So I got a new hemp rope, about 1.3 inch in diameter. The intended use is for "rope climbing" - hang the rope indoors from a ceiling and climb up along it using only the hands.

I have read that a hemp rope shrinks when first washed, and that it loses a bit of the original stretchability.

Does anyone experienced with hemp ropes know if a new rope needs to be washed and dried before first use? Or can I just tie it up? It will be tied directly to (sturdy) metal rings in the ceiling.

  • 1
    You might want to clarify in the question what activity this is. When I first read this, I thought you meant you were going to go rock climbing with a hemp rope. Are you hanging a rope indoors, vertically, from a ceiling and then shinnying up it? If so, then why do you care if the rope stretches or not?
    – user2169
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 14:06
  • Yes, that is the intended use. The question text already said rope climbing and I have now added a further clarification. I don't actually care if the rope stretches or not (it is not significant anyway), but since I have zero experience with hemp ropes, I was wondering if washing a hemp rope was generally recommended before using it.
    – ahron
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 15:24
  • 2
    I do not have any experience with hemp ropes but one big issue with them (while still used for rock climbing) was that a wet rope would only dry on the outside but rot from inside until it too weak. With this in mind, I am sceptical about washing them at all
    – Manziel
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 15:35
  • Why would you wash it at all?
    – Separatrix
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 9:18
  • 1
    For a rope to be safe to climb it wants to have a load rating around 3-4 times the maximum load you're expecting to put on it, worrying about making it slightly stronger is academic.
    – Separatrix
    Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


I have used natural fiber rupees, hemp and jute, for a number of years for yoga type activities where repeated handling of the rope is common. What I have always understood is that "industrial" rope, such as that you would get from hardware stores and the like, is manufactured using some chemicals that are not healthy over time. Of course, buying the rope from other "organic" sources negates the issue. Even with organic rope, I wash it: mild detergent, loosely coiled in a tied pillowcase on a gentle cycle. After I will hang it loosely over a a clothesline as to avoid kinks in the rope and give it a few days to fully dry. I typically finish by running it through my hands with a few drops of baby oil. The first time I do this, there are often rope "splinters" bits. I will usually quick run my propane torch over the length to reduce those bits. Hope this helps.

  • Thank you for the clear explanation and the instructions on how to actually do it.
    – ahron
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 6:28

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