How To Clean Climbing Shoes? [6 Basic Steps]

Authored By Trekking Expert
How To Clean Climbing Shoes? [6 Basic Steps]

Climbers know the importance of keeping their climbing shoes clean.   

Not only does this help them perform better, but it also helps prolong the life of your shoes.

Climbing shoes are an important part of your climbing kit for a beginner or an expert climber.

In order to keep your shoes in good condition, it’s important to follow basic cleaning rules so that they remain looking like new and stay in good working order.

i will describe how to clean climbing shoes in detail.

I’ll cover everything from how to remove dirt and mud to how to treat stinky shoes!

Takes these steps and your climbing shoes will look and smell like new in no time!


Start with removing laces

Removing lases

When trying to clean your climbing shoes, it is best, to begin with, a pair that has been completely removed from its laces.

A pair of shoelaces tend not only to be long, but they tend also to be large in size as well.

If you try to brush or wipe across these laces, you might end up causing more harm than good.

To prevent undoing all of your hard work, remove all shoelaces from each shoe before starting on any other cleaning aspect.


Washing climbing shoes using cold water

It’s best to use cold water when cleaning.

The cold water helps prevent shrinkage, and it also keeps shrinking down to a minimum.

Cold water will also help in preventing fading of your shoe color.

It is important for you to keep washing your shoe in cold water at least two or three times in order for you to achieve maximum performance on your shoe.


Use a sponge brush or toothbrush

Toothbrush for scrubbing

For tight spots, it’s best to use a soft-bristled toothbrush or soft brush with a long handle.

Tackle difficult areas first so that you don’t spread dirt around.

Climbing or bouldering shoes are like hard-to-clean gloves they need plenty of water and gentle rubbing alcohol for things to really come clean.

Let them soak for about ten minutes, then add several squirts of soap and let them sit for another five minutes before you tackle it.

Use your choice of brush or sponge on hard-to-reach areas of your shoe, being sure not to wear away any of your sticky rubber.


Use an old toothbrush for scrubbing the rubber

Many climbers use an old toothbrush for cleaning.

A used toothbrush is ideal because you can gently scrub hard on your shoe and it won’t damage it.

Soak your climbing shoes in soapy water: If there is any blood, grease, or dirt that has been baked on, soak your climbing shoes overnight in some dish soap before scrubbing them with a toothbrush.

For example, hand sanitizer does wonder for cleaning off stuck-on blood from skinned knuckles.

Scrubbing tools (toothbrush): Now that your shoes are soaked in warm soapy water, Some climbers prefer to wear rubber gloves while they scrub their rubber soles; others just go barehanded.


Rinse well with warm water

Rimse with warm water

Soak your climbing shoes in warm water with a mild soap or detergent.

This will allow you to remove any dirt and debris on their exterior.

The key here is not to let them sit for extended periods because wet leather dries much slower than dry leather climbing shoes and could leave your shoe stiff.

Once you’ve rinsed them off, hang them up in a place that allows them to air dry as quickly as possible.

If your area is particularly humid, consider using a fan to speed up drying times.

It’s also a good idea for climbers who store their shoes in an attic or other storage space where it may take longer to dry out once rinsed because of higher temperatures and humidity levels.


Dry your shoe in direct sunlight, Not a Microwave

Don’t use a microwave to dry your shoe after washing it; you will likely do damage and potentially melt parts of your shoe.

For future reference, NEVER use a microwave for any type of clothing!

In reality, drying in sunlight is always best.

You can usually set it on your front porch or balcony and forget about it while you go off and enjoy some time away from your laundry chores.

When sunlight isn’t an option, tumble drying on low is ideal (no more than 10 minutes at a time).

Take care that you don’t overheat them.

Check periodically for too much heat.

What are the different parts of climbing shoes?

Parts of climbing shoes

Climbing shoes have four main parts: the toe, the heel, the rand, and the sole.

The toe is responsible for providing precision when toeing in on small holds.

The heel provides support and stability when heel hooking.

The rand is a strip of rubber that goes around the perimeter of the shoe and protects it from wear and tear.

The sole is what comes into contact with the rock or roof surface.

It is important to note that not all climbing shoes are created equal some have more aggressive soles than others.

How to remove dirt and mud from your climbing shoes?

The first step in cleaning your climbing shoes is to remove any dirt or mud on them.

This can be done by using a soft brush or a toothbrush.

Gently brush away any debris until the shoes are clean.

If you find that the bristles of your brush are not doing the trick, you can also try using a damp cloth.

How to treat stinky climbing shoes? And How To clean climbing shoes?

Stinky climbing shoes

Climbing and bouldering shoes can often get pretty stinky especially if you wear them without socks!

To get rid of the odor, start by sprinkling some baking soda into the shoes.

Then, add a small amount of hot water and let the shoes sit for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, dump out the baking soda and water mixture and let the shoes air out.

If your shoes are still stinky, you can repeat this process until the odor is gone.

What are the different cleaning materials you can use?

There are different cleaning materials you can use to clean your shoes.

