Cleaning gear

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Cleaning gear

Postby randojl » Jan 9, 2006 12:39 am

I've enjoyed a lot of help from this group about selecting and using equipment, but I could use some ideas about cleaning it after a caving trip. Right now I dump everything from two of us in two garbage bags at the vehicle after changing clothes. Generally the next day I take everything to the end of the driveway and rinse off the visible mud with a garden hose. The packs and knee pads then hang up in the garage to drip dry, the clothing goes in the washer, and the lights and helmets get some wiping and opened battery compartments

This cleaning process consumes about two hours and I'm thinking there must be a better way -- any suggestions? Anybody ever carry a container of water to soak clothing in on the way back, perhaps with agitation only from vehicle movement or from a 12V pump/ agitator?
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Postby CKB69 » Jan 9, 2006 1:08 am

Nah,you pretty much have my method down pat,except for the part about "next day".
I generally let mine ferment for a day or 6,untill right before the next trip.
Kinda' like an Adam's Familiy Christmas when I open the bag... :eek:
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Postby Amocholes » Jan 9, 2006 5:23 am

When I get mine home I dump it all except the lights, into a trash can in the back yard and fill it with water. With a little agitation it gets most of the mud out. Pack, knee pads, etc are then hung up to dry. Coveralls go to the washer. Lights are cleaned in the kitchen sink and then opened up and batteries removed.
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Postby batrotter » Jan 9, 2006 8:22 am

That's pretty much how I clean up my caving gear. I try to get the lights dried out as soon as I get home.

I live in Indiana which can get some cold winters. One of the best things I did was to run a hot water faucet outside to clean cave gear in the winter. I mounted it right next to the cold faucet on the outside of the house. Make sure you use a freeze proof faucet. I use the hot water year round too for other stuff.
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Postby cob » Jan 9, 2006 8:24 am

Uhhhhh.............

clean caving gear? What's that?
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Postby Scott McCrea » Jan 9, 2006 9:06 am

Below is a thread about rope pad testing from the previous NSS Discussion Board.

If you would like to find other threads/posts from the previous NSS DB go here:LINK



  #1  
06-30-2004, 08:35 PM

Sean Ryan
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Gear cleaning

What problems do you run across while cleaning gear?

For me, it's just finding the space to do so. I live in an apartment, without access to a slop sink or garden hose. So my coveralls go in my shower. I just treat them like a shower mat for the first few days after a cave trip, while the runoff in the bottom of the tub looks like the Mississippi. By Wednesday or Thursday, they're relatively clean enough so that I can just take a minute or so to scrub the arms and legs of the coveralls until they turn from brown to orange. I've learned the hard way that if you start scrubbing them on Monday, so much mud comes off that it clogs the tub. On Friday, I pull them out, drape them over a radiator, and they're ready to go. (Not clean by any means, since I could still get enough mud out of the seams to build an adobe hut. But clean enough so they make a good 'before' picture.)

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  #2  
06-30-2004, 09:05 PM

Scott McCrea
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Why?

Now days, I rarely clean any of my gear. Just hang it up to dry. Unless, it's completely slopped. Then, I lay it in the grass and spray it with the garden hose.

I can remember what a PITA it was when I lived in an apartment. I used to take my stuff to work and use the hose there.

Then there's always the car wash option. Works good, but it costs a buck or two.

Your coveralls-in-the-shower trick sounds good, but it will only work while you are single.
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  #3  
06-30-2004, 09:45 PM

Eve
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Eew, isn't a shower supposed to make you cleaner? I would think your feet and legs would get all muddy. Scott, he isn't going to get married if a woman sees him living like that.

My previous apartment had an industrial-type tub in the basement, so I could rinse gear in there and hang it to dry without messing up the rest of the house. Not as good as a hose and yard, but better than the bathroom or kitchen sink. You can also sneak the gear (clothing only) into the laundromat. Even the most dimwitted laundromat proprietor would notice biners thumping around on spin cycle.

The best method I've found is to obtain a significant other who caves and has a yard, but your mileage may vary.

Eve

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  #4  
07-01-2004, 02:26 PM

George Dasher
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It is the washing machine for everything but the ropes and the survey tape, and only because they REALLY get tangled up (wish I hadn't discovered that on my own!).

My mother always told me I was destroying my washing machine, but then my machine lasted longer than hers and that ended that argument.

But, anyway, the washing machine does a great job! The mud doesn't really seem to bother it.

George Dasher

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  #5  
07-01-2004, 03:26 PM

Sean Ryan
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I've learned that girls and bathtubs the color of coffee ice cream don't mix. So now I scrub the tub. I don't start a cave trip thinking "This'll end with me cleaning the bathroom," but that's how they end now.

