How to clean & wash rock climbing shoes

Maintaining a good climbing shoe is important in making sure that your climbing experience is either a success or a failure. 

Climbing shoes are the home for bacteria, and thus they smell! All that sweat from those long climbs only leads to terrible smells and a shorter lifetime. 

Do you want to grow fungi on your climbing shoes?

Hope Not!

It would help if you had a few tricks up your sleeve to ensure that your rock climbing shoes are clean and well taken care of. 

Lucky for you, here are some helpful tips about cleaning your climbing shoes!

Precaution: Keep Your Shoes Clean

Prevention is better than cure! It is important to keep your shoes from getting dirty than trying to clean them out later. 

It is better said than done.

Trust me, I know.

Just try to keep your shoes clean, dry, and aerated! Here is how you do it, wash your feet, keep your shoes in an open space.

That’s not all, regularly take off the shoes in-between climbs and use air freshener to keep the smell at bay!

Here is the deal, if you keep your shoes clean, you wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning them constantly.


You probably question yourself on how to wash your rock climbing shoes, each time you put them on.

It turns out; a simple hand wash is the best way to clean your rock shoes. 

There are a few things that you will need, a bucket, water, and a brush. You will need to fill your bucket with warm water only. That’s not all; you have to remember not to use any harsh chemicals that can damage your shoes. 

Here’s the deal, You may want to use a detergent to remove bacteria and smell. 

Please note that it has to be mild and not too concentrated as it might result in your shoes being damaged.  

Let me let you in on a secret if you wear your shoes wet they will smell bad. Allow your shoes to dry before you use them again properly. 

If washing inside of your climbing shoes has been a problem for you, the handwashing method can be the perfect solution for you!

Other Ways To Wash Your Climbing Shoes

  • Use a damp cloth

Here is the thing, sometimes you do not have to wash the shoes full-on. How to clean climbing shoes can be a stressful venture. Some problems require simple solutions like the use of a damp cloth! 

The thing is you can wipe the insoles and lining of your shoes with a damp cloth and leave them to dry. 

That’s not all

Always remember to keep your shoes away from direct sunlight! You want to know why? They might shrink, making you uncomfortable!

  • Use odor killing initiatives

You were probably wondering how to clean smelly rock climbing shoes without damaging them. 

Obviously, there is no way you would want to have stinky climbing shoes. 

To rid the awful smells that shoes can have, it might be wise to use deodorizing foot powders or sprays.

There are also various home remedies that can be used to ensure that your shoes are clean. 

You might want to clean climbing shoes with vinegar, charcoal, or alcohol as these are known to kill the stench!

What To Avoid When Cleaning Rock Climbing Shoes

As important as it is to clean your shoes, there are things that you must most certainly avoid when cleaning your shoes. 

As you might have heard, there are things that you might do while washing the shoes that might damage your climbing shoes.

  • Do not use hot water

Here is the deal, whichever way you choose to wash your shoes, do not use hot water. 

Hot water is the reason for the glue that holds your shoe together comes off. This is a danger to you as you might lose a shoe sole whilst climbing. 

It is important to have clean climbing shoe soles, but it is more important to have the sole on the shoe!

  • Do not heat dry the shoes

It might seem like a good choice at the time, throwing your shoes in the dryer so they can dry off quicker.

But it is not recommended! This can result in your shoes shrinking and being unable to fit and making your climbing experience uncomfortable. It is a better choice to air dry your shoes!

  • Do not use harsh detergents

You might think that using a detergent will be a better way to get your shoes clean. You, however, might be doing more harm than you realize. 

If the detergent is too harsh, you might end up damaging your great pair of climbing shoes. 

What does this mean for you? 

Do not use any form of detergent when cleaning out your shoes. This is to ensure that you do not cause them any unnecessary damage.

An Important Thing To Note:

It must be on your radar to learn how to clean a climbing shoe rubber if you are an active climber. The sole and the rand are the points where the rubber meets the rock. 

You must clean the bottom of the climbing shoes to keep the gripping rubber clean! Clean climbing shoe soles are as much your responsibility as is your climbing safety.


It has probably popped into your head if you can clean climbing shoes in the washing machine. Turns out washing your climbing shoes in the washing machine is not recommended. 

It is said to ruin the leather climbing shoes and the rubber sole. However, in instances that your shoes are purely synthetic, you can take the risk.

Yes, you can wash your bouldering shoes but a washing machine is not recommended. It is best to hand wash.

The perfect home remedy for smelly shoes is using baking powder, activated charcoal, and vinegar inside the shoes.


so as a beginner or intermediate climber the most important task after buying climbing shoes is to break in your rock shoes first and then keep it clean and bacteria-free. just follow this article and you will be fine.


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