Do Bowling Alleys Clean the Shoes?


One of the first things you usually do when you enter a bowling alley is to rent your bowling shoes. Seeing how it’s likely that many people have worn those shoes before you have, you’ve probably thought about how often your bowling alley cleans their shoes. Do bowling alleys even clean their shoes? 

Many bowling alleys insist they always use Lysol on shoes immediately after their return, but it may also depend on the individual that receives the shoes and whether they choose to clean them thoroughly. It also depends on the specific bowling alley in terms of how often they clean their shoes.

In this article, we’ll discuss how different bowling alleys clean their shoes, as well as how you can stay safe and free of health risks at the bowling alley every time you go.

The Cleanliness of Your Bowling Shoes Depends on the Bowling Alley

As we stated earlier, the cleanliness of the bowling shoes you rent depends on how well the bowling alley you’re at cleans their shoes. Many bowling alleys insist they spray their shoes with Lysol and set them aside until they dry.

Other bowling alleys insist they have powerful disinfectant sprays they use to keep their shoes in as good as shape as possible. While management may have strict protocol about how and when their shoes should be cleaned, it’s really up to the individual who cleans these shoes regarding how well of a job they do.

Seeing how numerous people frequently wear the same bowling shoes at a bowling alley, it’s easy to see how bacteria can live and grow inside these kinds of shoes. If you’re concerned about how regularly your local bowling alley cleans their shoes, you can always speak to an employee about their policies. 

Risks of Dirty Bowling Shoes

As we stated above, bacteria can easily grow inside bowling shoes, as they are passed around amongst various people. 

Even if these shoes are regularly cleaned, seeing how they are passed around frequently, and worn by a variety of different people, it’s still possible to contract bacteria, fungi and even viruses from these shoes. While your chances of contracting any type of virus from these shoes are low as long as you’re wearing socks, it’s still important to be mindful of this fact. 

Below, we’ll explore some of the health risks that rented bowling shoes can have for those who don’t take certain precautions. 

Bowling Shoes Are Susceptible to Fungus

Fungi are known to grow in the confines of dark and moist environments, making the inside of your shoes a perfect place. Fungus is even more likely to grow in bowling shoes that have been worn by many different people.

The fungus can begin to build up when bowling shoes aren’t cleaned regularly, and the sweat from all the people who’ve worn those shoes creates a perfect environment for its growth. It’s best to wearing thick, moisture-wicking socks to avoid contact with unwanted fungus on your feet and toenails. 

Those who bowl without socks should be mindful of how much fungus and bacteria potentially live inside the shoes they’re wearing. While this might pose a health risk, there are plenty of ways to avoid contact with harmful fungi, such as wearing quality socks and asking questions when you’re at the bowling alley, how often they clean their shoes, as well as what they use. 

There Is Potential to Contract a Virus

As we stated above, while the chances of contracting bacteria or a virus from bowling shoes are low, it’s still important to be cautious and mindful of these facts. 

A virus such as warts can easily affect a bowler’s feet if they aren’t careful. While the chances of this are low, it’s important to be mindful of the potential.

Again, wearing socks and ensuring that the bowling alley cleans their shoes thoroughly and regularly is key to staying safe and avoiding health risks while bowling.

When it comes to bowling without socks, you may be more likely to contract a virus if you have an open wound or blister on your feet or toes. To keep yourself safe and free from any infection, it’s ideal to cover up with the proper socks before you hit the lanes. 

How to Keep Yourself Safe and Informed at the Bowling Alley

Now that we’ve gone over the potential health risks that live inside your rented bowling shoes, below, we’ll explore how you can keep yourself free from any health risks that may be lurking inside those bowling alley shoes. 

Always Wear or Bring Socks

It’s important to remember you should always wear or bring socks when heading to the bowling alley.

No matter how often or not certain bowling alleys clean their shoes, wearing socks when bowling is key to avoiding contact with past sweat and germs that’s creeping underneath the surface. 

