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How to Clean Climbing Shoes: Step-By-Step Guide

Do you love rock climbing but hate the hassle of maintaining your climbing shoes? I totally get it. Learning how to clean climbing shoes can be a pain.

But what if I told you there's a waterproof shoe brand that can double as climbing shoes? Yes, you read that right. I'm talking about Vessi, our brand, which has taken the world by storm with its comfortable and stylish waterproof shoes.

We make our Vessi sneakers using patented technology, ensuring they are 100% waterproof. This means you can wear them in any weather condition, including on those rainy days when you still want to get your climb on. And the best part? Vessi shoes come in various styles, so you can choose a design to suit your taste.

While we don't specifically design Vessi shoes for climbing, our waterproof and durable material makes them an excellent option for climbing and other outdoor activities. Plus, they're super comfortable and stylish, so you won't have to sacrifice fashion for functionality.

Let's dive into how to clean your climbing shoes and why Vessi shoes might be the perfect alternative for you.

How to Clean Climbing Shoes: Step-to-Step Process of Hand-Washing Climbing Shoes

Step-to-Step Process of Hand-Washing Climbing Shoes

Climbing shoes are essential pieces of gear for any climbing enthusiast. Proper cleaning and maintenance are necessary to extend their lifespan and maintain their performance. While throwing them in the washing machine may be tempting, it's better to clean them by hand to prevent damage.


  • A tub or sink

  • Mild detergent (such as gentle dish soap)

  • A soft-bristled brush

  • Lukewarm fresh water

  • A towel


  1. Fill a tub with water: Start by filling a tub or sink with lukewarm water. Do not use hot water, as it can damage the shoes' glue and cause them to delaminate.

  2. Use mild detergent in the water: Add a small amount. Stay away from harsh detergents or bleach, which can damage the shoes' materials.

  3. Brush off dust before shoes get wet: Before submerging the shoes in the water, use a soft-bristled brush and remove any loose dirt or debris. This will help prevent the dirt from settling into the shoe's fabric. If the shoes have folds, you might need to remove the creases before dipping them in water.

  4. Turn the shoes upside down and pad them to remove debris and small rocks: Flip them over and gently pat them to remove any small rocks or debris stuck inside them. This will help prevent damage to the shoe's interior.

  5. Gently scrub the outside of the shoes: With the shoe upside down, gently scrub the outside with the soft-bristled brush. Pay close attention to any particularly dirty, painted, or scuffed areas.

  6. Clean the shoes from the inside: Flip the shoes back over and gently scrub the inside. Pay close attention to the heel and toe areas, as they collect the most dirt and sweat.

  7. Rinse your rock shoes with lukewarm fresh water: Rinse them thoroughly with lukewarm fresh water after scrubbing them outside and inside. Ensure you remove all the soap residue.

  8. Completely dry the shoes: Gently squeeze the excess water out after rinsing. Then, use a towel to pat the shoes dry. Avoid wringing or twisting the shoes, as this can cause damage to the shoe's materials. Once they're dry, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

How to Machine Wash & Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

How to Machine Wash & Clean Rock Climbing Shoes

Rock climbing shoes are a crucial item in any climber's collection. Eventually, they can become dirty and smelly, affecting their performance. Fortunately, you can easily clean your sneakers or shoes using a washing machine. Here's a guide to machine washing and cleaning your smelly climbing shoes:


  • Brush

  • Washing machine

  • Mild washing detergent

  • Lukewarm water


  1. Brush off dust before shoes get wet: Before you wash your shoes, use a brush to take care of any excess dust or dirt from the shoes. This will prevent dirt from clogging the washing machine and make cleaning easier.

  2. Turn shoes upside down and pad them to remove debris and small rocks: Next, turn your shoes upside down and gently pad them to remove any debris or small rocks lodged in the shoe crevices.

  3. Set your washing machine to a gentle washing cycle: Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle, as a regular cycle may damage the shoes. Also, avoid using hot water, as it can cause the glue to break down and affect the shoe's durability.

  4. Add some mild washing detergent. Avoid using bleach: Add a small amount of mild washing detergent to the machine, and make sure not to use bleach, as it can damage the shoe material.

  5. Rinse your wet climbing shoes with lukewarm fresh water: After the wash cycle, rinse the shoes with lukewarm fresh water to remove any excess soap residue.

  6. Completely dry the shoes – avoid hot dryers: Finally, remove them from the washing machine and stuff paper towels or newspaper inside them to help them maintain their shape while drying. Avoid using a hot dryer as it can damage synthetic climbing shoes. Instead, leave them to air dry in a cool and dry place.

