Climbing is a sport that requires very minimal equipment, but this equipment should be well-protected and cleaned regularly. Primary climbing apparatuses include climbing ropes, a harness, a belay device, special climbing shoes, a helmet, and climbing holds.

Climbing holds are grips that are attached to a climbing wall or rock wall, and climbers step on it or grab it to launch themselves upward. If you are a climbing gym owner, you need to know how to clean climbing holds.

These holds are of different shapes and sizes, and since they often get dirty from the climbers’ hands and feet, they should be cleaned frequently. They may also be made from different materials, and some cleaning methods may not be as effective for others.

Cleaning climbing holds will help them retain their friction and allow climbers to grip them better. However, leaving them dirty for a long time may cause them to be slippery because of chalk build-up.

There are several ways of cleaning climbing holds, and people swear by different effective methods, but here are a few tips on cleaning climbing holds.

Clean Climbing Holds

The Cleaning Process

Since climbing holds are artificial grips held by hex head bolts, they can be removed from the climbing surface by Allen wrenches so that they can be cleaned.

Here are some cleaning methods that a lot of gym owners and climbing enthusiasts swear by.

1. Handwashing

A soft bristle brush, mild liquid soap, and warm water are all you need. Gently scrub the holds with the brush and soap, and rinse them using warm water. 

Let them air dry for 24 hours in an area free of dust before putting them back on your climbing wall.

2. Carwashing

Coin-operated carwashes are a great way to keep your climbing holds clean. 

Lay them down on the washing floor, spray them with soap, and use the high-pressure hose to wash them down. Leave them to dry for 24 hours before reinstalling.

3. Overnight soaking

After removing the climbing holds, place them in a basin with a mild cleansing solution diluted in water and soak them overnight. The dirt and chalk clinging to the holds will be removed and settle on the bottom of the basin. 

When you remove them, the excess dirt won’t be there anymore, and it will be easier and quicker to scrub and rinse. Let the holds dry for 24 hours.

Cleaning Climbing Holds

4. The white vinegar rinse

Dilute one part of white vinegar in one part of the water in a large basin. Place the holds in the mixture and allow them to sit for 15 minutes. After that, take the holds out and rinse them under running water. 

Use your hands to scrub out any remaining dirt. If needed, put the holds back in the basin for another 15 minutes. 

Repeat the procedure until all dirt and grime are removed. Use a towel to dry them and air dry for 24 hours before putting them back on the climbing wall.

5. Power washing

Using a power washing hose is an excellent way to remove dirt and grime and restore the holds’ original color. You would not need to use soap and a brush anymore. 

Just use your hands to remove any remaining dirt, and put the holds under the hose for a good rinse. Leave to dry for 24 hours.

6. Special cleaning machines

Although people on Reddit are swearing that these machines can be ridiculously expensive, they do get the job done. 

Makeshift devices for holding a hundred or so climbing holds are an innovative way of cleaning them, but you would be wasting too much time since the holds would continuously spin under the pressurized hose.

So, if you have got a hundred holds to clean and little time to do so, investing in a cleaning machine for climbing holds is a good idea. 

You will be able to clean ALL your holds in one go, which means less time, less water, less soap, and less effort. The holds will come out sparkly clean and looking brand new.

You will also be able to install them immediately since the machine makes sure that the holds are completely dry after the cycle.

Climbing Holds How to Clean

7. Dishwashers

Using dishwashers to clean your holds is unconventional, but it must be effective somehow because it is a popular way of cleaning climbing holds. 

However, since a regular cycle can take a while, it is best to use a dishwasher if you have a lot of time on your hands.

Choose the air-dry setting when cleaning your holds in the dishwasher. If they are too dirty, use the vinegar solution to pre-clean before placing them in the dishwasher. 

You can choose not to use soap for this method. However, you would have to thoroughly clean your dishwasher afterward to avoid the dirt, chalk, and grime getting onto your plates.

What NOT to Use for Cleaning Climbing Holds

Muriatic acid

Using acid can erode the surface of the holds, making it slippery. A slippery climbing hold can be dangerous; thus, using muriatic acid is not recommended.


It may be effective for toilet bowls and tiles, but it is not suitable for climbing holds. 

This is because bleach can remain in the tiny holes of the climbing hold, and the friction that climbers apply to the holds might cause minor burns on their hands.

Final Thoughts on How to Clean Climbing Holds

Cleaning climbing holds are not as complicated as it sounds. They may be special pieces of climbing equipment, but they are sturdy and made to weather the elements. 

However, as with all kinds of surfaces, wear and tear will eventually occur, especially if you do not care for them.

Whichever method you choose to clean your climbing holds, make sure that it is not a method that will destroy the surface of the holds. 

Some methods are more popular than others, but the best way of ensuring that your climbing holds are clean is to do some research.

Certain materials require specific cleaning methods, and depending on what your climbing holds are made of, cleaning them would depend on what they are made of. You can also make climbing holds from wood or rock.

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