One option is to use a shoe brush.

This will help remove any dirt or debris from the surface of your shoes.

Another possibility is to use a shoe cleaner.

This can be used on both the outside and inside of your shoes. It’s important to choose the right cleaner for the material of your shoes.

For example, you wouldn’t want to use a leather cleaner on suede shoes.

You can also use shoe polish.

This will help protect the surface of your shoes and keep them shiny.

How do keep climbing shoes from smelling?

Keep climmbing shoes from smelling

Climbing shoes are notorious for their stench. Here are tips to keep them smelling fresh:

  • Wash them after every use. This will remove any sweat or dirt that’s accumulated on the shoes and help prevent the buildup of bacteria.
  • Stuff them with newspaper when you’re not wearing them. This will absorb any moisture that’s in the shoes and help keep them dry.
  • Keep them in a well-ventilated area. This will allow any lingering odors to dissipate and prevent new ones from forming.

Why do you need to clean climbing shoes?

Climbing shoes are expensive, and you want to prolong your life as much as possible.

Climbing holds to be comfortable in order to perform well.

If they are not clean, they can cause blisters or other discomforts.

Climbing shoes need to have good traction in order to grip the rock properly.

If they have dirty soles, they may slip and cause you to fall.

How to wash your synthetic shoes?

Some climbers prefer their shoes to be washed after each use while others prefer not to wash their shoes at all.

Wash them when they start smelly climbing shoes or lose that brand-new look.

If you have a pair of breathable shoes that you wear often, washing might help increase their lifespan since bacteria tends to build up in warm, moist environments like climbing shoes without enough airflow.

For example, washing your climbing shoe might help prevent sweaty feet in colder weather.

And synthetic climbing shoes are much easier to wash than leather shoes or clean rock climbing (no need for conditioning soap or special cleaners).

Even then, hand-washing is still better than machine-washing your gym shoes unless you’re looking for ways to destroy your footwear!


Cleaning climbing shoes is a pretty important process for climbers.

Not only can it be a great way to get your climbing shoes back to that brand-new feel, but it can also help you to avoid getting sick due to the build-up of bacteria.

For this reason, cleaning your climbing shoes as soon as possible is best.

It’s also a good idea to clean them after every climbing session in order to keep them in the best possible shape.

There are a couple of ways you can clean your climbing shoes.

The best way to clean climbing shoes is to use a shoe brush and some mild detergent.


How do you get the stink out of climbing shoes?

There are numerous ways that you can get stink out of climbing shoes. One way is to put them in the freezer overnight. This will kill the bacteria that are causing the stink. Another way is to soak them in a mixture of water and vinegar for 30 minutes. This will also kill the bacteria and remove any dirt or grime causing the stink. You can also try spraying them with a disinfectant spray or using a shoe deodorizer.

Can you wash climbing shoes in the washing machine?

No, you cannot wash climbing shoes in a washing machine. The washing machine will damage the shoes and affect their performance. Climbing shoes need to be washed by hand using a soft brush and mild soap.

Is Rock Climbing shoes a good form of exercise?

Yes, rock climbing shoes are a great form of exercise! It’s a full-body workout that engages all your muscles and is also great for your cardiovascular health.

Why do climbers wear small shoes?

Climbers need shoes that are small enough to fit snugly on their feet, yet big enough to provide the necessary grip and support. Small shoes also help climbers maintain their balance while climbing. Small shoes allow climbers to feel the rock better, which helps them know where to place their feet.

Why are rock climbing shoes so uncomfortable?

There are reasons why rock climbing shoes are often uncomfortable. They tend to be very tight-fitting in order to provide the climber with the necessary precision and grip. And, they are often made of stiffer materials in order to support the foot during key movements. Also, they often have thinner soles worn to enhance contact with the rock surface. All of these design features can contribute to discomfort, especially when first breaking in a new pair of shoes. It is important to remember that proper fit and shoe selection are critical for safe and successful climbing, so it is worth finding a comfortable pair that meets your specific needs.

Does the rubber on climbing shoes stretch?

Yes, the rubber on climbing shoes will stretch. It depends on how much you use the shoes and how much you use them before they stretch. The shoes will stretch after a week of rigorous use. Visit a climbing store to find out if your climbing shoes are too large or too small. They will be able to help you with equipment and the right shoe size.

How much do Scarpas stretch?

Scarpas are designed to stretch so that they will fit a variety of feet. Some people find that they stretch too much and don’t provide enough stability. If you have this problem, try a tighter-fitting Scarpa or buy shoes specifically designed for stability.

Can I microwave climbing shoes?

Shoes are made of materials that can easily be damaged by high temperatures, so it’s generally best to avoid microwaving them.


Uttam Kapri
Uttam Kapri is a highly experienced trekking guide with over 10 years of experience in the tourism industry. He holds a Master's degree in Sociology and a Bachelor's degree in various fields, including English Literature and Travel and Tourism Development. Uttam is passionate about welcoming people from all over the world for trekking trips in Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.