How To Keep Rock Climbing Shoes From Smelling

Rock Climbing Shoes

Rock climbing shoes are a tricky thing. They are designed for use during rock climbing, and they’re going to smell pretty awful even if you try to air them out. Especially if you sweat a lot while rock climbing, this happens because there is very little ventilation in the shoes, and the various materials that make up the shoe — leather, rubber, neoprene — all add to the smell factor.

Tips On How To Prevent Stinky Rock Climbing Shoes

The foot is one of those pretty unsanitary places. Each foot produces about a liter of sweat each day. Sweat is full of bacteria, and bacteria smell bad. Bacteria grow like mad in warm, moist environments with no circulation or airflow.

  1. Rinse your shoes as soon as you can after a climb. If you don’t, the smell of the bacteria in your shoes can cling to the soles of your feet and (God help us all) up your legs.
  2. Amazingly, some shoe companies are starting to offer anti-bacterial treatments for their shoes. It is crucial to ensure that the treatment is long-lasting. Otherwise, it will wash off with your first climb.
  3. If you don’t want to do complete anti-bacterial treatment, several home remedies are worth trying. Baking soda is a good choice because it’s anti-bacterial and can be used in place of washing powder for hand washing your climbing clothes. 
  4. There’s a Climbers’ Feet product explicitly designed to clean and sanitize climbing footwear without toxic chemicals. Although this is no substitute for chemical disinfectants, the combination of baking soda and water may do the trick.
  5. Instead of using these products, there are a few natural anti-bacterial sprays that climbers can make at home. All-natural cleaners like Citricide can be mixed with water and spray down shoes after washing them (lightly). 

Solutions For Smelly Rock Climbing Shoe

While climbing, your shoes will begin to smell. It is vital if you climb in a gym or outside, where you may not be able to wash your shoes frequently. Fortunately, this process can be slowed and even stopped entirely with a few simple steps.

Anti-bacterial Wash And Deodorising Spray: 

Antiseptic sprays are a great way to help get rid of the bacteria that cause shoes to smell, but you can also try an anti-bacterial wash and deodorizing spray. This one is less strong than an antiseptic spray but will still get rid of bacteria.

Bleach Solution: 

You can use bleach on any shoe, including rock climbing shoes, to kill bacteria. We recommend using a laundry soap with bleach added. After every climb, you should clean your shoes with bleach and soap.

Antifungal Powders: 

Antifungal powders are a great way to remove both odors and bacteria from your shoes. This powder will help keep your shoes smelling fresh and helps prevent the growth of fungus. Like the ones mentioned above, sprinkle some inside your shoes before climbing.

Baking Powder: 

Baking soda can be used in various ways and is especially helpful in eliminating odors from your rock climbing shoes. Sprinkle baking soda inside your shoes before climbing and when you take them off, go over them with an anti-bacterial spray. 


Dissolving white vinegar inside your shoes can help remove stains from the outsides of your shoes. Vinegar will also help remove odors from your shoes once the stains are removed. Be sure to let your shoes air dry after using vinegar.

Bi-carb Soda: 

Baking soda (bi-carb) is another way to remove odors and help keep your shoes feeling fresh. Like the other methods, it’s also possible to use it differently, but it has some advantages.

Cleaning Solution: 

One way to remove stains from your climbing shoes is to use a cleaning solution. Your shoes will be cleaned using enzymes and other powerful cleaning agents in this solution.

Cleaning Soap:

Another cleaning solution to try is cleaning soap. Using this on your boots will eliminate dirt and odors that have been collected on them and remove stains from your rock climbing shoes.

Anti-microbial Fabric: 

An anti-microbial fabric is helpful in many ways. As a result, this fabric will inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mildew and remove unpleasant odors from your shoes.

Charcoal Shoe Inserts: 

Charcoal shoe inserts are another great way to help keep your shoes smelling fresh after a long day of climbing. They will also help absorb sweat which can sometimes cause stains and odors.

Biological Washing Powder: 

Like all other methods explained above, a washing powder containing natural ingredients is also an option. Just mix it with warm water and use it regularly to keep your rock climbing shoes looking fresh.

Clean The Outside Of Your Shoes

Another essential part of keeping your rock climbing shoes from smelling is to clean the outside of them thoroughly every time you climb. Oils and dirt can accumulate on the outside of your shoes and cause a good deal of foul odors.

  • Using a cleaning rag will help you clean the outside of your shoes without removing them.
  • After you are done cleaning your shoes, leave them out to dry completely. Avoid direct sunlight to help prevent damage.
  • Freeze your climbing shoes overnight or until they are stiff. Keeping your shoes smelling fresh and preventing bacteria from building up on their outside is a great idea.
  • If you climb at a climbing gym, clean the outside of your shoes every time you climb.
  • If you climb outdoors, bring your climbing shoes with you every time you go out to climb. This way, if you have an opportunity to take a rest day, you can spend it cleaning and drying your climbing shoes instead of only having one day a week to do it.

What Cause Of Stank Climbing Shoes?

Bacteria:  The most common reason for a pair of climbing shoes to start to smell is that bacteria have built up inside them. One of the easiest ways to happen is to die-hanging your climbing shoes instead of wiping them out after you climb. Bacteria thrive in moist environments, so if your climbing shoes are allowed to stay wet for long periods, you will likely have an unpleasant surprise if you put them on again.

Sweat: Sweat is another primary reason for your shoes to start to smell. Again, in a warm environment, the sweat will have time to develop some stank. In the wintertime, when people are bundled up in their clothes and gear to keep out of the cold, they can fit a foot inside that is sweating, and their feet will start smelling. 

Sap: Some shoes will start to smell if they are put in a wet environment. Some tree sap can make it into your shoe if the conditions are right, and this sap is not only stinky but also slippery.

On-Site: If you are climbing on-site, you will not be able to dry your shoes or wipe them out thoroughly. If you wish to put your shoes back on after drying them, please bring a towel.

Sweaty Feet: Some people have naturally stinky feet. It may be kind of challenging to eliminate the smell in this case, but a solid odor-resisting shoe will make your feet less noticeable.


Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that your climbing shoes can air out on their own or that they’ll be fine after a quick wipe-down with some soap and water. Climbing shoes are designed to be used at all times and will not reliably regulate their temperature or air out on their own. To get rid of the stank, you’ll need to take action. The common problem beside from bad smell is the hole on your shoes, you should know how to fix it. Some believe that Chacos are perfect for rock climbing because they provide excellent traction on all kinds of trails.