CampingClimbing

How To Clean And Wash Climbing Rope

Climbing is full of adventures until the climbing rope is too dirty or damaged. The health of climbing ropes should be one of the biggest concerns for climbers. If you know how to clean and wash climbing rope, there is almost nothing to worry about.

And, the great news is, this article will cover a complete guide about cleaning climbing rope. Not only this, you will get every relevant information here, about the topic.

So, stay with us for all the Can’t-miss tips and tricks! Let’s go!

How to Clean and Wash Climbing Rope: 2 Easy Methods

Here are two methods, properly explained with some very easy steps.

Method 1: Washing in The Bath

You can simply use your bathtub to wash and clean a climbing rope.

Step 1: Fill The Bathtub with Water

The first step of method one is to fill a bathtub with water. You will want to use cold water (warm is okay) in this case, but never use hot water.

Step 2: Add Cleaner to The Water

That’s quite a questionable topic whether you should use any soap or detergent to clean your rope or not. It’s because most people tell you not to use anything except water because chemicals in soap or detergent may have a negative effect on the quality of your rope.

However, there is mild soap or detergent that is specifically designed for the purpose of climbing gear. It’s best if you use something like this- the most appropriate, rope-specific wash.

So, add such a cleanser to the water and go-ahead for the next move.

Step 3: Put The Rope In It

Now, take your dust and dirt-filled rope and put it into the tub. After that, swish it around as well as wait some time to allow it to sit in the water for a while.

Step 4: Stroke the Rope Clean

And, it’s time to go for the rope-stroking technique. First of all, grab one finishing point of your rope and start flaking it. Rub each area so carefully that you leave no dirt there. During stroking the rope, you also can inspect the rope for damage.

To do so, use your hands to run along your rope when you flake it out. Look closely and feel each inch for nicks, cuts, and corrosion in the sheath areas of the flat or mushy core.

If you find minor dirtiness or fuzziness on the sheath, well, that’s not a big deal. Otherwise, if you notice extremely flat spots, cuts, nicks, fuzzy areas, or other damages, it’s high time you take account of retiring your rope.

Step 5: Rinse and Dry

Once the rope-striking is done, look at the dirty water, you’ll see the after-effects with your naked eyes. Now, let’s give your rope a last-minute rinse in the tub.

Drain the dirty water and refill your bathtub with fresh, clean water for rinsing the rope thoroughly. When you rinse it very well, dry the rope completely.

To dry it, throw a towel over your shower curtain rod and then, flake the rope out onto the towel. Avoid placing the washed rope in direct sunlight. Before you put it away, make sure it’s COMPLETELY dry.

Pro tip: If you are concerned about kinking the rope while cleaning, you can put the rope in a mesh bag. Then, follow the steps to wash it. It will aid to avoid kinks.

Method 2: Using Washing Machine

If you want to take advantage of having a washing machine, well, it would be great if you wash and clean the rope using the machine.

Step 1: Load Your Washer

To wash a climbing rope, you should always use a top-leading, standard washing machine. Take the rope and lower it into the drum- circle it and reverse the direction every time while lowering the rope to make a loop.

By following this technique, your rope will not be wrapped around and around.

Step 2: Set the Washer

As we said before, you should never use hot water to clean your climbing rope. We are not going to set the water temperatures above 40℃. The safest decision would be to use cold water since there’s no chance of harming the rope with cold water.

And, experts recommend sticking with the gentlest, lowest cycle possible- it generally indicates the ‘delicate’ button on the washers. If possible, select the ‘extra rinse’ setting. It will allow the leftover/remaining soap to collect gunk and dirt.

Step 3: Add Cleaner

Again, it’s about the cleaner. So, what are you going to use? The mildest possible soap or detergent, or perhaps, the rope-specific wash, right?

Well, if you are intended to use mild soaps- go for a soap where strong alkaline oils or fats are used. What their specialty is- these soaps react with minerals of hard water and leave a very gentle film (soap scum).

You can also use nothing but lukewarm water to clean the rope using your washing machine. Only a few rounds of rinsing with water will eliminate a great amount of grit and dirt.

Step 4: Dry

When you are done with deep cleaning your rope, pull out it and check if there is any remaining soap. Give your rope another rinse if you feel there’s any soap residue.

About drying the rope, make sure you don’t use direct sunlight. Simply spread out a clean tarp and lay the rope(s) over the tarp. To get completely dried, it may take around 24 hours.

However, it largely depends on the humidity and temperature of your living area.

Do’s and Don’ts While Drying A Washed Climbing Rope

It’s a part of looking after your climbing rope. There are some things you should know about drying a washed climbing rope.

