Rock climbers can’t do their sport without shoes that let them connect their feet to the mounting surface. These shoes can get dirty, chalky, and sweaty over time, which can make them less durable and less effective. Cleaning your rock climbing shoes the right way isn’t just for looks; it’s also important for keeping them working well.
This guide will show you how to clean your climbing shoes so that they stay in great shape so that you can use them with confidence. We’ll talk about a variety of cleaning methods, from simple ones like removing extra dirt to more advanced ones that use vinegar, baking soda, and even freezing. No matter how experienced or new to climbing you are, knowing how to clean your rock climbing shoes is important to make them last longer and improve your climbing experience.
How to Clean Rock Climbing Shoes: A Step-by-Step Guide
Cleaning your rock climbing shoes is important to keep them working well and making them last longer. How to clean your rock climbing shoes, step by step:
Things You’ll Need
- Soft brush or toothbrush
- Mild soap or specialized climbing shoe cleaner
- Newspaper or shoe tree
Get rid of extra dirt
First, shake your climbing shoes well to get rid of any dirt or other debris that might be stuck in them. This first step helps keep the rough bits from wearing down the rubber too quickly. First, shake the shoe. Then, use a soft brush or an old toothbrush to gently scrub the rubber and other parts of the shoe clean. Do a good job, but be careful not to damage the shoe’s delicate materials.
Use a damp cloth to clean it
Wet a cloth or sponge with water, and then carefully wipe your climbing shoes clean all over. These parts of the shoe are the rubber bottom and the upper. To help get rid of tough dirt, you can add a little light soap to the water when your shoes are really dirty. Not only does this step clean the shoes, it also gets them ready for the next step.
Take out the soles
Most climbing shoes have padding that can be taken out. Take each one out and clean it on its own. Clean them with a wet cloth. If you need to, you can use a mild soap solution. By keeping the shoes’ insides healthy, cleaning the insoles keeps them from smelling bad and makes them last longer.
Make the inside clean
It’s also a good idea to clean the inside of your climbing shoes if they smell bad or have extra sweat on them. Mix water and light soap together, and then wipe the inside of the shoes with a cloth or sponge. After that, make sure the shoes are completely dry to stop bacteria from growing and keep the right fit.
Let it dry in the air
After you clean your climbing shoes, let them dry totally in the air. Find a place with good airflow and let them dry on their own. Do not put them in full sunlight or use artificial heat sources, as too much heat can damage the materials and glue. Mold and bad smells can’t grow on shoes if they are allowed to dry completely.
Don’t use a washing machine
Don’t give in to the urge to wash your climbing shoes in the washing machine. Agitators and harsh cleansers can damage the materials and make the shoes less effective. If you want your climbing gear to last a long time, only clean it by hand.
Apply rubber conditioner again (Optional)
If you really want to keep your climbing shoes working well, you might want to use a rubber conditioner again after cleaning them. As different versions may have different ways of being applied, make sure you follow the directions that come with the rubber conditioner. In order to get the best grip on the rock surface, this step can help revive and protect the rubber’s stickiness.
Keep it right away
When you’re not using them, keep your climbing shoes somewhere cool and dry. Do not leave them out in the sun or in a hot car, as these high temperatures can damage the glue and materials. If you store your shoes correctly, they will stay in good shape and be ready for your next climbing trip.
Fixing things regularly
Make cleaning your climbing shoes a regular part of how you take care of your gear. Every so often, look at the wear patterns on the rubber feet to see if there are any signs of damage or separation. When you take care of your climbing shoes, you can make them last longer and work better for longer by fixing problems quickly and being proactive about it.
Keep in mind that different shoes may have different care directions. If you are unsure about how to clean them, check with the manufacturer. Also, pay attention to what kind of climbing shoe you have, since shoes made of different materials may need slightly different care.
Are there other ways to clean?
Of course! The steps we’ve already talked about are normal, but here are some other options you can think about depending on the type of material in your climbing shoes and how badly they need to be cleaned:
Solution of Vinegar
A combination of water and vinegar works well for cleaning climbing shoes, especially when you need to get rid of smells that won’t go away. When you mix equal parts water and white vinegar, you get a solution that is both gentle and strong. Apply this mixture to the shoe with a soft brush or cloth, making sure to cover the whole area. Vinegar is acidic, which helps get rid of germs that cause bad smells. But make sure to rinse the shoes well to get rid of any smell of vinegar that might still be there. This method works especially well if your climbing shoes have a smell that won’t go away.
Since baking soda is known for being able to absorb smells, it is a great choice for cleaning climbing shoes. A lot of baking soda should be put inside the shoes, and they should sit there for several hours or overnight. Baking soda works to get rid of smells and soak up water. Once the time is up, shake off the extra powder. This technique not only works to get rid of smells, but it also adds to the cleaning process and makes your climbing shoes smell even better.
One unusual way to get rid of germs that cause smells is to freeze climbing shoes. Put your climbing shoes in a plastic bag and make sure the bag is closed. Then, leave the shoes in the freezer overnight. Bacteria and smells will be killed by the low temperatures. Let the shoes come back to room temperature after taking them out of the freezer before you wear them. This method works especially well for people who want to get rid of smelly things without using chemicals, as it is a natural and easy way to do it.