Sean Ryan

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  #6  
07-01-2004, 04:19 PM

Joe Dom
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I tried letting my gear hang-dry a couple times without washing it, but I just don't feel comfortable in a suit that can stand up on its own! I found that the dollar carwash here in town is the best for knocking the mud off of my caving gear. I get about 4 minutes of wash time for a dollar and I can't beat that. The floormat clamps on the wall of the carwash are perfect for hanging up the suit and other misc small gear (kneepads, gloves) to get them clean. It's also amusing to see the look on the faces of people waiting behind you. If I'm going to pack the gear away for more than a couple weeks, then I'll toss my stuff in the washing machine after I knocked the mud off at the car wash. Otherwise it just line drys and back in the actionpacker it goes.

Joe Dom

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  #7  
07-01-2004, 04:51 PM

Yvonne Droms
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Originally Posted by Joe Dom
I tried letting my gear hang-dry a couple times without washing it, but I just don't feel comfortable in a suit that can stand up on its own!


If you trample that stiff suit for a bit, most of the dried mud falls off, making the suit pliable again. Not clean, but wearable...

I have a creek that flows through my front yard. I like washing my gear in it and seeing the brown water disappearing downstream. Sometimes I wonder if people driving by think I don't own a washing machine..." There she is, doing her laundry in the creek again..." I even wash my gear in the stream on cold winter days, wearing neoprene gloves so my hands don't get numb. I hang the coveralls up on the line, and they turn stiff as a board when it's below freezing, but they dry fine.

Yvonne

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  #8  
07-02-2004, 04:38 AM

Brad Davis
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I agree with George,throw it in the washer. I have noticed that the washing machine is not good on stiching on packs, knee pads, ect.

Brad Davis

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  #9  
07-03-2004, 01:28 AM

D.Wade
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I prefer the washing machine also, tho my rope gets thrown in with everything else just have to daisy chain it first. And I run the machine empty afterwards, a "request" of my wife........

D.Wade

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  #10  
07-03-2004, 02:48 AM

Ralph E. Powers
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I generally hose down my coveralls front and back over a neighbor's fence to get 80% of the mud off the surface then take it down to laundromat and clean them there. I don't like having semi-dirty coveralls because dirt/mud does (over time) contribute to the breakdown of the material.
My packs don't get washed just dried and dusted severely. My software (cords, webbing, etc.) do get washed when needed. My hardware (biners, ascenders/descenders, etc.) gets hit with a stiff brush and dusted off, when the mud dries.
Far as rope getting tangled? Daisy chaining it or putting it inside a large net or mesh bag keeps that from happening (most of the time). But then the time spent untangling it allows you to closely inspect the rope thus ensuring that nothing went wrong with it on the last trip.
:waving:

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  #11  
07-04-2004, 03:41 AM

Jep
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Car wash
When I lived in Pennsylvania, I went to J-4 with a few York Grotto members. We discussed this very issue. One of them told me that they took their muddy clothes to one of those self-wash car washes. I tried it and it was great.

I now clip the larger stuff on the floor mat clips that most of those type of car washes have and throw the rest out on the concrete floor.

Throw in your money and set the wand to pre-wash. The high pressure water and soap gets most of the mud off. I then take the wet, soapy clothes, put them in a 5-gallon bucket to take home and then throw them in my washer set for a heavy load.

Draw back is, you have to pin the clothes on the ground with your foot, so doing them in the winter can be cold. I have had quite an audience watching me and one car wash owner in Harrisburg thought it was great because there was more business using his facilities.

I don't put my gear through this regimen, though.

Jep

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  #12  
07-05-2004, 03:36 PM

ian mckenzie
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Car wash... do you wax your suit afterwards?

I built a little ropewasher from a design I saw in England twenty years ago. It's two stiff-bristled floor-washing brushes fixed bristle-to-bristle in an open-sided wooden box with holes drilled in the ends. You stick the rope thru, pin the thing with your foot submerged in a washtub, and pull the rope thru. Works great, and can be used in the field in a stream.

ian mckenzie

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  #13  
07-05-2004, 03:45 PM

Jep
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Car wax
Nope. I'm already slippery enough.

Jep

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  #14  
07-05-2004, 04:12 PM

cheshire
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I think that one of the best pieces of caving gear that I've bought is a hose nozle from WalMart that lets you choose between six or eight different types of spray. After using the best type of spray for the kind of goop that I have caked onto my gear, I usually let it hang dry. If I've crawled through something particularaly horrifying, I'll put a little bit of detergent on my coveralls. Generally, though, I tend to stay away from using soaps. I don't like the idea of the residue flaking off into the cave. Tide, from what I hear, leaves quite a lot of residue that isn't all that good for cave critters. I don't have the science to back it up, though.
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  #15  
07-05-2004, 10:25 PM

ian mckenzie
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I used to clean my vertical gear, rigging kit, lights and harness with the garden hose and a toothbrush, but now I generally just hose it down. It is important to clean gear promptly (if you have muddy caves) and sun-dry it right away so the little springs and bits don't rust. I do know of others who just dry their kit and never wash it.

ian mckenzie

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  #16  
07-05-2004, 10:43 PM

Typhy
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Originally Posted by cheshire
If I've crawled through something particularaly horrifying, I'll put a little bit of detergent on my coveralls. Generally, though, I tend to stay away from using soaps. I don't like the idea of the residue flaking off into the cave. Tide, from what I hear, leaves quite a lot of residue that isn't all that good for cave critters. I don't have the science to back it up, though.


