10 Ways To Stop And Prevent Bad Smelling Climbing Shoes
Almost anyone who has climbed or has been in a climbing gym before has had the unfortunate experience of entering the radius of a foul smelling climbing shoe or foot, not knowing if the foul smell is coming from someone else, or if it in fact is them that are causing everyone's eyes to water.
Climbing shoes smell so bad because of bacterial growth. Climbing shoes are a breading ground for bacteria because it is the perfect environment for them. It is warm, moist, and has plenty of dead skin cells to feed on. The result of this is an ever-growing environment full of bacteria, which results in the very bad odor you smell from climbing shoes.
Luckily, the solution to this is fairly simple, it just requires you to have slightly better habits when it comes to your feet and your climbing shoes. Foul smelling climbing shoes can be prevented, and if your shoes already smell, the smell can be eliminated.
- Why Are Smelly Climbing Shoes So Common?
- Self-care Is Actually Important
- How Do You Prevent Climbing Shoes From Smelling
- Showering Or Washing Your Feet Before Climbing
- Chalk Your Feet To Dry Them
- Spray Your Shoes With A Shoe Deodorizer
- Put Baby Powder In Your Climbing Shoes
- Take Your Shoes Off While Resting And In Between Routes
- Let Your Shoes Air Dry After Climbing
- Keep Your Shoes Out In The Open And Not Closed In A Bag
- Wash Your Shoes
- How Do You Make Climbing Shoes Stop Smelling?
- Instantly Eliminate Bad Smells With Scented Baby Powder And Shoe Deodorizer Spray
- Preventing The Smells Also Stops The Smells
- A Summary Of How To Prevent Smelly Climbing Shoes
- The End Of Smelly Climbing Shoes?
Why Are Smelly Climbing Shoes So Common?
Having nasty smelling climbing shoes is fairly common in the climbing community, and while it is very easy to prevent bad odors and to eliminate them if they have already formed, it is equally easy to not do anything at all to prevent them or to fix this issue, as it is all about creating better habits, and as most of you may know, creating new habits can be very difficult, and breaking old habits even harder.
Luckily, the methods for preventing the bad odors and eliminating them are not difficult and can be done quite easily. It really does just come down to creating better habits, and to stop doing things that actually contribute to the bad odors.
Self-care Is Actually Important
This is something that should be fairly clear: your feet will not come out of your climbing shoes cleaner than they went in them.
If your feet are already dirty, sweaty, or smelly, before putting your climbing shoes on, be sure that they will be in a worse situation after you take them off. You can also be sure that your climbing shoes will be in an equally bad condition, or worse.
As you will learn in the later parts of this article, bacteria is a main cause of the bad smell in climbing shoes. If you put on your climbing shoes while your feet are already in a bad condition before you even start climbing, then you are basically just feeding the beast.
Take care of your feet
General foot care can go a long way in preventing bad odors, and not just for climbing shoes.
If you have flaky toenails or skin, or even just dry skin, these are the exact things bacteria feed on that causes the bad smell. Reducing this can help reduce the smell by a lot.
If you have dry skin, moisturizer is your friend. Moisturizing your feet can be a great way to help reduce the dryness of your skin, and as a result, reduce the flakiness, which will reduce the growth of bacteria and the funky smell from your shoes. All you need is a little bit of moisturizer, you can get one that is specific for your feet, your you can use a general body lotion or hand moisturizer. Simply rub it on your feet once a day, preferably after showering. In case you have a medical or skin condition that is causing the dryness, or using moisturizer doesn't help, consult your doctor, they will be able to point out what the cause of the issue is and how to treat it.
How do you prevent climbing shoes from smelling
The first thing to understand is that the smell can be prevented from ever occurring, and it is not very difficult to do, you just need to be consistent with it and to not forget to do some simple things that will prevent the smell.
While not all steps may be necessary, it depends on you and how smelly you (or others) think your shoes are. You could try one of these methods, or, you could try a combination of different ones. If things are really bad, You can just do them all.
Here are a few ways to help prevent your climbing shoes from smelling:
Showering Or Washing your feet before climbing
Showering or washing your feet before climbing may not be the most convenient thing to do, but, if you are someone who normally has smelly or dirty feet, this is something that can really help reduce the bad odors from your climbing shoes. Not doing this may actually be one of the major causes of your shoe's bad smell.
If your feet already smell before you even put your shoes on, it's safe to assume they, and your shoes, will smell much worse when you take them off!
The logic is simple: The cleaner your feet go into the climbing shoes, the better the shoes, and your feet, will be after your climbing session.
