clean wire ropes

A Descriptive guide on tools to clean wire ropes

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Wire ropes, also known as cables or wire lines, are made up of multiple strands of steel wires twisted together. They come in a variety of sizes and constructions for different applications. Over time, wire ropes accumulate dirt, grime, corrosion and other contaminants from regular use and exposure to the elements. As per wire rope experts ViperWrl, periodically cleaning them is essential for continued safe operation and maximum service life. This article will discuss tools to clean wire ropes and best practices for effective cleaning of wire ropes.

Why Clean Wire Ropes?

There are several key reasons to regularly clean industrial wire ropes:

Prevent Corrosion: Dirt, moisture and salt exposure can lead to oxidation and corrosion on wire ropes. This damages the individual wires and compromises cable strength. Thorough cleaning removes these corrosion-causing contaminants.

Improve Safety: Grease, oil and dirt buildup leads to slippery ropes that are dangerous to handle. Cleaning improves traction and worker safety. Removing grime also allows technicians to visually inspect ropes for damage.

Extend Service Life: Cleaning rejuvenates old ropes by removing grit that abrades and cuts individual wires. This allows cables to run smoother through pulleys and blocks, reducing wear. Proper maintenance increases lifespan considerably.

When to Clean Wire Ropes?

Regular Intervals: The frequency of wire rope cleaning depends on the environment and nature of use. Heavy industrial settings may warrant cleaning every 1-2 months. Periodic cleaning is worthwhile even if ropes appear clean.

Before Lubrication: Old lubricant and grime should always be removed before reapplying fresh lubricant to allow full penetration.

After Use in Sandy/Dusty Conditions

Wire ropes exposed to fine particles like sand require immediate cleaning to prevent internal abrasion damage. Even occasional dusty conditions warrant prompt cleaning.

Cleaning Methods

Solvent Cleaners: Specialized solvents dissolve and loosen oil, grease and dirt buildup. Use brushing action to penetrate the interior of the rope. These cleaners leave no residue if properly dried.

Power Washing: Power washers with adjustable pressure can be highly effective. Take precautions against internal wire damage and excess water exposure time. Capture runoff for EPA compliance.

Mechanical Scrapers/Brushes

Rotating brushes matched to rope diameter provide excellent cleaning action. Scrapers help remove adherent debris. Can be used with or without solvents.

Ultrasonic Cleaning: Ultrasound energy combined with solvent cleaning gives superior penetration compared to soaking alone. Often used for intricate wire goods.

Hand Wiping/Scrubbing: Manual rubbing with rags and brushes works for light cleaning. Labor-intensive but simple using proper solvents.

Drying and Lubricating

Importance of Proper Drying: Any moisture left after cleaning accelerates corrosion. Carefully blow-dry cables or hang to air dry completely before relubricating.

Types of Lubricants

Wire rope lubricants contain oil, grease or wax compounds. Formulations provide water resistance and friction reduction between wires.

Application Methods

Brushes, rags and spray equipment help lubricants penetrate between wire strands. Goal is to coat wires without leaving drips or blobs.

Storage and Handling

Proper Storage Conditions: Store clean, dried and lubricated ropes off the ground in a covered, ventilated area. Avoid exposure to water, salt air and oxidation catalysts.

Careful Transport and Use

Exercise caution when handling cleaned ropes to avoid contamination or abrasion damage prior to reinstallation. Use appropriate equipment.


Regular cleaning extends the working life of wire ropes while promoting safety. Utilizing proper methods and tools prevents internal abrasion and keeps cables operating smoothly. Establishing scheduled rope cleaning ensures critical cables don’t fail unexpectedly. Workers should be trained to identify signs of corrosion and wear. Maintaining clean ropes is time and money well spent compared to premature replacement.

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