can be a good place to start if your shoes are extremely dirty, you will likely still need to follow the steps below to get a thoroughly clean pair of shoes.

SOLE – Use a wire brush

You can expertly use a wire brush to gently clean your dirty bowling shoe soles. Be sure to be careful with the scraping process. 

  • If you want your shoes to slide more, brush the sole from the front end to the back. 
  • If you want them to slide less, brush the sole from the heel to the front. 
  • If you want the shoes to have an in-between effect that can’t be achieved by brushing in one direction, consider brushing the sole from side to side. 

Of course, you should be gentle with your strokes. Once you notice the material has become fluffier, your shoes are ready to be used again.

You may find it helpful to use a bit of gentle cleaning solution to get out hard to remove dirt and debri. If you don’t have a wire brush, you can use a semi-abrasive item as its substitute. 

However, it is important to note that using a wire brush will save time and ensure the best results. You should spare no expense in taking care of your shoes. 

UPPER – Use a damp cloth with warm soapy water

Cleaning bowling shoes does not end at the sole. It is also necessary to wash the upper leather part of the shoes in order to clean dirt and other debris.

To do this, we would recommend cleaning your bowling shoes as you would clean your tennis shoes. You will simply need to grab a cloth or rag and put a bit of warm soapy water in a small bucket or bowl. 

Wet the cloth with the soapy lukewarm water and ring it out, then use it to lightly scrub the outer layer, the edges, and the top of the shoe. If the shoes are especially dirty you can add a gentle cleaning solution to the water.

For hard to remove bits of grime and dirt, use an old toothbrush to gently wash the shoes. This can also be helpful for removing stains from the laces; really, all the materials on the upper part of the shoe can benefit from a gentle scrub with the toothbrush.  

After you finish washing the shoes, pat the leather with a dry cloth or dry towel and then allow ample time for them to air dry. The laces may need to be removed and laid out flat to dry completely.

You may also consider using shoe disinfectant inside the shoes to prevent bacteria from growing.

Taking Care of Your Bowling Shoes – Tips & Tricks

  • Use bowling shoe covers, to protect your shoes from moisture, oil, and dirt. The more you cover your shoe with this protective layer, the less you have to clean your shoes manually. 
  • When you put your shoes in the shoe compartment of your bowling bag, leave the zipper open a little bit. This will help the shoes air out after use and prevent moisture from accumulating.
  • Store your shoes in a cool and dry place. 
  • Do not just slip in and out of your bowling shoes. Completely untie your shoes when slipping them on or taking them off to maintain their form.
  • In most cases, your feet will sweat after a bowling session. Apply disinfectant spray inside your shoes after every session.
  • Never get your shoes wet. If they do get wet, dry them with a dry towel and then bring the affected area back to life with a bristle brush.

Why Are Bowling Shoes Important?

Bowling shoes are essential for three primary reasons. They help protect the approach area, enable a bowler to bowl safely, and help him excel in the sport. 

1. Protect the approach area

You aren’t allowed to wear regular shoes on the painted surface of the bowling lane area because the wooden approach area is highly polished. 

Regular shoes would create scuff marks and cause damage to the wooden floor, making it difficult for expert bowlers to strategically use the polished area to approach, glide, and release at the foul line. 

2. Promote safety

Bowling shoes are manufactured to help bowlers glide through the bowling surface. However, if the shoes aren’t taken care of properly, they can get stuck on the floor. 

If a bowler faces even a small amount of friction causing a little less slide during a run-up, he can face serious injuries to the wrists, back, and ankles.

3. Enhance performance

Unlike regular shoes, bowling shoes have a complicated construction that makes them a key piece of bowling equipment. 

What sets them apart from everyday shoes are their soles. Both the first and second shoe in the pair are specifically created with a slide strip that allows bowlers to slide into their release or brake from it, helping them gain maximum control over the ball.


Looking for the best bowling shoes can take a lot of time and effort. So when you finally find a new pair that strikes your fancy and helps improve your bowling, you’ll likely want to take good care of them.

It would certainly be a painful experience if you lost your footing in the bowling alley because of sticky shoes. You and your pride would be bruised; plus, you would be covered in oil!

If you take care of your bowling shoes, they will take care of you. Remember that the proper use of a bowling shoe cover and a wire brush will go a long way in keeping your bowling shoes clean and ready to be worn.