How To Clean Climbing Shoes a Detailed Guide For Climber

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A quality pair of climbing shoes is quite important for gym, rock, climbing and also for bouldering. This pair of shoes indirectly contributes to your safety while climbing and they can have a major impact on whether you climb successfully or not. 

Moreover, climbing shoes face lots of abuse and they are the source of link between you and the ground that you walk on. Climbing shoes bear dirt, grime, and environmental toxins and sweat gather inside it and it’s easy for fungus to develop in them. 

That’s why it’s necessary to clean your climbing shoes often to keep them well maintained and in their best possible conditions. You should make sure that your shoes are properly cleaned before going climbing because it can affect your safety. And safety comes first!

But cleaning your climbing shoes the right way needs a little research but don’t worry because I have already gathered everything you’ll need to know about how to clean climbing shoes for a safer and amazing climbing experience. 

And the good news is that with the help of this guide you will not only learn how to keep your shoes clean but also how to get rid of the smell and how to make your shoes last longer.

1: How to clean climbing shoes

I know you’re thinking about how to wash climbing shoes? Basically, there are two methods of cleaning climbing shoes you can go for according to your desire or need. One is hand washing and another is machine washing.

Hand washing

Ok, let’s start with the material that you will need to hand wash your climbing shoes. There are only four things that you should have a large bucket or a tub, mild detergent, lukewarm water, a small and soft brush. In case if you don’t have any brush then you can use a toothbrush.

Fill the bucket with water

Just fill the bucket or tub with lukewarm water that will make it easy to remove dirt and debris. And don’t use hot water because it can damage or destroy the rubber on the sole and cold water doesn’t work that good. 

Use mild detergent

A mild detergent can help to remove sweat and dirt easily. If you don’t have any detergent at all then it will be quite difficult to remove sweat and residues because the water doesn’t go into the cracks and niches of your shoes enough. 

But do remember; don’t use strong chemical or detergent because they can damage the sole of your climbing shoes and upper liner. If you have a pair of leather climbing shoes, harsh chemicals can make the leather wear down faster and can damage it. So be careful!

Clear the dust before putting the shoes into water

You can use a small brush to brush the dust from the shoe before putting them into water. That will clean the small particles of chalk and dust from the shoes by turning them into mud and paste.

Turn shoes upside down

Now turn your shoes upside down and pad them slightly on the toe box to make sure little crumbles of chalk, rocks, and stone fallout from the shoes.

Scrub outside of shoes

Make your shoes wet then use the small brush and scrub the upper, tongue and sole of your shoes. The brush will help you to remove stains perfectly and easily. Clean the sole of your shoes but before cleaning it, dip it into lukewarm water so that the dirt comes off easily by loosening it.

Clean the Shoes from inside

Then clean your shoes from inside by gently using the small brush. But don’t forget you wash the scrub from outside as the scrub is dirty that you did before. 

It’s quite important to try and clean the toe box and upper of the shoe but if you cannot reach a corner, use your fingers to clean and rub the area inside the shoe. 

Now dunk your shoes into the warm soapy water after cleaning them from inside. You can dunk the shoes multiple times in the soapy water, if needed, to remove any brown and colored water.

 Rinse your shoes with lukewarm water

Make empty the tub from water then refill it with lukewarm water. Place your climbing shoes into the lukewarm water and move them around, up and down, sideways. Do this 2 to 3 times so that there will be no soap and dirty will remain in it anymore.

Dry the Shoes

Shake your climbing shoes in order to remove any leftover water. After that use a towel to wipe absorb water from the shoes, soaking in as much moisture as possible. Then place the shoes somewhere with a light breeze.

And don’t place the shoes in direct sunlight because the UV rays can damage the material of your shoes. Let your shoes completely dry and don’t wear them until they are completely dry.

Don’t use a hot dryer for drying your climbing shoes, it can destroy you sticky soles and can damage the rubber also. Let them try completely through the air.

2: Machine washing

Let’s move on the second method that you can go for but this method is only applicable to synthetic climbing shoes. If you have leather shoes then you can’t follow this step otherwise your shoes can be ruined if you machine wash them.

Material that you need for machine washing your climbing shoes is a machine washer that will easily clean your shoes, a mild detergent that will make your shoes spotless and a small soft brush is needed.

Clean the dust from the shoes

You can use a small brush to brush the dust from the shoe before putting them into water. That will clean the small particles of chalk and dust from the shoes by turning them into mud and paste.

Turn shoes upside down

Now turn your shoes upside down and pad them slightly on the toe box to make sure little crumbles of chalk, rocks, and stone fallout from the shoes.

Set up your washing machine to a gentle washing cycle

If your washing machine has an option for synthetics or delicates, use that option. Synthetic climbing shoes can take a wash, but don’t set your washing machine above 1000 rpm. In my opinion, it’s better to set 500-800 rpm because it works best with a temperature of 30-40 °C (85 to 100 °F)

Add some mild washing detergent

In handwashing, we only use a very mild detergent. But synthetic detergent works well, and it can kill smell and bacteria completely. And the most important thing, don’t use bleach because it can destroy your climbing shoes.

Rinse your climbing shoes with water

After completing the washing machine process, wash your shoes with lukewarm water because sometimes a machine leaves some residues.

 Completely Dry the Shoes

Shake your climbing shoes in order to remove any leftover water. After that use a towel to wipe absorb water from the shoes, soaking in as much moisture as possible. Then place the shoes somewhere with a light breeze.

Don’t place the shoes in direct sunlight because the UV rays can damage the material of your shoes. Let your shoes completely dry and don’t wear them until they are completely dry. And don’t use a hot dryer for drying your climbing shoes, it can destroy you sticky soles and can damage the rubber also.

