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Caring For Natural Fibre Rope - Manila, Manila Hemp, Abaca

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How to Care for Natural Manila Rope

Manila Rope


Manila rope is otherwise known as manila hemp and it is created from the abaca plant, which is closely related to the banana plant.

It was highly prized in the days of sail, it has been replaced by synthetic fibres on boats nowadays, but a lot of traditional knot tyers still like to use it to make fenders and door stops.

It is a sustainable crop that can stop soil erosion and help to regenerate deforested areas. Our manila comes from the Phillipines, as does 85% of the world's production, the name itself comes from their capital city.

This rope is a natural plant fibre, which is very durable, but doesn't like to be kept damp, best kept in a dry place to prevent mildew. It isn't really suitable for outdoor use.

Being a natural fibre, it is affected by environmental conditions. When wet, it shrinks and tightens,(5 to 10%), and when warm and dry it becomes loose.

Vacuuming is the best way to clean manila.
If necessary it is possible to wash the rope gently by hand with a mild soap agitated in warm water, using just the lather to clean the rope, then wipe any dirt off with a clean damp cloth or sponge. Dry naturally on a dry day, out of direct sunshine.
I like to use manila for brushes or deck swabs, and fenders.
It can have a too strong aroma for my baskets or mats, as oil is often used to make the ropemaking easier if it has been a dry growing season. A lot of people like the smell, especially if they remember it from when it was used before modern ropes. It is stiffer than jute, I prefer to wear gloves when using manila, as any splinters can get infected. 

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  1. Steve in NC

    I have several manila ropes of various diameter and lengths. Over the years they have picked up some kinks that I would like to remove. The ropes are in good condition other than these unruly bends. Any ideas? I was going to soak the ropes and then let them dry in the shade under a mild tension. Worthwhile? Thank you....Steve

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