How to Clean Rock Climbing Holds: A Simple Guide


If you are a fan of rock climbing, you likely spend a lot of time practicing with rock climbing holds. While there is nothing quite as exhilarating as the real thing, practice can be just as fun. There is, of course, one dilemma, getting your climbing holds back to their original look. Depending on how often you use holds they can wear and accumulate dust fairly easily. If you want to bring back that shiny look we have the solution you need!

How to clean rock climbing holds? We’ve got the simple guide. There are three common and effective ways to wash you rock climbing holds including:

  1. Hand Washing
  2. Using a Pressure Washer
  3. Throwing them in the Dishwasher

Each method of washing rock climbing holds is unique and can be used in various circumstances. Let’s take a closer look at this simple guide. Read below to find out more.

A Simple Guide to Cleaning Rock Climbing Holds

Whether you have a rock climbing wall in your backyard or you’re a gym owner, this is going to be something you want to pay close attention to. It’s important to wash your holds occasionally, especially if they are used frequently.

The three most common ways to wash your rock climbing holds, ranked from best to worst, are as follows:

  1. Handwashing is the best method for washing holds, especially if you have a relatively small wall.
  2. Pressure-washing is another great way to wash your holds, and definitely much easier when you have a large number of holds.
  3. Washing in a dishwasher is the easiest method, but not the most effective.

Holds are ideal hiding places for small pieces of dirt, gravel, and sand. They also get sweaty, salty, and dusty, so you really want to make sure you keep things clean to avoid smells, slips, and wearing or your gym equipment.

How to Handwash Rock Climbing Holds

Let’s be honest handwashing may be tiresome, it is certainly not very efficient, but it is probably the most budget-friendly way of making your climbing holds sparkling clean and the most effective.

This is a traditional way of getting things done, and all you need is:

  • A bucket of water
  • A pair of dishwashing gloves
  • A soft brush
  • Washing Detergent

It’s important to remember that you will need to change the water after cleaning a dozen holds to make sure it’s still fresh and clean. This makes the process much longer, so it’s a cleaning method best used for a small number of holds.

  1. Start by putting your climbing holds inside a tub of warm or hot water.
  2. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes. You want the water to absorb most of the dirt accumulated on the surface.
  3. Put on a pair of dishwashing gloves to protect your hands. This is going to take a good amount of time.
  4. Use washing detergent and begin brushing off each side of your rock climbing holds. Use a soft small bristle brush to get in between all the little edges.
  5. Wash each climbing hold separately to make sure that they are properly cleaned. While this might make the washing process longer, it is certain that your time won’t be wasted, and in the end, you will have what you need: clean and shiny climbing holds.
  6. Change the water every now and then and continue this process until you get rid of all the chalk, sweat, dirt, and oils.

Keep in mind that stiff brushes are no good because they will scratch the surface of your climbing holds and damage it. A soft bristle brush is well suited both for removing the surface dirt, and it will also preserve the fine look of your climbing holds.

Hand washing takes a long time, but it is the most effective way to get clean your rock climbing holds.

How to Pressure Wash Rock Climbing Holds

If you don’t have time to go through all the details of the handwashing process and need to clean your climbing holds as fast as possible, a pressure washer is your next best bet.

There is no wrong way of doing this. All you need is a regular pressure washer (an average pressure washer costs about $133), and you don’t even have to remove the climbing holds from the climbing wall. They can stay where they are while you are rinsing them with some high-pressure fresh water.

Of course, if you don’t want to get your gym wet, you can remove all the holds and place them apart from one another in your backyard and hose off all the dirt and sweat.

You don’t even have to worry about the water temperature since, at high pressure, it does not matter if you use hot or cold water: the pressure washer will get the job done.

Of course, you can’t really expect a result similar to that of the hand wash, but in the end, you will have achieved clean climbing holds in a shorter amount of time since pressure washer can remove almost all of the surface dirt on your climbing holds, making this method ideal for large climbing walls.

How to Wash Rock Climbing Holds in the Dishwasher

The third way to clean your climbing holds is to use an ordinary dishwasher. Though it is not meant for this purpose, it’s an ideal method for cleaning your holds in a hurry.

All you need to do is:

  1. Place the climbing holds inside the dishwasher as you do with your dishes. Detergent is optional and depends on how dirty your holds are.
  2. Put a few climbing holds per section and make sure that you don’t put too many holds at once because it might damage the dishwasher.
  3. Choose air dry and not heat dry before you turn on the dishwasher.
  4. Wait for the dishwasher’s cycle to end and put the climbing holds outside to dry for a day.

This method is simple and fast, but there are a few problems. Firstly, your dishwasher is not meant for this task, and you may need to repeat the process more than once to have clean climbing holds.  

Secondly, there is always the problem with the oversized climbing holds. Washing them with a dishwasher will be a headache since you might be forced to turn the dishwasher on only for one hold. In fact, the climbing hold might be big enough not to fit inside the dishwasher altogether.

So, if you want to clean your climbing holds with a dishwasher, make sure to consider their shape and size to avoid damaging your dishwasher or ending up spending too much time.

What Detergent to Use to Clean Your Climbing Holds

Let’s take a quick look at some of the best detergents that you might use for cleaning your climbing holds if you opt for a hand wash.

  • Dish detergent: Many people find success with plain old dish soap. A soap with a degreaser like Dawn is gentle and strong.
  • Grip Wash: This is a powder made explicitly for cleaning climbing holds. It can be used both during the hand wash and with your dishwasher.

How to Use Grip Wash to Clean Your Climbing Holds

Using Grip Wash is a lot of like cleaning with any other cleaner. Here’s how:

  1. You need to mix a cup of Grip Wash with a gallon of water.
  2. Then soak your climbing holds for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Brush the hold with a soft brush afterward.
  4. Finally, rinse them again with clean water and set them aside to dry.

It’s important to remember to wear dishwashing gloves while you are brushing the holds inside the water and powder mixture.

Grip Wash is an effective and easy-to-use solution if you want to have sparkling clean climbing holds. It also comes at a budget-friendly price of around $18.

Overall, we have seen that there is more than one way of cleaning your rock climbing holds. The option you choose mostly depends on how much time you have and the number of holds you are washing. Of course, nothing compares to a meticulous hand wash.

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