Can you clean jute ropes?

Hygiene is an important part of play in all aspects of kink. It’s no surprise therefore that one of the more commonly asked questions is how to clean ropes after a scene. Here we discuss why it’s so difficult to clean natural fibre ropes, and some alternatives.

The first thing you should know is that you generally don’t want to get your jute ropes wet. Anyone who’s had a glass or water spilled on their ropes will tell you that the ropes swell up, and the twist tightens making the ropes feel spongy and springy when they dry out. Note: if this does even happen to you, make sure you dry the ropes under tension to help them return to their original form. This is actually one of the factors that makes dyed ropes more expensive. While you could just chuck your set of jute ropes in the washing machine for an intensive wash and spin cycle we wouldn’t recommend it.

Even quite common sterilization methods like heat, ultraviolet light and antimicrobial agents have limited use with rope. Heat is likely to damage your ropes, and will definitely dry them out. UV and antibac wipes almost certainly won’t reach every spot of your ropes, because of the gaps between strands (and even the gaps between yarns within the strands). 

In theory you could also leave your ropes for a long time between partners. Most microbes people worry about can only live on surfaces for a fixed period of time. This one is a bit impractical, not to mention the survival times of various microbes can vary depending on different factors and the environment.

What are the alternatives?

One option is just to avoid getting your ropes dirty to begin with. It’s quite common for people to use a different rope (or even a cloth) for the parts of ties that are more likely to get bodily fluids on them. It can be quite fun thinking of creative ways to do this (the comments are open in case you want to share).

Another option, and perhaps the most practical one, is to assign a specific rope to a specific person (and role). 

This could mean,

  • Having a designated rope that you use for crotch rope with a specific partner. You could mark the ends with a certain colour, or find another way of making sure you know which one it is.
  • If you are a rigger, you could gift this rope to the specific person for their own use. If you have the resources, you could gift a set of ropes (this can be quite romantic, and help with headspace during ties).


Whatever you decide, it’s important to make sure all parties are able to give informed consent. Personal boundaries and individual risk profiles are very different and just because you’re ok (or not) with something, doesn’t mean it will be the same for your partner(s). 

Things to consider and agree ahead of time:

  • Where ropes can and can’t go on the body during a scene
  • Whether or not to use the same ropes with other people
  • If the bottom is happy with ropes that are used on more intimate areas, or with other people, being used in other intimate areas (e.g. crotch rope being used as a gag, rope that has being used by others being used as a gag)
  • Whether the boundaries change based on the type of bodily fluid

This post was written by Fred Hatt and Anna Bones and edited by Eleni.

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