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Doing some pre-splash inventory checks yesterday, I noticed that our dock lines (Samson double-braided nylon, for what it's worth) are stiff as hell after four seasons.  Does anyone have any experience with or recommendations for washing them?  I've seen advice running the gamut from "Just throw them out" to "Wash them just like jeans in the washing machine" to "Daisy chain them and put them in pillow cases and then wash them on gentle cycle with mild detergent but you'll still probably ruin the splices" - and "Only wash them in a top-load washing machine" as well as "Only wash them in a front-loading washing machine" as well as "You'll destroy your washing machine!"  At least everyone agrees that bleach is very, very bad.

Honestly it's like $250 to replace them all, I just feel guilty about the (physical, not financial) waste.

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We wash most of our lines every year, but the docklines only about every 4-5 years. We get a lot of rain here, lines lying on deck go green...

I would never wash a new line, until the splice sets from use it will be liable to come apart, plus the inner braid may hockle out of the cover.

 

We put a foot or so of water in the laundry sink and add a couple of scoops of Oxiclean, stirring well. Dump as many lines in as the sink will hold and cover them with water. I turn them a couple of times and leave them overnight. In the morning you pull the plug, drain the water out of the lines as well as possible and fill the sink with fresh water. Soak briefly and drain. Expect the first water to be black. 

At this point, we put the lines in mesh bags and put them in the washing machine, and run them through a regular cycle with Woolite and cold water.

 

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I put them in a five gallon bucket with a very small amount of liquid detergent, then fill with water and agitate  for five minutes with a toilet plunger or something similar. Let it sit, dump it, and repeat with no more detergent. You go through about  a half dozen cycles before all the detergent and salt is out.

After that, drape them to dry on something like a fence or the railing around the deck at your house.

Been using this method for decades, on all types of boat lines from docklines to sheets.

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I wash all my lines - just did my dock lines.

Front loader, toss them in with Oxi-clean and some Borax. Give a max spin cycle to dry them as much as possible.

They come out clean & tangled so they get closely inspected as I untangle them. I've never had washing damage them.

Top loaders work better than front loaders but use what you have.

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I once put my lines in a burlap bag to keep them from getting too tangled in the top loading washer. Big mistake. The burlap fibers drilled into the lines creating an ugly, hard to clean up mess.

I have a big dog that helps me walk on sleeping bags in the bath tub to wash them. Maybe I'll recruit him to clean the lines in the future.

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I wash them on regular cycle, hot water, with bleach.  Just like my wife's bras and camisoles.

We have a relationship where she prefers to do her own laundry.

A little vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser helps dissolve any calcium deposits

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Plus one on all the posts above - a little bit of soap and fresh water.  Soak in a bucket and agitate.  Repeat as needed continuing on through regular fresh water.

I use regular old Dawn dish detergent (live aboard and its my 'go to' for oddball things) as opposed to OxyClean :)

And yes, if you are lazy, after the first round or two in the bucket and getting the bulk of the nasty stuff out - tossing in a side load washer inside a mesh bag is sometimes part of the process.

As somebody else noted - don't do this with newer lines, if they are hardened up, stick to only fresh water and manual agitation.

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I use the laundromat commercial machine, put the halyards/dock lines or whatever in a mesh bag, run them once w/ soap and a second time w/ no soap.  An OC mate w/ a beautiful Swan pulls his halyards out every winter and shamed me into trying it.  Works great, also a good opportunity to end for end halyards etc.  Basically what above posters said but go commercial instead of your wife's bra and unmentionables washing machine.  Same rule here, I don't do her laundry and she doesn't do mine.  I don't own it if it can't go in one load warm wash and hot dry.

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On 4/19/2021 at 8:50 PM, Bull City said:

A new verb!

Quite an old verb actually, from the OE noun hock (heel):

"1375–1425; variant of dial. hough,Middle English ho(u)gh, apparently back formation from late Middle English hokschyn, etc., Old English hōhsinu hock (literally, heel) sinew; see heel"
 
When lots of little 'heels' appear in your rope, its hockled.
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Yep, "hockle" is a fine old Anglo-Saxon word. Outside of sailing, I get the impression that it means to either give something the appearance of a foot, or to use something (inappropriately) as a foot.

Washing machine is fine for lines less that 1/2" or 12mm dia, put them in a mesh bag first. Regular laundry soap, cold water, no spin cycle.

Pollen and dirt and salt are all abrasive. You want to get them out of the inner yarns of the rope.

FB- Doug

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We have such a funny language.

From the Apple Dictionary:

hock1 | häk |
noun
1 the joint in a quadruped's hind leg between the knee and the fetlock, the angle of which points backward.
2 a knuckle of meat, especially of pork or ham.
ORIGIN
late Middle English: variant of hough.

hock2 | häk |
verb [with object] informal
informal term for pawn2.
PHRASES
in hock
having been pawned.
• in debt: the company is in hock to the banks.
ORIGIN
mid 19th century (in the phrase in hock): from Dutch hok ‘hutch, prison, debt’.

hock3 | häk |
noun British
a dry white wine from the German Rhineland.
ORIGIN
abbreviation of obsolete hockamore, alteration of German Hochheimer (Wein) ‘(wine) from Hochheim’.

hock4 | häk |
noun North American
variant spelling of hawk3.

