Complete Care Guide: How to Clean & Wash Climbing Rope

How to Clean Climbing RopeYour climbing rope is made to keep you safe and help you climb up rugged terrain and to repel down cliffs and craggy peaks. There is no way to prevent your rope from getting dirty. It is stretched tightly over dust covered ground and the pressure from the tension drives dirt, grime and debris into the fibers. Hidden grime can wear away at the integrity and strength of the rope. This is why it’s so important to properly clean your rope to keep it in excellent condition.

You should never wash a climbing rope in the washing machine because it can cause damage. Always hand was your ropes.

Here are the complete instructions and steps involved for hand washing a climbing rope.

Items you’ll need:

  • A deep bucket or tub
  • Rope cleaner or mild detergent
  • Warm water

Steps to Clean & Wash Climbing Rope

Step 1: Fill the bucket or tub with water

The first step is to fill the container you’ll use with warm water. It’s important that the temperature of the water is warm because this will help to loosen grime and dirt. Hot water could cause damage, so don’t make it too warm.

Step 2: Add the detergent

You can purchase commercial cleaner that is made specifically for cleaning ropes, but if you don’t have any of this on hand, you can use a mild soap. Avoid using harsh cleaners because they can cause the fibers of the rope to weaken. Make sure to read the instructions on the container and follow them. If you’re using a mild soap, such as Dawn dish soap.

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Step 3: The manual agitation step

Place the rope in the soapy water. Now swish it around with your hands. A gentle hand agitation in the tub will help in loosening the dirt and debris that has lodged in the rope material. A good cleaning method is to pull the entire length through your hands to help remove the dirt and grime that has been loosened. While you’re doing this step, inspect your rope for any signs of fraying, wear or damage.

Step 4: Drain the wash water

Drain all of the soapy water from the tub, then refill it with clean water. This is necessary to rinse the soap and remaining dirt and grime out of the rope. Rinse the rope thoroughly. Drain the rinse water and repeat the rinsing process again. Do this until the rinse water runs clear.

Step 5: Dry the rope completely

The best way to get the newly washed and rinsed rope completely dry is to lay it out onto a towel. Make sure that it is not exposed to direct sunlight because the UV rays can weaken and damage the rope. You can place it in the shade to dry or indoors.

Another way to dry a climbing rope is to hang it over a tree branch in the shade outdoors. A warm breeze will help it to dry naturally and much quicker. You can also hang it indoors in a shop or over a shower curtain rod. The rope will dry faster and more evenly if you loop it over something or lay it out so the rope is not coiled or bunched up. The more natural airflow the better.

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Step 6: Storage

The task of washing your climbing rope is not complete until you give it a final inspection. It only takes a few moments to inspect the rope and pull the entire length through clean hands to feel for moisture. It’s important to fully dry the rope because moisture can cause mold and mildew to form and this can ruin your climbing rope. If it’s still damp in a few places, let it air out until all damp spots are dry.

When you’re satisfied that the rope is dry, coil it up neatly so it will be ready to use the next time you’re going climbing. Store in a dry place that is out of direct sunlight.

A Few Tips:

  • You can place the rope in a mesh bag before washing it to help you avoid kinks.
  • Dawn dish soap is a popular choice for washing climbing ropes because it is mild and it contains a de-greaser. This helps to loosen grime that has greasy or oily properties so your rope comes cleaner than it would with soaps that do not have a de-greasing agent.
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