Thick, clean moisture-wicking socks are a great choice when you’re headed out to bowl. Even if the bowling alley you’re at insists that they thoroughly clean their shoes after every use, you should still wear socks when participating in this sport. 

You’ll want to wear socks for various reasons, but especially if you have any cut or blister on your foot when bowling. The bacteria on your rented shoes can quickly enter your open wound, which can easily lead to unwanted infections down the line. 

Some bowling alleys will even provide throw away socks if you don’t have any on hand. Ideally, you wear some form of protection around your feet before putting on your rented bowling shoes. Wearing socks is the number one way to keep yourself safe and free of unwanted contact with old sweat and germs. 

Ask Questions About Your Bowling Alleys Cleaning Policies

Don’t be afraid to ask your local bowling alley questions about how regularly they clean their shoes. As we stated earlier, it depends on that specific bowling alley’s policies in terms of how and when they clean their shoes.

It may also depend on the individual that received the shoes back after a customer has finished with them. While some employees may thoroughly use disinfectants when shoes are returned to them, others may put those shoes back on the rack to be rented again. 

If you aren’t satisfied with the answers you receive when asking about your bowling alleys cleaning policies, you can always bring your own disinfectant. This 10 Second Shoe Disinfectant and Deodorizer from Amazon is a great option for those who are looking to sanitize on the go.

If you’re looking to destroy the bacteria and mold that may potentially be living inside your rented shoes in just a matter of seconds, this is the perfect option for you. Not only will it kill any unwanted germs that may be living inside your bowling shoes, but it will vastly improve the smell as well. 

Purchase Your Own Bowling Shoes 

Another way to keep yourself out of harm’s way at the bowling alley is by only purchasing your own bowling shoes. For those who bowl frequently and are looking to avoid sharing shoes at the bowling alley, this is a great option for you.

What makes this even greater is that you don’t have to break the bank to purchase a decent pair of bowling shoes. For example, these KR Strikeforce Mens Flyer Bowling Shoes are a best seller on Amazon, and it’s clear to see why.  

Not only are these one of the most affordable bowling shoes available, but they provide maximum comfort and flexibility that will come in handy during your big game. Purchasing your pair of bowling shoes is a great way to ease any uneasiness you may have about wearing a pair of rented shoes.

Not only that, but you’ll save money, in the long run, seeing how you won’t have to purchase a pair of shoes each time you go bowling. When you bowl in your shoes, you don’t have to worry about where they have been or who wore them last. You should also check out my 10 Best Bowling Shoes with Interchangeable Soles for more options.

For those looking to stay safe and informed out there on those lanes, remembering all these key components we went over will help you do just that. 

Different Ways to Kill Germs Inside of Your Shoes 

Whether you usually rent your shoes at the bowling alley or have a pair of your own, it’s important to understand how you can successfully clean the insides of your shoes. Cleaning the insides of your shoes regularly is key to stopping bacteria in its tracks. 

Lysol or Clorox Disinfectant Sprays

After each use, using a generous amount of disinfectant spray is ideal in that it kills over a majority of the preexisting bacteria that live inside your shoe. 

This is a great option for those who have their bowling shoes, as it’s a quick and easy way to clean your shoes once you get home. If you’re renting your shoes, and you’re still more comfortable with giving them a quick spray before putting them on, we mentioned a smaller 8oz disinfectant earlier that you can use. 

Whether you’re renting or owning your bowling shoes, coating your shoes in a healthy amount of disinfectant spray is smart and safe to avoid contact with harmful bacteria and eliminate any build-up of sweat and germs. 

Shoe Sanitizer 

This is a great option for those who have their bowling shoes ready to go home and are looking for an inventive and long-lasting solution to keeping them clean.

The SteriShoe Essential Shoe Sanitizer from Amazon uses UV light technology to sanitize the inside of your shoes. This product kills 99.99% of germs that can potentially lead to warts, athletes foot, and foot odor. Plug this device in and insert it inside your shoes for 45 minutes, allowing it to sanitize and kill unwanted microorganisms that may be living inside.