Cleaning Your Rock Climbing Shoes When You Are Outdoors or Camping

Cleaning Your Rock Climbing Shoes When You Are Outdoors or Camping

If you're camping or climbing outdoors and need to clean your shoes, you must have the right tools and knowledge to do so effectively. Let's show you how to clean your rock climbing and bouldering shoes while you're out and about:


  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Water

  • Spray bottle

  • Brush


  1. Mix rubbing alcohol: Mix rubbing alcohol with water in a spray bottle in a 1:1 ratio. Shake the bottle to ensure the solution is well-mixed.

  2. Brush the climbing shoes: Use a brush to remove any loose dirt and debris from the shoes. Make sure you're brushing gently to avoid damaging the shoes.

  3. Use a bottle to keep the alcohol mix and spray the shoes: Spray the rubbing alcohol mix onto the shoes, focusing on the most soiled areas. Let the solution sit on the shoes for a few minutes to allow it to break down any dirt and grime. Use a clean cloth to wipe the shoes clean.

  4. Dry the shoes: Allow the shoes or sneakers to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Do not dry them in direct sunlight or using heat sources like a campfire or heater, as this can damage the shoes.

Tips for Cleaning a Climbing Shoe

Tips for Maintaining Climbing Shoes

Cleaning your climbing shoes is essential to maintaining their performance and prolonging their lifespan. Here are some tips for cleaning your climbing shoes:

  • Clean your shoes regularly: Keeping your climbing shoes clean is essential to maintain their grip and prevent odours from building up.

  • Remove excess dirt and debris: Before washing your climbing shoes, use a soft-bristled brush to remove any dirt or debris that may be stuck on the shoe's surface. This will make washing more effective and prevent dirt from clogging up the fabric.

  • Wash with mild soap and water: Use mild soap or detergent to wash your climbing shoes. Avoid harsh chemicals, bleach, or fabric softeners, as these can damage the material and reduce grip. Gently scrub the shoes with a soft-bristled brush and rinse thoroughly with water.

  • Air dry: After cleaning your synthetic or leather climbing shoes, it's important to let them air dry naturally. Avoid using a dryer or other heat source to dry your climbing shoes. Instead, let the synthetic or leather shoes air dry in a well-ventilated area. Stuff newspaper inside them to help them retain their shape and absorb any excess moisture.

  • Don't expose them to direct sunlight: Direct sunlight can cause the colours of your climbing shoes to fade and weaken the material. So, avoid drying them in direct sunlight or storing them without exposure.

  • Use a shoe deodorizer: Climbing shoes can become smelly due to the accumulation of sweat and bacteria. To prevent this, use a shoe deodorizer to keep them smelling fresh and clean.

  • Avoid wearing your shoes outside: Climbing shoes are often designed for indoor or outdoor climbing, and wearing them outside on rough terrain can cause damage to the shoes. If you need to wear them outside, use shoe covers or take them off when walking to and from the climbing area.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Cleaning Climbing Shoes

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Cleaning Climbing Shoe

1. Should you wash climbing shoes?

Yes, washing climbing shoes is essential for longevity and safety. Climbing shoes often accumulate dirt, sweat, and bacteria, leading to odour and infection.

Regular washing of climbing shoes helps remove dirt and bacteria and restores the shoes' grip, flexibility, and comfort. However, the cleaning method should be gentle and not affect the shoe's construction or performance.

2. Can I hand wash my climbing shoes?

Yes, hand washing is the best method for cleaning climbing shoes. Start by removing loose dirt and debris with a soft brush or cloth. Then, fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild soap.

Soak the shoes for a few minutes and use a soft brush to scrub gently. Stay away from harsh detergents or bleach, which can damage the shoe's material. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and let them air dry in a well-ventilated area avoiding direct sunlight.

3. How do you get the smell out of climbing shoes?

Climbing shoes often have a pungent smell due to sweat and bacteria buildup. One way to remove the smell is to use a shoe deodorizer spray to help eliminate the odour-causing bacteria.

Another method is baking soda, which can absorb moisture and neutralize the odour. Sprinkle baking soda inside the shoes, let it sit for a few hours, and then shake it out. You can also try placing the shoes in a plastic bag with a few tea bags overnight. The tea leaves will absorb the moisture and leave a pleasant smell.

4. How often should I wash my climbing shoes?

The frequency of cleaning climbing shoes depends on how often you use them and the environment you climb in. If you climb frequently or in a damp or dusty environment, you may need to clean them after every use.

On the other hand, if you climb occasionally or in a dry environment, you can wash them once a month or as needed. The key is to avoid letting dirt and bacteria accumulate, which can lead to odour and infection. Regular cleaning can also help maintain the shoes' grip, flexibility, and comfort.

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