Climbing Shoe Care 101: A Complete Handbook For Cleaning And Maintenance

Scaling rocky cliffs, defying gravity, and experiencing the thrill of conquering heights—climbing is a captivating sport that demands precision and focus. 

These rubber-soled marvels provide the grip and sensitivity required to accomplish difficult courses. However, when we push ourselves, our shoes gather dirt, sweat, and odors. 

Fear not! As we will reveal the secrets of preserving the performance and longevity of your climbing shoes.

Get ready to give your climbing shoes the care they need, from vital cleaning techniques to important maintenance advice, to ensure every ascent is as thrilling as the first. So, let us go into the subject of climbing shoe cleaning. 

Materials Needed For Cleaning

The cleaning products required are listed in bullet points below:

  • Soft brush: A soft-bristled brush is useful for gently washing surfaces without creating harm or scratches.
  • Mild soap or detergent: Select a gentle soap or detergent that is appropriate for the cleaning activity. It should be effective at removing dirt and grime while also being gentle on the material.
  • Clean water: Access to clean water is required to wash off the soap or detergent and wet the brush or cloth.
  • Rag or towel: A towel or rag can dry surfaces or wipe away excess water or cleaning solutions. Also, check if it is clean and absorbent.

Also read: Useful Health Tips on How to Keep Your Shoes Clean and Sanitized

Step-by-Step Guide on Cleaning Climbing Shoes 

Step 1 Remove Any Loose Dirt And Debris

Brush off any loose dirt or debris from the climbing shoes using a soft brush or your hands. This will improve the efficiency of the cleaning process.

Step 2 Prepare The Cleaning Solution

Fill a basin or wash basin halfway with warm water and a little light soap or detergent. Gently stir until the soap has dissolved in the water.

Step 3 Scrub The Shoes Gently

Dip a soft brush into the cleaning solution and scrub the surface of the climbing shoes gently. Pay close attention to any stains or dirt buildup. To avoid harming the shoe material, do not scrub too vigorously.

Step 4 Rinse The Shoes Thoroughly With Clean Water Once You’ve Completed Cleaning

Once you’ve finished scrubbing, rinse the climbing shoes thoroughly with clean water. This removes any soap residue and leaves the shoes clean.

Step 5 Allow The Shoes To Air Dry

After rinsing, gently wipe them dry with a towel or cloth to eliminate excess water. Then, place them in a well-ventilated area to thoroughly air dry. Direct heat sources, such as heaters or dryers, should be avoided because they can deform or damage the shoes.

Tips For Maintaining Clean Climbing Shoes

  • Avoid wearing shoes in muddy or dirty areas: Keep your climbing shoes away from muddy or dirty surfaces to reduce the amount of dirt and grime they gather.
  • Shoes should be stored correctly: Keep your climbing shoes somewhere clean, dry, and well-ventilated. Avoid leaving them in a moist or humid environment since this can encourage the growth of bacteria and the production of unpleasant odors.
  • Use a shoe deodorizer: Consider utilizing a shoe deodorizer or odor-absorbing items to keep your climbing shoes fresh and odor-free. They can help eradicate odors and extend the life of your shoes.
  • Avoid washing climbing shoes too frequently: While it is vital to clean climbing shoes on a regular basis, avoid washing them too frequently. 
  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions: Always follow the manufacturer’s particular care instructions for your climbing shoes. Different materials and designs may necessitate different cleaning and maintenance procedures.

Note:- Overwashing can cause the materials to degrade faster. Instead, after each usage, concentrate on spot cleaning and removing surface dirt, and save complete washes for when they are visibly soiled or stinky. 

Special Considerations For Different Types Of Climbing Shoes

Leather Shoes 

  • Conditioning: Leather climbing shoes must be conditioned regularly to maintain the leather’s flexibility and prevent it from drying out or cracking. To maintain the quality of the leather, use a leather conditioner or particular treatments advised by the maker.
  • Spot cleaning: For minor dirt or stains, use a gentle brush or a damp towel to clean the leather. Avoid soaking the leather in water or applying harsh chemicals to it.
  • Drying: Allow leather climbing shoes to air dry naturally if they become wet. Excessive heat can cause the leather to shrink or become brittle, so keep them away from direct heat sources.

Synthetic Shoes 

  • Cleaning: When compared to leather climbing shoes, synthetic climbing shoes are often easier to clean. Scrub grime and stain away with a gentle brush, light soap, or detergent.
  • Drying: Allow synthetic shoes to air dry after cleaning. Direct heat sources should be avoided because they can damage the synthetic material.

Unlined Shoes 

  • Odor control: Due to perspiration absorption, unlined climbing shoes can generate strong odors. To keep your shoes fresh, use shoe deodorizers or odor-absorbing solutions.
  • Drying: Unlined shoes dry faster than lined shoes since they do not have a separate lining material. However, to prevent the formation of bacteria and odors, allow them to air dry fully after each use.

Thing To Remember:- Always refer to the manufacturer’s care instructions for precise cleaning and maintenance instructions for your climbing shoes, as different brands and models may have their own suggestions.

Check out: High Top vs. Low Top Skating Shoes: Which one is right for you?

More Useful Tips 

  • Avoid overheating: Keep your climbing shoes away from direct sunshine, heaters, or other heat sources, as overheating can harm the materials and impair performance.
  • Rotate your climbing shoes: If you have many pairs, rotate their use. This allows each pair to dry properly between uses, extending their longevity.
  • Examine for signs of wear and tear: Inspect your climbing shoes on a regular basis for symptoms of wear and tear, such as delamination, loose stitching, or worn-out rubber. Address any faults immediately, as they might impact the shoe’s performance and safety.
  • Avoid excessive moisture: Climbing shoes become damp during use, so do not leave them wet for long periods. Moisture promotes bacterial development and foul odors. Before storing them, make sure they are completely dry.
  • Store them properly: When not in use, keep your climbing shoes in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight and high temperatures. Use a shoe bag or keep them in a designated shoe bin to protect them from dust and any damage.
  • Respect shoe limitations: Different styles of climbing shoes, such as bouldering, sport climbing, or trad climbing, are built for specific sorts of climbing. Be cognizant of the shoe’s intended function and avoid using it in settings where it is not appropriate, as this can impact its performance.


Remember, climbing shoes are not mere objects but are imbued with memories, triumphs, and shared experiences. They tell stories of tight holds, beautiful vistas, and the climber’s unbreakable soul. Treat them with respect and kindness because they are more than just tools; they are the physical manifestation of your enthusiasm for the vertical world.

May your climbing shoes take you to unknown regions, etching triumphant stories and leaving marks of your spirit on the vertical canvas. Accept their care and upkeep as an appreciation ritual, for doing so honors not only the shoes themselves but the core of being a climber—brave, resilient, and always striving for the peak.