How to Clean Odors Out of Stinky Climbing Shoes

How to Clean Odors Out of Stinky Climbing Shoes
Serious climbers go through extended bouts of intense physical effort, so it should be little surprise that their shoes sometimes stink. This is often a combination of sweat and the body's natural process of shedding dead skin cells -- yes, even from your feet. While letting your shoes stink may help keep the crag clear, meaning you won't have to compete for climbs, it's usually a good idea -- for the sake of your feet, if nothing else -- to remove the stench when possible.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Let your shoes air out as often as possible, especially after heavy use.
Step 2
Spray the insides of your shoes with the anti-bacterial spray of your choice; some climbing gyms use products such as Lysol, while others claim this may damage the shoe. Scented sprays may help mask the smell but usually won't remove it unless they have an antibacterial component as well. Also purchase a peppermint-oil-based deodorizing spray at many boot and shoe stores that may help reduce the smell.
Step 3
Stuff a scented dryer sheet inside each of your climbing shoes between uses; this will help absorb foul odor.
Step 4
Sprinkle baking soda inside your shoes, let sit for a few hours -- or until the next use -- then dump the baking soda out. Do this only when the shoes are thoroughly dry, inside and out, and not exposed to very high humidity. Otherwise, the baking soda may cake in, producing a grainy feel against your skin.
Step 5
Scrub the insides of your shoes with a solution of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and an old toothbrush. This is a last resort and may need to be repeated several times; let the shoes dry thoroughly before storing them. Don't put them in the clothes dryer -- just leave them out in a well-ventilated area and, if necessary, direct a heat-free fan at the inside surface to speed the drying process.

Tips & Warnings

Avoid the temptation to wash your climbing shoes in the washing machine; while some climbers do so, washing machines can damage the shoes.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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