You don't necessarily need to shower, even a quick foot rinse can be enough for this. If even that is too inconvenient for you, then even just cleaning your feet with a wet cloth can help, it is better than nothing!
Chalk Your Feet To Dry Them
As mentioned above, if your feet are already sweating, or just wet in general for what ever the reason may be, this can create a better habitat for bacteria, which is the opposite of what you want in order to stop and prevent climbing shoes from smelling.
So, make sure that your feet are as dry as they can be from any water, sweat, or moisture. A common and easy way to do this is to simply put chalk on your feet and in your shoes. This will help absorb any moisture before putting your shoes on.
You don't have to dip your whole foot in a chalk bucket, it's enough to just take some chalk and rub it on your foot, just to ensure that you have absorbed all of the moisture or sweat.
Spray Your Shoes With A Shoe Deodorizer
Shoe deodorizers help eliminate bad odors by killing bacteria and germs. They also usually come scented, which helps eliminate the nasty odor pretty instantly, and gives your shoes a much fresher smell.
The step is very simple and inexpensive. Most climbing gyms sell some sort of shoe deodorizer, if not, most shoe stores and pharmacies sell them as well, so they should be very easy to find.
Simply spray your shoes once or twice after you have climbed. Make sure you spray the heel area, and the toe box area by tilting your climbing shoe a little bit to get the spray all the way to the other end.
This is preventative measure, but also an elimination measure, as shoe deodorizers kill bacteria, which are the main cause of the bad smells in your climbing shoes.
A very simple yet effective approach to ending the bad smells. If you make a habit out of doing this, you can almost completely eliminate and prevent bad smells from your shoes.
Put Baby Powder In Your Climbing Shoes
Baby powder is a sort of secret that not many climbers know about. This very inexpensive solution has a few benefits:
- It helps reduce bad odors almost instantly, especially if you buy a scented powder
- It makes the inside of your shoes softer and more comfortable
- It makes your shoes easier to put on, even if you have downsized quite a bit
- Helps dry your shoes after a climbing session
Baby powder, especially scented ones, are one of the simplest and most effective solutions for eliminating the foul odor from your climbing shoes. You simply pour a small amount of the powder into your shoes, swirl it around, tilt your shoes, or shake them a little bit to make sure the powder gets to all corners of the shoes, and that's it. Your shoes will smell fresh, or like what ever scent the powder is.
This is also a great solution for those who have to put their shoes in a bag after their climbing session.
The baby powder will absorb the moisture from within your shoes. While it is not ideal to put your shoes in a closed space like a bag, sometimes it is just the way it is and is needed, so putting some baby powder in your shoes before can help reduce that smell by quite a lot, and also prevent bacteria from building up.
Take your shoes off while resting and in between routes
This is a two in one. It will also help reduce feet pain, and also reduce some of the odor. Taking off your shoes will reduce the pressure you feel on your feet from having the climbing shoes on for so long, and it will also give your feet and the shoes a few minutes to breath. This can help prevent excess buildup of moisture, as the moisture can dry to some extent in between routes and while resting.
Let your shoes air dry after climbing
This is one of the key steps for preventing bad smells from taking over your climbing shoes. Let them air dry!
If you have just finished a climbing session, no matter how long, and you have been sweating in your shoes, you must let them dry before you put them in any bag or close them in your trunk until your next session.
While it is not recommended to put your shoes in a bag or in your trunk, or in any closed space in general, there are times where it is necessary. In these cases, it is highly recommended that you let them first air dry for a few minutes, just to make sure that the sweat and moisture dries up from within the shoes.
You can also put baby powder in your shoes to help speed up the process, or even chalk if it is more convenient. If you or your climbing gym has a shoe deodorizer, that will help with killing any bacteria and germs that may later cause bad smells.
When ever possible, clip or tie your shoes to the outside of your bag, and do not put them inside. Having them on the outside allows them to dry properly and have enough air circulation which can help prevent and reduce much of the bad smell.
Keep your shoes out in the open and not closed in a bag
As mentioned above, after you have climbed, your shoes are moist and wet from sweat. If you do not allow this moisture to dry, and you simply put your shoes in a closed space, you are risking a nasty surprise when you open your bag the next time. If you are like most climbers, you may not even take out or open your bag until the next time you go climbing, which will be a very unpleasant event for you and everyone surrounding you.
Leaving your shoes in a closed space such as your bag, especially for a long time, can just amplify the smell, and eventually even cause mold in the shoes. Not to mention that if you do not clean them or disinfect them, the next time you put them on could be the day you get a nasty foot fungus.
Never close your shoes in a bag or any other closed space, especially after you have been climbing in them. Let them air dry.
