Rock climbing is an exhilarating and challenging sport that requires a lot of gear. One of the most important pieces of gear is your rock climbing shoes. These shoes are designed to fit snugly on your foot, allowing you to get a better grip on the rock face and feel more secure while you climb. However, with all that use, it’s no surprise that your rock climbing shoes can start to develop a strong odor.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your rock climbing shoes smelling fresh and clean. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most effective techniques for keeping your shoes odor-free, including proper storage techniques, regular cleaning and maintenance, the use of anti-bacterial sprays, and more. Whether you’re a seasoned rock climber or just getting started, these tips will help you keep your shoes in top condition and enjoy a comfortable and odor-free climbing experience.

Why Rock Climbing Shoes Develop Odor

If you’ve ever noticed an unpleasant aroma emanating from your beloved footwear after a long day of scaling walls, you may be wondering why this happens. The main reason behind the odor is the sweat and bacteria that accumulate in your shoes. Sweat from your feet gets trapped in the shoes, creating a damp and warm environment that is ideal for bacteria growth. As you continue to wear your shoes, the bacteria multiply, releasing a foul odor.

Another reason why rock climbing shoes develop odor is the materials they are made of. Most climbing shoes are made from synthetic materials that do not allow proper ventilation. This means that sweat and bacteria get trapped inside the shoes, leading to the unpleasant odor. Additionally, the rubber soles used in climbing shoes can absorb moisture, further exacerbating the problem.

To prevent the odor from developing, it’s important to take proper care of your rock climbing shoes. Always dry them after each use to prevent the buildup of moisture. You can also use an odor eliminator spray to kill bacteria and neutralize any existing odor. If the odor persists, consider washing your shoes with mild soap and water or taking them to a professional cleaner. By taking care of your climbing shoes, you can ensure that they last longer and smell better.

Proper Storage Techniques

Properly storing your footwear after a climb is crucial for maintaining their quality and prolonging their lifespan. Here are three tips to ensure that your rock climbing shoes remain odor-free and in excellent condition:

  1. Air out your shoes – After each climb, remove your shoes from your bag and let them air out. This will help to dry out any sweat or moisture that may have accumulated inside. You can also stuff them with newspaper, which will absorb any remaining moisture and help to maintain their shape.
  2. Use a shoe deodorizer – If your shoes still smell after airing them out, consider using a shoe deodorizer. There are various types available, such as sprays and powders, that can help to eliminate odors and keep your shoes smelling fresh.
  3. Store them properly – When not in use, store your rock climbing shoes in a cool, dry place. Avoid leaving them in direct sunlight or in a damp environment, as this can cause them to deteriorate faster. You can also consider using a shoe bag to protect them from dust and other elements.

By following these simple storage techniques, you can help to keep your rock climbing shoes in excellent condition and prevent them from developing an unpleasant odor. Remember to always clean them thoroughly after each climb and to never leave them in your bag for too long. Proper care and maintenance will not only extend the lifespan of your shoes but also enhance your overall climbing experience.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Maintaining the quality of your footwear is essential, so it’s important to regularly clean and take care of them. This is especially true for rock climbing shoes, which can develop a strong odor over time due to the sweat and bacteria that accumulate inside them. To prevent this, it’s recommended to clean your shoes after each use and store them in a well-ventilated area. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your rock climbing shoes:

Firstly, you should remove any dirt or debris from the shoes with a soft brush or cloth. Then, fill a bucket with lukewarm water and add a small amount of a mild detergent. Dip a sponge or cloth into the solution and gently scrub the inside and outside of the shoes. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly with clean water and let them air dry completely before storing them. It’s important not to use any harsh chemicals or bleach, as this can damage the shoes and cause them to deteriorate faster.

To help maintain the freshness of your rock climbing shoes, you can also use some natural odor-absorbing materials. One example is activated charcoal, which can be placed inside the shoes to absorb moisture and odor. Another option is to sprinkle some baking soda inside the shoes and let it sit for a few hours before shaking it out. Additionally, you can use a shoe deodorizer spray or create your own spray with essential oils and water. By regularly cleaning and using these odor-absorbing techniques, you can keep your rock climbing shoes smelling fresh and lasting longer.

FrustrationDamp shoes can cause blisters and discomfort during climbing.
DisgustBacteria and sweat can create an unpleasant odor in the shoes.
ReliefRegular cleaning and odor-absorbing techniques can prevent discomfort and embarrassment.
SatisfactionMaintaining the quality of your shoes can ensure their longevity and effectiveness during climbing.

