How To Clean Climbing Shoes: 2 Simple Ways & Tips

As we reach the summit of our comprehensive guide on how to clean climbing shoes, we reflect on the importance of maintaining your gear in top condition. It’s clear that the care you invest in your climbing shoes can make a substantial difference in both performance and longevity. Throughout this article, we’ve equipped you with step-by-step methods and expert tips, ensuring that your trusty companions are not only odor-free but also primed for your next adventure.

How To Clean Climbing Shoes: Detailed Guide

There is much debate about whether or not to wash climbing shoes. Some brands, such as Evolv, do not recommend this as it can weaken the glue and structure of the shoes. Besides, Scarpa believes that it is normal to wash your shoes to prevent them from smelling bad and to remove sweat, which can also reduce the durability of them.

How To Clean Climbing Shoes

In summary, if you wash our climbing shoes properly and carefully, it will have little impact on their durability or performance. I also recommend washing them by hand instead of in the machine. This is because the force of the washing machine can damage the shape. Here are the steps on how to wash your shoes effectively in 2 methods:

Method 1: Using water

Here are step-by-step guide to help you do this method: 

Step 1: Prepare

Use a soft brush or an old toothbrush to scrub the shoes. Then, prepare a bowl of warm water, or you can wash them under the shower or sink. Remember not to use hot or boiling water as it may damage the shoe material.

Note: People often recommend using alcohol for cleaning. For this, I would not advise you to use it as it can weaken the adhesive glue. Therefore, consider researching thoroughly before using this substance.

Step 2: Cleaning outside

Start by rinsing the shoes gently to wash off any sand or exterior dirt, avoiding scrubbing too hard to prevent scratching. Then, use the brush to lightly scrub the surface until no more dirt is visible.

Additionally, if they have cushioned insoles, gently rinse and squeeze them. Then, lightly scrub both the exterior and interior until the rinse water is no longer brown.

Step 3: Air Dry

After completing the above steps, to speed up the drying process, wipe your shoes dry and then proceed to stuff cloth inside them to absorb the remaining moisture.

Next, to maintain the shape of them after washing, gently stuff them with paper or small pieces of fabric. After 10 – 15 minutes, remove the paper and proceed to air dry.

Note that you should place your shoes in the shade, avoiding direct contact with sunlight. How quickly this process occurs will depend on the weather conditions where you live.”

These are practical steps for drying them and keeping their shape intact. It also advises avoiding direct sunlight to prevent potential damage or discoloration.

Method 2: Using soap

Here is a detailed guide that can help you finish quickly and simply:

Step 1: Prepare

Prepare a basin of warm water mixed with a certain amount of soap or mild detergent and stir well. Add a soft-bristle brush to the setup.

Step 2: Cleaning outside

Similar to the method above, lightly rinse your shoes to remove any surface dirt or sand, to prevent scratching when scrubbing. Then, scrub until the stains are gone. Note that you should use moderate and gentle force to avoid damaging them .

Step 3: Soak and rinse

Now, continue by placing your shoes in the soap basin, soaking them for approximately 30-60 minutes. During this process, make sure your shoes are fully submerged in the basin. After soaking, you may gently scrub once more if you wish.

Step 4: Air dry

Once soaking and rinsing with clean water, proceed to stuff the shoes with small pieces of fabric or newspaper to maintain the shape. Now, proceed to air dry them. You should air dry in the shade, and not place them directly under sunlight. The drying time will depend on the weather conditions where you live.

Using soap to clean shoes 

Can You Put Climbing Shoes In The Washer?

While most shoe companies advise against it, Butora says using a washing machine is okay for synthetic materials. However, doing so comes with risks as washing machines differ.

If you decide to wash your shoes this way, here are some simple tips:

  • Don’t wash leather shoes in the machine; only wash ones made of synthetic materials.
  • For those with laces, either take them off or tie your shoelaces securely. If they have velcro, keep it fastened but not too tight.
  • Only wash the shoes with other ones in the machine.
  • Choose a soft cleaning cycle and use cold water.
  • A bit of laundry soap is fine, but stay away from bleach and other harsh chemicals.

How To Deodorize Climbing Shoes?

Smelly shoes are a common problem, partly due to people not wearing socks. When socks aren’t worn and there is extended activity, this leads to the growth of bacteria, which are attracted to the moist environment. Moreover, these types of climbing shoes will have a stronger odor than others. To eliminate these odors, here are some methods to help you:

Method 1: Store in a well-ventilated area.

To reduce the odor, you can take them out and leave them in a well-ventilated area for a while after a few climbing sessions. When returning home from climbing, open them up instead of immediately storing them in a bag, and leave them in an appropriate place to help dry the inside and prevent bacterial growth.

Read more:

Method 2: Using some product 

Additionally, you can buy specialized shoe deodorizers to help remove both the smell and bacteria from your shoes. This is the most effective way but will pay some cost.

If you don’t want to clean your shoes with deodorizers, you can alternatively use baking soda. This substance will inhibit bacterial growth and remove the smell from them.

Using specialized shoe deodorizers to remove the smell from shoes

Method 3: Maintain clean feet

Besides bacteria, your feet are also a cause of the smell. Therefore, always keep your feet clean and wipe them dry before putting on shoes. If your feet tend to sweat a lot while wearing shoes, you could try applying a bit of powder to the soles of your feet to prevent this.


With our guide, you now have the knowledge to tackle the task of cleaning your climbing shoes with confidence. We encourage you to share your experiences and tips with us, as the climbing community thrives on shared wisdom. Keep pushing the limits, and trust that with our guidance, your climbing shoes will be as ready as you are to face the challenges ahead.

Naava Xin

Naava Xin

Naava Xin is the CEO and Founder of Outfitoza, she has over 5 years of experience in Clothing, she has helped hundreds of fashionistas understand more about fashion and love shopping.