How To Wash a Basketball Jersey: Step-by-Step Guide

two basketball jerseys with an overlay title "how to wash a basketball jersey"

If you are a basketball player or an NBA fan, there’s no doubt you have some basketball jerseys in your closet. However, the problem with us basketball enthusiasts is – we love our jerseys so much that we’re too hesitant to wash them. What if the color goes off? What if the numbers fade? Even worse – what if the logo gets distorted?

Not to mention how expensive some jerseys are, especially the authentic ones, which still you will need to sooner or later wash if you’ve been wearing them.

After a hard day at the court, your jerseys will get drenched in sweat, and in the worst-case scenario even some blood. Hence, your best bet is to take care of your basketball jersey right after the game to clear out the stains, stinky odor, and germs. Don’t leave it stink in your gym bag – it’s very unhygienic and your teammates will surely not enjoy training with you if you show up with that smelly jersey in the next practice.

Basketball jerseys are indeed washable. You can either choose to hand wash them or simply toss them into the washing machine. We’ve gathered you some detailed instructions on how to do that so before you get on to washing your basketball uniforms, be sure to read our detailed step-by-step washing instructions below.

How to Wash a Basketball Jersey

manufacturer's tag with cleaning instructions on a basketball jersey

Washing your basketball jersey gets easy if you first determine the type of jersey you have. Depending on the caliber of the manufacturer, several varieties of materials and fabrics are used to produce replicas and authentic basketball jerseys.

Most basketball jerseys are made out of polyester and nylon, including mine, and chances are – your jersey is also one of them. These fabrics are quite lustrous, breathable, and effectively absorb moisture. The cleaning is very straightforward, and it’s usually described on the manufacturer’s tag. You can also visit the brand’s website, find your jersey and read the specific cleaning instructions there.

In this article, we gather various effective jersey cleaning methods for washing different types of basketball uniforms. All of these methods are perfectly safe regardless of the type of your basketball jersey.

Best Way To Wash a Basketball Jersey

a basketball jersey in a washing machine

Machine wash will be the easiest and most effective way to clean your basketball jersey. Here are some step-by-step pointers for washing and maintaining the finest possible appearance of your basketball uniforms, whether those are for your regular practice or simply for fashion such as authentic or swingman.

Step 1: Select the right temperature for your jersey

maximum washing temperature on manufacturer's instructions

Once again take a look at your basketball jersey’s manufacturer tag and identify the right temperature. Usually it’s advised to not go beyond 86 – 104°F (30 – 40°C). This will protect your jersey and stickers from discoloring, shrinking and cracking. Exposure to higher water temperatures will obviously do the opposite.

Step 2: Turn Jersey Inside Out

split image of a basketball jersey turned inside out

To protect the name and digits on your basketball uniform, turn the jersey inside out before you fling it in the washer. This way, the colors won’t get washed out while the logo will remain intact.

If you’re dealing with a double sided basketball jersey, this will not matter that much. Simply make sure that the outside color matches other jerseys if there are more of them.

Step 3: Choose the right laundry detergent

a hand holding laundry detergent gel

Use a mild, color safe or neutral laundry detergent or soap powder. Take an extra look at what you use – some liquid detergents are strong in concentration and can taint the color scheme of your jersey. Read the instructions and pour the amount corresponding to your washer’s load.

Step 4: Wash Similar Colored Jersey Together

It’s best to wash your jersey separately to avoid smearing colors. However, if you want to wash multiple jerseys, gather jerseys of similar colors and fabrics before putting them in the washer. Be careful not to wash white and colored jerseys or other parts of the uniform together. Colorful jerseys frequently “bleed” when wet, resulting in dye leaks that paint white jerseys.

Step 5: No Fabric Softener

Avoid using fabric softeners on your basketball jerseys. Its constituent chemicals may weave and alter the fabric of your jerseys. Moreover, fabric softeners hinder the washing powder from infiltrating your jersey to remove odor and germs.

Step 6: Set Machine To Low Spin

30°C temperature chosen in a washing machine display

Even if you’re in a hurry, don’t wash your jerseys in a fast cycle. While quick wash cycles are much more time-saving, the wear and tear increases significantly. This teardown causes a lot of damage to your jerseys. We recommend the ideal setting to be a low spin, gentle wash cycle for up to 1 hour.

Step 7: Dry and Try

Two basketball jerseys hanging on a drying rack

Once your jersey is machine washed, dry it on a drying rack. Never put them in a tumble drier. Those will surely damage the stickers ( I’m a victim of that myself ) and might even shrink your jersey (unless that’s what you aim for, in that case this guide on shrinking basketball jerseys will help you out).

Finally, you are ready to put back on your freshly washed basketball jersey and make those buckets in style.

Other Effective Methods for Cleaning Your Basketball Jerseys

Did you stain your polyester basketball jerseys while eating in them? Or this unpleasant sweaty odor won’t go away?

Whatever the case may be, you don’t have to machine wash your jerseys every time. If there is a minor stain, you can simply hand wash or use a vinegar solution to keep the odor away.

Rub and Scrub

Handwashing your jerseys not only helps to get rid of the scruffiness but also effectively removes any stains or blotches. This method works best for removing ketchup, mustard, or grass stains. If this is your main issue, we have elaborated about that more in the sections below.

But now, back to the hand washing.

Here are some precisely defined steps to follow for a quick hand wash routine.

Step 1: Fill a tub or sink with cold water. Add a slight amount ( up to a half capful ) of mild color-safe detergent to the water. Before placing your sportswear in, make sure the detergent and water are well dissolved.

