How to Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

Climbing essentials and climbing shoes are the two most important things climbers need to aware of on their adrenaline rush trip. If you think the condition of your climbing tools and your climbing experience is the reason behind your success, then you are mistaken!

Your shoes lay an equal contribution to your climbing success. The hygienic condition of your shoes determines whether your rock climbing will be a success or a failure. 

Your favorite pair of tensile strength-resistant shoes can also get dirty, age, and lose its quality in the wear and tear process. Simply tossing your shoes over into your dryer will make its rubber soles to peel off in the heat.

You need to clean them properly. If you want to know how you can clean your rock climbing shoes check our article! Learn to clean your shoes properly or you will risk losing them.

Why should you clean your rock climbing shoes?

There are two main reasons why you should keep your rock climbing shoes clean. The first would be to ensure your safety and the second would be to keep it hygienic.

As you will climb rocky hills and mountains, dirt, debris, stones, and gravel will get stuck on your shoe’s bottom. This will reduce friction, causing you to lose your balance and grip. You should clean your shoes to prevent nasty falls and rough accidents.

Besides, rock climbing is a tedious task and an active exercise. It makes your whole body sweat, especially your feet. Accumulation of sweat leads to the production of sticky foul odor in your shoes and can also get athlete’s foot fungus.

It can also result to a bacterial infection. As warm conditions inside your shoe and sweat can cause bacterial growth as they thrive from dead skin cells. Serratia Ficarcia, E.coli, Klebsiella Pneumonia normally reside in your shoes, their normal growth can be multiplied due to sweat accumulation and result to a nasty infection.

Thus, cleaning your rock climbing shoes regularly can prevent both bacterial and fungal infection in your feet and keep you safe from accidents as well.

How to Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

Photo by : REI

Getting rid of dirt and stone by preserving your shoe’s rubber - How to Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

The bottom of your shoe may not look like it, but it is covered with dirt, stone, and debris. These stones stick stubbornly onto your shoe’s soles and the rubber underneath its sole.

These stones can cause your rubber to wear down or damage your shoe’s quality. No doubt, it will reduce the frictional force of your shoes, but worst case scenario it may cause you to trip or fall down while you are trying to climb up. It is important to clean your rubber soles and preserve its grip. 

Take sandpaper or a strong brush. Gently brush your rubber soles below your shoes in a steady manner. You will see stones and little pebble will fall off or get stuck on your sandpaper.

Some stones may get stuck into your rubber strongly, this happens when you land your foot in uneven soil or exert strong force with your feet. You will need a plus or a knife to get those out.

Wash the rubber with baking soda or soap and water. Rinse it well with water and leave it for air dry. You will find your shoes are free of sharp pebbles and the rubber soles look fresh and neat.

Getting rid of the foul odor - How to Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

Simply washing with soap, water, or by using your dryer will your keep rock climbing shoes free from fungus and bacteria. You need to clean your shoes with rubbing alcohol and a brush or a towel. We have mentioned a detailed step of how to get rid of the pungent odor from your rock climbing shoes.

1. Take your shoes off and keep them in a cool place - How to Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

After reaching home take off your shoes, keep them in a dry place and not stuffed inside your shoe cabinet or a bag. Keep it in a cool place especially where there is a maximum amount of air ventilation.

If you live in a cold climate region, make sure to keep your shoes out in your garage or in your balcony as the cold temperature will help to kill some of the bacteria and fungus and prevent its proliferation.

2. Add rubbing alcohol in your shoes - How to Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

Before rubbing your shoes with alcohol, take a piece of cloth or a brush and use it to wipe your rock climbing shoes clean. Clean both the outer and the inner part of your shoe, remove all the dirt and mud from your shoe so that it has a smooth surface. Take any rubbing alcohol and add few ounces of water to dilute it.

Rub it all over your climbing shoes, use it to wash inside your shoe and above it too. Also, use the towel dipped in alcohol for the parts which have lost their color from dirt and or sweat. Next, take a toothbrush, dip it in the alcohol and use it to brush the heels and under your shoes.

3. Wash the insoles with baking soda - How to Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

Take off the insoles from your shoes and wash them in baking soda. Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a strong alkali. It is potent against any bacteria or fungus. Take a jar filled with lukewarm water, add 1 to 2 tablespoon baking powder to it and stir.

Dip your insoles in them keep it soaked in for 20 minutes. Use your toothbrush to brush both sides of your insoles. Rinse the insoles in cold water and leave them to dry. You can hang them outdoors for air dry. If you are in a hurry and need them to dry fast, you can toss the insoles onto your dryer and get them dried within half an hour.

4. Use essential oil

After rubbing your shoes with alcohol and washing your insoles, you can add few drops of essential oil of your favorite flavor on them. This will prevent the buildup of any odor in your climbing shoes.

How to keep your shoes odor-free while on the trip - How to Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

If you are on a climbing trip and will not be home before a week or so and want to keep your shoes clean and odor-free, here a way how to do so. Before setting off, take an empty spray bottle, fill 75% of it with rubbing alcohol, and the rest with water. Shake it gently and take it with you on your trip. 

Before cleaning your shoes, make sure to get your feet cleaned first, as you will be putting your feet back in your shoes after getting them sanitized. Take a piece of cloth and a soap, soak your feet in water and clean it with soap.

If that is too much for you, you can also take fresh wipes pads with your on your trip which contains alcohol in them. Wipe your feet off properly, makes sure to brush your fingers and your heels properly.

Tips to keep rock climbing shoes clean

  • Avoid walking barefoot in rocky places before climbing
  • Place a plastic sheet before you sit and keep your feet there.
  • Do not wear climbing shoes for long hours, keep them dry and ventilated as much as possible
  • Avoid keeping your shoes in the sunlight or UV light for long hours, at it can damage the material of your shoes.
  • It is recommended to use deodorants or deodorizing foot powders to keep your feet and shoes odor and mildew-free.
  • It is safer to wash shoes with alcohol rather than water, as it can damage the shoes outer material, especially if it is made of leather
    • Keep stone and rocks from getting stuck underneath your shoes.
    • Remember to not leave your shoes in a hot and humid place, as high-temperature conditions can cause the rubber in your shoes to melt and damage the outsoles.
  • Remember to not leave your shoes in a hot and humid place, as high-temperature conditions can cause the rubber in your shoes to melt and damage the outsoles.

Wear socks to keep your climbing shoes clean

You must be wondering what connection do socks have to do with keeping climbing shoes clean, right? Socks prevent your insoles from sticking onto your feet. They also help absorb all the sweat and prevent the buildup of nasty odor in your shoes.

If the bacteria cannot feed onto your skin cells and sweat they will not be able to multiply and thrive.  Always go for socks that do not have a seam in your toe area and should be thin. Thin socks will help you to climb with less pressure on your feet.

Bottom Line

Now that you have read this article, you should be wary of all the dos and don’ts of keeping your rock climbing shoes clean. Clean shoes not only improve your performance, but also keep you fresh both psychologically and physically. So don’t forget to clean your shoes after coming back home from an exciting rock climbing adventure.


You can also read : Types of Cycling Shoes

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