There are a lot of brush tools around your local climbing gym, but you don’t know exactly how to use them? You cal also see brushing tools that are carried around with more advanced climbers. Don’t worry we will explain how you clean chalk off holds, and why is this even important for climbers, so stay with us to learn more about it.
To clean chalk off holds you need to use a special brush tool and if you already have one then put some pressure with it on the hold that you want to clean and move it left and right, similar to brushing your teeth. There are many types of brushes, but the most common are simple hand brushes and brushes on a long rod. The first one is nothing special, but the second is there to help you with holds that are way above your reach.
There should be plenty of them all over your local climbing or bouldering gym so you don’t need to buy and carry them with you. Note that you don’t have to clean the route every time you are going to climb it, but when you feel like something is slippery then try to clean it, or if you really want to flash a hard route.
Why do we need to clean the holds?
Cleaning chalk off holds helps your fingers to get more friction. You have to know that we are using brushes not only to clean the chalk off but many other things, so we want to clean hold off:
- Skin – Every person before you used hands to hold strong that handhold, and with that friction generated by your skin, the small fragments of your skin can tear apart. So they will stay with that handhold for a long time until someone else will clean it, but until then they will make it harder for the next person’s hands to generate friction.
- Sweat – We all sweat and it’s nothing special, but while we are climbing then we sweat way more due to the strength that we are using. Our hands will leave our sweat that is slippery, so it’s good to clean it.
- Grime – Bouldering and climbing gyms tend to be located in warehouses with a lot of wooden structures, and that can generate a lot of dust and grime, especially if that gym is not crowded. If one of the routes wasn’t used for a long time then it can be grimed a lot.
- Shoe rubber – We often tend to use handholds as footholds because they can also help us reach the top, when our shoes are rotating or sliding on that handhold then small fragments of rubber from our shoes will stay on that handhold.
- Chalk – Chalk is good when it’s connected to our hands because that way it helps them to stay dry during climbing, but if the chalk is on a handhold we know that too much chalk can be bad for our hands and prevent us from getting a good grip. Also, the chalk on the handhold is often old and has been used many times.
Those are the small things that will make you use more strength to get a better grip and that’s why we don’t want them to be on our hold that we are going to climb. Sometimes even the hangboard will need some cleaning with a brush tool.
Why do we use chalk for climbing?
The chalk is used on climbers’ hands because it can easily absorb any substances from our bodies like sweat. Those substances will make our hands and fingers wetter, and wet hands won’t generate as much friction as dry hands. To make it even simpler, climbers are using chalk to keep their hands dry during climbing.
That’s why they are putting their hands in the chalk bag before every attempt to the problem and get some fresh chalk out of it. There are also things like liquid magnesium that you can buy in any climbing store. Many climbers don’t like the feeling of it because it’s a substance similar to cream, that after some time drys on your hands, but the purpose is exactly the same as the normal chalk. When it drys on your hands you can feel how cold it gets on your hands over time.
Check out the studies from PubMed about magnesium carbonate, and if it really improves the static coefficient of friction between the hands and the surface of any structure.
In summary – How do you clean chalk off holds?
To clean the holds use the brushes, there should be plenty of them around at your climbing gym. Swipe that brush left to right until you will be able to see the surface of the hold clearly. If you can’t reach the holds that are high, then use the rod brush tool or climb onto this level with the use of every hold that is near to it, and clean it with your normal brush. You don’t need to clean them with every attempt, just if you feel that one of the handholds is slippery then brush it.