How To Clean Climbing Shoes | Detailed Guide 2022

A quality pair of climbing shoes is quite important for gym, rock, climbing, and bouldering, and it’s also important to know how you clean your climbing shoes. This pair of shoes indirectly contributes to your safety while climbing, and they can have a major impact on whether you climb successfully or not. 

Moreover, climbing shoes face lots of abuse, and they are the source of link between you and the ground that you walk on. Climbing Shoes bear dirt, grime, environmental toxins, and sweat gathering inside them, and it’s easy for fungus to develop in them. 

That’s why it’s necessary to clean your climbing shoes often to keep them well-maintained and in their best possible condition. You should make sure that your shoe is properly cleaned before climbing because it can affect your safety. Safety comes first!

But cleaning your climbing shoes the right way needs a little research but don’t worry because I have already gathered everything you’ll need to know about how to clean climbing shoes for a safer and more amazing climbing experience. 

And the good news is that with the help of this guide, you will learn how to keep your shoes clean and how to get rid of the smell and make your shoes last longer.😃

How To Keep Climbing Shoes Clean And Odor-Free

I know you’re thinking about how to wash climbing shoes? Basically, there are two methods of cleaning climbing shoes you can go for according to your desire or need. One is hand washing and another is machine washing.

1. Cleaning with Hand washing

Cleaning with Hand washing SHOES

Ok, let’s start with the material that you will need to hand wash your climbing shoes.

There are only four things that you should have a large bucket or a tub, mild detergent, lukewarm water, a small and soft brush. In case if you don’t have any brushes then you can use a toothbrush.

2. Fill The Bucket With Water

Just fill the bucket or tub with lukewarm water that will make it easy to remove dirt and debris. And don’t use hot water because it can damage or destroy the rubber on the sole and cold water doesn’t work that good. 

3. Use Mild Detergent

Use Mild Detergent for Shoes

A mild detergent can help to remove sweat and dirt easily. If you don’t have any detergent at all then it will be quite difficult to remove sweat and residues because the water doesn’t go into the cracks and niches of your shoes enough. 

But do remember; don’t use strong chemicals or detergents because they can damage the sole of your climbing shoes and upper liner.

If you have a pair of leather climbing shoes, harsh chemicals can make the leather wear down faster and can damage it. So be careful!

4. Clear The Dust Before Putting The Shoes Into Water

You can use a small brush to brush the dust from the shoe before putting them into water.

That will clean the small particles of chalk and dust from the shoes by turning them into mud and paste.

5. Turn Shoes Upside Down

Now turn your shoes upside down and pad them slightly on the toe box to make sure little crumbles of chalk, rocks, and stone fall out from the shoes.

6. Scrub Outside Of Shoes

Make your shoes wet then use the small brush and scrub the upper, tongue and sole of your shoes. The brush will help you to remove stains perfectly and easily.

Clean the sole of your shoes but before cleaning it, dip it into lukewarm water so that the dirt comes off easily by loosening it.

7. Clean The Shoes From Inside

Then clean your shoes from inside by gently using a small brush. But don’t forget you wash the scrub from outside as the scrub is dirty as you did before. 

It’s quite important to try and clean the toe box and upper of the shoe but if you cannot reach a corner, use your fingers to clean and rub the area inside the shoe. 

Now dunk your shoes into the warm soapy water after cleaning them from inside. You can dunk the shoes multiple times in soapy water, if needed, to remove any brown and colored water.

8. Rinse Your Shoes With Lukewarm Water

Rinse Your Shoes With Lukewarm Water

Make empty the tub from water then refill it with lukewarm water. Place your climbing shoes into the lukewarm water and move them around, up and down, sideways.

Do this 2 to 3 times so that there will be no soap and dirty will remain in it anymore.

9. Dry The Shoes

Shake your climbing shoe to remove any leftover water. After that use a towel to wipe absorb water from the shoe, soaking in as much moisture as possible. Then place the shoe somewhere with a light breeze.

And don’t place the shoes in direct sunlight because the UV rays can damage the material of your shoe. Let your shoe completely dry and don’t wear them until they are completely dry.

Don’t use a hot dryer for drying your climbing shoe, it can destroy your sticky soles and can damage the rubber also. Let them try completely through the air.

Machine Washing

Let’s move on to the second method that you can go for but this method is only applicable to synthetic climbing shoes. If you have leather shoes then you can’t follow this step otherwise your shoes can be ruined if you machine wash them.

Material that you need for washing your climbing shoes is a machine washer that will easily clean your shoes, a mild detergent that will make your shoes spotless, and a small soft brush is needed.

