Are your climbing shoes starting to stink?
Climbing shoes can start to smell due to a combination of factors. Here are some of the reasons:
- Sweat: Climbing is a physically demanding sport that requires a lot of movement, which can cause your feet to sweat. The sweat can then get trapped inside the shoes, creating a damp environment that is conducive to bacterial growth.
- Bacteria: When sweat and other organic matter such as skin cells and dirt get trapped inside the shoes, they create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. The bacteria break down the organic matter, producing unpleasant odors.
- Fungus: Fungal infections such as athlete’s foot can also contribute to foot odor. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments like sweaty climbing shoes.
- Lack of ventilation: Climbing shoes are designed to fit snugly to the foot, which means there is very little ventilation. This can cause the shoes to become hot and stuffy, making it easier for bacteria and fungi to grow.
To prevent climbing shoes from smelling, it’s important to keep them clean and dry after each use. You can also use odor-eliminating products such as shoe deodorizers or sprinkle baking soda inside the shoes to absorb moisture and neutralize odors. Additionally, consider rotating between multiple pairs of climbing shoes to allow them to dry out completely between uses.
How to avoid smelly climbing shoes at the climbing gym
- Wear climbing socks: climbing socks can help to absorb sweat and prevent it from getting trapped inside your shoes. They also help to reduce the friction between your foot and the shoe, which can contribute to odor-causing bacteria.
- Air out your shoes: Between climbs, take off your shoes and let them air out for a few minutes. This can help to reduce moisture buildup inside the shoes and prevent bacterial growth.
- Use shoe deodorizers: You can use shoe deodorizers specifically designed for climbing shoes to help neutralize odors. Some of these products are designed to be left inside the shoes overnight, while others can be used directly on the shoes after climbing.
- Rotate your shoes: Consider rotating between multiple pairs of climbing shoes if possible. This allows each pair to dry out completely between uses, which can help to prevent odor buildup.
- Clean/wash your shoes regularly: It’s important to clean your climbing shoes regularly to prevent bacterial growth and odor buildup.
Washing your dirty or smelly climbing shoes
Cleaning climbing shoes is important to maintain their performance and extend their lifespan. Here are some steps you can follow to clean climbing shoes:
- Brush off excess dirt and debris from the shoes using a soft-bristled brush.
- Mix a small amount of mild soap or detergent with warm water in a bowl or sink.
- Dip a soft sponge or cloth into the soapy water and gently scrub the shoes.
- Rinse the shoes thoroughly with clean water, making sure to remove all soap residue.
- Stuff the shoes with newspaper or a towel to help them retain their shape while drying.
- Allow the shoes to air dry away from direct heat or sunlight.
Remember to check the manufacturer’s care instructions for your specific type of climbing shoe as some materials may require different cleaning methods. Additionally, it’s important to clean your climbing shoes after each use to prevent bacteria buildup and to maintain their performance.
What if the smell is too infernal to recover from? You are likely better off getting some new climbing shoes. Make sure to check out our article: Best Climbing Shoes