How To Clean Climbing Shoes Without Damaging Them


Regardless of the type of climbing, you will engage in, the right pair of shoes is non-negotiable. It keeps you safe and comfortable. Throughout its use, however, your shoes can wear out, smell bad, and look gross. This makes it important to pay attention to regular cleaning as a part of care and maintenance for your footwear. 

If you want to learn how to clean climbing shoes the right way, read on and we’ll let you know how it’s done. Be careful with how you do it to prevent damages! 

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean Climbing Shoes 

There are two ways by which you can clean your rock climbing shoes – by hand or by washing machine. In the next section, we’ll talk about the easy steps you have to follow.

Pay attention to the materials that are used. Whether they are made of leather or synthetic materials, among others, will have an impact on how to wash climbing shoes. 

Cleaning Climbing Shoes by Hand 

If you are worried about damaging the material of your climbing shoe, it is best to wash it by hand. The cleaning process is more delicate, and you can prevent the material from being deformed. This is especially true with cheap climbing shoes

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  1. Fill a pan or tub with water. The ideal temperature should be anywhere from 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Using hot water will destroy the material of the shoe, especially the rubber sole. Coldwater won’t be good as well. 
  2. Add a few drops of mild detergent to the water. This will make it easier to remove dirt. It will also help to get rid of sweat that might have accumulated in your shoe. 
  3. Before getting the shoes wet, brush off visible dirt. Use a brush with soft bristles to remove large particles. If you soak the shoe in the water instantly, it will easily get muddy. 
  4. Wet the shoes on the sole and start scrubbing to remove dirt that might have remained on the shoe after the initial scrubbing. Brush on the upper surface as well, concentrating on the area with stain or dirt. Be gentle as you brush to avoid damaging the material of the shoe. 
  5. Now, clean inside the shoe. Use a clean brush, preferably one that is smaller than what you earlier used. 
  6. After cleaning the shoe, dunk it in water with soap. Rinse the shoe, making sure that no residues from soap remain. 
  7. Let the shoe dry before you use it. Shake it vigorously first to get rid of excess water and to make the drying process quicker. The best place to dry your shoe is in a warm room with a light breeze. Do not dry it directly under the heat of the sun, especially if it’s made of leather. 
  8. When the shoes are dry, an extra step that you might find useful is to scrub the soles with sandpaper. This is an easy way to make it grippy, which is important when you are climbing. 

Cleaning Climbing Shoes in a Washing Machine 

If you are looking for an easy solution for how to wash climbing shoes, it would be best to use a washing machine. It is quick and convenient. However, if the shoe is made of natural materials, this is not recommended. This method is only for men’s and women’s climbing shoes made of synthetic materials. 

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  1. Before the shoes get wet, brush them first to remove large chunks of dirt. Focus on the sole. Turn it upside down to get rid of dirt or debris that could have been stuck inside the shoe. 
  2. Set your washing machine for the gentle cycle. Some machines have pre-set programs for delicate. If your machine has one, choose it. Ideally, the temperature should be about 85 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the speed should be 500 to 800 pm. 
  3. Add a mild detergent to the water. Do not use bleach. 
  4. Dry the shoes. Do not use a hot dryer. This will ruin the material of the shoe. It is best to leave it overnight in a warm room and let it dry. 

How To Clean Smelly Climbing Shoes 

As we talk about how to clean climbing shoes, it is also crucial to cover the basics of getting rid of unwanted smells. After all, to be able to say that your rock or gym climbing shoes are clean, it should not only look spotless but should also smell fresh. 

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  1. Put some black tea bags inside the shoe. Let it sit for a night. The morning after, remove the tea bags and start washing the shoe as discussed above. The tea bags will be effective in absorbing odor. 
  2. Before you wash the climbing shoes, it will also help to sprinkle them with baking soda. It removes stench and moisture from the shoe, making it smell fresher, especially once it has been washed. 
  3. A deodorizing spray can also work like magic. Spray it inside the shoe and this can mask the foul odor. However, if the shoe is extremely smelly, masking odor is not enough. You need to find a way to eliminate the smell. 

Prevention is better than cure, even when it comes to how to clean climbing shoes when they have a stench odor. To prevent this, wear thin and clean socks. Your feet should be comfortable so that they won’t sweat. Also, when you are not using the shoes, store them in a well-ventilated area away from heat and moisture. 



If you have questions about how to wash climbing shoes, we’ll try to answer some of them below. 

Q: Can you wash climbing shoes?


Yes, you can wash climbing shoes. Hand-washing is recommended. However, there are also climbing shoes that are machine-washable, but this is recommended only for shoes that are made of synthetic materials. Especially if it is made of leather, you should never machine wash your climbing shoes.

Q: How do you clean rubber climbing shoes?


To clean rubber climbing shoes, you can use a combination of laundry detergent and baking soda. Brush the shoes with the mixture and let it dry. You can also soak the rubber shoes in a pan with soap and brush after when the dirt is already easier to remove from the surface.

Q: How do you get the smell out of climbing shoes?


Getting the smell out of climbing shoes is possible with regular washing. You can also insert activated charcoal or dryer sheets in the shoes when they are not used. They can help to absorb odor. It will also help to store them properly, specifically where the shoes can breathe.

Q: Is it OK to spray Lysol in shoes?


Yes, it is OK to spray Lysol in shoes. Spray the interior of the shoe to disinfect and get rid of bad odors. Make sure to let it dry before wearing it. However, Lysol is only for disinfecting and deodorizing. On its own, Lysol will not clean your climbing shoes.

Q: How do you dry wet climbing shoes?


Dry your climbing shoes by hanging it upside down. You can also place it near the fan to speed up drying. You can stuff the shoe with paper towels and newspapers so that it will not shrink as it dries. 

Globo Surf Overview 

At this point, we hope that you already know how to clean climbing shoes. You can do it by hand or in a washing machine, depending on the material. Aside from looking clean, pay attention as well to make your shoes smell fresh.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!