There is a big difference between soap (like bar, shampoo, flaked soap or biodegradeable gear shampoos and gear soaps) and detergent with optical brighteners, surfactants and such. Multiple rinsings--until the water runs clean and no foam forms--will generally remove most soap/detergent residues. If I were worried about critters, I'd use low-foaming backpack friendly soap, not detergent, and rinse two or three times.

Typhy

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  #17  
07-16-2004, 08:27 PM

d_berman
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washing machine praise...
I've become a huge fan of the local laundrymat front loading washing machine.

Tapes, ropes, boots, biners you can pretty well stick anything in there and it comes out clean. Tangled, but clean.

Biners and boots make an aweful lot of noise...

Pending the trip you are washing from be prepared for lots of passer-bys to "admire" the brown sloshing slurry.

Top loading machines tend to spin and leave small spots of dirt.... (what's wrong with starting a cave trip clean?) :-)

Whole process takes 30 minutes. I used to pre-wash with hose etc, but have discovered there's no reason to do so. If using polypro and nylon things come out almost dry...

Agree with other folks on the tub. Many years ago my wife almost didn't come back for a second date after noticing the brown tub...

Dave

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  #18  
08-09-2004, 02:15 AM

PJSims
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Clean gear...
I religously clean all of my gear the day after a cave trip. I know that sounds anal, but clean gear is happy gear...especially vertical stuff.

I normally drape it over the fence and hose it off, then throw it in the washing machine, then hang in the shade outside to drip dry.

My son, on the other hand, is content to let his wet gear sit in his gear bag for months, only to act surprised when he finally pulls it out to see it has rotted.

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Postby Adam Byrd » Jan 9, 2006 12:26 pm

cob wrote:
Uhhhhh.............

clean caving gear? What's that?


Seconded. When suiting up I usually look like Pigpen with a cloud of dirt hovering around me.
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Postby Biggimo1 » Jan 9, 2006 10:36 pm

Just do like me, and wait til late the night before.
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Postby CaveJunkie » Jan 9, 2006 11:45 pm

I usually keep my coveralls in the bed of the truck.... After a few soakings and dryings one quick spin in the washer the night before does the trick!
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cleaning cave gear

Postby Dangerjudy » Jan 10, 2006 8:59 am

Like a poster in the old thread posted, I use a car wash, the kind you put quarters in, and I use the mat holders to hold up my knee and elbow pads and hang my caving bibs over the top of the mat holders. I use just water and the high pressure sprayer to scoot 'em off and then hang everything up when I get home to dry.
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Postby George Dasher » Jan 10, 2006 3:26 pm

I'm going to reiterate my original point of view.

Just throw everything in the washing machine.

Works like a charm.
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Postby randojl » Jan 10, 2006 9:31 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:Below is a thread about rope pad testing from the previous NSS Discussion Board.

If you would like to find other threads/posts from the previous NSS DB go here:LINK

Thanks; really helpful ideas here, and of course this topic is old news somewhere. Turns out I don't find it in beginner's books like the classic "Caving Basics," though. Seems like this content would be great as an answer in a "Basic Caving" FAQ -- has anyone distilled this wisdom and more like it in such a format?
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Postby randojl » Jan 10, 2006 9:39 pm

George Dasher wrote:I'm going to reiterate my original point of view.

Just throw everything in the washing machine.

Works like a charm.
That would save me a lot of time, George, but I wonder about long-term effects on washer and household plumbing. This last trip left a gallon of wet sandy sludge on just my pants, and I can't believe that would be good for washer valves and drain lines over any length of time -- ?

OT: I really enjoyed "On Station." I'm just a beginning caver but read it straight through and hope to add some useful data to the mix someday. I would say I could draw on my experiences as a land survey crew member 28 years ago, but my main job was cutting bushes and I haven't seen many of those underground!
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Postby George Dasher » Jan 11, 2006 10:30 am

My mother used to repeatedly tell me that I was going to ruin my washing machine, but then my machine lasted longer than hers--and several years longer than the expected life of the machine. So I don't feel the dirty caving gear damaged it significantly.

Glad you liked On Station, and glad it was helpful. It is hard to believe it is now 12 years old. Makes me feel old.
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Postby Scott Shaw » Jan 11, 2006 1:53 pm

I really enjoyed "On Station.


Hey Buddy, since you've read On Station, your ready for the Bankhead project, to put some of that to use.

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