How To Keep Climbing Shoes From Smelling – Best Tips 2023

Authored By Trekking Expert
How To Keep Climbing Shoes From Smelling – Best Tips 2023

Did you know that a pair of climbing shoes can double as a hand warmer?

That’s because they are loaded with bacteria from the gym floor, other climbers’ sweat, and your own, stinky feet.

Yuck! If left unwashed for too long, that bacteria will grow into something foul.

To prevent this, follow these easy steps to keep your climbing shoes clean and fresh. We love smelling those rubber soles, not our toes, after sweating inside them all day.

Climbing shoes are expensive, so keeping them in top condition is essential if you want them to last longer than one season.

There are many different ways you can keep your shoes away from smell and look fresh and clean while also extending their lifespan considerably. Read on to find out more.

Methods Of How To Keep Climbing Shoes From Smelling 2023

Shoe Bags

Most climbing shoes come with a bag or a box to store them in between climbs. This is to protect the rubber from becoming damaged from the inside of your bag.

Shoe Bags

However, it is also an excellent way to keep the shoe fresh between sessions. It keeps the inside of the shoe fresh and allows you to store them away quickly without worrying about getting the inside of your bag dirty.

We recommend getting a shoe bag, especially if you have a pair of climbing shoes that you want to last a long time.

Alternatively, you could use a sock to cover the inside of your shoe if you don’t have a bag. Make sure it is clean so you don’t introduce bacteria into the shoe.


Cleaning products you should use

Cleaning your shoes regularly is essential if you want them to last. It would be best if you cleaned them after each session.

Cleaning products you should use

It is best to use a cleaning product designed for climbing shoes.

Many brands are on the market, but we recommend Red Rock Outdoor Cleaner. It is a biodegradable cleaner that removes dirt and grime from your climbing shoes.

It also leaves them with a fresh scent that will make you want to wear your shoes outside the gym.

You can use an old toothbrush to clean the dirt out of the grooves of your shoes.

Toothbrushes are beneficial for cleaning out the tongue of your shoe.

You can also use a synthetic brush to scrub the soles and uppers of your shoes. Use warm water to clean your boots and dry them before storing them.


Washing machine

If your climbing shoes are dirty, you can put them in the washing machine.

However, we recommend doing this as a last resort, as it can damage the shoes if you don’t do it correctly.

It would be best if you also remembered to take the soles off, as they might get stuck in the machine. Use a small amount of detergent and wash on a gentle cycle with cold water.

Washing machine

Please don’t put them in the dryer, as this will damage the soles. Let them air dry for a few hours, or put them on a flat surface where the water can drip off.

Washing your climbing shoes in the washing machine is an excellent way to kill any bacteria inside them.

This is especially useful if you climb in a gym with poor hygiene practices.


Freeze Them

This method might sound crazy, but it works. You can keep your climbing shoes fresh by putting them in the freezer.

This is a great way to kill any bacteria inside the shoe. You can also use this method if you have a bad odor inside your shoe. You can put the shoes in a bag or box before placing them in the freezer.

This will prevent them from smelling and sticking to other items. You can put your shoes in the freezer for a few hours or even days.

The longer you leave them there, the more effectively the smell will be removed.

After the shoes have been in the freezer for a few hours or days, take them out and let them sit at room temperature for a few hours before using them again. This will allow them to return to their original temperature.


Let the shoes dry after climbing.

Let the shoes dry after climbing.

After every session, letting your climbing shoes dry completely before storing them away is important.

This helps to prevent mold and mildew from forming inside of them. We recommend using a shoe dryer to get them completely dry.

Alternatively, you could also use a blow dryer. However, a shoe dryer will be much more effective in completely drying them.

Make sure to let the shoes dry completely before storing them away. They will form mold if you try to keep them while they are still wet.

This could also make the smell inside them much worse.


