Can Climbing Ropes be Washed?

old dirty battered sea rope

Climbing ropes and other outdoor tools can get dirty extremely fast. But, it is hard to know what is right and wrong with cleaning those products. Do you have to use special products, and do these tools have to be washed by hand?

Climbing ropes can be washed, and there are recommended ways to wash them properly. These ropes can be washed by hand in a bucket, sink, or bathtub, or they can be washed in the washing machine. Read the rope manufacturer’s recommendations, as not all ropes can be washed in a washing machine.

Ropes for climbing are important to keep clean and in good condition. Your safety is important, so read below to learn about ways to wash your climbing rope to help ensure your climbing products are clean and will keep you safe while climbing.

Hand Washing Method

To clean your climbing ropes, one method is to wash them by hand. To do this, you will need rope soap. Do not use dish soap or laundry detergent on your rope. Instead, use the recommended soap. Likely your rope manufacturer will have a soap for you to purchase that is made for your climbing rope.

Another thing you will need is a place to wash your rope. You can use a bucket, a bathtub, or a sink. Then, all that’s left is water. You can put a storage container or large bucket in your bathtub and wash the rope there. That way, you have water easily accessible for washing the rope.

After you have your supplies, you will want to fill up your bucket, sink, or bathtub with warm water. Then, make sure your rope is detangled and put it in the bucket. You can let it sit in the water for about 10 minutes, during that time you can gently stir the rope in the water to loosen up the dirt on the rope. After the time is up, you can rinse the water out and re-fill the bucket. (Source)

Fill up the bucket with warm water and make sure that you have rinsed all of the dirt out of the bucket before filling it back up with clean water. As you fill it up, you can put the rope soap in the water stream to get it mixed into the water. Then, place the rope back in the bucket and let it sit for a few minutes. After that is done, you can pick up one end of the rope and start to gently scrub to get all of the dirt and grime out of your climbing rope.

Your rope soap may have directions for how to use it, so follow that first. If not, then use this method. There will be some spots you will need to scrub at more so you can be less gentle in those places. Scrub hard enough to clean it, but gentle enough to not damage it or cause it to fray.

You can then rinse out the bucket again and rinse your rope under warm water. If the rope keeps making the water turn brown, then repeat the process. Continue scrubbing, rinsing, and soaking the rope until clean.

Washing Machine Method

To machine wash a climbing rope, verify that your rope can be used in your washing machine. Follow the instructions about what setting the washing machine should be on, and double-check that you are doing it right. The washing machine can ruin your rope is washed carelessly, so mindfully change the settings to properly wash the rope.

If you don’t know what setting to put the washing machine at, then make sure you use the warm/cool range of temperature, not hot. Be sure to put the wash on a gentle cycle, and put any other settings to the more gentle option. Have your handy rope soap ready and use that in the washing machine.

Do not put your rope in the washing machine as-is. You do not want the rope to get super knotted and tangled from the washing machine, so unravel your rope and tie it in a daisy chain. This will keep the rope from getting tangled and it can make the rope fit better in the washing machine.

Then, simply put your rope in and let the washing machine run its cycle to clean it. Let the machine go until the end of the cycle, try to not open it while it is washing the rope. Allow the water to fully drain when it is done and then you can pull it out to dry. Do not use the dryer to dry your rope, ready below for the steps you can take for drying your rope.

How to Dry

climbing rope isolated on a white background

To dry your rope from one of these two washing methods, you will want to air dry it. Pull your rope out of the bucket or washing machine and put it on a towel. Then, you can go find a location where you lay out your rope.

For drying your rope indoors, lay out towels and find an area that can accommodate a large rope being laid out. You can have your ceiling fan on or turn on a fan in the room if you want the rope to dry faster. Point the fan at the rope and let it dry overnight or until completely dry.

To dry your rope outside put it in a shady spot where the rope won’t get wet or dirty. Letting your climbing rope dry in the sun will damage or ruin the core of the rope, and that can be dangerous for you to use, so avoid putting your climbing rope in direct sunlight. You might have a large tree that provides lots of shade, maybe you have a porch, patio, or a side of your house that is shady. Lay out some towels in the area you choose and put your rope there.

Allow your rope to dry, and adjust it every so often so that the underside gets dried as well. Your rope will need 24-48 hours to fully dry, and after that time is up, you can repack your climbing rope in your outdoor bag and have it ready for your next adventure.

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