Once 45 minutes have passed, the UV light will automatically turn off for you, signaling that your shoes have been successfully sterilized and are good to go. This impressive piece of technology works and has been recommended by hundreds of doctors. 

If you have your own pair of bowling shoes at home that you’re looking to keep in tip-top shape, this SteriShoe sanitizer will get the job done in as little as 45 minutes. 

White Vinegar and Water Solution

For those who have their bowling shoes, mixing white vinegar and water is another unique way to kill bacteria and eliminate harsh odors. 

First, you’ll want to create your solution, which will consist of one tablespoon of white vinegar paired with five tablespoons of water. Once you have your solution, take a sponge or a rag and dip it into your solution.

Begin wiping the insides of your shoes with your sponge or rag. Ensure that you have wiped every inch of the inside of your shoe for the best results. Give your shoes plenty of time to dry after applying your solution.

Keeping them in a well-ventilated area is best, as it will ensure that your shoes dry quickly and experience the best results. If you’re concerned about the smell of vinegar overwhelming your shoes, this smell will dissipate as your shoes begin to dry. 

Baking Soda

If you’re looking to eliminate harsh odors coming from the inside of your shoes, you may want to consider baking soda. Simply leaving a generous amount of baking soda in your shoes overnight is key to having a fresh and clean bowling shoe by morning.

In the morning, empty the powder and be amazed at the lack of odor that comes from your bowling shoe. Don’t be concerned if there’s a small amount of baking powder left inside your shoe once you’ve emptied it, as it’s not harmful.

While this solution isn’t aimed at killing bacteria or germs, it’s an ideal way to eliminate any unforgiving odors that may have built up over time. Remembering all the options we’ve listed above is key to taking care of your bowling shoes and ensuring that they last a long time. 

What Else You Should Know About Keeping Bowling Shoes Clean

We’ve discussed many elements in this article already, but what else should you know about the importance of keeping your bowling shoes clean? Below, we’ll explore what you should know and how you can keep your bowling shoes in quality condition.

Keeping Your Shoes Clean Makes Them Last Longer

Doing routine maintenance on your bowling shoes is essential in making them last a long time. If you allow too much sweat and bacteria to build up over time, your shoes will begin to age quickly and break apart.

If you want your bowling shoes to last for a long time, it’s ideal for cleaning them after every use with one of the many cleaning methods discussed above. Taking just a few moments to clean your bowling shoes thoroughly will allow you to bowl at your best while preserving your shoes in the long run.

Keeping your shoes clean will also limit your risk of contracting some infection or virus. Keeping all these elements in mind will ensure that your shoes stay in quality condition, which will keep you comfortable and bowling at your best. 

Pay Attention to the Quality of the Shoes You Rent

Another factor to be mindful of is the look and feel of the shoes you rent at the bowling alley. If you can spot large amounts of discoloration, as well as strong odors coming from your bowling shoes, you may want to consider if you’re comfortable wearing them.

These factors can be signs of improper care of these shoes at the hands of the bowling alley. If you’re concerned, you may want to speak to someone who works there about their policies regarding cleaning their shoes.

You could also invest in your bowling shoes if you’re not too sure about the shoes they have available at the bowling alley. Taking all these factors into account will help you stay safe and informed at the bowling alley, no matter what kind of shoes you’re wearing. 

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed whether bowling alleys clean their shoes. Depending on the bowling alley and the cleaning policies they have in place when it comes to their shoes, the answer varies.

We also went over the health risks that come with wearing rented shoes at a bowling alley. Some various infections and viruses can live and grow inside of these bowling shoes, so it’s important to be aware of that.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of how to stay safe at the bowling alley, as well as the importance of bowling in clean shoes. 

Sources

Tim C, M.D.

My grandfather and my mother both taught me bowling in the early 1970’s. I spent the next few decades working my way up to the top tiers of local amateur bowling leagues, and continued to participate in college at the club level. My wife and bowled in coed leagues before kids, and then taught our kids bowling as they grew up. Now I’m here to answer some of the web’s common questions about bowling rules, techniques, equipment and more. To see more about the site, check our About Page

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