October 15, 2020

How to Clean Climbing Shoes? 2 Tried Approaches

by Brad

If you have climbing shoes, you must know that it is quite challenging to maintain them, given that they are exposed to grime and dirt. Apart from this, sweat can lead to a bad smell, leading to germs, and ailments.

The dirty shoes can prove to be an obstacle to your climbing since they can cause accidents by slipping. In this article, we have mentioned some surefire guidelines on how to clean climbing shoes.

First of all, we will look at how to prevent your climbing shoes from getting dirty. Read our guide on how to choose the best climbing shoes for wide feet.

Table of Contents

How to Keep Your Climbing Shoes Clean

This is a 5-step approach to keeping your climbing shoes clean.

Step 1: Wash your feet

Before putting your feet in your climbing shoes, make sure that they are dry and clean. It is particularly important if you are not putting on socks since bacteria might enter the footwear from the feet.

Moreover, if you are climbing without wearing warm socks, you tend to sweat, and bacteria might cause fungus by entering into the shoes.

Fungi thrive in moisture, and therefore, make sure to keep your feet dry while putting on the climbing shoes, which will prevent you from getting Athlete’s Foot.

Related Article: When Should You Resole Your Climbing Shoes?

Step 2: Store the climbing shoes in an open area

It is quite important that you do not store the climbing shoes in tight corners. The fact is that your feet will be sweating while you are climbing.

They will be sweating a lot. This is going to make your footwear wet, and they will be the perfect breeding area for bacteria.

In case you keep your shoes in the dark and enclosed areas, you are helping bacteria develop more within the shoes.

In case you allow your shoes to become dry in an open area, you will prevent moisture from building up.

How to Clean Climbing Shoes

Related Article: How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last?

Step 3: Take your shoes off between climbs

You might be on your climbing trip, but that does not imply that it is imperative to wear shoes all the time.

If you are not climbing, make it a point to take the shoes off so that they can air out. This will make them smell better by reducing the moisture.

Step 4: Make use of air fresheners

In case your climbing shoes are beginning to smell, it will be sensible to take some other measures apart from the ones mentioned above.

For instance, deodorizing powders will help eliminate any kind of foul smell from the shoes. Just make sure that they will not damage the human skin by coming in contact.

However, suppose taking any preventative measures is not coming of use to you. In that case, what can you do? Is there any way to clean the climbing shoes, or do you need to purchase a new pair?

The answer is something that will make you happy in the long run. There is definitely a way to wash your climbing shoes. However, the bad thing is that the process might be somewhat time-consuming.

While cleaning the climbing shoes, it is crucial that you do not damage the materials, including the rubber of the climbing shoes.

You should also take into consideration the materials from which they have been made. Try to figure out whether they’re synthetic. After figuring this out, follow the subsequent washing guidelines mentioned below.

Climbing Shoes Advice How to Clean Climbing Shoes

How to Clean Climbing Shoes

This is a simple, 3-steps approach to cleaning climbing shoes.

Step 1: Always hand wash the shoes

When it comes to climbing shoes, the most effective washing method is to wash them with your own hands.

For this, you will require the proper equipment consisting of water, a bucket, as well as a brush.

Step 2: Make use of warm water

After starting the process of cleaning your climbing shoes, make it a point that the bucket is filled only with warm water.

Do not use any harsh chemical substance or anything which might damage the shoes’ materials.

It will be a sensible idea to add some mild detergent if you would like to get rid of bacteria and remove dirt. Take care not to overdo it since it might damage the shoes eventually.

Step 3: Air dry

After following the guidelines mentioned above, hang your shoes out for drying. Never throw the shoes in the dryer since the heat might shrink and also damage them.

If somehow you are interested in shrinking your climbing shoes, learn how to shrink your climbing shoes here.

Instead, hang the shoes so that they can be dried in the open. However, make it a point to check the weather before washing the shoes.

You will not like to clean them in case it is raining outside.

Rock Climbing Shoes Advice How to Clean Climbing Shoes

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Cleaning Climbing Shoes

We will answer the most frequently asked questions about the best way to clean your climbing shoes.

What are the main areas of the climbing shoe that need to be cleaned?

The main areas of the climbing shoe that need to be cleaned are the sole, heel, and tongue.

What are the most common types of dirt and stains on climbing shoes?

Many different types of dirt can accumulate on climbing shoes, but some of the most common ones include mud, chalk, dust, tree sap, and blood.

The type of dirt will depend on where you climb and what type of surface you use your hands or feet for grip. Climbers who climb indoors will have a lot less dirt than those who climb outdoors.

How often should a climbing shoe be cleaned?

Climbing shoes are made of synthetic materials that can become dirty over time. They should be cleaned after every use for maximum performance and hygiene.

To maintain the shoe’s grip on the rock, use a damp cloth or paper towel with mild soap to clean the inside of the shoe.

Which products should be used to clean a climbing shoe?

The best way to clean climbing shoes is by using a gentle brush with soft bristles, then wiping them down with a damp cloth followed by a dry cloth.

This will remove any dirt or grime that may have accumulated on the shoe’s surface.

What is the best way to dry climbing shoes?

The best way to dry climbing shoes is by hanging them in a cool and dark place. You should not dry them in the sun or in a hot place because this can cause damage to your shoes.

Related Article: The Best Slab Climbing Shoes

Can I use detergent or soap to clean climbing shoes?

Soap and detergent are not the best choices for cleaning climbing shoes. Synthetic materials can react to soap and detergent, so your shoe will be dirtier than before.

Use a brush, water, and dishwashing liquid to clean your climbing shoes effectively.

What are some of the best materials to use when cleaning climbing shoes?

The best materials to use when cleaning climbing shoes are water, dish soap, and a soft brush. You can also use a toothbrush or an old toothbrush to scrub the shoe’s surface. First, you need to wet the shoe with water and dish soap.

Next, scrub the shoe with the brush on both sides until it is clean. Rinse off any soap residue with more water and let it dry naturally.

Can you put climbing shoes in a washing machine?

No, climbing shoes should not be put in a washing machine. Climbing shoes are designed for climbers’ specific needs and should not be exposed to excessive heat or water.

The best way to clean climbing shoes is by using a damp cloth and wiping them down. It is essential to use a soft cloth not to damage the shoe’s surface.

If your climbing shoes are very dirty, you can use mild dish soap and water before wiping them down with a damp cloth.

Can you put climbing shoes in the dryer?

No, climbing shoes should not be put in the dryer. Climbing shoes are made of synthetic materials and will melt in a dryer.

How can I make my climbing shoes sticky again?

Climbing shoes can be made sticky again by using a shoe goo. This is a substance that climbers use to make their climbing shoes sticky again. It is usually applied by rubbing it into the outer surface of the shoe and then wiping off any excess.

There are also other ways that you can make your climbing shoes sticky again, such as using different substances like petroleum jelly or even soap and water.

These substances will work similarly, but they will not last as long and may not provide the same level of grip.

Can climbing shoes get wet?

Yes, climbing shoes get wet. Climbing shoes are not waterproof and should not be worn when the feet are in contact with water or snow.

Climbing shoes should be kept clean and dry, as any dirt or moisture can cause an uncomfortable experience for the climber.

Final Thoughts on How to Best Clean Your Climbing Shoe

Cleaning your climbing shoes will aid in improving your safety. Hopefully, the guidelines mentioned above will help you to clean your shoes in the best possible way.

Further, you can read our step-by-step guides on how to break into climbing shoes and how tight should climbing shoes be?

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About the author 


Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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