How To Wash And Clean A Climbing Rope


Your climbing rope is one of the most essential pieces of gear at the crag. Taking good care of it will ensure that it withstands all your wild escapades and lives longer.

A clean and well-maintained rope will also make better climbing knots, thread through your belay device and other gear more smoothly, and ultimately keep you safe during your ascents and descents. 

Here, we share with you incredible insights on how to wash a climbing rope to keep it grime-free, prevent wear and tear, and ensure optimal functionality on your next excursion. 

When To Wash Your Climbing Rope?

Like it or not, your rope is going to pick up a good amount of dirt from the rocks, no matter how hard you try to keep it clean. That said, there are instances when cleaning your rope is going to be a great idea. For example, if:

  • The rope has collected something disgusting along the way like pine sap or poop.
  • You have been adventuring near the sea or ocean and you fear that your rope may have picked up some salt. Though salt doesn’t directly ruin nylon, salt present in a rope could proceed to other metallic equipment you use for climbing, like your carabiner, causing it to rust. 
  • An excess amount of dirt has worked into your rope’s fibers, which could weaken their integrity. 
  • Your hands or belay gloves turn black every time you handle the rope.

How To Care For Your Rope

Before we dive into how to clean a climbing rope, let’s learn a thing or two on how to care for it. 

For starters, you should always examine your rope carefully before you stash it into your climbing backpack.  Check for soft spots and abrasions by simply running your hands along the length of the rope. 

Pay attention to any oddities you encounter along the way. A bit of dirt from your previous climbs is acceptable, but any excessively fuzzy or rough spot, flat spots, cuts, and nicks should be a call for concern. Also, any presence of spongy or soft spots could be a sign of a shot core. 

If you are doubting your rope’s integrity, don’t take it to the crag. Consider ditching it for a new one. 

How To Wash A Climbing Rope

Different experts have different opinions on how to wash a climbing rope. Some argue that it should only be done by hand while others vouch for machine washing. But it all boils down to how dirty your rope is and your preference. If you haven’t washed your rope for some time, then the good old-fashioned way wins, but if you just want to get the dust off of it, you can get it into a machine. 

How To Hand Wash A Climbing Rope

You will need:

  • Warm water
  • A bathtub
  • Mild detergent or rope-specific cleaner

How To

  1. Fill the bathtub with warm water (enough to cover the rope).
  2. Add your detergent or cleaner. Experts recommend washing a climbing rope with water only, but if the rope has excess dirt, throwing in a small amount of mild detergent is acceptable. If you are using a rope-specific cleaner, make sure to check the label to know how much you should use. 
  3. Stroke your rope clean. Grab one tip of the rope and start to flake it. Rub each area along the length of the rope clean. If you had not inspected the rope for the damage earlier, this could be a great time to do it. 
  4. Once you have made it to the other tip of the rope, drain the water and fill the bathtub again with clean water. Swish the rope around to rinse it.  Repeat until you have clean water in the tub. 
  5. Take your rope outside where you can hang it neatly to dry (preferably away from direct sunlight). Be certain it is 100% dry before putting it away. 

How To Machine Wash A Climbing Rope

Caution: DO NOT just throw a tangled, dirty rope anyhow in a washing machine and set it on the highest cycle expecting the rope to come out looking brand new. This will be the quickest way to say goodbye to your rope and your machine. 

Here is how to wash a climbing rope the right way in a washing machine:

  1. Turn on the washing machine and let it run empty to get rid of any residue from old soap.
  2. Daisy chain the rope so it doesn’t tangle inside the machine. If you don’t know how to make a daisy chain, you may put your rope in a mesh bag instead.
  3. Put the rope carefully inside the washing machine and turn the machine on. Use a gentle cycle with mild detergent and cold water. 
  4. Hang the rope or lay it outside to dry in indirect sunlight.



Q: Can You Wash A Rope?


Yes, you can wash a rope, and there are two ways to do it. You can either wash it by hand or put it in a washing machine. Cleaning by hand is more recommended because not only does it allow you to stroke and rub every area of the rope but also gives you a chance to inspect the rope for damage. 

Q: Should You Wash Climbing Rope?


Yes, you should wash a climbing rope. It helps get rid of excess dirt, giving your rope a fresher, cleaner look. Washing your rope also prevents unnecessary wear and tear, keeping you safe when you climb. It is also one of the best ways to increase its lifespan.  

Q: How Do I Clean My Arborist Rope?


To clean your arborist rope, fill a tub with warm water, add mild detergent, soak your rope, and stroke it clean. Then rinse until water runs clean. You can also machine wash the rope by daisy chaining it and setting it up in a gentle cycle of mild soap and cold water. In both instances, you should put the rope in indirect sunlight to dry. 

Q: How Do You Maintain A Climbing Rope?


To maintain a climbing rope, you should wash it regularly to remove dust from the sheath. You should also make sure the rope is completely dry before storage. Other things you can do to care for your rope include, avoiding stepping on the rope, keeping the rope away from sharp cliff edges, and storing the rope in a rope bag. 

Q: How Long Does A Climbing Rope Last?


The nylon (polyamide) fibers from which climbing ropes are made break down slowly by slowly over time, hence most manufacturers recommend retiring a climbing rope after 10 years, regardless of whether the rope has been used or not. Ropes that are used frequently (weekly) will require replacement after 1 year or sooner while those that are rarely used (1 or 2 times a year) can last up to 7 years.

Q: How Strong Is A Climbing Rope?


A climbing rope that complies with the UIAA fall rating standards is safe and strong enough for climbing. According to UIAA fall rating, twin ropes must weather a minimum of twelve UIAA falls while half and single ropes must weather a minimum of five UIAA falls. The higher the fall rating, the stronger the rope and the longer it is likely to last. 

Q: Can Climbing Rope Get Wet?


Yes, a climbing rope can get wet, but only if it is not dry-treated. The purpose of dry treatment is to prevent the nylon fibers used on your rope from absorbing water. But with intentional exposure to water, enough wear and age, even a dry-treated rope will get wet.

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There you have it! A free guide on how to clean a climbing rope. Taking proper care of your rope ensures safe adventures and a longer life span for your rope. To further increase the integrity of your rope, inspect it regularly for damage. You can do this before or during a rope hand washing session.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!