1. Clean The Dust From The Shoes

You can use a small scrape to scrape the dust from the shoe before placing them into water. That will clean the little scraps of chalk and dust from the shoes by turning them into slop and paste.

2. Turn Shoes Upside Down

Now turn your inside of the shoes upside down and pad them slightly on the toe box to make sure little crumbles of chalk, rocks, and stone fall out from the boots.

3. Set Up Your Washing Machine To A Gentle Washing Cycle

Set Up Your Washing Machine To A Gentle Washing Cycle for shoes 1

If your washing machine has an option for synthetics or delicates, use that option. Synthetic climbing boots can take a wash, but don’t set your washing machine above 1000 rpm.

In my opinion, it’s better to set 500-800 rpm because it works best with a temperature of 30-40 °C (85 to 100 °F)

4. How do you disinfect climbing shoes? Add Some Mild Washing Detergent for killing bacteria

In handwashing, we only use a very mild detergent. But synthetic detergent works well, and it can kill smell and bacteria completely. And the most important thing, don’t use bleach because it can destroy your climbing shoe.

5. Rinse Your Climbing Shoe With Water

After completing the cleaning machine process, wash your shoe with lukewarm water because sometimes a machine leaves some residue.

6. Completely Dry The Shoes

Completely Dry The Shoes

Shake your climbing shoes to remove any leftover water. After that use a towel to wipe absorb water from the shoe, soaking in as much moisture as possible. Then place the shoe somewhere with a light breeze.

Don’t place the shoes in direct sunlight because the UV rays can damage the material of your shoe. Let your shoe completely dry and don’t wear them until they are completely dry.

And don’t use a hot dryer for drying your climbing shoe, it can destroy your sticky soles and can damage the rubber also.

How To Clean rock climbing When You’re Outdoors Or On Camping

If you’re not at home and you want to clean your climbing shoes then what will you do? It’s quite simple don’t worry about it, you can easily clean your climbing shoes even when you’re outdoor without using a tub or basket full of lukewarm water and without using detergent.

1. Mix Rubbing Alcohol

Take some rubbing alcohol and dilute with a little bit of water. Use a small soft brush to brush away at the outer part of the shoe. Gently clean away any of the dirt from the shoe.

2. Brush The Shoe

Gently brush on the areas which are discoloured because of sweat or dirt. Brush the rubber parts of the climbing shoes; you can use a paper towel if needed.

3. Use A Spray Bottle To Mix The Alcohol And Spray The Shoes

Add some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, and then lightly spray the inside of the climbing shoes.

4. Dry The Shoes

Hang the shoes somewhere and leave them to air dry.😀

How Do You Get The Smell Out Of Climbing Shoes?

While we have to wash everything that we use daily because it’s necessary otherwise things get worst in condition. To keep your climbing shoes in great shape you have to wash them often but you should follow some safety hacks that keep your shoes clean and save from smell. 

All the climbing shoes become so disgusting because of moisture and bacteria. I would like to suggest you go climbing in a cold-weather destination because bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments.

The best way that you can practice avoiding the need to clean your climbing shoes is by keeping them as fresh as possible.

This is what we should do from the very beginning, from the first time we wear our climbing shoes. We should keep our shoes clean, to prevent them from moisture, and we have to dry the moisture out as soon as it inevitably arises.

1. Wash Your Feet Before Wearing The Shoes

Sweaty feet: 12 tips to prevent and get rid of them

If you don’t wear socks then wash your feet before putting them into climbing shoes, it’s quite important because bacteria from your feet can enter into the shoes through your feet.

Moreover, if you do rock climbing without socks then it will be a little dangerous because sweat and other bacteria enter into the climbing shoes and it can cause fungus. 

2. Wear Thin Socks

Wear a thin and clean sock is another way that you can follow to avoid the smell and to keep your shoes clean.

I think this step is essential for all types of shoes not only for climbing shoes. Because socks absorb sweat and collect the dead skin cells that your feet shed.

3. Place Your Shoes In An Open Space

Store your shoes in an open space so that they can dry the moisture of sweat and bacteria.

Take The Shoes Off While You’re Not Climbing

It’s another good practice that you can follow to take the shoes off when you’re not climbing; therefore, they have time to air out. This will help the shoes to decrease the moisture and smell better.

1. Use Air Fresheners

When you notice that your shoes are starting to smell, you can take them off to air out but you can also use air freshener or deodorizing powders that can help eliminate even the toughest of odours from your shoes.

But while selecting the air fres to make sure that they’re safe for contact with human skin.

2. Dry Your Shoes Smell Less And Are Cleaner

The best way to keep your shoes clean is to let them dry after finishing climbing. Do put your climbing shoes into your bag when they are sweaty or even slightly damp.

