Can soft washing chemicals damage climbing ropes?

May 17, 2022

Can soft washing chemicals damage climbing ropes?

If you have a job that can only be done by rope access, is it safe to use a sodium hypochlorite (sh, hypo) based product – such as Benz Lightning Cleanze softwash biocide – or will it damage and weaken the ropes?

The answer is yes, if the ropes are made from natural fibre. Long term exposure of natural fibre rope to any sodium hypochlorite product will damage the rope. If you doubt this, just consider that sodium hypochlorite is used in paper pulping mills to break down the fibres in wood prior to making it into paper. 

Obviously, the degree of damage is going to vary according to the type of material a rope is made from and the level of exposure to sodium hypochlorite (time and dilution strength).

But by far the safest option is to use ropes made from all artificial materials.

We don't recommend natural fibre rope for multiple use when applying any sodium hypochlorite based product because of the danger of the chemical rotting the ropes.

The rot will not be immediately noticeable, but over time and repeated exposure the sodium hypochlorite will weaken the rope. And you don't want to be dangling from a rotting rope.

Quick tips: 

1) To be on the safe side only use a natural fibre rope once after using it to apply any sodium hypochlorite cleaning product.

2) There are contractor ropes that designed to be used once on messy jobs such as cleaning or painting. Click here to get in touch with the Abaris rope company and ask them their advice.

The best professional working practices:

1) If applying Lightning Cleanze use man-made/artificial ropes (e.g. nylon) that will not be affected by sodium hypochlorite.

2) If you have to use natural fibre ropes, then whenever possible given the nature and needs of the contract, apply Benz Bio Cleanze instead. As far as we know it will not damage natural fibre rope (and certainly not nylon/artificial rope) but check first with the manufacturers of your rope as we don't have specific data. You can send them our SDS which you'll find in our Product Documentation Pack.

We hope this information is helpful and sincerely wish you great success in your soft washing business,

Ben, Leo, Fiona, Stevie & Anthony

Click here to get more practical how-to tips about softwash chemicals and equipment

How to find answers to most soft washing questions: Simply enter a relevant "keyword" or short phrase – e.g. keyword for the above link = "chemicals" – into our in-site Search Engine (magnifying glass icon on the main menu).

Order Benz Softwash chemicals & equipment online or by phone:

GB (England, Scotland, Wales)

Phone: 0800 70 74 222 


Ireland and other countries

Phone: 00353 214 622 978


Lines open Monday - Friday, 9am – 5pm

Please note: The above numbers are for orders only (click here for tech support)

PS: Click here to set up your "Clean & Maintain" programme
. After completing an initial soft wash treatment, put your customer on a "Clean & Maintain" ongoing maintenance programme. Your customers will enjoy a permanently clean property and you will enjoy a steady stream of repeat business.

This is clearly a win-win arrangement for you and your customers.


Click here to explore the extensive range of Benz softwash cleaning chemicals & equipment

Benz Softwash Bio Cleanze DDAC biocide & Benz Softwash Lightning Cleanze SH sodium hypochlorite biocide

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