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Washing Guide For Climbing Gear

October 8, 2020

Rock climbing has become more and more popular over the past few years. A physically demanding sport, it involves climbing up and down artificial rock walls or natural rock formations. Not only does it test your strength, but it also demands endurance, balance, and agility. Ultimately, the goal is the reach the top of the route without falling.

Different types of climbing:

  • Free Climbing – A form of rock climbing where an individual doesn’t use any harnesses, ropes, or other equipment
  • Bouldering – A form of rock climbing where an individual climbs on short low routes; safety ropes are generally not used
  • Solo Climbing – A form of climbing in which an individual climbs alone without any assistance

Benefits of Rock Climbing

Like we said earlier, rock climbing is physically demanding. Given that, it’s not surprising to know that it provides a full-body workout. As far as health benefits go, it’ll help to improve your stamina, endurance, flexibility, and balance. Not only that, but it burns a considerable amount of calories as well. In other words, it can help you lose weight.

rock climbing

As with most sports, climbing also has mental health benefits. For one thing, it helps keep you focused. In doing so, you’re able to clear your mind of worries. Studies have also shown that it can help those with anxiety and depression.

What Kind of Gear Do You Need For Rock Climbing?

Rock climbing is one of those sports where you need to get a set of gear (unless you’re free climbing). If anything, your safety depends on it. Anyway, in terms of the actual equipment, you’ll need a proper pair of shoes, harness, rope, and chalk bag. A climbing pack will also come in handy.

In addition to all that, it’s a good idea to invest in a crash pad—that way, even if you fall, you won’t injure yourself. Basically, they’re big foam pads that you put on the ground to lessen the impact of a fall. Climbing tents are also a thing. Basically, they’re tents for people who plan on spending several days on a big climb.

How to Keep Your Climbing Gear Clean

Let’s face it—your climbing gear is going to get dirty. Take the rope and crash pad, for example, those things will be touching the ground. As for your harness, well, there’s a high chance that dirt and sweat will get on it while you’re climbing. Of course, the same thing goes for your clothes.

climbing gear

Considering all that, you really want to clean everything once you get home. The last thing that you want is to put all your gear away while they’re still dirty. Remember, dirt and sweat harbors odors. Not only that, but they can actually compromise your equipment over time. Given how expensive they can be, you wouldn’t want that to happen, right?

Not sure what the proper procedures are for washing climbing gear? Well then, you’re in luck because that’s what we’ll be focusing on in this post!

How to Wash Rock Climbing Harnesses

Make a habit of inspecting your harness regularly. For example, it may be time to retire it if there’s noticeable discoloration or fraying. After all, its structural materials will degrade over time—and your safety is definitely not something that you want to compromise on.

Assuming that everything is fine, you can proceed to wash it. The odd shape of the equipment might lead you to believe that they’re tricky to clean but that’s not the case at all.

Washing Your Climbing Harness By Hand

Generally speaking, it’s best to wash your harness by hand. As with regular clothing, you want to start by filling a tub or sink with lukewarm water. Add in half a scoop of ACTIVE detergent and wait for it to fully dissolve (you can speed things up by swishing the water with your hands).

Active TM front

Place your climbing harness in the sink so that it’s fully submerged. Let it soak in the water for at least 15-20 minutes. From there, use a soft-bristled brush to lightly scrub off any dirt that’s on the surface. Continue until the debris is gone.

Proceed to rinse the detergent away with clean water. Avoid using hot water as that can compromise the nylon fibers. Once you’re confident that the harness is free of soap, let it air dry indoors, away from the sun. It’s super important that you do not run it through the dryer as the heat will destroy the materials. Ultimately, this can compromise your safety when you’re climbing.

Are Climbing Harnesses Machine Washable?

Most climbing harnesses are machine washable. To be on the safe side, though, always check the label first. Assuming that yours can be put in the washer, follow the instructions below:

Place your harness in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase (if you don’t have the former). This will prevent it from getting caught on other items; it’ll also reduce the chance that the metal buckles will be damaged during the cycle.

Note: It’s not recommended that you wash your climbing gear together with your clothes. Separate loads are best.

Add in one scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Do not use bleach as it can harm the materials, which can compromise the integrity of the harness. Set the washing machine to a delicate cycle (without spin, if possible). Cold or lukewarm water is best as you don’t want to expose the item to heat.

Remove the harness from the washing machine afterward and let it air dry away from sunlight. Never should you run it through the dryer.

Best Ways to Wash Climbing Rope

Despite your best efforts, your climbing rope will get dirty. Here are a couple of ways that you can keep it clean so that it’ll last longer.

Washing Your Climbing Rope In a Tub

Fill a tub with warm water and a half scoop of ACTIVE detergent. You can always just use water but using a cleaner will be more effective if your rope is excessively dirty. Place the item in the tub and swish it around gently. From there, pull the entire length of the rope through your hands—you can also take this opportunity to inspect it for damage.

washing your climbing rope

Pro-tip: Consider placing the rope in a mesh laundry bag when you’re washing it—it’ll help to prevent kinks.

Once all that is done, you want to rinse it thoroughly. To do this, drain the water and refill it with clean water. Swish the rope with your hand until the water runs clear. As far as drying goes, you can flake it over a shower curtain rod. As with the harness, you do not want to place it in direct sunlight.

Make sure that the rope is completely dry before storing it away or using it again.

Can You Put Your Climbing Rope in a Washing Machine?

While it’s not recommended that you machine wash your rope each time, you can do it once in a while. Start by daisy chasing your rope loosely—it’ll prevent it from getting tangled during the cycle.

The next step is to put the rope into the machine. The key is to spread it evenly so that the weight is properly distributed. Add one scoop of ACTIVE detergent and wash on a gentle cycle (without spin). Cold water is a must as you don’t want to damage the fibers with heat.

Remove the rope from the machine after the wash cycle and lay it flat to dry. Alternatively, you can hang it up on a drying rack. Make sure not to expose the rope to UV rays as they’ll damage the rope.

Washing Your Climbing Tent

More likely than not, your tent will get gritty after a while. The good news is that pretty straight forward to wash!

Washing Your Climbing Tent by Hand

Generally speaking, it’s not recommended that you throw your climbing tent into the washing machine. The agitator can easily tear or stretch the fabric and seams. The same thing goes for dryers—you want to avoid them at all costs.

Instead, wash it by hand with a sponge, detergent, and some cold water. More specifically, you want to saturate the sponge and use it to gently scrub the soiled areas. Be extra careful when you’re scrubbing the areas of the fly and floor. Do not use bleach or other harsh chemicals. When you’re done scrubbing, rinse the soap with the water and let the tent air dry.

Washing Instructions for Climbing Shoes

washing climbing shoes

You don’t have to wash your climbing shoes all the time but it’s a good idea to do so every now and then. After all, you don’t want to let dirt and mud build up!

The first step is to fill a large bucket or tub with clean water (lukewarm is best). Do not use hot water—the heat can soften the sole material. Once you’ve done that, add a small amount of ACTIVE detergent. Be careful not to use too much.

Use a small brush to brush away dust and dirt from the surface. You can remove any trapped debris by turning the shoes upside down and tapping gently. From there, proceed to scrub the outside of the shoes with your brush—make sure to get the tongue, sole, and upper. Try not to brush too hard or you can damage the materials.

Once all is done, drain the tub of the dirty water and rise the shoes out. Continue until the water is clear. Finally, let them air dry out of direct sunlight. You can use a clean towel to absorb some of the excess water.

Note: You can also run your shoes through the washing machine if they’re made of synthetic materials

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Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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