By taking the time to clean and maintain your rock climbing shoes, you can not only prevent odor and discomfort, but also ensure their longevity and effectiveness during climbing. Incorporating natural odor-absorbing materials and following proper cleaning techniques can make a significant difference in the freshness of your shoes. So, make it a habit to regularly clean and care for your rock climbing shoes to keep them in top condition.

Use of Anti-Bacterial Sprays

Using anti-bacterial sprays can help eliminate the gross bacteria and odors that linger in your beloved climbing kicks, leaving you feeling clean and refreshed. These sprays are specially formulated to target the bacteria that cause the odor, and they can be used on both the inside and outside of your shoes. Here are some tips for using anti-bacterial sprays effectively:

  • Look for a spray that is specifically designed for shoes, as these products will be more effective at eliminating odor-causing bacteria.
  • Before using the spray, make sure your shoes are clean and dry. If there is any dirt or moisture trapped in your shoes, the spray won’t be as effective.
  • Spray both the inside and outside of your shoes, focusing on the areas that tend to get the most sweaty. Allow the shoes to air dry before wearing them again.

In addition to using anti-bacterial sprays, there are other steps you can take to keep your climbing shoes smelling fresh. For example, you can try using odor-absorbing insoles or stuffing your shoes with newspaper after each climb to help absorb moisture. You can also rotate between different pairs of shoes, allowing each pair to air out and dry completely between uses.

Ultimately, the best way to prevent your rock climbing shoes from smelling is to practice good foot hygiene. Make sure to wash your feet regularly, wear clean socks, and avoid wearing your climbing shoes for extended periods of time. By taking these steps and using anti-bacterial sprays as needed, you can keep your shoes smelling fresh and avoid the embarrassment of stinky climbing shoes.

Avoiding Certain Foods and Drinks

You can avoid certain foods and drinks to help prevent embarrassing odors from emanating from your climbing gear. Some of the foods that you should avoid before and during your climb include garlic, onions, spicy foods, and alcohol. These foods can cause your body to produce more sweat, which can lead to the growth of bacteria and a foul smell.

Additionally, you should try to drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks like soda and juice. These drinks can also cause your body to produce more sweat, leading to an increase in odor-causing bacteria. Instead, opt for water or electrolyte-replenishing drinks like coconut water.

Lastly, it’s important to maintain good hygiene habits, such as changing your socks and washing your climbing shoes after each use. You can also invest in odor-absorbing insoles or shoe deodorizers to help keep your shoes smelling fresh. By following these tips and avoiding certain foods and drinks, you can keep your climbing gear smelling clean and fresh for your next climb.

Rotating Your Shoes

To make sure your gear stays fresh, it’s important to rotate your footwear regularly during your climbs. It may be tempting to stick with your favorite pair of climbing shoes, but using the same pair every time can lead to a buildup of sweat and bacteria. Rotating between two or more pairs of shoes can help prevent this.

Here are three reasons why rotating your climbing shoes is important:

  1. Reduces odor: By rotating your shoes, you allow them to dry out completely between climbs. This can help reduce the buildup of sweat and bacteria that cause odor.
  2. Extends shoe life: Climbing shoes can be expensive, and rotating them can help extend their lifespan. By wearing different pairs of shoes, you allow each pair to rest and recover between climbs, reducing wear and tear.
  3. Improves performance: Different shoes have different strengths and weaknesses. By rotating between different pairs, you can take advantage of each shoe’s unique features to improve your performance on different types of climbs.

Don’t forget to clean your shoes regularly, even if you’re rotating them. A quick wipe down with a damp cloth after each climb can help remove sweat and bacteria. And always store your shoes in a cool, dry place to prevent mold and mildew. By taking care of your climbing shoes, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh-smelling, high-performing gear for years to come.

Choosing the Right Socks

Ensure optimal foot hygiene and prevent bacterial growth by carefully selecting the appropriate pair of socks for your climbing adventures. Socks play a crucial role in keeping your shoes fresh and odor-free. Choose socks made of materials that are breathable and moisture-wicking, such as merino wool or synthetic fibers. Avoid cotton socks as they tend to retain moisture, which can lead to bacterial growth and unpleasant odors.

When selecting socks, make sure they fit snugly but not too tightly. Tight socks can restrict blood flow and cause discomfort, while loose socks can bunch up and cause blisters. Look for socks with reinforced heels and toes to prevent wear and tear, as climbing shoes can be rough on socks. Consider investing in specialized climbing socks, which are designed to provide extra grip and cushioning for your feet.

