Washing A Climbing Rope

It was a beautiful new rope. 9.8mm, 70 meters long, and day glow yellow. It had been made only the week before, and we were now the proud owners. We knew the color would pick up dirt quickly, but we never could have guessed that our beacon of light would fade so quickly. Our last cord was a darker color, so even though it turned super filthy, we never bothered to wash it. This was just out of hand though, so I started researching the best way to wash a rope.

I found a couple of accepted methods, this is how we did it:

Using a standard washing machine, run the machine one cycle on empty to flush out any chemical residue that might be in there. If you use hippie green washing detergent, you probably have nothing to worry about, but better safe than sorry.

Next up, daisy chain your rope. This keeps it from becoming a tangled mess in the machine. Some folks will also put it in a mesh bag, but you can skip that step if you like.

Lastly, run the machine on a gentle cycle with cold water. You can use a mild, non-detergent soap, or pick up some of Sterling’s Rope Wash.

Hang dry the rope in a cool, dry place for at least a night, maybe more if you live in a wet climate.

You can also use a bathtub, more info on that method here.

A quick side note, there’s a couple things you can do to help keep your rope as clean as possible, aside from a rope bag. One, don’t use worn quickdraws. Once you wear through the anodizing, it leaves a lot more aluminum on the rope than newer ‘biners. And two, wash your belay gloves before handling that new cord. Your gloves are probably a mess of aluminum oxide, and only one or two lowers will coat the outside of your new line with all that muck. Those two steps alone will help preserve that new rope feel that just makes us all tingly inside.

3 Responses to Washing A Climbing Rope

  1. Anybody have experience with the effects on dry treatments?

    coop August 20, 2010 at 5:35 pm
    • Good question. We generally don’t use dry ropes, so I have no idea.

      BJ Sbarra August 20, 2010 at 5:42 pm
  2. Washing the rope will remove, or mostly remove, whatever dry treatment was left on the rope. I thought someone sells, or used to sell, a product to add dry treatment to a rope.

    Mike August 29, 2010 at 4:42 pm
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