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Crag Hack: The Only Rope-Washing Method You’ll Ever Need

They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but I found this amazing rope-cleaning hack that gets rid of washing-machine rope tangles.

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After: Clean and/or cleaner.

Everything. I tried everything. We live near Rifle, a dust-bowl of a climbing area, and I wash this household’s grimy, gritty lead ropes at least once a season. While some people use dedicated products like Beal Rope Cleaner or Sterling Wicked Good Rope Wash (just do not use detergents, and NEVER USE BLEACH), I use only warm water in the washing machine, and it works fine. And if my rope is really dirty, I might wash it twice. Some people use the perfectly functional flake-in-the-bathtub, soak-and-stir method.

What I’ve NEVER found is a way to keep the rope from becoming a knotty mess in the washer. I’ve tried tying it with old-school coils, putting in a series of careful square notes at the top. Or tying off the coils segment by segment with old nylon socks or parachute cord. Or I’ve put the rope in the washer tied with butterfly coils, knotting the ends. No matter what I try, the cord never comes out of our top loader in anything other than a horrible, tight, hopeless tangle

One recent morning, I saw my husband, Mike, carry in a clean, damp rope from the laundry room—actually, he was slapping it down while I was in a Zoom meeting, glaring at the noise—and lay it out easily on the floor to dry in sunshine coming through the window.

Daisy-chain your rope to wash it without a huge tangle.

“How’d you do that?” I asked.

“Daisy chain,” he said.


“Daisy-chain it. It works. It’s cool.”

He’d just found the technique online himself.


It is cool, and that’s that, I will use it going forward. Here’s how:

1) Double the rope, with the looped end in one hand and the two rope ends in the other, then hold both sections (all four strands, running parallel) in one hand.

2) Reach a couple feet down the bundled rope with the other hand, and tie what the person in the video below calls ”a simple noose” or slip knot.

3) Reach your hand through that loop, pull a new loop through it, and put your hand through the new one.

4) Keep bringing the rope through and bringing it through, putting your hand through the new loop every time—to the end, when you pull the last loop through and tighten it. Now you have a complete, very chunky daisy chain.

5) Wash your daisy-chained rope.

6) After washing it, remove your rope, go to that last loop, reverse-pull it, and watch the whole thing drop to the floor, tangle free. Wow. A new way forward.

See this demo.

I have to say I initially found it more difficult than this nice guy makes it look, mostly because I kept automatically making a big fat Figure 8 rather than “noose” to start, but it was also fun to learn. And has been very effective.