If you need to clean something quickly and easily, baby wipes can be helpful. They are gentle on the materials of climbing shoes and get rid of dirt and sweat on the surface. After climbing, all you have to do is use a baby wipe to clean the outside of the shoes, paying special attention to dirty spots. You shouldn’t use baby wipes instead of a proper cleaning, but they are a good way to keep your climbing shoes clean between more thorough cleaning sessions.
If the rubber on the bottom of your climbing shoes has become smooth or shiny, fine-grit sandpaper can help bring back some of the friction that is needed for the best performance. Sand the surface of the rubber slowly, focused on spots that have lost their texture. Be careful not to sand too hard, because that can quickly wear down the rubber. This method works especially well for climbers whose shoes have lost their grip and who want to restore the bottom to make it better for their feet.
In addition to mild soap or a cleaner made just for climbing shoes, a light detergent can also be used to clean climbing shoes. To keep the shoe materials from getting damaged, use a detergent that is soft and won’t scratch them. First, mix a little soap with water. Then, clean the shoes’ surface with a soft brush or cloth. This method works to get rid of dirt and stains, leaving your climbing shoes clean and fresh.
You can effectively avoid unpleasant smells by putting shoe deodorizers or special pads that fight smells into your climbing shoes. These items are made to remove wetness and bad smells from your climbing shoes, keeping them fresh between uses. You might want to use them often, especially if your climbing shoes have smells that won’t go away. A simple and easy way to keep the air inside your climbing shoes smelling nice is to use shoe deodorizers.
Machine Washing (for some shoes)
Some climbing shoes with plastic uppers can be washed in a machine, but not all of them can. Before you try this method, check the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure that your shoes can handle it. If it’s okay, put the shoes in a mesh washing bag to keep them safe while you wash them. It is best to use cold water and mild detergent in the gentle mode. Let the shoes dry completely in the air after washing them. This is a hands-off way to clean climbing shoes, but you need to be aware of the materials and structure of the shoes to keep them from getting damaged. When choosing how to clean something, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions first.
It’s important to always follow the care instructions that come with your climbing shoes, since some materials may not respond well to certain cleaning methods. Climbing shoes should always be dried in the air, and they shouldn’t be heated up too much because that can damage the materials.
Do I need to wash my climbing shoes in a machine?
Most of the time, you shouldn’t wash climbing shoes in the washing machine. As washing machines spin and change the temperature of the water, they can damage the delicate materials in climbing shoes. For better control over the process, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which usually say to clean by hand.
How often should my climbing shoes be washed?
How often you clean depends on how often you climb. If you climb often, you should clean your shoes after each session or at least once a week. Dirt, chalk, and sweat can make it hard to grip and perform well, so cleaning your shoes on a regular basis is important.
Should I use dish soap to clean my climbing shoes?
It’s safe to use mild soap, but it’s better to use a climbing shoe cleaner or a light detergent. Regular soap might have chemicals in it that can leave a film on the shoe and make it less effective. You should stay away from harsh chemicals because they can damage the shoe’s materials.
How can I get rid of the smell that won’t go away in my climbing shoes?
You can get rid of smells that won’t go away by using baking soda, putting the shoes in the freezer overnight, or using special shoe deodorizers. Also, make sure your shoes have enough time to dry naturally between wears to stop germs that cause smells from growing.
Should I put my climbing shoes away in a certain way?
Keep your climbing shoes somewhere cool and dry that isn’t in full sunlight. It’s best not to leave them somewhere damp, since water can cause mold and bugs to grow. You could use a shoe tree or stuff them with newspaper while you store them to help them keep their shape.
Can I sand the bottoms of all of my climbing shoes?
Sandpaper can be used on rubber shoes, especially if they’re smooth or shiny and no longer grip the ground well. Be careful not to sand too much, though, because that can quickly wear down the rubber. This method works especially well for hikers who want to make their climbing shoes grip better again.
Is it safe for all materials to freeze climbing shoes?
Most climbing shoes can handle being frozen, but shoes made of leather might not be able to handle it. Before you use this method, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure it won’t damage the materials.
What if the top of my climbing shoes is made of leather?
For leather climbing shoes, clean them with a soft brush, light soap, or a cleaner made just for that material. To keep the leather from getting damaged, be gentle when you clean it. It’s important not to soak the leather, because too much water can cause it to stretch and become deformed.
Can I use a heater or hairdryer to dry my hair faster?
Heat sources like heaters and hair dryers should not be used on climbing shoes because they can damage the materials. Too much heat can make the shoes lose their shape or even damage the glues that were used to make them. To keep their shape, let them dry naturally at room temperature.
Do hard climbing shoes need to be cleaned in a certain way?
When cleaning the toe area of aggressive climbing shoes with patterns that are turned down, you may need to be extra careful. For best results, use a brush to get into cracks and make sure the surface is completely clean. Paying close attention to the shape that has been turned down will help keep the shoe’s ability to edge and be precise on the rock.
Depending on your cleaning needs, there are different ways to do things, such as removing extra dirt after each climb or using freezing or vinegar. Regular maintenance not only keeps the shoe looking nicer, but it also protects the grip and general functionality. By following these tips and thinking about the materials your climbing shoes are made of, you can make them last longer and have a better time climbing. Remember that climbing shoes that are well taken care of will help you stay safe and have fun on the rock.