May 3, 2021

How to Remove Smell from Climbing Shoes

by Kevin

Rock climbing and mountaineering have been around for centuries and were mainly done for religious or astrological purposes. Nowadays, rock climbing is primarily done by outdoor enthusiasts.

Rock climbing is a great way to build your physical strength and endurance. It allows you to visit new places and meet new people. Climbing a mountain and finally making it to the top has been described as a spiritual moment that can become addictive.

The exhaustion, self-doubt, and regret felt during the climb would vanish, and a feeling of total accomplishment would take over your body. This feeling is multiplied tenfold along with a sense of exhilaration while rappelling down to the mountain base. Hiking back down a hill can be tiring.

Rappelling can be done without a partner and is easier, quicker, and safer when executed correctly. Rappelling must only be done with the proper gear. An expert mountain climber knows that apart from a helmet, climbing rope, anchor, and harness, the most essential piece of equipment is a good pair of climbing shoes.

The disadvantage of owning climbing shoes is the odor that occurs after every use. You will, at the time, think about how to remove the smell from climbing shoes or what are the most effective ways to remove the smell from climbing shoes, or simply why do climbing shoes smell.

Table of Contents
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Why are Your Climbing Shoes so Smelly?

The majority of climbing shoes are made from leather and rubber and fit snugly to one’s feet to ensure that they do not fall off easily and are comfortable. Climbing shoes and manufactured to keep in warmth because the temperature at the top of many mountains can reach the negatives.

The sweat, dead skin cells, and heat that become trapped in the shoe are breeding grounds for odor-causing bacteria. The bacteria multiply if the climbing shoe is not cleaned correctly and so creates a funk.

Do Not Procrastinate

Let’s face it. Once your climbing shoes start to smell, it could be hard to get rid of the smell. You can follow the steps below to prevent stinky shoes, or you can begin researching the best climbing to purchase.

Approach vs rock climbing shoes

Clean Your Feet!

The odor-causing bacteria found on feet; feed on sweat, dead skin cells, and the oil produced by your skin and is constantly multiplying. Some people produce more sweat than others, and their shoes smell bad because the bacteria on their feet produce sulfur compounds instead of just rank organic acids.

Washing your feet with antibacterial soap and keeping them dry can prevent them from getting too stinky. Keep dead skin cells at a minimum by using a foot scrub or pumice stone. Wearing cotton socks and switching shoes in between use can also prevent climbing shoes from getting smelly.

Hang Them Up to Dry

Rappelling off a cliff can be tiring but instead of stowing your climbing shoes in your backpack or under your car seat, hang them out to dry or place them in the sun.

Moisture causes bacterial growth. Wipe down climbing shoes with an antibacterial wipe or spray disinfectant before hanging in the wind or beside a heater/fireplace. Direct sunlight can effectively disinfect shoes and kill odor-causing bacteria. Silica packets can also get rid of moisture but keep them out of reach of children.

Are my climbing shoes too small

Newspapers, Baking Soda, and a Freezer

Stuffing your shoes with this morning’s newspaper is another way to get rid of moisture after a climbing session. The newspapers also help shoes to keep their shape when being transported.

Baking soda can be found in almost any home and is a great way to deodorize climbing shoes. Sprinkling baking soda inside of shoes is not recommended as it can leave the insoles sticky and slimy. Fill a coffee filter with baking soda, add a drop of your favorite essential oil, secure it with a string or rubber band, and leave it overnight in shoes.

Cold temperatures cannot kill bacteria and fungus; it only puts them to sleep. However, placing climbing shoes in the freezer is one way to remove odor from your shoes but remember to thaw and dry before use. 

Wash Those Shoes!

Often, the odor in climbing shoes comes from the insoles as they trap the sweat. Now you need to figure out how to remove smell from climbing shoes when this happens. Identify whether your insole can be removed and either machine-washed or hand-washed.

Climbing shoes are better off being hand-washed; however, using a washing bag on the lowest setting of a washing machine can also remove odor. Shoes must be dried for a day after a wash.

Odor Removing Products

If the previous tips do not work for you, then the following products can help.

1. Sneaker Balls/Shoe Deodorizers

Deodorizing sneaker balls contain baking soda or charcoal and emit a pleasant smell through little vents. They can last for up to five months and be placed in shoes, closets, and bags. Sof Sole Sneaker Balls start from $4.99 and come in packs of two and six.

Do you wear socks with climbing shoes

2. Bamboo Charcoal

Many deodorizing products are made with bamboo charcoal because they can absorb both stinky smells and moisture. Purchase bamboo charcoal,

place it in a sock or stocking, and store it in climbing shoes to remove odors. It is non-toxic and can be used for long periods. Moso Natural Mini Air Purifying Bags can be placed in shoes overnight to remove odor and moisture.

3. Disinfectant Spray

Odor eliminating disinfectant sprays are sometimes made with essential oils and antibacterial chemicals that neutralize odors and leave climbing shoes smelling fresh.

Lumi Outdoors Deodorizing Sprays are made with naturally sourced ingredients to kill and prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria.

You Didn’t Read All of the Above?

Here’s all you need to know to get rid of odors from climbing shoes:

  1. Keep your feet clean, especially between the toes. Don’t forget to scrub off dead skin and dry with a clean rag or towel.
  2. Hang climbing shoes to dry or place them directly in the sun after every use. Storing wet shoes in a bag is an absolute no-no!
  3. Use odor-removing products like deodorizes, disinfectant sprays, or bamboo charcoal. These are excellent fighters to get rid of that pesky climbing shoe smell.
  4. If all else fails, get rid of those climbing shoes because no one wants to be around stinky feet.

The above information is sure to help you remove the smell from climbing shoes.

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About the author 


Kevin loves bouldering. Mainly because he can practice it alone without considering other people. Although he rediscovered this hobby in the last three years, the boulders turned out to be his most visited landmarks.

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