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Washing climbing gear

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Washing climbing gear

Postby Mark Straub » Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:12 am

I left my backpack to sit for 5 days, with sweaty gloves in there, and now it STINKS. That includes my harness and all the webbing, prusiks, PA, etc. on it. How can I wash my backpack, slings, and harness safely without reducing its strength?

Thanks,
Mark
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Postby Day Hiker » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:21 am

Mark Straub wrote:I left my backpack to sit for 5 days, with sweaty gloves in there, and now it STINKS. That includes my harness and all the webbing, prusiks, PA, etc. on it. How can I wash my backpack, slings, and harness safely without reducing its strength?


If a person limits his hiking to high elevation, where it is below 50 or 60F all the time, this may not be an issue, but anyone who hikes in a warm climate will need to occasionally (or often) wash a backpack to remove all the dehydrated sweat, so it doesn't stink. This is regardless of whether or not sweaty gloves were left inside.

Water and mild soap will not at all hurt your backpack, harness, webbing, prusiks, PA, ropes, etcetera.

I usually just wash mine in a half-full bathtub, often at the same time I am taking a shower. The backpack will fit in the tub really nice. Its foam pads will make it float, so flip it over and let both sides soak. I would never use a machine for any of that stuff, especially a rope.

When canyoneering, I have gone swimming in muck water many many times with my backpack, harness, webbing, rope, and everything. If the strength of that gear were jeopardized by water, that would be a pretty bad deal, wouldn't it? So don't worry; water won't hurt it a bit, and neither will mild soap.
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Postby Mark Straub » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:44 am

Day Hiker wrote:
Mark Straub wrote:I left my backpack to sit for 5 days, with sweaty gloves in there, and now it STINKS. That includes my harness and all the webbing, prusiks, PA, etc. on it. How can I wash my backpack, slings, and harness safely without reducing its strength?


If a person limits his hiking to high elevation, where it is below 50 or 60F all the time, this may not be an issue, but anyone who hikes in a warm climate will need to occasionally (or often) wash a backpack to remove all the dehydrated sweat, so it doesn't stink. This is regardless of whether or not sweaty gloves were left inside.

Water and mild soap will not at all hurt your backpack, harness, webbing, prusiks, PA, ropes, etcetera.

I usually just wash mine in a half-full bathtub, often at the same time I am taking a shower. The backpack will fit in the tub really nice. Its foam pads will make it float, so flip it over and let both sides soak. I would never use a machine for any of that stuff, especially a rope.

When canyoneering, I have gone swimming in muck water many many times with my backpack, harness, webbing, rope, and everything. If the strength of that gear were jeopardized by water, that would be a pretty bad deal, wouldn't it? So don't worry; water won't hurt it a bit, and neither will mild soap.


Thank you very much. That is what I will do. What characterizes "mild soap"? Body soap, hand soap, dishwashing detergent?

-Mark
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Postby Tom Fralich » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:05 am

Who cares if it stinks? Pretty much everything I own smells like my climbing shoes.
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Postby Day Hiker » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:23 am

Mark Straub wrote:What characterizes "mild soap"? Body soap, hand soap, dishwashing detergent?


I typically use hand-dishwashing soap (not the machine stuff). I have even used shampoo. I think for the most part, if you can wash your hair or skin with it, it will be mild enough to not hurt nylon (etc.) gear. I would stay away from anything that leaves a residue, though.

For my backpack, shampoo is actually what I use most often. I always like my backpack smelling extra fresh and pretty, in case I encounter Tom Fralich on the trail. :D
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Postby Mark Straub » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:30 pm

Tom Fralich wrote:Who cares if it stinks? Pretty much everything I own smells like my climbing shoes.


I couldn't identify the stink as moldy food, animal pee, or other equally-vile smell. Dead animal even crossed my mind at one point. Nobody would climb with me!

-Mark
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MiraZyme

Postby Snowy » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:28 pm

I strongly suggest McNett MirZyme. It works like a charm for me.
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Postby liferequiresair » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:24 am

has anyone ever used one of those rope brushes. I've always wondered if they actually did anything.

http://www.moosejaw.com/moosejaw/shop/product_Beal-Rope-Brush_10020839_10208__-1_
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Postby OJ Loenneker » Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:06 pm

lopgok wrote:First, wash it with just water. It might not take away all of the stink, but it is free, and perfectly safe.


Water is not free. Where I live, they meter that stuff, and send me a bill for both the water, AND the sewage it creates. And to think, it rains all the time here, and I still have to pay for that stuff... :roll:
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Postby Ed F » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:22 pm

A great tip I heard a long time ago is to use a mesh bag for washing outdoor stuff. If you're using a top-loading washer like me, it prevents pack straps, etc. from getting caught in the parts of the machine. Works great for a rope, too.

I've found that water alone does a great job unless your gear is absolutely rank. I don't think using a mild detergent (especially an "organic" one without chemicals) would really do damage to a rope/gore-tex/etc., but if you're concerned, just try water by itself. I typically wash all of my ski touring stuff 8-10x per year, and I just throw it all in a mesh bag and wash with water, and then re-rinse it. Comes out nice and soft again and I don't notice any smell.
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