Wash Your Shoes
Occasionally washing your shoes lightly is a good way to help prevent any buildup of bacteria and germs that could later cause bad smells.
This doesn't have to be a thorough washing, you don't even need a washing machine, just put your shoes under running water, and take a soft brush to brush the insides.
If you want to use soaps, detergents, or to wash them in a washing machine, check what the shoes can actually handle first on the shoes brand website, or by asking the store you bought them from. Just do your research before doing this to make sure you do not ruin your shoes.
How Do You Make Climbing Shoes Stop Smelling?
If you are already in the group of people who have smelly climbing shoes, it is not too late to pick up better habits and to end the smell, and then to prevent it in the future.
Here is our #1 method for eliminating bad smells from climbing shoes:
Instantly Eliminate Bad Smells With Scented Baby Powder And Shoe Deodorizer Spray
Using baby powder and a shoe deodorizer spray are two of the best ways to help prevent bacteria from building up and bad smells from from forming in your shoes.
These two methods can be used as preventative measures, but they are also very effective in eliminating already existing foul smells. Especially if you use both methods together!
If your shoes are smelling extra funky, spray your shoes with a shoe deodorizer, make sure you are spraying all of the insides, including the toe box, wait a few minutes for it to do it's thing, and then put some of the baby powder in your shoes. Tilt your shoes around or shake them a little bit to make sure that the powder gets to all parts of the insides of your shoes. That's it!
Doing this method even once should either completely eliminate the smell, or greatly reduce it to almost being non-existent. The key with this is to continue with the preventative measures, and if the smell is still bad after your next climbing session, do this step again. Though, we have found that doing these two things even once have completely eliminated bad odors in all of the shoes we have done them in, and the effect was instant.
Preventing The Smells Also Stops The Smells
You may have notice that the above steps were already mentioned in the preventative measures above, only now they were combined for their extra effect.
The key to not having smelly climbing shoes is to prevent them from smelling in the first place. All of the steps mentioned above will help prevent those nasty smells, but they also help eliminate them as well. So if your climbing shoes start to smell, start the preventative measures, and they will smell much better and generally be in a better condition.
A Summary Of How To Prevent Smelly Climbing Shoes
Here is a quick and simple summary of all of the steps mentioned in this article. Remember, you do not have to do all of these steps to prevent your climbing shoes from smelling bad, even one can do the trick, combining multiple, though, can have a better effect.
|Preventing Smelly Cimbing Shoes|
|Clean your feet||Having clean feet before even putting on your climbing shoes is a no brainer and a requirement for those with generaly dirty and sweaty feet|
|Chalk your feet||Putting chalk on your feet can help ensure that your feet are dry from any sweat, water, or moisture, which is what helps bacteria grow|
|Spray your shoes||Spray your shoes with a shoe deodorizer, it will help kill bacteria and germs, which will reduce bad smells|
|Put baby powder in your shoes||Baby powder helps absorb moisture from your shoes, softens the insides, and makes it easier to get into your shoes if you have downsized. Try to get a scented powder, it really makes a difference and makes your shoes actually smell good|
|Take your shoes off||Taking your shoes off helps air them out in between climbing routes, it reduces some of the moisture buildup and heat|
|Let them air-dry||After a climbing session, if you have to put your shoes in a bag or someplace closed, let them air-dry first|
|Don't lock your shoes up||Never put climbing shoes in a closed place if you don't want them to smell. Moisture and heat will create a playground for bacteria, which will cause your shoes to smell extra bad|
|Wash your shoes||Wash you shoes under running water, and scrub the insides using a soft brush. Check what further washing options are allowed for your shoes, such as soaps, detergents, and waching machine washes|
|Spray + baby powder for smell elimination||If your shoes already smell bad, spray your shoes with a shoe deodorizer spray, let it sit for a few minutes, then put some of the baby powder in them, scented powder will make them actually smell good|
The End Of Smelly Climbing Shoes?
While it may seem like a norm in the climbing community, smelly shoes does not have to be a community standard. We can leave this in the past, as long as we all adopt better habits and take care of our feet and our shoes.
Will there ever be a time where climbing shoes just won't smell bad? Probably not. Habits are difficult to create, and harder to maintain, and it's even harder to break bad habits, and having climbing shoes that do not smell is all about keeping good habits, and breaking the bad ones.
Personal hygiene goes a long way in preventing bacteria from forming in your shoes, as well as treating your shoes in a way that will allow them to not be a home for those bacteria.
What are your thoughts on smelly climbing shoes, and how do you prevent it? Have you used any of the tips above or have tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!