Do’s

  • Choose a well-ventilated, dry, and cool place to dry your rope.
  • To make sure of uniform drying, rotate the pile of your ropes from time to time.
  • For indoor drying, circulate air through the entire room using a house fan. And, set the fan on quite a low setting.

Don’ts

  • Dry your rope using direct sunlight. It may affect the rope’s integrity or bleach the rope.
  • Use any kind of artificial heat like a tumble dryer.
  • Pile the flaked coils of your ropes on top of one another. It may invite molds.

How to Store Climbing Rope

It’s crucial to put your rope away when you are not going to climb for a while. And, the storing should be followed in a proper way. The simplest and most common way that people use to store their rope is using a rope bag.

The two compelling reasons are- the bags provide a handy way for storing the rope and they allow you to keep your ropes from dirt during your climb.

Here’s how to store your rope using a rope bag:

  • Open your rope bag and then open out the integrated tarp.
  • Hold one end of the rope and then tie this for making a loop.
  • Make a pile of the ropes on the tarp.
  • Now, take the other end of your rope and tie it to another loop.
  • About the edges of your rope, fold them around the pile.
  • Roll both the rope and the tarp into your rope bag.
  • Zip the rope bag closed.

When you need to go climbing, the only thing you are to do is to grab the rope bag and go out!

Also, here we’ve kept a section for storage tips of climbing rope.

  • Make sure you put your rope away in a dry and cool area. In case, you are not a rope bag user, coil the rope and hook the entire rope over a dowel.
  • Do not ever leave the rope to expose to direct sun for a long period. Don’t panic thinking that day-to-day sunshine may damage your rope, but too much sunlight can weaken it.
  • Never store around extreme heat, it may damage the fibers.
  • Avoid storing it around chemicals like strong acid (battery acid). Be very careful when you store the rope in the basement or a garage or in the trunk.

How to Repair a Minor Rope Damage

If you find literally minor damage by inspecting the rope, you can fix it yourself. The most commonly happened damage is the damage near the end of the ropes. The good news is, you can easily trim off that area and use the rest of the rope.

Here’s what you are to do:

  • Use a very sharp knife to cut your rope one foot up from where the damage has happened.
  • The freshly cut section of your rope should be fixed right away. To do so, melt the area using a lighter.

Notice carefully how much of the rope you have cut. It will let you know how much the rope is shorter now.

When to Replace A Climbing Rope

Like any other thing in the universe, your climbing rope will not last forever. Once you find incredibly fuzzy areas, flat spots, cuts, or other damages while inspecting the rope, you should replace it in no time.

To make things much easier for you, here we have come up with an approximate guideline about when you should replace a climbing rope. Let’s check it out.

  • Change the rope immediately after notable damage like a huge fall.
  • If you use it so frequently like weekly, it should be replaced for up to 1 year.
  • If you are a regular user who uses the rope only a few times a month, change it somewhere between 1 and 3 years.
  • For occasional use like once a month, replacing it once in 4-5 years is okay.
  • If you use it very rarely such as only 1 or 2 times per year, change it once after 7 years.

Make sure you note the purchase date for determining when it’s time to change the rope.

Additional Tips

The tips below will help you to get the most out of the rope.

  • When you uncoil a new rope, do it so carefully that you don’t knot or tangle the ropes.
  • In case, you feel that the rope is kinky and twisted during climbing, leave it to hang free and unfold the twist as soon as possible.
  • Do not step on your rope, the dirt may damage it.
  • Take advantage of a rope bag, use it to store the rope between outings.
  • Keep a rope tarp with you on climbing days. Use it to keep your rope away from dirt during your climb.
  • Avoid belaying and lowering, jerky, or too fast repelling. These may cause the burning of the sheath of your rope and loss of control.
  • Use a logbook to jot down every “rope use”, more importantly, the faults you make.

FAQ’s of Clean And Wash Climbing Rope

Can I Machine Wash Climbing Rope?
Yes, you can but make sure you don’t use any harsh detergent. And, always read the user manual of the rope to get to know if the manufacturer recommends machine washing or not.
How Long Will It Take to Dry a Climbing Rope?
Although it’s up to the humidity and temperature of your living area, it can take anywhere between 8 and 24 hours.
How Will I Know if My Climbing Rope Is Not Usable Anymore?
Inspect your climbing rope in the way we described. If you see minor damages that you can fix, you can still use the rope. Otherwise, extreme damages indicate the retirement of your rope.

Read More: How To Set Up A Camping Tent

Conclusion

Now, you are no more confused about how to clean and wash climbing rope, are you? We hope that you got a complete guideline concerning the topic since we tried our best to meet you with this.

Before wrapping up, we want you to know that you should give the utmost attention to clean and maintain your climbing rope. It will give them longer shelf life and give you the safest possible climbing.

Happy cleaning!

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