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Cleaning poison ivy sap off a rope


i shore · · London · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0
Francis QC wrote: Get rid of it! Even if you wash your rope, you can spread urushiol (the resin in poison ivy) to your equipment like your harness, slings, quickdraws etc... I walked in a field of poison ivy 2 years ago, had a severe rash on my right leg.....cleaned everything you can imagine I wore that day 3-4x times and I still got several episodes of mild rashes the following weeks on my hands, arms and legs. The resin can be active for over a year and is very resilient.

FYI: If I belayed someone with a rope that was in contact with poison ivy without telling me and I had rashes...I'd slap the owner of the rope in the face!!!

Surely if you wash your rope using detergent a couple of times and then leave it a year or so before reuse the risk must be minimal (you'd have to get another rope in the meantime but eventually you'd get a long life out of both ropes).  Throwing it away seems pretty wasteful.  The tree surgeon, who should know, says he's found just washing works. However you may be particularly sensitive to urushiol.  I'm replying with no personal experience of poison ivy (thankfully).

Andrew Blease · · Bartlett, NH · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 480

I just did a tree job where all my stuff was covered in poison ivy. I put all of the soft goods in a mesh bag, including the rope, and ran them through the wash with Tecnu. I washed all of the hard goods with Dawn dish soap. That's my usual method and it's been working pretty well. 

chris magness · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 600

You have an extreme example here: visible sap and oil?  Pressed into the rope?

I can't see how you'll ever clean it effectively.  Some people are very sensitive to PI- it's time for a new rope, not that I wouldn't want to climb on your cord from a safety perspective, I just wouldn't want to touch it.  I mean, I don't.  And if I were your partner, I wouldn't.  Even if you cleaned it.  

In short, respect your partners and buy a new rope.

Jared Chrysostom · · Charleston, SC · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 5

Burn it

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0
Francis QC wrote: I'd slap the owner of the rope in the face!!!

Just be sure to wash your hands first. 2 wrongs don't make a right but then again u might get a good laugh

Francis QC · · Montreal · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 160
i shore wrote:

Surely if you wash your rope using detergent a couple of times and then leave it a year or so before reuse the risk must be minimal (you'd have to get another rope in the meantime but eventually you'd get a long life out of both ropes).  Throwing it away seems pretty wasteful.  The tree surgeon, who should know, says he's found just washing works. However you may be particularly sensitive to urushiol.  I'm replying with no personal experience of poison ivy (thankfully).

Good idea to retire a rope for a year! 

Brandon Fields · · Boulder · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 445

Great excuse to buy a new rope! Seriously though, I react so badly to poison ivy that I would probably give it away to someone who wants to try and clean it and buy a new one.

JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 1,028

Honestly, I'd retire it.  I'm very allergic, and one of my worst experiences was PI sap that I didn't realize was PI sap.  I used a scrubbie in the shower, and it took a lot of scrubbing where the sap was, then (again -- did not know yet!) used that scrubbie all over the rest of me.  Three days later my entire arm was doubled in size, and the patches all over, well, use your imagination. Or not.

Tecnu is in my shower, but I would not use it on a rope. Its MSDS lists it as having a pH of 4.8.  That's quite acidic.  

I'm with Chris -- I don't see how you can clean this effectively.

There are people who are not sensitive (my husband for example, who gets to weed the things I point at, I'm very good at IDing it now), and who may be willing to buy it.  

Blakevan · · Dallas, TX · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 55

This guy does a pretty good job of explaining why it's hard to get off skin etc.


Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 1,040

Update, in case anyone is interested:

I decided to wash the rope (while using another rope in the meantime).

My arborist friend told me not to be silly, poison ivy washes off just fine, and he would be out of business if he had to throw away clothes and ropes every time he wrapped the rope around a tree trunk and it crushed some poison ivy leaves. 
He also loaned me a PMI rope washerIt attaches to the garden hose. I did the first wash outside, using garden gloves. 
Then I doubled up and daisy-chained the rope, and threw it in the front loader washer with Sterling rope wash, according to Sterling instructions (delicate wash cycle with warm water, and I threw in two extra rinses on top of the wash cycle. (I Decided not to use Technu, because I wasn’t sure whether the pH was too low). The gardening gloves and rope tarp got washed in the same wash. 
After this round it machine washing, I felt comfortable handling the rope without gloves, though I scrubbed my hands immediately afterwards, as a precaution, in case the rope wasn’t fully cleaned yet. 

I undid the daisy chain, staggered the rope ends by couple feet, and re-daisied the rope, before throwing it in the washer for another round of washing with a new packet of Sterling rope wash, and extra rinses, feeling rather silly at this point.

After this, the rope daisy was draped over a rack, and left to dry overnight. I ran the washing machine through a cleaning cycle, out of abundance of paranoia. 

Yesterday I took the mostly-dry-but-still-damp rope, flaked it, and ran the entire length of doubled-over rope across my forearm. I didn’t wash the skin area until the next day. I had no reaction. :) 


In case anyone missed it, I am very allergic to poison ivy, so no reaction from me = good thing. 
All my partners have been made aware of the poison ivy incident, and not a single one of them told me that they would refuse to belay me with this rope. 
Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,477

Nice to hear it all worked out.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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