Climbing Shoe Care
Mixing it up with older and newer climbing shoes (actually this climber had to do this when one of his shoes got a hole in them)

So one of my friends on Facebook (who shall remain nameless because I don’t think s/he’d want me to incriminate him/her) was asking about getting rid of climbing shoe funk. I started to reply and realized I was getting rather long winded and also realized others might want to read and share their own solutions so I made this post.

Dealing with or Preventing Climbing Shoe Stink

  1. The best solution I have found so far is to have multiple pairs of climbing shoes. This works in terms of not getting them too foul to begin with (rotation of shoes) and also… if one pair does get bad, I hang them up and forget I have them for about a year. Come back and they’re ok.
  2. Bag the shoes and put them in the freezer. This is one way to kill bacteria, it may or may not work depending on how bad the shoes are.
  3. Store dryer sheets in your climbing shoes. This solution isn’t so great as it just masks odors, also you don’t want the sheets to rub too much on the shoes as I hear it makes them feel slick. I’ve only done this briefly so didn’t notice it on my shoes, but just touching dryer sheets (and knowing that it can clog up wicking shirts) I can tell it probably would make ones shoes really slick.
  4. Baby powder on feet and in shoes before wear. A friend does this and it seems to work for him. I’ve tried a light sprinkling in my shoes but I don’t like it because it makes them a little slick inside, also it seems to me that it was most sanitary to then scrub out the baby powder after a session and that was just too much work.
  5. Wash your shoes. I’ve heard folks throw climbing shoes in the washing machine. Personally I’ve only ever tried to sponge clean my shoes. I’m too afraid of warping them to truly give them a dunking. I now own one pair of synthetic  shoes though so I might try it with those if they get really funky. I would not try it with leather at all.
  6. Wear socks with your shoes. I’ve only done this when I was renting shoes as a beginner or desperate to use a pair of shoes too big for me. Frankly, I just can’t feel the rock or feel secure in my shoes if I wear socks with them.
  7. Chemical solutions. I’ve heard tell of washes or sprays that can kill microbes (think bowling shoe sprays) but haven’t tried any myself, partly because, as mentioned above, I’m not too keen on completely immersing my shoes.

Have you tried any of the above methods? Have any to add? Post in the comments!