October 19


How to Clean Climbing Shoes and Eliminate Bad Smells 

By Teddy

October 19, 2022

Let’s be honest, your climbing shoes probably never looked as brand new as the day you got them. A few weeks (or days) in and they were already caked in chalk, dirt, and who-knows-what else. But don’t worry, even the grimiest of shoes can be transformed back to their original glory with a little elbow grease and some TLC. 

Climbing shoes see a lot of abuse. They get stepped on, crammed into tiny spaces, and dragged through all sorts of dirt and debris. Over time, this takes its toll – both on the shoes and on your feet. That’s why it’s important to clean your climbing shoes regularly. Not only will it prolong their life, but it will also keep your feet happy and healthy. Here’s how to do it: 

Supplies You’ll Need 

To properly clean your climbing shoes, you’ll need the following supplies: 

– 1 old toothbrush (preferably one that you don’t mind getting dirty) 

– 1 small bowl or container 

– 1 soft cloth or towel 

– water 

– mild soap (dish soap works great) 

– white vinegar (optional) 

– newspaper or paper towels (optional) 


  1. Start by giving your shoes a good once-over with an old toothbrush. This will help loosen any caked on dirt or debris.  
  2. Fill a small bowl or container with water and add a squirt of mild soap. Mix until the soap is evenly distributed.  
  3. Dunk your shoe in the soapy water and use your fingers to work the solution into the fabric. Be sure to pay extra attention to areas that are especially dirty or grimy. 
  4. Rinse your shoe under cool water until all of the soap has been removed.  
  5. Use a soft cloth or towel to remove any excess water from your shoe. Be sure not to wring out your shoe – this can damage the fabric. Simply blotting is sufficient. 
  6. Once your shoe is mostly dry, place it in a well-ventilated area and allow it to air dry completely before wearing again. 
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 for the other shoe!   

Additional Tips & Tricks 

If you’re dealing with extra stubborn dirt or stains, you can try using white vinegar instead of soap when cleaning your climbing shoes. Simply mix equal parts vinegar and water in a small bowl or container, then follow steps 3-6 above using this solution instead of soapy water.  

If you don’t have access to a well-ventilated area for air drying, you can place newspaper or paper towels inside each shoe before letting them dry overnight (this will help absorb any excess moisture). Just be sure to remove them before wearing again!  

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I soak my climbing shoes in water

You can safely soak your climbing shoes in water because they are highly durable. They might stretch more when wet but they still should retain their original form after being soaked.

Can I machine wash my climbing shoes?

It’s not recommended to machine wash your climbing shoes, as it may cause damage to the fabric, stitching and rubber. Stick to hand washing for best results. because climbing shoes will not retain their shape and will be damaged by washing machines.

Can I use bleach to clean my climbing shoes?

Bleach can be harsh on the fabric of your climbing shoes and may also cause discoloration. It’s best to stick with mild soap and water, or a mixture of vinegar and water for cleaning.

Remember, regular cleaning and maintenance of your climbing shoes will not only keep them smelling fresh, but it will also extend their lifespan and keep your feet happy and healthy.

How do you get stink out of climbing shoes

To remove odors from your climbing shoes, try sprinkling baking soda inside them and letting it sit overnight before removing it and allowing the shoes to air dry. You can also try placing them in a sealed plastic bag with a fabric softener sheet for a couple of days. Repeat as necessary until the odor is gone. Additionally, regularly cleaning and airing out your shoes after use can help prevent and remove odors.

Another option is to apply a deodorizing spray made specifically for athletic gear or footwear, following the manufacturer’s instructions. These sprays can also be used as a preventive measure against odors. Just be sure not to oversaturate the fabric of your shoes with the spray. 

If the odor persists, consider investing in a new pair of climbing shoes. It’s important to have footwear that is not only comfortable and functional, but also fresh smelling for both your own comfort and the comfort of those around you.


Who knew cleaning could be so satisfying? With just a little bit of time and effort, you can take your climbing shoes from looking like they’ve seen better days to looking good as new! Regular cleaning not only prolongs the life of your shoes but also helps keep your feet healthy – so it’s truly a win-win situation!

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