Caverntours is supported by its audience. We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you when you buy through links on our website. Learn more

How to Keep Climbing Shoes from Smelling

how to keep climbing shoes from smelling

The best thing about having the right climbing shoes is they maximize your performance during the climb. But, to be able to make the shoes last longer, you also need to take care of it, especially stopping them from smelling.

But how to keep climbing shoes from smelling? The smell of the shoes comes from sweat and dead skin cells trapped inside the shoes. After reading this article, you will learn some techniques to prevent and treat smelly shoes.

Prevention is Better than Cure

To prevent the climbing shoes from smelling. You can do different things before the climb that will help prevent the smell from coming out after the climbing activity. These steps are preventive measures that you can do to control, if not eliminate, the shoes from smelling.

Washing the Feet Before Climbing

When learning how to keep rock climbing shoes from smelling, you need to target the source of the smell: the feet. Removing dead or loose skin and giving the feet a good scrub will prevent the bacteria from having any food.

Taking a bath and washing your feet with soap and water before the climb is the best way to go. You can use a rough sponge or pumice to scrub your feet and remove all the dead skin cells. Without the dead skin cells, it can help eliminate the bacteria that cause bad smells.

Spraying Antiseptic Spray

Spraying antiseptic spray before using the shoes is another effective way to prevent the shoes from smelling. The antiseptic spray has been proven to eradicate the bacteria which can cause the bad smell.

I have personally witnessed how climbing gyms maximize the use of antiseptic sprays on their rental shoes. The spray will discourage bacterial growth and effectively prevent the shoes from smelling.

Using Climbing Chalk to Minimize the Sweating

Climbing chalk will not only help provide a better grip but also helps in minimizing the smell of your shoes after the climb. Covering your feet with chalk probably looks weird, but the chalk has moisture absorption properties that prevent the bacteria from multiplying inside the footwear.

The only downside with this technique is the presence of chalk particles throughout your climb. You need to remove these particles after the climb by turning your shoes upside down to remove the excel chalk after the climb.

Climbing Shoe Maintenance Technique Before the Climb

The way you maintain your climbing shoes can also help in keeping them from smelling. There are many ways to do it, as listed below:

Clipping Outside the Bag

Instead of putting it inside your carrying bag, clipping the climbing shoes outside will help keep the shoes from smelling. This technique will allow the climbing shoes to breathe compared to shoving them inside.

Doing so prevents moisture from staying inside the shoes, which can cause a foul smell. Another way aside from hanging your shoes in the bag is to put them in a container that has sufficient airflow and allows the climbing shoes to breathe freely.

Maximize the Use of Dryer Sheets

One way to eliminate the smell from the shoes is to put some dryer sheets inside them before climbing. It will not only prevent the shoes from smelling but also freshen them up a little bit before you use them.

But let me clarify how the dryer sheets work. These items bring a nice scent wherever they are put into. So, when you use climbing shoes, they will not eliminate the smell or kill the bacteria but only cover the bad smell momentarily with their strong scent.

Using Activated Charcoal

Another way to prevent the shoes from smelling is by using activated charcoal. You can use one bag each for a pair of climbing shoes before you use them. The activated charcoal has the ability to prevent the shoes from smelling.

Climbing Shoe Maintenance Technique After the Climb

prevention climbing shoes from smelling

Drying the Shoes After the Climb

After climbing, drying your shoes is one way to prevent it from smelling. All you have to do is dry them out thoroughly before storing them somewhere in your storage room. But let the shoes dry naturally by putting them under the sun, which can cause warping of the shoe materials.

Storing in a Freezer

Another method that will help in keeping the climbing shoes from smelling is to store them overnight in the freezer. You can put the shoes in a plastic bag but make sure to separate them from the food items inside your refrigerator.

Deep Cleaning Your Shoes

When your climbing shoes are too smelly, deep cleaning them is the best method to remove the smell. You can use a regular water detergent to remove all the dirt inside your climbing shoes. You can scrub the shoes and rinse them thoroughly.

After cleaning, you need to let the shoe air dry completely before storing them. You can let the shoe hang in a well-ventilated area to let them air-dry after washing. Again, avoid putting them in direct sunlight as it can damage the shoe materials.


After consistently using your climbing shoes, it is normal for them to get dirty and smelly. However, there are several ways to keep climbing shoes from smelling, as presented in this article. These techniques can be done before and after the climb and help keep the shoes from smelling quickly.

Leave a Comment