How to wash climbing rope

How to wash climbing rope

Table of Contents

How to wash climbing rope

Climbing rope is one of the few pieces of equipment that requires periodic cleaning especially if you climb outdoors regularly. Dirt deposited on your rope increases the wear and tear to your rope and other climbing gear such as belay device, carabiner, quickdraws, and anchor. Hence it is necessary to wash your rope not just when it’s dirty.

Steps for washing climbing rope

Step 1 – Brush and rinse the rope

Remove any dust, sand or mud from the surface of the rope. Lay the rope on the floor and rinse the rope with lukewarm water. Brush the entire rope with a soft bristle brush to ensure all dirt on the rope surface is removed. You can purchase a dedicated rope brush to make brushing rope easy.

climbing rope brush

Step 2 – Soak the rope in lukewarm water with rope-cleaning chemicals

Place your rope in a pail and fill it with lukewarm water. Ensure the rope is fully submerged. Add a mild cleaning agent or rope cleaner. Agitate and swirl the rope in the water to allow the cleaning agent to remove dirt from the rope. You can purchase specialized rope cleaners or use any mild fabric detergent will do.

How to wash climbing rope
Rope cleaning agent

4 – Rinse the rope

Remove the rope from the water and give the rope a few more rounds of rinsing with clean water to remove any dirt and residual cleaning chemicals.

5 – Dry the rope

Flake and unkink your rope on top of a clean dry towel on the floor. Space out the rope on the towel so it will dry faster. Allow ample time for your rope to dry completely. Check by running the entire rope through your hands to ensure it is dry before storing it.

6 – Store rope

Keep your rope in a rope bag or a groundsheet by coiling it up neatly and storing it in a dry and cool place.

Climbing rope – Do’s and Don’ts


  1. If the rain soaks your rope, wash it as soon as possible. Sand, mud, and dirt will adhere easily to a wet rope. A dirty wet rope kept in a bag will give off a foul smell. If you can’t wash the rope immediately, you should at least air dry your rope by laying it on the floor to dry.
  2. It is ok to wash your rope in a washing machine. Place the rope in a washing bag or, tie daisy chain knots with your rope before placing it neatly into the washing machine and using the gentle wash cycle. The daisy chain knots help to prevent entanglement inside the washing machine.
  3. Coil your rope neatly before you store it in a climbing bag or groundsheet. This will help to reduce the kinking of the rope.
Daisy Chain Knot
Daisy chain knots


  1. After washing your rope you should partially dry the rope with a clean cloth to remove excess water before hanging the rope to air dry. A rope is heavy when wet. If you hang your wet rope in a coil to dry the weight of the water may stretch your rope.
  2. Don’t wash your rope too often. You can brush your rope often if you have a rope brush to remove sand and dust trapped on the sheath. Washing climbing rope too frequently is not advisable as it may wash away some functional chemical coating on your rope e.g. water repellent coating. Wash your rope only when it is necessary.
  3. Never spin or tumble dry your rope in the washing machine. Spin dry rope in the washing machine will result in rope stretch and cause the rope to lose its dynamic properties.

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