Buying climbing shoes is often a hard task because picking the right size is just difficult. After our first climbing session, while wearing them, they can start to rub your feet or you can feel that your feet are a bit too small for those shoes, which is often an unpleasant feeling, so what can we do about it? We will tell you what you can do in both cases, so don’t worry because we have some useful and quick tips for you, if you are worried about how to shrink climbing shoes or stretch them out.
Some things from our wardrobe are prone to shrinkage, and you would be surprised how many of your clothes are able to get shrank by using your washing machine, but what about climbing shoes you may ask. There is a chance that your climbing shoes will shrink if you wash them in a washing machine, but you need to do this properly, to avoid destroying them. Even if you manage to shrink them there is a catch to that but we will talk about it later in this article.
Can I wash climbing shoes in a washing machine?
There are many ways to clean your dirty and smelly climbing shoes, but the quickest one is by using a washing machine. There are more effective ways to do that but if you decide to use a washing machine, then you need to check what your climbing shoes are made of.
If your climbing shoes are made of nylon or they are simply synthetic then they should be fine. Most of the cheaper climbing shoes are made of those materials, but more expensive climbing shoes are often made of leather. Leather climbing shoes are very likely to get destroyed after a few times of cleaning them with a washing machine.
If you have synthetic or nylon climbing shoes then the washing machine won’t destroy your shoes that easily, but make sure to pick an option with cold water on your washing machine because hot water is more likely going to destroy your climbing shoes rather than cold water. If you do have leather climbing shoes then you need to think about other ways to wash your shoes, and we will talk about them right now.
How should I clean my climbing shoes?
As we have already said you can wash your climbing shoes using a regular washing machine, but there is another and even safer way to clean your climbing shoes. You can clean them by hand.
Try to find a brush and pour some water with soap on it, then by using gentle moves slowly brush your shoes from the outside and then from the inside. After a few seconds of brushing, you should reapply water and soap to your brush, just to clean it a bit, and wash off the dirt that has gathered on the brush after a few strokes.
That way is way safer than dropping your shoes in the washing machine for an hour or more. You can also regulate the pressure you put on your shoes, but it also takes more time and effort to clean them this way.
Is shrinking my climbing shoes with a washing machine permanent?
After our small talk about the basics of washing, let’s get back to shrinking climbing shoes, which is our main topic here in this article. As we have said previously there is a chance that your climbing shoes will shrink in a washing machine, but it is not permanent.
After a few climbing sessions, your shoes will start to stretch slowly due to your foot forcing a shoe from the inside. So that means that you will have to repeat the process of shrinking your climbing shoe after some time, but don’t lose hope because there are some other great ways to “shrink your climbing shoes”.
If you feel like there is a too much free space inside of your shoe then:
- Wear socks – It is better for climbers not to wear socks but, wearing them will make your feet a little bit bigger which will fill that free space inside of your shoe. That way you will have better control of your shoes, so you can wear even multiple layers of socks.
- Return your shoes – There is no better way to get the ideal size of your climbing shoes rather than to buy a new pair. Ask the shop that sold you your climbing shoes if they accept returns or an exchange for a different size. Tell them what your problem is and they are likely to understand your situation.
- Washing machine – As we said have said before it is not a permanent solution, and can be risky,
The best way is to try to return your climbing shoes or ask for an exchange for a different size. We highly recommend that before trying a washing machine solution. Let’s talk a bit about stretching climbing shoes if you accidentally overdo shrinking.
How to stretch out my climbing shoes?
Climbing shoes are mostly stretched by your foot which forces the boundaries of your climbing shoe, and over time it is slowly stretching it. We often want to stretch out climbing shoes because they are rubbing our feet. So the process of stretching can be painful, and to prevent that you can also wear socks that will give you an additional soft material to protect your feet and will let you stretch out your climbing shoes even further.
We also have a great article about stretching climbing shoes which will definitely help you with it so make sure to read it “Should Climbing Shoes Rub My Feet? – (Too Tight Shoes)“.
In summary – Can I shrink climbing shoes in a washing machine?
Don’t lose hope and use our tips to make your climbing life easier. Also, make sure that using a washing machine will be your last option because that can be a risky solution. Returning or even wearing socks is definitely a safer way and but if they are not enough for you then you can try shrinking your shoes using a washing machine.
Make sure that your shoes are not made of leather because then you should not clean them in a washing machine because that will destroy them. If you are interested in climbing shoes and the differences between them then check out our article “Do Climbing Shoes Make A Difference? – (Tips For Beginners)“.