Toy Tip of the Day #2 – Caring for Nylon Rope

Recently Bootblack Brandon asked the Twitterverse how to clean nylon ropes which lead me to today’s Toy Tip of the Day. As rope vendors and bondage enthusiasts, we have experimented over the years with various techniques and methods. Some are tried and true, some are ideas we thought up in the middle of the night and some were through trial and error. Our personal methods and the methods we use for the ropes we sell vary and have evolved over time. While we can’t share all our secrets, how to care for your bondage rope is something everyone should know.

Whether your nylon is solid braid, twisted, diamond braid, hollow braid or double braid, any of these tips can be applied. The primary focus of this Tip of the Day is on 100% Nylon so if you have a polypropylene or polyester mix, I would suggest testing short samples of your rope with any of these methods. Your mileage may vary 🙂

– Remember that you may be using this rope on someone other than yourself. Due to allergic reactions some people have with chemicals and fragrances in laundry detergent, we recommend washing your nylon in a detergent free of dyes, perfumes and preservatives. I like All Free and Clear or Purex Free and Clear though many all natural detergents offer the same benefits with natural ingredients.
 
– If you must use bleach, make sure it is color safe and use sparingly. Too much bleach can bleed or dull dyed rope and it will weaken the fiber structure of the rope. We recommend using an oxygen bleach like Oxi Clean which has sodium per carbonate (a dry, granulated form of hydrogen peroxide) and releases hydrogen peroxide in water. It’s very concentrated, so a little goes a long way.
 

Steps for washing:

– Coil rope up in a loose coil, figure 8 or “daisy chain” and place in a netted lingerie bag or pillow case. Why place in a bag? If you have a washer with an agitator, the lingerie bag will help keep your rope from getting tangled around the agitator. If your machine does not have an agitator, you can just toss the rope in as is. I prefer using a lingerie bag (which can be found at almost any Walmart, Target, Dollar Store in the laundry) to keep not only keep my ropes from tangling up but to organize by length. I can also hang the bag with all the rope inside until I am ready to dry. If you toss your ropes in the bag without coiling it into some sort of knot, chances are your ropes will be a tangled knot. Save yourself some time and learn how to do a quick daisy chain:

 

– Use cold or warm/cold water, a little detergent, a little bleach or oxygen bleach (if needed) and run through a gentle or normal wash cycle. If you are washing dyed rope, do yourself the favor and wash the ropes separate from any clothes. Dye may bleed or run and results will vary. To control the amount of dye that may bleed, I suggest washing your ropes by hand. It’s a little more time consuming but worth the results. By hand washing, you will manipulate the fibers more thoroughly then when washing in a washer thereby softening the rope for easier tying.

– After you have washed your nylon, let it drip dry for about an hour. Toss in your dryer till it’s about 80% of the way dry. We recommend stretching your rope twice: once at about 80% dry and a second time when its 100% dry. This helps to soften up your rope and makes it easier to knot. You can stretch your ropes using a Shibari ring, carabiner or chain break, etc If you prefer to hand stretch, make sure the first stretch at 80% uses a lot of muscle

– When drying your rope, low to medium heat is ideal. If the dryer is too hot your rope will stiffen and can melt or fuse together. I prefer to let my rope air dry instead of using a dryer but depending on your climate, the drying process can take a few days. Avoid hanging directly in sunlight.

– Avoid lotions, oils, etc when trying to soften your nylon. You will be left with a greasy residue. A *small* amount of liquid fabric softener can be used but use sparingly. Instead, soften your rope the old fashion way – with use. Running the nylon through carabiners and chains will help, a couple wash cycles can too but nothing beats just using your rope to break it in.

Some folks have asked us if you have to wash your ropes *every time* they are used. The answer – no. Whether its hemp or a natural fiber rope or a synthetic like nylon, you should always wash your rope when they have come in contact with bodily fluids, nether regions, blood, urine, saliva, etc to kill any bacteria, viruses, funguses, etc that may have gotten on your rope during play. All disinfectants are 99% effective so understand your methods and options before playing. Solutions such as Envirocide which kills TB, HIV-1, MRSA, Hep B and more can be used on nylon rope, sparingly, in a cold water solution. It should not be mixed with any other solutions or acids and is only recommended in extreme cases since the chemical properties used on nylon over long periods of time can weaken the rope fibers. There are many tips offered around about how to disinfect rope including UV lights (which we have seen moderately good reactions to) so if you are concerned or curious, try them out on some sample lengths to find the best options for you. If you know you are going to play with bodily fluids during bondage, do yourself the favor and use cheap rope that can either be tossed or cleaned and given to the person you played with.

Overall, I highly recommend the hand wash and air dry approach. I like a little more control over how my ropes are washed and so once they are in the washer or dryer, it’s up to the gods to take good care of them!

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