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22 minutes ago, Bull City said:

We have such a funny language.

From the Apple Dictionary:

hock1 | häk |
noun
1 the joint in a quadruped's hind leg between the knee and the fetlock, the angle of which points backward.
2 a knuckle of meat, especially of pork or ham.
ORIGIN
late Middle English: variant of hough.

hock2 | häk |
verb [with object] informal
informal term for pawn2.
PHRASES
in hock
having been pawned.
• in debt: the company is in hock to the banks.
ORIGIN
mid 19th century (in the phrase in hock): from Dutch hok ‘hutch, prison, debt’.

hock3 | häk |
noun British
a dry white wine from the German Rhineland.
ORIGIN
abbreviation of obsolete hockamore, alteration of German Hochheimer (Wein) ‘(wine) from Hochheim’.

hock4 | häk |
noun North American
variant spelling of hawk3.

Just to add a little more fuel to the fire, hockles in line are sometimes colloquially referred to as "assholes" when they bunch up and stop the line running through blocks, etc.

pennant9_orig.jpg

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7 hours ago, Navig8tor said:

Does anybody not have a swimming pool?

Perfect for sheets and sails and a whole lot easier than a tub or the wife’s precious washing machine.

Yeah, put your nylon stuff in a pool.

That'll work.

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20 hours ago, Ishmael said:

Just to add a little more fuel to the fire, hockles in line are sometimes colloquially referred to as "assholes" when they bunch up and stop the line running through blocks, etc.

pennant9_orig.jpg

Absolutely!  When releasing a recalcitrant line, one is bound to respond more effectively to cries of "Asshole!" than "Hockle!"  Well, at least my crew are...

Cheers!

 

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On 4/21/2021 at 9:00 AM, SloopJonB said:

Yeah, put your nylon stuff in a pool.

That'll work.

Well, we just spent a week in one of the resort houses owned by family members that are in a (ahem) slightly different economic class, and noted the palatial pool had no chlorine smell whatsoever. Apparently a salt system was recently installed. I gather chlorine is still present, but it's not detectable by my senses, anyway. Anyone know if these systems would result in chlorine damage to nylon sails? Not that I'm going to be trying that at any point in the future, but it sure made the pool much more pleasant. 

I wash lines in a large capacity front load washer, heavy duty cycle. Only problem was some really bad 3/4" dock lines I pressure washed first, but that still left behind a distinctive smell. Think of decaying marine creatures. That led to some dispute as to the wisdom of using our home washer for such tasks.. 

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On 4/21/2021 at 4:19 AM, Navig8tor said:

Does anybody not have a swimming pool?

Perfect for sheets and sails and a whole lot easier than a tub or the wife’s precious washing machine.

In fact, most would not want one if you gave it to us.

And the chlorine in a swimming pool is going to do nothing for the stiffness problem. Wrong chemistry.

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On 4/21/2021 at 11:17 AM, Jim in Halifax said:

Quite an old verb actually, from the OE noun hock (heel):

"1375–1425; variant of dial. hough,Middle English ho(u)gh, apparently back formation from late Middle English hokschyn, etc., Old English hōhsinu hock (literally, heel) sinew; see heel"
 
When lots of little 'heels' appear in your rope, its hockled.

Here in Norfolk UK the dialect words still used  "on the huh" means something tilted or heeled over.

Oh  domestic front loader , ropes in a net bag, mild detergent, long  low temperature wash programme. Well that's what I've used without problems..

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6 hours ago, thinwater said:

In fact, most would not want one if you gave it to us.

And the chlorine in a swimming pool is going to do nothing for the stiffness problem. Wrong chemistry.

It's over 100 deg F most of the summer here. I get home from work, lose clothes as I walk through the house, and go straight into the pool naked. Ahhhhhh.:)   When the kids were young it got used every summer day, we had a part time lifeguard. 

I never used detergent on climbing ropes, just warm fresh water and gentle agitation. For boat lines it's:

On 4/19/2021 at 6:47 PM, accnick said:

I put them in a five gallon bucket with a very small amount of liquid detergent, then fill with water and agitate  for five minutes with a toilet plunger or something similar. Let it sit, dump it, and repeat with no more detergent. You go through about  a half dozen cycles before all the detergent and salt is out.

After that, drape them to dry on something like a fence or the railing around the deck at your house.

Been using this method for decades, on all types of boat lines from docklines to sheets.

 

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Provided you don't irritate your dock mates, oxiclean in a dock cart is a good way to go.  Then a rinse and hang and dry.  I would never use bleach, it plays hell on natural and synthetic fibers.  

