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post #1 of 22 Old 11-19-2018 Thread Starter
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Cleaning control lines

I have to admit, I've not done this much over the years. Last I recall, I just soaked them in a tub of some concoction and was underwhelmed.

Most of my lines stay aboard, but are covered in the winter, so they stay pretty clean. One set control the adjustable genoa cars and get pretty funky, even in season. The spot they lay inside the track is a collection point for dirt, especially pollen in the Spring.

These lines had gotten stiff, moldy, even black along some stretches. I removed them to buy new this winter. For giggles, I thought I would toss them in the washing machine. It's a front loader, as I'm sure a top loading agitator would wrap them into a knot.

I daisy chained the line and tossed them in one at a time. I used regular Tide detergent and maybe a tablespoon of bleach (influence by the mold). I figured I had nothing to lose, as a few hundred dollars of new lines and splices were sitting in my online cart.

I was amazed how well they came out. Zero dirt or mold. Consistently flexible along the entire length. They look as near new as conceivable, although, I suspect they've broken down somewhat. The outer covering shows a slight amount of fuzz, so they aren't new, for sure. But they don't show any notable chafe. I'm reinstalling and saved myself quite a few bucks.

My only regret is that I cut one splice off, assuming they were being replaced and now I have to redo it. Even though they are a decade old, I believe they are soft enough again to take a new splice.


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post #2 of 22 Old 11-19-2018
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Re: Cleaning control lines

Interesting experiment. Were these all nylon lines?
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Re: Cleaning control lines

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Originally Posted by Arcb View Post
Interesting experiment. Were these all nylon lines?
Good question. Yes, these two were double braid nylon core. Might have been old Sta-Set.

Forgot to mention, I was also prepared to retrieve a rats nest of knotted line, which I would have tossed. These lines were 70ft long, each. While some of the daisy chain links got longer or shorter, it came back apart pretty simply.
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post #4 of 22 Old 11-19-2018
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Re: Cleaning control lines

I haven't tried it, but I have heard you can put lines/ropes inside an old pillow case or similar. Depending on the size of the lines I guess.
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Re: Cleaning control lines

I wouldve thought double polyester rather than nylon
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Re: Cleaning control lines

Walmart, BB&Beyond, etc have mesh laundry bags.
Greatly reduces rinse time vs pillow case
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post #7 of 22 Old 11-19-2018
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Re: Cleaning control lines

Most control lines have working stresses way way below the loading they see.

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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post #8 of 22 Old 11-19-2018
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Re: Cleaning control lines

Great method.
I can't see why it would reduce the strength of the lines.
Bleach doesn't affect them so u can use more.

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post #9 of 22 Old 11-19-2018
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Somewhere in my past I remember reading that you can clean lines in a household dishwasher. Knots and fraying are not an issue, and dishwashing detergent, supposedly, will not harm the line. I have not tried this, however.


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post #10 of 22 Old 11-19-2018
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Re: Cleaning control lines

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
Great method.
I can't see why it would reduce the strength of the lines.
Bleach doesn't affect them so u can use more.
I ran a test program with New England ropes. Bleach DOES weaken them about 3-5% with each use, depending on concentration. The act of washing also typically weakens the rope, depending on age. Overall, the ropes were probably weakened 10-15% by washing, possibly more, depending on age. The effect on newer ropes is less, but still often 5-8%% if bleach is used, depending on the details.

Not sayin' they didn't need washing, just sayin' their is an effect.

Sails are NOT cleaned with chlorine bleach for this reason, and they too are polyester. Percarbonate is used instead. Dishwashing powders use percarbonate. So does Oxiclean.
----
The least damamging method is a LONG presoak, short cycle in a pillow case, and NO bleach. What are we, women? Clean enough is better than weakened.
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Last edited by pdqaltair; 11-19-2018 at 10:16 AM.
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