How do I Clean Rock Climbing Shoes?

How do I Clean Rock Climbing Shoes?
If you're a rock climber, your shoes are the only thing keeping you on the ledge, literally. It's only natural that you want to keep them looking--and more important--functioning their best. Prevention is key when it comes to keeping your rock climbing shoes clean. Always wear closed shoes when you're approaching a climb, and use thin liner socks when you're wearing your climbing shoes to minimize sweat marks. Only wear your rock climbing shoes for climbing to prevent unnecessary wear to the soles and the rands, the rubber rim that surrounds the bottom half of your shoe.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Sink
  • Bucket
  • Quart measuring container
  • Rags
  • Laundry detergent
  • Coarse grit sandpaper
Step 1
Remove the laces from your rock climbing shoes. Fill a bucket with 2 qt. water and 1 tsp. laundry detergent. Plunge a rag in and out of the bucket to mix the detergent with the water. Wring out the rag until it is damp. Use the damp rag to thoroughly wipe out the insides of your rock climbing shoes. Rinse the rag in the soapy water several times and wring it out, and continue to wipe out the linings and insoles of your shoes until the rag comes away clean and your shoes smell clean.
Step 2
Rinse the rag with clean water, wring out your rag and wipe out the insides of your rock climbing shoes one last time.
Step 3
Empty the bucket of soapy water, and fill your bucket with 1 qt. of clean water. Add 1/2 tsp. of laundry detergent and mix the soapy water with a clean rag. Use this clean soapy water to wipe down the small amount of fabric on the outside of your rock climbing shoes above the rand, and the outer part of the tongue in the same manner that you cleaned the inside of the shoes. Rinse the rag once the outside of the shoes and the outside of the tongue is clean, and give them a final wipe down. Allow the shoes to dry completely out of direct sunlight.
Step 4
Put the shoelaces from your rock climbing shoes in the quart of soapy water and swirl them around. Put the bucket under your sink faucet and rinse the laces until the water runs clear. Pat the laces dry gently with a clean dry rag, and lay them out straight to dry next to your rock climbing shoes.
Step 5
When your rock climbing shoes are completely dry, wipe the rands and soles down with a damp rag to remove as much dirt and grime as possible. Dry the rands and soles with a clean rag. Brush coarse grit sandpaper across the bottoms of your shoes from toe to heel trying not to remove any rubber--just hard enough to remove the ground-in dirt and expose the black rubber.

Tips & Warnings

Remove your rock climbing shoes from your backpack as soon as you get home from your climb to allow them to air out and prevent mildew.
Don't use the same rag and water to clean the inside and outside of your rock climbing shoes, as you'll be mixing sweat with plain dirt.
Never leave your rock climbing shoes in a hot car, as the rubber soles can melt.

Article Written By Elizabeth Grace

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Elizabeth Grace is a freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from Pepperdine University, and has 15 years of experience developing marketing campaigns for universities and multinational corporations.

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