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Cleaning Climbing Ropes | How to Guide

By Jonathan Doyle

Your climbing rope is your lifeline up on the rock, so it’s paramount you keep it clean. Dirt in your rope reduces its performance and often decreases its handling characteristics, often leaving it stiffer and less flexible. A proper maintenance regime will allow you to maintain your rope’s structural integrity as well as its lifespan, so not only will keeping it clean potentially save your life, but also your wallet.

Hand Washing

Here is a quick overview of how to easily hand-wash your climbing rope.

  1. Fill a bath or large bucket with enough water to cover your entire rope and mix in your rope wash. I used Nikwax Tech Wash (as it comes in a sachet) for this article, although many manufacturers make specific rope wash. In addition, soap flakes can also be used.
  2. Submerge your rope in the soapy water and soak it for at least half an hour, however the longer you soak it, the better as it allows the water to properly penetrate it.
  3. Spend at least 5 minutes agitating the rope, moving it around within the water to loosen the dirt within it. You can also use a rope brush to really get in there and remove the more stubborn grime. I used the Beal Rope Brush for this and I have to say I was impressed; even after 4 passes with it, I was still removing a good deal of dirt.
  4. Drain the dirty water and rinse the rope with warm, clean water.
  5. Repeat the process until the resultant water is clean and no more dirt is being removed.
  6. Daisy-chain your rope and leave it to dry at around room temperature and not in direct sunlight. If you’re not sure how to daisy-chain your rope, check out the handy little video below.

How To Daisy Chain Your Rope

Machine Washing

It is also possible to wash your rope in the washing machine and should be done as follows:

  1. Clean your washing machine’s detergent tray, removing all remnants of old washing powder.
  2. Wash your rope on a cool delicates cycle (around 30°C).
  3. Rinse you rope on a cold cycle with no rope wash.
  4. Use a short spin cycle to remove excess water from the core.
  5. Daisy-chain your rope and leave it to dry at around room temperature and not in direct sunlight.

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