Step 2: Separate colored jerseys from white jerseys. Soak each jersey for 5 – 10 minutes separately for the best care.

Note: check the manufacturer’s tag one more time and make sure it’s not suggesting against soaking. One of my basketball jerseys shouldn’t be soaked and I religiously adhere to it.

Instructions stating "do not soak" on a manufacturer's tag of a basketball jersey

Step 3: Dab the stained spot with cold water. You can even spritz stain remover spray or apply a generous amount of detergent on a specific spot. Just be sure that the chemical is safe for your jersey fabric.

Step 4: Scrub the stain lightly with a soft bristle brush. Squash out excess water. Avoid tugging and twisting the jersey.

Step 5: Give your jersey a quick final rinse in fresh water. It’s essential to remove any detergent remnants from the jersey prior to drying it, as this might irritate your skin once you wear it.

Vinegar Solution

white vinegar is being poured into a washing machine detergent compartment

Although it may sound unusual, synthetic vinegar helps a great deal in eliminating those stubborn odors. Combine it with your washing machine and it will work like a charm!

When cleaning a jersey with white vinegar, remember to add only one cup of vinegar to your washing machine dispenser. Then proceed as usual by including the washing detergent.

Afterwards, follow our instructions above when setting up the washing machine cycle.

How to Remove Stains from a Basketball Jersey?

Did you smack your nose or accidentally slam into the opposing player? Did someone guard you tight with those bloody fingers on your jersey? Whatever it is, now you have some blood on your jersey which of course needs to go. The washing cycle as per above mentioned instructions should work. Otherwise, we have got a couple of additional cleaning hacks for you.

You can use several techniques to remove blood blemishes. One of them is a cold water and salt solution. It is important to mention that the water temperature plays a crucial role in the stain removal process. Each stain is different and while some can be easily wiped off with cold water, others might require a hot-water treatment.

Apart from blood marks, you can use cold water to treat stains on your jersey, caused by soft drinks, tea, coffee, milk, alcohol, cheese, or chocolate. For different stains, try it out with hot or lukewarm water.

Alternatively, an enzymatic stain remover can be used to get rid of blood stains too. Before tossing your jersey in the washer, you can also prewash by applying a generous amount of soap or mild detergent to the stained area and scrubbing the spot with a soft-bristled brush.

Follow the above-mentioned machine or hand wash cleaning methods to make your regular game, swingman or authentic basketball jerseys spic and span.

How To Wash a White Basketball Jersey

White basketball jersey

Bleaching your white basketball jersey is a mistake people often make. Even though your jersey is white, the letters, numbers, and crest are colored. Aside from that, chlorine bleach doesn’t work well on polyester and might even distort the fabric.

To clean a white jersey, soak it in cold water, gently wipe off the stains by hand and follow the rub and scrub method detailed above.

If nothing works and you are ready to go all in to clean a stubborn stain, try adding a few drops of oxygen bleach. Compared to chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach is polyester-friendly, reacts more gently, and is less abrasive and harmful on basketball jerseys.

Take a look at this guide if you need more details when cleaning white sports jerseys.

Drying Basketball Jerseys – Should You Use a Dryer?

Split image of tumble dryer crossed out by red cross and drying rack ticked by a green tick mark

After you have washed your basketball jersey, drying is just as critical part of the jersey take-care routine as washing.

Never use a tumble dryer for this purpose. Even while it may seem easier to do, it won’t sound so good when your prized basketball jerseys come out of the dryer shrunk and damaged. Higher temperatures will also permanently damage any sticker numerals, logos and lettering on your jersey.

Moreover, if there are leftover stains on the jersey, the dryer will make sure they settle down and become more difficult to deal with.

So, how do you dry your jerseys the right way?

First things first, ensure your jerseys get significant air circulation inside-out. You can peg them on a drying rack overnight or hang them on a clothes hanger leaving some space around. You may even put a fan nearby to speed up the drying process. If your drying rack is exposed to direct sun, we recommend to dry you jersey inside out to protect the main side from excessive heat and color alteration.

Can I iron my basketball jersey?

Depending on how wrinkled your basketball uniform is after a good machine or hand wash, you might be tempted to iron it. Yes, ironing basketball jerseys is possible but it has to be done correctly. Unattentive ironing can result in burn marks and damage, especially to stickers.

To remove wrinkles, put a protective layer, which can be a regular white t-shirt or even baking paper on your basketball jersey. Next, set the iron to the lowest heat level and hit a few gentle strokes, one at a time. Repeat it on the necessary areas.

Make sure you iron basketball jerseys only when necessary, avoid this as your habit.

Can You Wash an NBA Jersey?

You can certainly wash your NBA jerseys. Before washing, make sure to pay heed to the manufacturer’s instructions as you would when washing other basketball jersey types.

For a quick wash, soak these jerseys in lukewarm water and refer to the machine washing steps mentioned above.


Basketball jerseys can be and should be washed after every game or practice. Start by having a look at the manufacturer’s label for any specific cleaning instructions. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with those, the easiest and most effective method is to wash your basketball jersey in a washing machine as per our instructions above in the article. Alternatively, you can also hand-wash or apply a vinegar solution if dealing with bad odor.

Never put the basketball jersey in a tumble dryer, simply let it air dry on a drying rack. Finally, avoid ironing unnecessarily, however if you do choose to iron – put a layer of cloth over your creased basketball jersey area and continue ironing like so.

Finally, consider getting used to folding your jerseys correctly to avoid these wrinkles from coming back again.

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