How To Clean Your Climbing Shoes

Good fitting shoes and great terrains are the perfect tag team for climbing enthusiasts. And if you have a rich outdoor lifestyle, you know just how important it is to keep your climbing shoes clean and in good shape.

However, exposed to dust, grime, sweat and rubber debris, your sturdy shoes will wear out over time, reducing the grip and comfort you can get out of them in the long run. Add bacterial and fungal growth to the mix and things can get really bad in the odour department.

Your goal then is to ensure these attacks are better handled, thus helping you slow down the funk and keeping your shoes fit for long use. Depending on your type of shoe (synthetic or leather), some tips may come in handy, and others – not so much.

We’ve got you covered for both in this article. What follows are some practical ways to get started cleaning your climbing shoes and things to avoid to keep them durable for future climbs.

Can I put my climbing shoes in the washing machine?

Exhausted from an all day adventure, tossing your climbing shoes into the laundry may seem the quickest fix to have them fresh for next use. Sure, this may not be a bad idea, but there are things to look out for. First, detergents are a good cleaning agent, but they are not so friendly on rubber shoes. And so frequent laundry sessions may end up ripping off sensitive parts of your climbing shoes, making them less comfortable for future use.

Note: Leather shoes are best cleaned manually to prevent them from shrinking.

For leather shoes, the following manual cleaning steps should help:

  • Step 1: Buy a mild soap (saddle soap is ideally what you want)
  • Step 2: Fill the tub with just about enough water for lather
  • Step 3: Scrub the inside and outside with a mild brush (a toothbrush works just fine)
  • Step 4: Wash rubber material and synthetic parts
  • Step 5: Wipe off soap with a clean cloth
  • Step 6: Air dry in a shaded area.

Note: Drying under heat will cause leather shoes to shrink. Rubber parts may also crack on extended exposure to sunlight. Applying oil to your leather shoes will help to prevent it from cracking and breaking as it dries out.

Can Climbing Shoes Get Wet?