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Pete’s Notes On Rope Cleaning

PHOTO_20150716_142010As a general rule, I keep my jute rope pretty clean. Because I really like my rope; I put a lot of time into purchasing it, cutting it to the sizes I like, and treating it so that it becomes a joy to tie with as soon as possible.

So as you can imagine, I go to a lot of effort to take care of it.
I store it in bags, put it on high up shelves away from the floor, NEVER EVER TIE IN THE MUD, that sort of thing.
However, inevitably, it does become less than pristine. With the play I do, it’s bound to get sexual fluids and other stuff on it at some point. It’s going to need cleaning.

Below are my notes on doing that, based on research through my favorite rope forums and books.


Situations Where Rope Is Most Likely To Require Cleaning:

a) If you’ve been tying in dirty environments (outside, muddy places, oily places, dusty attics, etc).

b)If you’ve been doing bondage play that then involves hot wax.

c) Different authors differ on this, but if you’ve been tying with rope for a long time, apparently some think it’s a good idea to give it a wash because of all the human organic material that ended up in it.

d) If there’s been a situation where someone’s sexual fluids or blood have ended up on it.

First Important Note:

Cleaning Rope Can Damage It
Synthetic rope takes far less damage from cleaning that natural fibre rope does. This is something that is quite important, and quite agreed upon by all. Nylon, polypropylene, all that stuff, is probably best to use when you’re going to do something that absolutely necessitates cleaning (except hot wax, because you might actually melt spots of the rope).

Machine washes are apparently the most likely to have a degrading effect on rope, especially on natural fibre. The more frequently you do it, the more damage accumulates, fraying the rope (this is particularly important if you do suspension, because of all the risk involved, but is also relevant to those who do primarily bed or floor play). Apparently it takes quite a few washes before that happens, but it makes sense to use the least damaging method possible to suit your end goal.

Also, the lay of the rope will affect the longevity of the rope through machine washes. Really tightly laid natural fibre rope like Tossa jute will stand up much better to rough machine washes better than will Asunawa jute.

Second Important Note:

Cleaning Is Not The Same As Sanitizing
Cleaning the mud or wax off a rope requires different considerations than cleaning blood or body fluid off. The reason for this is that blood and body fluids create a bio hazard; they can transmit diseases. It’s contaminated rope. So you need to treat it differently.


Situation A:
Problem: You’ve got dirt or dust on your rope.

Fix 1. (least damaging) Get a damp rag, hold it in your hand, and run your rope through it. Some people use wet wipes. This will often get the job done.

Fix 2. Immerse it in a bucket of water and handwash it, agitating it in your hands and generally trying to squeeze the contaminants out of it. This is for slightly more soaked in stuff.

Fix 3. Put your rope in the dishwasher! The machine doesn’t agitate your rope, but it does clean the fuck out of it. Less damaging than the washing machine for this reason ( I didn’t think of this initially, because I don’t have a dishwasher; a helpful reader put me onto this one).

Fix 4. (most damaging) give it a quick spin through the washing machine, hang it up to dry. If it’s natural fibre, hang it under tension (Note: many authors who have commented on this dislike using detergents etc on the rope; they’ll do a simple water wash. (Unsure why; maybe they don’t like the change in smell?)

Situation B:
Problem: You’ve had a hot wax scene, and your rope is now covered in droplets of hard, dry wax.

This is an interesting one. There are a lot of different responses to this.

Fix 1. I have a simple solution; I finish my rope with oil and beeswax, so it contains wax already. So my solution is simply to bake the rope and let the wax seep into the fibres, which many argue strengthen and waterproof the fibres anyway, creating a stronger core to the rope.

Fix 2. Freeze or chill the rope; apparently this makes the wax easier to pick off.

Fix 3: Other methods are variations of mine; using heat (boiling, hair dryer, flat iron over baking paper) to melt the wax and remove it.

Colored wax leaves marks sometimes; that’s going to be a thing. If I were using my red rope, I’d probably use red candles. Otherwise, if I was worried about stains, clear or white candles would be better. Some think having stains adds character to your rope; others say just have a different set of rope for your wax play (I’m undecided).
Situation C:
Problem: Lots of human organic material in your rope (doesn’t really worry me, but some people get squicked at the thought).

Fix 1: Treat your rope with wax and oil to partially waterproof it. This should keep most of your human organic matter to the exterior of your rope, allowing you to use wet wipes etc to wipe it off every now and then in the last damaging method possible.

Fix 2: Washing machine! Again, probably don’t need detergent.

Situation D:
Problem: Your rope has gotten human blood, saliva, or sexual fluids on it. It is now a BIOHAZARD and requires SANITISING.

Fix 1: (least damaging) Isolate the particular piece of rope from others with a plastic bag or something. Get a large bucket of water, add a few drops of bleach. Mix, then run your rope through it. You may wish to let your rope soak for 30 minutes to an hour or so.
Hang up somewhere under tension to dry in full sunlight (UV has a good reputation for killing germs and viruses).
Make sure you don’t use that particular piece of rope for a few weeks: There are very few viruses or bio contaminants that survive for long outside the human body, even if they survived the bleach and UV.

Fix 2: PLAN AHEAD. Include some synthetic or cheap cotton rope in your rope bag that you don’t mind damaging. Use that rope in any biohazard places (mouth, crotch rope, blood play, etc).
Isolate from other rope, chuck it in the dishwasher or washing machine with detergent, hang it in the sun to dry, don’t use it for a few weeks, don’t use it for suspension. Don’t worry about tension if it’s synthetic.

BOOM, sorted.

That said, if anyone has any tricks or tips to add below, that would be awesome!

1 thought on “Pete’s Notes On Rope Cleaning

  1. Fantastic write up as always

    Detergent is avoided because it strips the rope of the oils and waxes gone through so much trouble to condition it with. The increased agitation of a washing machine coupled with the lack of lubricant degrades the rope much more aggressively. It also means you’ve got to retreat it, which is a pain in the ass.