Antiseptic spray

If you have a stubborn smell in your climbing shoes, you can try spraying them with antiseptic. This is a great way to kill the bacteria inside your boots, causing the odor.

Antiseptic spray

Getting the shoes utterly free from the smell might take a few sprays.

Let the spray sit inside the shoe for a few hours before wearing them again. This will kill the bacteria and remove the smell from the shoe.

You can get antiseptic spray at any drugstore. Make sure to select one that is made for cleaning shoes and sports equipment. You want to avoid irritating your feet with a foot spray.


Charcoal inserts

You can try charcoal inserts if you have a stubborn smell inside your shoes. These are specially designed to absorb and remove odors from your shoes.

Place an insert inside each shoe and leave them for a few days.

They will pull the smell out of the shoe and leave them smelling nice and fresh.

Charcoal inserts

You can buy charcoal inserts online or at any outdoor store. You can also use activated carbon inserts if you don’t have any charcoal ones. Just make sure to use one for each shoe.


Wear socks

Wear socks

After climbing, you were putting on a pair of socks is a great way to protect your shoes from getting dirty and sweaty.

They are also breathable, which will help to keep your feet from getting too sweaty. This will also help extend your climbing shoes’ lifespan by keeping them in better condition.

You can pick up a pair of socks at any sporting goods store or even a grocery store. They are super inexpensive and come in many different styles and colors.

Make sure to pick up a pair of socks designed for climbing. These will have a gripping pattern on the bottom to make it easier to get up and down the wall.

Warnings to keep climbing shoes from smelling

Don’t wear the same pair of climbing shoes every day. It is essential to give your shoes time to dry out between sessions.

Warnings to keep climbing shoes from smelling

Wearing the same shoes every day can lead to them smelling much worse. Refrain from storing your climbing shoes in a bag where they are stuffed together.

This can cause them to smell much worse and damage the rubber on the shoes. Instead, store each pair of climbing shoes in a breathable bag or on a rack. Keep your shoes away from moisture.

This includes keeping them away from water, sweat, and other liquids. Try to avoid wearing your climbing shoes in the rain.

They are not designed to be completely waterproof and will get very heavy once they get wet. Keep your shoes away from strong odors.

This includes food, cleaners, and chemicals.

Why Do My Climbing Shoes Smell So Bad

If your climbing shoes have a bad smell, they may become contaminated with bacteria.

Why Do My Climbing Shoes Smell So Bad

This is especially common in gyms that don’t have outstanding hygiene practices. Your climbing shoes might also smell bad if you don’t clean or store them properly.

If your shoes smell bad, follow the instructions above to keep them clean and fresh.

If your shoes are new, they might smell because the soles aren’t broken in. This is a familiar smell with new climbing shoes.

If your shoes smell bad after a few months of having them, then they might have bacteria growing inside of them. This is why it is important to clean your shoes regularly.


Why do my climbing shoes stink?

Because they are made of synthetic materials that don’t breathe well and are constantly wet, climbing shoes tend to develop a funky smell. If your shoes smell like a locker room, you must take proper care of them. Keep your climbing shoes in a dark place and dry them regularly.
1) It’s unwise to dry them in a dryer as this will shrink the shoe and make them less comfortable.
2) After climbing, spray both shoes with disinfectant to kill any fungus that may be present.
3) Then, hang them out of direct sunlight in a dark place to dry naturally.
4) And lastly, add baking soda to the shoes before drying them to help absorb any moisture.

Can you spray Lysol on climbing shoes?

In general, you should avoid using Lysol in and around your shoes. However, there are some scenarios where it can be of use.
If you have sweaty or smelly feet, the best way to combat this is to change your socks regularly and use a spray or foot powder to keep your feet dry and smelling fresh.
However, if you have some particularly stubborn smells or foot odor that you must deal with, then Lysol spray can be a valuable tool for quickly removing the smell.
If you are using the spray on your shoes, then be careful not to soak them in any way, and make sure to air them out after use.

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.