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On 4/19/2021 at 4:24 PM, ChrisJD said:

Doing some pre-splash inventory checks yesterday, I noticed that our dock lines (Samson double-braided nylon, for what it's worth) are stiff as hell after four seasons.  Does anyone have any experience with or recommendations for washing them?  I've seen advice running the gamut from "Just throw them out" to "Wash them just like jeans in the washing machine" to "Daisy chain them and put them in pillow cases and then wash them on gentle cycle with mild detergent but you'll still probably ruin the splices" - and "Only wash them in a top-load washing machine" as well as "Only wash them in a front-loading washing machine" as well as "You'll destroy your washing machine!"  At least everyone agrees that bleach is very, very bad.

Honestly it's like $250 to replace them all, I just feel guilty about the (physical, not financial) waste.

Personally, I’d call the manufacturer (Samson, etc) and ask them for their advice -- they’ll take pride in and know their product best. For sure they’ll have gotten this question before.

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On 4/19/2021 at 4:46 PM, Ishmael said:

We wash most of our lines every year, but the docklines only about every 4-5 years. We get a lot of rain here, lines lying on deck go green...

I specifically lift/suspend lines above the deck wherever I can because of this (plus lines lying on deck trap gunk in winter too).  (Of course, dock lines get green more easily and can’t really be lifted up/away from our famous, much-loved and much-maligned bull rails :-) )

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11 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

I specifically lift/suspend lines above the deck wherever I can because of this (plus lines lying on deck trap gunk in winter too).  (Of course, dock lines get green more easily and can’t really be lifted up/away from our famous, much-loved and much-maligned bull rails :-) )

Yes, I have a couple of supports I slip under taut lines to keep them off the deck, but the ones that are slack (reefing lines in particular) get grotty.

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Good techniques.  The only thing I'd add is it sometimes makes sense to add fabric softener when rinsing the lines, for those lines that are handled regularly.  Those who sit forward of the tiller appreciate soft jib and spin sheets.  The main traveler is another candidate for this treatment.  

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2 hours ago, Lex Teredo said:

Good techniques.  The only thing I'd add is it sometimes makes sense to add fabric softener when rinsing the lines, for those lines that are handled regularly.  Those who sit forward of the tiller appreciate soft jib and spin sheets.  The main traveler is another candidate for this treatment.  

I found that using fabric softener on lines resulted in them staying wet or damp much, much longer.

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I usually use distilled white vinegar as fabric softener for clothes, sheets and towels, but avoided doing so with the lines, as one of the things I'd read online was a stern warning against using any cleaners with a pH below 7, and distilled vinegar is around a 2.5.

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1 hour ago, SloopJonB said:

I found that using fabric softener on lines resulted in them staying wet or damp much, much longer.

 

36 minutes ago, ChrisJD said:

I usually use distilled white vinegar as fabric softener for clothes, sheets and towels, but avoided doing so with the lines, as one of the things I'd read online was a stern warning against using any cleaners with a pH below 7, and distilled vinegar is around a 2.5.

So def no toilet bowl cleaner?

Just kidding. About a half hour before my mast was gonna be stepped last week I noticed that most the external portions of my halyards had become caked in green stuff over the winter. We store our masts outside on racks and I've always been educated to not wrap them in siran wrap or the like...some guys use a burlap cover or similar on specific portions of the mast...if all the lines are taken out it's o.k. to wrap a mast in siran/celophane but have always understood that its not good for the lines(trapped moisture). Its the first time over winter storage this has ever happened so I guess its just luck of the draw as to where it was and on which rack etc.

I'm probably going to have to sky each halyard one by one and drop them in a bucket. So far I'm leaning towards Dawn dish soap because if it's gentle enough for those poor little oil slicked duckies on the commercial, it's gotta be gentle enough for my precious halyards. Apparently it is PH neutral at 7.

There's another issue that I've been meaning to address. A few years ago, when replacing all of my old lines, the new furling line was a lot stiffer than the old one. I figured that after a few seasons it might soften up but it's still not as good as the old one...

...so any other ideas on good practice for softening a line?

Here's a PH scale on common cleaning agents. https://www.thespruce.com/ph-levels-for-common-cleaning-supplies-1900473

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On 4/26/2021 at 4:52 PM, SloopJonB said:

I found that using fabric softener on lines resulted in them staying wet or damp much, much longer.

Sure, but they smell Downy Fresh.  And the way everybody and everything on a boat reeks, isn't that worth something?  

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On 4/19/2021 at 7:28 PM, Autonomous said:

I once put my lines in a burlap bag to keep them from getting too tangled in the top loading washer. Big mistake. The burlap fibers drilled into the lines creating an ugly, hard to clean up mess.

I have a big dog that helps me walk on sleeping bags in the bath tub to wash them. Maybe I'll recruit him to clean the lines in the future.

Use a pillow case.

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