The Do’s and Don’ts of Dance Shoe Care

As a dancer, you know it’s essential to care for your feet – but what about your dance shoes?

As one of dancers’ main essentials, dance shoes require proper care to provide maximum support, protection and performance. Just as every dancer is unique, however, dance shoes and their needs are equally unique from the average street shoe.

Learn how to store, repair, wear and clean your dance shoes the right – and wrong – way.


The legs of a child in tutu and tap shoes

“On her toes – and ours!” by Maria Brea is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

  • Do store dance shoes in a cool and dry location. Fibers in damp shoes often deteriorate more quickly.
  • Don’t keep dance shoes in a plastic bag, such as the one they might come in when purchased. Shoes that are unable to breathe = shoes that sweat and ultimately decay and smell.


  • Do search out the correct materials if you’re planning on fixing them yourself. While the precaution may not necessarily be convenient, it does pay off in the long run. For instance, use wood glue when repairing stripped tap shoe screws. Superglue and other adhesives, while possibly already available in your supplies closet, will eventually crack.


  • Do be gentle when putting your footwear on and taking it off. The life span of toe paws, for example, is considerably affected by how carefully you put them on and remove them.
  • Do wear the proper clothing with your shoes. Pointe shoes, for example, should be worn with tights and the type of toe pads, if any, that your teacher instructs you to wear (there should not be room in your shoe to wear other kinds of foot coverage, like toe paws or socks). Socks worn with tap shoes can help prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Don’t ever dance in broken shoes, as it can cause serious consequences. Dancing in broken pointe shoes, for instance, can lead to hairline fractures in the foot.
worn pointe shoes

“At Rest” by tibbygirl is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.


  • Do wash canvas shoes, like ballet shoes, in the washer if they need to be cleaned.
  • Do use a shoe brush on suede-bottom shoes – it will keep them clean and help them maintain their texture.
  • Do use polish or silicon oil on patent shoes, such as ballroom shoes, to prevent cracking and sticking.
  • Do clean dirt off leather shoes, like jazz or tap shoes, using melamine foam.
  • Don’t put canvas shoes in the dryer after washing, as this could cause them to shrink.
  • Don’t ever wear your dance shoes outside the studio. Not only will they get dirty, but it can damage the soles. Most dance shoes don’t provide proper support for wearing as a street shoe, either. Plus, your teacher surely doesn’t want dirt from outside tracked into the studio.

What tips and tricks do you have for keeping your dance shoes in tip-top shape? Share them in the comments below!


More Information on Dance Shoe Care: 

Elizabeth Semko
Elizabeth is a dance minor and journalism major at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville. A dance student since the age of six, she has danced in the studio and on dance team, as well as at Radio City Music Hall as part of the Rockette Summer Intensive. She currently teaches at a studio in her college town.
Elizabeth Semko

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  1. Jake White says:

    My wife has been dancing for years, and she even performs for a professional company right now. She has been complaining that her shoes wear out too quickly, and so I have been looking into ways to help her. I don’t think that she is very careful when taking them on and off, and I was surprised to see in this post how that can affect the lifespan of a shoe. I will pass this information onto her, so thanks for sharing it!

  2. Hello. I have some Capezio B free elite boots and I spilt some strawberry milkshake on them by accident much to my tragedy.
    Would it be safe to put them on a cold/gentle cycle?
    Kind regards

    • I wouldn’t, Elsa. A quick glance at the description of materials for this shoe and you’ll find embossed and suede leather and spacer mesh. That just screams by-hand cleaning to me. I’m not a shoe professional so take any advice here at your own risk but you may want to try a good leather cleaner on the leather parts of the shoe. However, I’m guessing with a milkshake spill that the mesh will give you trouble. Unfortunately, I think you’ll just need to try scrubbing that with detergent (use a mild one like Woolite) or just dissolve bar soap in water. There may be YouTube tutorials about cleaning mesh on sneakers that are worth a look, too. Good luck!

  3. Hi I’ve been doing ballroom for the past two years now. I was told when I want to clean my shoes I must just wash it…. It is a Latin shoe. I’m a bit scared just to submerged them in saop water. Any help? Please…. And how do I get them dry again…. I the sun?

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