How to Clean Climbing Shoes

Maintain climbing shoes it is not an easy task, no matters if you are an indoor climber or are traveling regularly to the mountains. Always the recurrent question is how to clean climbing shoes? Unfortunately there is not only one answer to that dilemma, and it will depend of the type of shoes that you need to clean.

The problem is that often when you wash some kinds of climbing footwear the performance diminish considerably. So, how to do it in a way that the process does not compromise the feat of them? In this work we will share what we think it is an efficient manner to clean climbing shoes without cause a damage to the core features of them.

An important factor that should be taken in consideration is the material that the shoes are made from. For example, when regularly cleaning leather footwear you should be aware that they often became stretched or spoiled. Some brands of climbing shoes advise that their leather shoes shouldn’t be washed at all, even though a considerable amount of users say that cleaning leather climbing shoes cause no harm if do it properly. As a rule of thumb, cleaning your shoes thoughtfully would be safe and the recommendations that we present below are references that must be adapted considering the specific characteristic of the particular pair of shoes.

Soaking Method

1.- Fill a Plastic Square Basin with Water

Fill the basin with an amount of water that is sufficient to cover only the soles of the shoes, taking in to account that the water will rise when submerging the shoes. The water must be pristine and free of any substance.

2.- Add Softener and Mix Thoroughly.

After adding the water, pour a shot of washing softener in the basin and combine until it is a thick solution. You can adjust the water/softener ratio according of your shoes material.

3.- Place The Shoes and Soak

When the shoes are inside the basin containing the solution, let the rubber soles rest for a little while until the dirty materials break up. Pay attention to the water level, avoiding any contact beyond the sole.

4.- Brush to Remove Dirt.

Scrub the sole area using the soapy water to remove any remaining of dust or mud that is still attached to it. For your own safety is advisable to wear rubber gloves when performing this types of tasks.

5.-Keep the Shoes Below Running Water

Hold the shoes over the sink and pour over slightly warm water.

6.- Scrub Outside and inside

Smoothly rub the exterior and interior of the shoe using your hands. Turn around the shoe through the waterjet to cover the shoes evenly.

7.- Drying Process

Place the shoes under a shade and ventilated area to avoid the effect of the sunlight that could provoke delamination.  Be patient and wait until the shoes are completely dried.

How to Clean Climbing Shoes Soles

If you don’t get the grasp that you usually have when using your climbing shoes, probably is because dirt, mud, or chalk is congesting the rubber of the shoe’s sole. Most people don’t check the sole of their shoes, but you would be amazed if you look at the amount of bad slippery situations provoked by a clogged rubber sole.
Rubber soles are easy to maintain, and cleaning the bottom of the shoe can be made by only giving the sole a wipe with a wet cloth. When you are outdoors in the nature is useful to carry with you some kind of material with you can clean the sole of your shoes, like for example a piece of towel. To make the task more effective you also can use a soft tooth brush in small circular motion to get rid of any excess of dirt that is attached to the sole of the shoe. Also remember that if you want to clean only the sole you have to be extra cautious to avoid any contact of the water with the fabric or leather of them.
If the sole is too dirty, as a last resource you also can use alcohol in stains that are too difficult to eliminate. Anyways the best procedure is to just use warm water, and avoid any type o chemical or stronger substances.

How to Clean Climbing Shoes Smell

It is quite frustrating when you have found your perfect climbing shoes and after a while you definitely confirm that your beloved footwear dramatically stinks. Even though stinking climbing shoes is something that is almost unavoidable, there is some damage control that can be done.

For your comfort is good to know that this nasty odor is not coming from your body, but from  a bacteria called Brevibacterium linens which is the one that we carry in our skin, and if is kept overtime combined with the sweating, releases the characteristic foot smelt.

The good news is that there are several ways to prevent and control this phenomenon, and here we will share some of them.

One of them is to spray the climbing shoes with antiseptic sprays like for example Lysol, which prevent the future appearance and growth of bacteria.

Another one is to use odor absorbing powders or baking soda in order to fight the possible growth of these organisms. Don’t forget to get rid of the powder before you use your shoes, or your feet will slide constantly inside them due to that the mixing of the sweat and powder will create a slippery substance that will be really annoying when climbing.

How to Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

Take care of your rock climbing shoes is basic to achieve your best possible performance when developing the activity, and considering that regular climbers commonly wear nearly two pairs of shoes by year is useful to have some kind of idea about how you can make your climbing shoes to last longer and stay in good shape and perform better. The fact is that dust and dirt degrade your shoes faster, especially the rubber soles. Every single climber knows that dirty soles also result in a limited grip when climbing on rocks.

Try hard to keep climbing footwork dirt free, because the cleaner is your footwork, the rubber of the soles is going to suffer less. Washing the rock climbing shoes using a mix of cool water and a mild dishwasher soap will help to enlarge the lifespan of them and fight the bacteria that will appear inevitable overtime. Get the job done properly requires some patient, due that normally these kinds of shoes face a big deal of suffering from nature inclemency to excessive use.

A good strategy is to lightly rinse them until there is no water left, and fill the interior completely with newspaper in order to prevent the diminish of its size before air drying them in an area that doesn’t  front the sunlight directly.

How to Clean Chalk off Climbing Shoes

This type of purified soft and fine grainy limestone is calcium carbonate in the form of the mineral calcite and is barely alkaline and not toxic. In the 1950s climbers started to use chalk to boost grip and suck up sweat. With it, climbers dryed their hands to avoid slipping off of the climbing surface. Being one of the most helpful tools in the activity, many people started to wonder if it could be possible to use it also in their climbing shoes.
Most of the climbers think that put chalk in or on your climbing shoes is not a good idea, because even though doing it can help to control the sweat on your foot, unfortunately the long term effect will be extremely messy, and doing it outside of them will provoke the inefficiency of the under sole.
Anyways, to clean the excess of chalk attached to the exterior of your shoes use a dry cloth to wipe them, because chalk and humidity is not a good combination and results in a really nasty mixture. When the wiping is finishes you can consider using a fan to get rid of the residues.
The procedure to clean the surplus of chalk in the interior of the shoes is a little harder, and our advice is to open the shoes as much as you can to wipe the interior with a dry cloth.


Climbers sometimes spend long periods of time living in a tent near a mountain eating only the necessary to get the needed energy to stay climbing as long as they can. How to clean climbing shoes is not often one of their highest priority, but even though is not a task that mountaineers love to do, it is one that sometimes has to be done.
Although there are basically 2 ways to clean shoes for climbing, the first method that call our attention was the hand wash one, because we think that is more neutral regarding the manipulation of the climbers footwear.

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