Don’t forget to wash your socks regularly to maintain their freshness. Use a mild detergent and wash them in cold water to prevent shrinkage. Avoid using fabric softeners as they can leave a residue on your socks, which can decrease their breathability. Hang your socks to dry or use a low heat setting in the dryer. By choosing the right socks and taking proper care of them, you can keep your climbing shoes smelling fresh and extend their lifespan.

When to Replace Your Shoes

It’s important to know when it’s time to replace your kicks, as worn-out climbing shoes can lead to discomfort and decreased performance on the wall. The lifespan of a climbing shoe depends on various factors such as frequency of use, type of climbing, and personal preference. However, a general rule of thumb is to replace your shoes every 6-12 months.

One way to tell if your shoes are due for a replacement is by checking the rubber. If the rubber has worn down significantly, it’s time to invest in a new pair. Additionally, if you notice any holes or tears in the upper material, it’s a sign that the shoes are no longer providing adequate support.

Ignoring signs of wear and tear can not only affect your performance but also your safety. Worn-out shoes can lead to slips and falls, which can cause serious injuries. So, make sure to keep an eye on the condition of your shoes and replace them as needed to keep your climbing experience safe and enjoyable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use regular household cleaning products to clean my rock climbing shoes?

We have found that regular household cleaning products can be effective in cleaning rock climbing shoes. However, it is important to use products that are gentle and non-abrasive in order to avoid damaging the shoes. We recommend using a mild soap and water solution, or a specialized climbing shoe cleaner if available. It is also important to avoid using hot water or putting the shoes in the dryer, as this can cause the glue to break down and the shoes to lose their shape. After cleaning, it is best to let the shoes air dry in a well-ventilated area. By taking these steps, you can keep your rock climbing shoes clean and in good condition for your next climb.

Can I wear my climbing shoes without socks?

Yes, you can wear your climbing shoes without socks! In fact, many climbers prefer to go sockless in order to get a better feel for the rock and optimize their footwork. However, it’s important to keep in mind that going sockless can lead to increased sweating and foot odor. To combat this, make sure to regularly clean your shoes with a mild detergent and air them out between climbs. You can also try using odor-absorbing products such as cedar chips or activated charcoal in your shoes to help keep them smelling fresh. With a little extra care and attention, you can enjoy the benefits of going sockless without sacrificing comfort or hygiene.

How often should I clean my climbing shoes?

When it comes to keeping your climbing shoes in top shape, cleaning them regularly is essential. How often you should clean them depends on how often you climb and how dirty they get. If you climb frequently, you may want to clean them after every climb to prevent sweat and dirt buildup. If you climb less often, you can probably get away with cleaning them every few weeks. To clean your shoes, use a soft brush or cloth and warm water with mild soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals or putting them in the washing machine, as this can damage the rubber and affect the performance of your shoes. By regularly cleaning and maintaining your climbing shoes, you can prolong their lifespan and ensure they always perform at their best.

Is it safe to use anti-bacterial sprays on my climbing shoes?

Using anti-bacterial sprays on your climbing shoes can be a useful tool in keeping them fresh and clean. However, it’s important to note that not all sprays are created equal. Be sure to use a spray that is specifically designed for use on footwear and follow the instructions carefully. In addition, it’s important to regularly clean your climbing shoes and allow them to dry completely before using any spray. While anti-bacterial sprays can be helpful in fighting odor-causing bacteria, it’s also important to air out your shoes after each use and avoid leaving them in a damp or humid environment for prolonged periods of time. By taking a few simple steps, you can help keep your climbing shoes smelling fresh and clean for your next climb.

Can I store my climbing shoes in the car trunk?

We’ve all been in the situation where we finish a day of climbing and need to store our shoes in the car trunk. While it may seem like a convenient option, there are a few things to consider before doing so. Firstly, be mindful of the temperature in the trunk as extreme heat or cold can damage the rubber on the shoes. Also, it’s important to air out the shoes before storing them to prevent any moisture from building up. Lastly, if possible, try to avoid leaving them in the trunk for extended periods of time as this can lead to a buildup of bacteria and odors. While it may not always be ideal, taking these precautions can help prolong the lifespan of your climbing shoes and keep them smelling fresh.


So there you have it, folks! Keeping your rock climbing shoes from smelling doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By implementing the proper storage techniques, regular cleaning and maintenance, use of anti-bacterial sprays, avoiding certain foods and drinks, rotating your shoes, choosing the right socks, and knowing when to replace your shoes, you can keep your climbing shoes smelling fresh and clean for years to come.

Don’t let the stench of your climbing shoes ruin your next adventure. Take these simple steps to keep your shoes in top shape and focus on what really matters – the climb. Happy climbing!