All climbing gear should be inspected, cleaned, and properly stored for your safety and for the best climbing experiences. Carabiners are very important to climbing, but what should you do specifically to take care of them?
Climbing carabiners should be cleaned whenever dirty, grimy, sticky, or after every 1-3 uses. The more often it is cleaned, the better to ensure the equipment is working properly and keeping the climber safe. To clean, wash with warm soapy water, then lubricate the hinges with a wax-based lubricant.
Cleaning your climbing gear is important for your safety, so make sure to schedule the time to get that done. That way, you can have the time to clean your gear and not wait until you use the gear again and realize it’s all dirty.
Products to Use
You can use dish soap to wash your carabiners. Make sure it is gentle but works well to clean the dirt out of the hinges. You can also make sure you have a can of air, like the ones you can buy for your keyboard. This is good to use before washing the product. It helps get the dry dirt and dust off of it before you have to wash it with water.
You also need a lubricant for your carabiner before you wash it to prepare to put the lubricant on it when it is cleaned. The lubricant should be wax-based and it will ensure that the moving mechanisms like the hinges and the spring stay working smoothly and they don’t get too dry and end up breaking.
For the lubricant, make sure you clean the product (look at the steps below) and have it dry before adding lubricant. Then, follow the specified directions for the lubricant and apply it. After doing so, you will use a cloth and wipe away the remaining lubricant so that the whole carabiner is not lubricated.
How to Clean Climbing Carabiners
To clean your carabiner(s), make sure you gather all the ones you have. Then, go to a sink in your home (your kitchen sink will work perfectly) and bring the products you will need. Once you have items like your carabiners, towel(s), large bowl, soap, and a small cleaning tool (something small like a toothbrush to get in the hinges) then you are ready to get going.
Above I mentioned canned air, you can take that and go outside or aim it in your sink to contain the mess, and blow the air in the hinges. The tiny crevices can have dirt, dust, and grime built up, and blowing out that before washing it is helpful. That way, the dry dirt does not get wet and then becomes stubborn and stays in the hard-to-reach spots. Do this with each carabiner, and then they are prepared for a good wash.
To wash your carabiners, make sure you fill up your sink or a separate bowl with warm soapy water. Then, set your carabiners in the soapy water to soak for a few minutes. This allows the soapy water to reach all the hard-to-reach places and draw out the dirt.
Then, you can go in with a little scrubber like a toothbrush and scrub the carabiners one at a time making sure to scrub the moving parts and any places that have visible dirt or sticky parts on them. A degreaser, like dish soap, will work well, and a little goes a long way. If the grime and dirt are too stubborn, then make sure your bowl of soapy water is warm to hot temperature, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Carabiners are metal so hot water won’t ruin them, it will just make the stubborn dirt easier to remove.
After scrubbing, you can go through the steps of drying the carabiners, applying lubricant, and wiping away the excess lubricant to get your carabiners ready for your next use. If you find that the wax-based lubricant (or other lubricant designed for carabiners) does not fix your carabiner, then it is probably broken. With the lubricant, you won’t have any harsh resistance, squeaking, or other problems with how your carabiner works. If you find some that are broken, get rid of them. Carabiners are not expensive to replace and they will make you much safer compared to using a broken carabiner.
How to Inspect and Store Carabiners
Before you go on your hiking and climbing adventures, always inspect your gear. A quick check can save your life, or prevent an injury. So, as you check your rope, bags, poles, and other gear, make sure you check your carabiners. (Source)
Whenever you buy gear like carabiners, make a list of how many you have. That way, you can know how many you need to look for when you are going out. You can also bring a couple of extra in case you find one while you are out that is broken, and you can replace it with a new one right there.
If you have a list of how many carabiners you have, then you can search your bags and ropes for each one and check on it. You can do a visual inspection to make sure everything looks right and you can do a physical inspection to make sure everything is working right.
To store your carabiners, you will want to make sure you keep them in a dry place. You can keep them in a bag altogether so that you don’t lose them, and you can make sure that they are with the rest of your climbing gear. Often times people have them in the same large bag as their rope, but the carabiners are in a sub-section or separate smaller bag within the rope bag.
Humid air, salty air, or storing your carabiners next to wet rope or clothes is not good. If items like these are next to each other for a car ride that is okay, but you would need to be proactive and clean them when you get home. That way, you can prevent rust and make sure your carabiners work well for years to come.