Top Tips #17 Rope Cleaning

18th Mar 2015

The modern day rope lifelines we use for our vertical adventures are a work of technological genius.  Despite a hard life being dragged over sharp edges and lay in the dirt, they remain durable, high performing and offer great handling in extreme conditions.  We ask a lot and they deliver…..but some tender loving care along the way will definitely lengthen their lifespan and improve performance.  The topic of how best to wash these synthetic marvels comes up on courses with surprising frequency.  So much so that we thought a brief guide to rope care deserved to be our next Peak Mountaineering Top Tip. 
As in all things, simplicity in rope care is always best.  We wash a lot of ropes and we want to make the job as easy, and yet as effective, as possible.  The main weapon in our arsenal is Beal Rope Cleaner.  This is a brilliant product with 98% natural detergent content making it safe to use on ropes and harnesses.  Even better, it can be used for both machine and hand washing.
Which leads us smoothly on to the other tools we use.  As fans of an easy life we nearly always simply stick the dirty ropes in a lightweight and porous cotton bag, tie up the top and throw them in the washing machine with some of the rope cleaner added to the detergent tray.  Beal cleaner can be used in machines on a 30 degree setting with no spin and the ropes come out looking great.  
The alternative is a hand washing option and sometimes we choose this if we are only cleaning a short section or the rope is very heavily soiled.  For this we find a Beal Rope Cleaning Brush is perfect.  You can rig something up cheaper (we’ve seen homemade models using PVC pipe and astro turf) but this little device works a charm.  We fill a bucket with tepid water, add some rope cleaning fluid, drag the rope through the cleaner a number of times and rinse in fresh water.  It is really effective.
To dry the rope it is best to air dry on a washing line (whilst avoiding exposure to direct sunlight).  We have a small drying room for the times this isn’t possible but hanging over an interior door in a warm room works well too.  Love your rope and it will love you back…..which will feel pretty reassuring when you are strung out 5 metres above your last runner!
Details on Beal Rope Cleaning Fluid and the Rope Cleaning Brush can be found here.
Posted by Paul