You should let them air out. One of the best ways is to hang them on the outside of your bag with a carabineer instead of putting them inside.

I know it will give you some strange looks and wrinkled noses from other commuters on the train or the bus but it’s much better than putting them into the bag. If you want to be a well-mannered citizen then wait and let your shoes air out before placing them into the bag.

3. How To Wash Leather Climbing Shoes

Well, as per my research leather shoes has the ability to last longer if they got treated smartly, and for which must need to make certain efforts.

Washing of leather climbing shoes could be an easy job to do by using the right and appropriate methods and techniques. So let’s find out what are those techniques or methods!

Can You Wash Climbing Shoes?

As leather has been named for its durability but it doesn’t merely mean that we can treat leather according to our will. Several people used to wash their leather climbing shoes in the machine but we really don’t want you to do so.

To wash leather climbing shoes in the cleaning machine could be an easy thing to do but by doing this you would seriously ruin your climbing shoes. When you will put your climbing shoes of leather into water (no matter cold or warm), enough water would be absorbed into it.

Later on, you can let all the water dry from that leather but somehow but the durability of your leather climbing shoes would be certainly minimized. So, try to avoid washing them in the machine.

An Easy And Right Method To Wash Leather Climbing Shoes

Here is an easy, right, quick, and safer method to wash leather shoes conveniently.😃

  • Take off the shoelaces and keep them aside.
  • Clean off all the dirt and debris from the surface of shoes by using a dry cloth.
  • Try to make sure that there is no spot of dirt over the surface of the shoes and if you find any, just wipe it with a damp cloth or shoe brush.
  • Add some vinegar with whatever soup or cleanser you are willing to use for washing/cleaning your leather climbing shoes and mix them well.
  • Apply this mixture gently over the surface of shoes with the help of a shoe brush and rub on for a while.
  • Again by using a damp cloth wipe up all the soup from the shoes and they dry at room temperature.
  • After making sure that your leather climber shoes are completely dry, you can take them with you once again (don’t wear them until they don’t get dry properly).

Frequently asked question

Can you put your climbing shoes in the washing machine?

It is never a good idea to wash climbing shoes in the washing machine. It can harm the rubber outsole, the leather upper, as well as the laces when you use laundry detergent. The shape of the shoe, the heel tension, and the custom fit of the shoe can be affected when it is washed.

Do you need to clean climbing shoes?

PLEASE DO NOT WASH CLIMBING SHOES BEFORE CLIMBING! Whether synthetic or leather, your climbing shoes will break down faster if you wash them. The glue will also deaminate.

Does water ruin climbing shoes?

climbing shoes cleaning

They won’t be damaged, fade out and possibly shrink if you leave them in the sun. I haven’t had any problem with my feet slipping with wet climbing shoes on while DWS or SWB (shallow water bouldering – #Aquaglide).

How do you clean climbing shoes with baking soda?

Baking Soda
Can effectively treat Your climbing shoe odor t with baking soda. To clean your shoes, place around two teaspoons of powder inside each pair and scrub with lukewarm water.

Do the teabag stop shoes from smelling?

In your smelly shoes, stuff some unused tea bags to combat the foul odors caused by bacteria and heat. Teabags are highly absorbent and will quickly suck up any moisturizer and smell. Make sure you reuse your shoes for other home tasks to conserve resources.

How do I permanently get rid of smelly shoes?

One sock should be placed in each shoe and filled the other with baking soda. It would help if you let them sit overnight. Spray the shoe’s interior with Lysol to remove odor-causing bacteria and fungi. Baking powder or foot powder can also be used for the same purpose.


I think it’s good to know that you learn how to clean your climbing shoes. It’s a good practice to give your climbing shoes a little “makeover” now and again. As proper cleaning of shoes allow them to perform for longer but will also come as a relief to your climbing partner.

Additionally, proper cleaning of rock climbing shoes can help you to improve safety and smell also. It’s not complicated to clean shoes, and also it doesn’t cost high. Mostly, washing and cleaning rock climbing shoes can be done easily by applying household remedies.

If you really care for your climbing shoes then store them properly so that you’ll be able to enjoy them for many climbs to come. In my opinion, prevention is the best way to keep your climbing shoes in great shape.

Washing climbing shoes just takes a little effort that can make climbing shoes last much longer, be comfortable; smell better, safe as well as you will get far less judgmental looks from people on public transport. 

I hope this article will increase your knowledge. Don’t forget to comment in the comment box below.

Please add "Disqus Shortname" in Customize > Post Settings > Disqus Shortname to enable disqus or remove '#' to disable comment section