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 when it’s dirty.
Steps for washing climbing rope
1 – rinse rope with water
Lay your dirty rope on the floor and hose down the rope with water and ensure all visible dirt is rinsed off.
2 – soak rope in lukewarm water
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 for a few minutes to allow the cleaning agent to remove dirt from the rope.
3 – brush rope
Brush the entire rope with a soft bristle brush until the rope is clean. You can purchase a dedicated rope brush to make brushing rope easy.
4 – rinse rope
Give the rope a final rinse with clean water to remove any residual cleaning chemicals.
5 – dry rope
Flake and unkink your rope onto a clean dry towel. 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 the rope is dry before storing it.
6 – store rope
Keep your rope in a rope bag or a groundsheet by coiling the rope up and store it in a dry and cool place.
Climbing rope – Do’s and Don’ts
If your rope is soaked from rainwater, you should wash it as soon as you have the chance. Sand, mud, and dirt will adhere easily to a wet rope. A dirty wet rope kept in a rope bag will give off a foul smell. So wash your rope as soon as possible but if you are unable to, you’ll should at least air dry your rope.
It is ok to wash your rope in a washing machine by placing the rope in a washing bag and only use gentle cycle.
Coil your rope neatly before you store it in a climbing bag or groundsheet. This will help to reduce kinking of rope.
After washing your rope you should not dry your rope by hanging. 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.
Don’t wash your rope too often. You can brush your rope often if you have a rope brush to remove sand and dust that are trapped on the sheath of the rope. 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.
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.