3: How to clean climbing shoes when you’re outdoors or on camping

If you’re not at home and you want to clean your climbing shoes than what will you do? It’s quite simple don’t worry about it, you can easily clean your climbing shoes even when you’re outdoor without using a tub or basket full of lukewarm water and without using detergent.

Mix rubbing alcohol

Take some rubbing alcohol and dilute with a little bit of water. Use a small soft brush to brush away at the outer part of the shoes. Gently clean away any of the dirt from the shoes.

Brush the shoes

Gently brush on the areas which are discolored because of sweat or dirt. Brush the rubber parts of the climbing shoes; you can use a paper towel if needed.

Use a spray bottle to mix the alcohol and spray the shoes

Add some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, and then lightly spray the inside of the climbing shoes.

Dry the shoes

Hang the shoes somewhere and leave them to air dry.

4: How to keep climbing shoes clean and save from smelling

While we have to wash everything that we use on a daily basis because it’s necessary otherwise things get worst in condition. To keep your climbing shoes in great shape you have to wash then often but you should follow some safety hack that we keep your shoes clean and save from smell. 

All the climbing shoes become so disgusting because of moisture and bacteria. I would like to suggest you go climbing in a cold-weather destination because bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments.

The best way that you can practice to avoid the need to clean your climbing shoes is by keeping them as fresh as possible. This is what we should do from the very beginning, from the first time we wear our climbing shoes. We should keep our shoes clean, to prevent them from moisture, and we have to dry the moisture out as soon as it inevitably arises.

Wash your feet before wearing the shoes

If you don’t wear socks then wash your feet before putting them into climbing shoes, it’s quite important because bacteria from your feet can enter into the shoes through your feet. Moreover, if you do rock climbing without socks then it will be a little dangerous because sweat and other bacteria enter into the climbing shoes and it can cause fungus. 

Wear thin socks

Wear a thin and clean sock is another way that you can follow to avoid the smell and to keep your shoes clean. I think this step is essential for all types of shoes not only for climbing shoes. Because socks absorb sweat and collect the dead skin cells that your feet shed.

Place your shoes in an open space

Store your shoes in open space so that it can dry the moisture of sweat and bacteria.

5: Take the shoes off while you’re not climbing

It’s another good practice that you can follow to take the shoes off when you’re not climbing; therefore, they have time to air out. This will help the shoes to decrease the moisture and smell better.

Use air fresheners

When you notice that your shoes are starting to smell, you can take them off to air out but you can also use air freshener or deodorizing powders that can help eliminate even the toughest of odors from your shoes. But while selecting the air freshener to make sure that they’re safe for contact with human skin.

Dry your shoes smell less and are cleaner

The best way to keep your shoes clean is to let them dry after finishing climbing. Do put your climbing shoes into your bag when they are sweaty or even slightly damp. You should let them air out. One of the best ways is to hang them on the outside of your bag with a carabineer instead of putting them inside.

I know it will give you some strange looks and wrinkled noses from other commuters on the train or the bus but it’s much better than putting them into the bag. If you want to be a well-mannered citizen then wait and let your shoes air out before placing them into the bag.

How to wash leather climbing shoes

Well, as per my research leather shoes has an ability to last longer if they got treated smartly, and for which must need to make certain efforts. Washing of leather climbing shoes could be an easy job to do by using the right and appropriate methods and techniques. So let’s find out what are those techniques or methods!

Should you wash them in the washing machine?

As leather has named for its durability but it doesn’t merely mean that we can treat leather according to our will. Several people used to wash their leather climbing shoes in the washing machine but we really don’t want you to do so.

To wash leather climbing shoes in the washing machine could be an easy thing to do but by doing this you would seriously ruin your climbing shoes. When you will put your climbing shoes of leather into water (no matter cold or warm), enough amount of water would be absorbed into it.

Later on, you can let all the water dry from that leather but somehow but the durability of your leather climbing shoes would be certainly minimized. So, try to avoid washing them in the washing machine.

An easy and right method to wash leather climbing shoes

Here is an easy, right, quick, and safer method to wash leather shoes conveniently.

  • Take off the shoelaces and keep them aside.
  • Clean off all the dirt and debris from the surface of shoes by using a dry cloth.
  • Try to make sure that there is no spot of dirt over the surface of shoes and if you find any, just wipe it with a damp cloth or shoe brush.
  • Add some vinegar with whatever soup or cleanser you are willing to use for washing/cleaning your leather climbing shoes and mix them well.
  • Apply this mixture gently over the surface of shoes with the help of a shoe brush and rub on for a while.
  • Again by using a damp cloth wipe up all the soup from the shoes and they dry at room temperature.
  • After making sure that your leather climber shoes are completely dry, you can take them with you once again (don’t wear them until they don’t get dry properly).

Conclusion

I think it’s a good practice to give your climbing shoes a little “makeover” every now and again. As proper cleaning of shoes allow them to perform for longer but will also come as a relief to your climbing partner.

Additionally, proper cleaning of rock climbing shoes can help you to improve safety and smell also. It’s not complicated to clean shoes and also it doesn’t cost high. Mostly washing and cleaning of rock climbing shoes can be done easily by apply household remedies.

If you really care for your climbing shoes then store them properly so that you’ll be able to enjoy them for many climbs to come. In my opinion, prevention is the best way to keep your climbing shoes in great shape.

Washing of climbing shoes just takes little effort that can make climbing shoes last much longer, comfortable; smell better, safe as well as you will get far less judgmental looks from people on public transport. 

I hope this article will increase your knowledge. Don’t forget to comment in the comment box below.

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