How to Clean Climbing Shoes: 3 Steps

How to clean climbing shoes

Whether you’re an outdoor climbing addict or an indoor bouldering enthusiast, there’s nothing quite like giving your climbing shoes a thorough cleaning to enhance their lifespan and ensure long-term comfort.

When it comes to cleaning climbing shoes, we advocate for gentle maintenance, steering clear of the washing machine, as it could potentially damage the sole and compromise the architecture of your liner. In this article, we will elucidate the proper method for cleaning climbing shoes and maintaining them to ensure longevity while respecting their structural integrity.

How to Clean Climbing Shoes – Step by Step

Let’s see how to clean your climbing shoes in three simple steps:

First Step: The Fabric

Begin by addressing the fabric of your climbing shoes. To do this, take a soft-bristled brush and gently rub the outside of your climbing shoes to remove traces of dirt and dust accumulated over the sessions. Make sure the liner is completely dry beforehand for this step. Otherwise, it could have the opposite effect and embed dirt. When your liner has been rid of its impurities, wipe with a damp, (soapy sponge) to thoroughly clean the fabric.

A word of advice: Fiebing’s Saddle Soap remains the most natural and effective way to scour your equipment gently!

Second Step: The Outsole

The second step concerns the outsole of your climbing shoes. This is the part most exposed to the ground: pebbles, dust, mud, chalk… Enough to leave several traces on the black sole which has the advantage (or here, the disadvantage) of being particularly adherent to facilitate your progress. on the way.

To rid it of dirt, simply take the sponge previously used, then rinse it, and then pass it over the sole. Thanks to the smooth surface of this one, you will see the dirt will go away easily.

Third Step: The Insole

Last but not least*: the insole of your liner. Since we generally climb without socks, maintaining this sole is essential to drive out bad odors and other bacteria. If a deodorizing spray is useful after a session, it does not replace more thorough care. And nothing better than a little grandmother’s recipe, very simple but terribly effective!

After each of your climbing sessions, place a teaspoon of baking soda in your climbing shoes and shake them slowly to evenly distribute the powder so it can absorb the moisture. You will see bad odors will be considerably reduced! However, be careful to shake your boots well before climbing again, at the risk of reliving this unpleasant feeling of sand in your shoes after the beach! And if this trick isn’t enough to give your shoes a boost of freshness, don’t hesitate to use a damp brush like a dishwashing brush with a little Marseille soap to scour the sole thoroughly.

After having rigorously followed these three steps, leave your shoes to dry in the open air. If possible away from the sun or any source of heat that could damage the rubber. And then you will see your shoes look almost brand new for your future climbs!

Some Additional Tips for Cleaning Climbing Shoes

To clean climbing shoes properly, here are some extra tips that should be followed:

  • If the odor is a problem, you can sprinkle baking soda with wash water to help neutralize the odor.
  • Air drying is the most common way to remove foot odor from shoes.
  • You can also use deodorizing powder in the shoes when they are dry.
  • Avoid using powder in wet or damp shoes because it will clump or form a crusty residue inside the boot that is difficult to remove.

For additional guidance, be sure to follow the video guide below:


How to clean the rubber of my climbing shoes?

A little water and vigorous scrubbing with a towel or an old toothbrush can do wonders. You can also try 90° alcohol in case of stubborn dirt. To avoid such an accumulation of materials, always wipe your shoes before climbing.

When should you clean my climbing shoes?

Good advice is as infrequently as possible, especially if you’re a climber whose sweat is not an issue and you don’t swap shoes with other partners. Avoid doing it before your cliff or boulder exit, your feet and performance may suffer. Prefer the end of the session, as soon as your liner remains wet it’s time to pamper it. Don’t wait for your shoes to smell foul either. Smelly boots are a risk of mycosis.

Remember to use an odor destroyer after each session for more hygiene. Abandon storage in a plastic bag. Avoid leather for your slippers and choose contemporary microfiber constructions instead.

Can I wash my climbing shoes in the washing machine?

No, it’s not recommended. Using a washing machine can damage the sole and affect the shoe’s architecture. Stick to manual cleaning methods.

Should I resole my climbing shoes, and how often?

Resoling depends on usage. If you climb regularly, consider resoling every 6-12 months or when you notice a decrease in performance due to worn-out soles.

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