How to Clean Climbing Shoes?

A complete guide to learn how to clean climbing shoes with products that you can easily find at home. It also includes valuable information about climbing shoes and their features.

Certainly, climbing shoes aren’t comparable to any other kind of footwear. They’re lightweight, flexible and ergonomic. In addition, they have an asymmetrical shape that distributes most of your body weight over the tip.

Climbing shoes have a short service life. However, if you don’t clean them frequently, they’ll last much less. Mud and other debris tend to dry out the leather, making your shoes prone to tears.

In this step-by-step guide you’ll learn how to clean your climbing shoes with products that you can easily find at home. That way, you can get the most out of your climbing footwear with very little money.

How to Clean Climbing Shoes

What are Climbing Shoes?

These shoes are perfect for climbing on different surfaces. The outsole is flexible, allowing the foot to bend in different directions. In addition, the thin outsole improves the sensitivity of the foot, which is very important to identify the terrain.

Climbing shoes can have different shapes. Some are flat to guarantee maximum comfort and an even distribution of your body weight. Others have an asymmetrical shape that focuses weight on the inside edge of your foot.

Depending on the curvature of the outsole, climbing shoes can be neutral, moderate and aggressive. Neutral shoes are the best climbing shoes for new climbers. They have thick and soft midsoles that help to impact cushioning. In addition, they help strengthen the feet.

Moderate climbing shoes have curved outsoles that allow weight to be supported on the ball of the foot. Its shape makes it easier for the climber to insert his feet into crevices in rocks. They have a short service life, so it’s recommended to replace them when the upper starts to deteriorate.

On the other hand, aggressive shoes have stiff outsoles and a more pronounced curvature. This configuration forces the foot to rest on the tip. These shoes allow climbers to make precise movements, where there isn’t much time to maneuver.

Step by Step Guide of How to Clean Climbing Shoes

Cleaning your old climbing shoes is the easiest thing to do. In addition, it helps extend the useful life of your footwear. To clean your climbing shoes the right way, follow this procedure.

Prepare Your Cleaning Tools and Materials

Before getting started, you need to have the following items on hand:

  • Toothbrush
  • Mild detergent
  • Plastic bucket

Fill the Bucket With Warm Water

Warm water will help soften the hard mud stuck on the outsole. In addition, it will melt the natural oils that you expel when you sweat. In this case, using cold water would have the opposite effect, hardening those oils and fixing them to the fibers.

On the other hand, it isn’t recommended to use hot water because it may soften the rubber outsole.

Make sure to use filtered water to prevent residue build-up after the shoe is completely dry. For example, hard water may leave a thin white film on the surface that may ruin the leather.

Apply Mild Soap

If you’re cleaning leather shoes, you have to be careful with the kind of soap you use. For example, too harsh chemicals may dry out and crack the surface. In addition, detergent and bar soap may leave residue that accumulates inside the vent holes.

To avoid taking risks, it’s recommended to read the product label before buying it. If it says “safe for leather”, there’s nothing to worry about.

Use A Toothbrush

Before starting to use the toothbrush, tap the shoe against the ground to remove some of the mud accumulated on the outsole. Then, submerge the outsole in warm water for a few minutes and then, scrub with the toothbrush. Do it until the friction pattern is completely clean.

After that, start scrubbing the upper on the outside and inside. Don’t apply too much pressure so as not to ruin the exterior finish of the leather.

Give A Final Bath

Once you remove all debris with the toothbrush, submerge the shoe in warm water to remove the remains and the excess soap. Then, take them out of the water and shake them well.

Let Them Dry In A Fresh Place

Finally, let your shoes to air-dry in a cool place. Fill them with newspaper so they can better dry out and don’t lose their shape.


Certainly, you don’t need to spend too much money on special cleaning products to keep your climbing shoes looking like new. With a plastic bucket filled with warm water, mild soap and a toothbrush, you can do miracles.

Make sure to carefully follow the tips in this guide to always get the best results.

James Smith

James Smith, along with an army of foot soldiers, personally tries and reviews some of the most revered products and brand in almost every imaginable category of footwear.

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