Soak in 180-185°F water, with fabric softener ... immediately pull the nylon back to its former length and let cool, then soak again in warm water with fabric softener.
Immediately tie the hot rope to a tree, etc. and the other end to your towing ball on your car/truck, pull strain and let it set until back until well cools back to 'ambient' temperature, then release.
Dont pull it TOO DAMN HARD as if it breaks under heavy elastic strain (reset) the 'snap-back' can be VERY dangerous.
Twisted nylon rope becomes stiffened because of a phenomenon called 'hysterisis' ... it gets additively 'shorter and fatter' every time it gets 'stretched and relaxed' as the internal fibers 'slip'. Restoring length/diameter will only be temporary. Next time buy more expensive nylon 3-strand that has more 'crimp' to the yarns; increased 'crimp' permits less 'slip'.
Usually the best for a shortened/fattened/stiffened 3-strand nylon is to simply replace it with 'better' quality.
Old climbing trick was to put the rope in a mesh laindry bag & machine wash it (cold water, no detergent, no bleach) with a moderate amount of Downey fabric softener. Hang dry.
That said, sometimes synthetic cord hardens because the fibers have lost much of their elasticity, thru repeated stretching, UV exposure, or simply age. Plasticizers outgas over time, leading to embrittlement. It can also be a sign that salt and dirt have worked their way deep into the fibers. I'd try the fabric softener trick; even if it works, you may be due for some new rode in the near future. Three strand is really cheap; I've bought 200ft of 1/2" line with one end thimble-spliced for ~$50 delivered.
Rope stretches and the internal friction and compression tightens onto itself. I am concerned that fabric softener would make the strands slippery and may cause a loss of strength. But thats me over thinking things.
But I do wash my rope. I just toss it in a front loader washing machine no bag just a little soap and extra rinse.. then gently dry but not compleatly.
I'll assume its an anchor line. That's the wrong place to use old rope. Three strand is some of the cheapest rope. Go to Ebay and replace. A local chandlery might have it on sale right about now. Walmart sells 3/8 x 100 ft anchorlines for about $30. The last thing you want is your rejuvenated line to part in a storm, leaving a $100 anchor firmly set in mud and a boat worth thousands rolling mournfully on sharp rocks.
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