When I go climbing indoors I typically wear my climbing shoes without socks because this gives me slightly better control over my feet while climbing which I particularly need in overhangs.

The problem is that my feet get sweaty and after climbing, the shoes don't smell good. I want to know the best way to clean the inside of my shoes such that the smell disappears. I have tried soaking them in water which helped a bit, but not enough. I am afraid to try soap or other cleaners because it might destroy the fabric or the glue of my shoes.

Can anybody give me some advice how to clean my climbing shoes?

2 Answers 2


Try dusting the inside of the shoes (or outsides of your feet) with chalk (or talcum powder) before using them to soak up some of the sweat, which can then we wiped out with a slightly damp cloth.

There are various commercial products you can get to soak up shoe smell while shoes are being stored (not climbing shoe specific). These are usually in the form of an inner sole with some kind of absorbent material inside. You could probably achieve a similar result using bi-carb soda. Try putting a few tablespoons full inside a small cotton bag and insert into the show while not in use. The bag should let air in (so the bi-carb can soak up the smell) while stopping the bi-carb from getting into your shoe.


I would not let anything touch your shoes. Neither chemicals nor water. It might not completely ruin the shoe (although it might) but it will always at least impair your grip.

So what to do?

Nothing. Why would you want to do that anyway? Typically, you wear them while climbing. You will certainly not smell your feet while climbing. And at home you can just put them in a shoe locker or something similar. Maybe you might want to place them outside. Fresh air will slightly reduce the smell-

After a while you will get used to it. And even with chemicals, you will not be able to remove the smell completely.

Edit: I just found a chemical free solution that looks quite promising: http://www.bootbananas.com/ :)

  • 1
    Thanks for the advice. The bootbananas are in fact the solution I decided to go for about a month ago. They work terrific!
    – Michiel
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 7:14
  • "And at home you can just put them in a shoe locker or something similar (...) Maybe you might want to place them outside" -- actually I believe it helps to not keep them in a shoe locker, and keep them outside, as you have mentioned. I put mine outside (but not under the sun) while I'm not using them. This has been particularly helpful when it's windy.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 14:25

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