Cleaning Climbing Ropes


Original Post
Njabulo Moyo · · Pretoria · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 15

Whats the easiest way to clean a climbing rope? I've done it once using a rope brush and i doubt I've ever tired myself out as much as that day. I've heard rumors (unconfirmed) that you could place the rope in a pillowcase (to avoid coiling) and cold wash but obviously i'd rather double check than end up with a messed up rope.......

Mitch Alexander · · SLO, CA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 20

I double up my rope and daisy chain it before putting it in the washer. Run on cold in a top loading washer.

HardCase · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

Mild soap in a front load has worked numerous times for me.

Chris treggE · · Madison, WI · Joined May 2007 · Points: 9,150

I usually just fill a large sink with warm water and a touch of woolite and hand agitate the rope, drain sink, repeat until water more or less clear. Air dry.

Q-man · · Calumet, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 230

The Beal rope brush is amazing. I've used it several times on several different ropes. In a bathtub using only water(and 2 to 3 fill ups of new water),the brush brings out so much dirt and aluminum it's unbelievable how new the rope looks.
The main idea I like about the brush is that you don't have to use any type cleaner or soap to get nice results. And you have piece of mind that no detergents were used in cleaning the rope.

You will have to clean up the dirt/aluminum rings from around the bath tub after the process; that's the only downer.

Fortuna Wolf · · Durham, NC · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 20

I daisy chain it and tie the ends together.
Any mild detergent and a washing machine will work. Cold water, hot water, the nylon will be ok. Don't use acids, bases, or oxidiers. So no bleach, no oxiclean, no sulfuric acid, etc.

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348

I'd skip the detergent all together. Black Diamond found that Woolite contained acids harmful to nylon and they noticed a small decrease in strength when exposed. Regardless, you simply dont need soap, water is fine. I just throw it in the washing machine however and call it a day. I have a side loading machine so I dont need to coil it up. I would recommend a side loading machine, not top loading, as the rope will wrap around the agitator and could become a PITA to remove (had it happen before).

http://blackdiamondequipment.com/en/qc-lab-acid-harness.html

JK- · · SLC · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 58

While getting everything else ready to go I'll run the washing machine totally empty once, on the hottest cycle with an extra rinse, to flush out any leftover detergent/bleach/etc that might be lurking in the machine. Fold my rope in a half a couple times and then do a four strand daisy chain, pulling the last loop all the way through so it can't come undone. Mesh laundry bag. Front load washer, heaviest cycle its got, on cold. Loosely butterfly the rope over something that allows airflow and allow to air-ray out direct sunlight. I've got a quilt rack that works well.

NOTE: I prefer non-HE washing machines for this, as it will push more water through. For me to find a front load, non-HE means a Laundromat.

That's how I do it.

Justin Meyer · · Madison, WI · Joined May 2012 · Points: 51

Here are some pics of daisy chain washing machine method: basicrockclimbing.com/how-t...

Raymond Moreno · · Millbrae, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 140
baldclimber · · Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
20 kN wrote:Black Diamond found that Woolite contained acids harmful to nylon and they noticed a small decrease in strength when exposed. blackdiamondequipment.com/e...
Got a reference for that? It's not in the link.
Chris treggE · · Madison, WI · Joined May 2007 · Points: 9,150
baldclimber wrote: Got a reference for that? It's not in the link.
It's in the charts near the bottom.
baldclimber · · Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
Chris treggE wrote: It's in the charts near the bottom.
So it is, thanks. Couldn't read the charts on mobile device.

Looks like max strength reduction of %5 after 72 hour soak in Woolite. Doesn't appear to be any issue with Woolite.
20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348
baldclimber wrote: So it is, thanks. Couldn't read the charts on mobile device. Looks like max strength reduction of %5 after 72 hour soak in Woolite. Doesn't appear to be any issue with Woolite.
9% after 30 minutes which interestingly enough is the same effect as bleach according to their tests.

baldclimber · · Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
20 kN wrote: 9% after 30 minutes which interestingly enough is the same effect as bleach according to their tests.
Yet after 72 hours, a 144 times longer soak time, the strength reduction is 5% of the original value. 28.4Kn down to 27.0Kn, well above the required 22Kn.

Unlike Woolite, bleach reduced the strength drastically.

Fortuna Wolf · · Durham, NC · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 20

a 5 or even 10% variance may be normal even without treatment. Some of the samples got "stronger" after a 72 hour soak. Should I be treating all my gear with a multiday soak in oxiclean before use?

I do take back what I said about oxiclean. I merely assumed that since H2O2 is a strong oxidizer it would degrade the nylon and it clearly doesn't.

If you're worried about woolite, perhaps a ph neutral cleaner like dawn would be better? Except that a HE washing machine would get too sudsy.

Cory Furrow · · Blacksburg, VA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 25

I may be ignorant.... but are there any added benefits to using an approved cleaner for climbing gear over water?

Kent Richards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 83
Cory F wrote:I may be ignorant.... but are there any added benefits to using an approved cleaner for climbing gear over water?
In my experience, water does just fine. I've never needed to clean anything off my rope (or other soft gear) that swishing in water wouldn't clean...
Kent Richards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 83
Njabulo Moyo wrote:Whats the easiest way to clean a climbing rope? I've done it once using a rope brush and i doubt I've ever tired myself out as much as that day. I've heard rumors (unconfirmed) that you could place the rope in a pillowcase (to avoid coiling) and cold wash but obviously i'd rather double check than end up with a messed up rope.......
I coil mine as usual (butterfly coil for me) and swish in a bathtub of fresh water, changing the water a few times until it comes out clear enough for my taste.

If there's any chance of residual chemical cleaner on the bathtub (such as SoftScrub with bleach), rinse it down first.

Dry by loosening the coil and laying on a towel out of sunlight.
climbnowworklater · · Colorado Springs · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 10

For 10 years I have washed my ropes the same way: Laundromat, front-end industrial washer. Usually $2.50 in quarters and no soap or anything, just water. They come out 30 minutes later...clean. I've continued to use these ropes over the years and never had the slightest issue. For me, this is the easiest and most cost effective way.

(Ropes used: Edelweiss, Maxim, Beal, and Petzl)

JK- · · SLC · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 58
Kent Richards wrote: In my experience, water does just fine.
+1
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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