cleaning of ropes

6:18 p.m. on February 22, 2004 (EST)

i started climbing when i first got to college, but am just now starting to invest in my own gear. i know that cleaning will help lengthen the life of my rope, but what is the best way to do that? between me and the guys i go with, the ropes could be anywhere from dusty (a dry day, climbing) to mud covered (wet, caving). i want something versatile that will clean a range of sizes and dirtinessess (not a word, ok...) well. currently we loop them in a chain and use a washing machine; however, this sometimes tangles the ropes, and also there is no way to know if they are really clean or just look clean. i have looked at CMI's little bitty cleaner, and Bokats larger one. what is the difference, or is there a better option out there?

any suggestions?

11:55 a.m. on February 23, 2004 (EST)
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Several of the rope manufacturers have cleaning instructions. They are all pretty much the same, and it sounds like what you are doing is what is recommended. I have done both the coil around the spindle and daisy chain methods with no problem with tangling. I have even done the fill the bathtub at the motel and slosh it around to get the worst of the gunk off method (motels to remain un-named for obvious reasons). I agree that you can't look inside the rope to see if it is perfectly clean, like new. But I do not think it matters much. In my experience, the rope gets retired when the sheath gets too worn or after too many lead falls (I don't fall, of course, but I know people who do ;) ). The other thing is ropes that do not get used very often - the manufacturers recommend no more than 4 years, even if stored in ideal conditions. I have talked to friends who guide and they pretty much do not bother with washing their ropes, just rinse off the worst mud and other dirt. The idea, they tell me, is to get the dirt off the sheath so it doesn't get a chance to work its way inside. Washing, even with the specialized rope washers, doesn't get grit out once it has worked its way through the mantle.

8:13 p.m. on February 23, 2004 (EST)
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98 forum posts

I'm a straight bathtub slosher, myself.

Rinse the tub to get rid of any bathroom product residue, toss in the rope, fill with cool water, slosh until water turns black, repeat until water remains reasonably clear after sloshing, dry piled loosely in a cool, dark, well ventilated place.

Of course, I don't cave or mountaineer, so my ropes probably don't get as filthy as other folks'. Also, a washing machine big enough to handle a rope is just a pipedream over here, so it's not like I have a lot of choice.

Gotta agree with Bill S, however, that once grit makes it through the mantle, I can't imagine any kind of washing system getting it all back out again.

10:13 p.m. on February 24, 2004 (EST)


Gotta agree with Bill S, however, that once grit makes it through the mantle, I can't imagine any kind of washing system getting it all back out again. :

i do understand this. guess the question then is (was) what's the best way to keep it from getting there. the washing machines in the dorm here cost 75 cents a load, so i was curious if there were other, cheaper methods. i'm not sure if there is a tub in the dorm here or not. guess i could check first floor (handicap room). thanks for your suggestions!

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