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During winter months we get bothered by the cold and grey weather. We itch about skydiving, blue skies and count the days to come before the new season. These days “thank God” we have tunnels to keep our knees in the breeze.
In the old days when you got the winter blues and started dreaming about skydiving, cleaning your gear for the new season was a way to occupy yourself; especially if you were the owner of one of those florescent color rigs, that was a must. I guess no one thinks about washing their gear any more. You are going to ask, ‘What you mean cleaning my gear? Isn’t that the Rigger’s job to take care of that?’
What I mean about cleaning your rig is actually washing your harness so it will be squeaky clean, just like the day you first got your rig. If you have never done it before, I am sure some of you, are going to ask, 'how can I wash my rig?' Before I can tell you how; I like to make sure you understand that you are only washing your harness…
To get your rig ready for washing:
You can wash your rig in a bath tub with a nice mild detergent like Woollite or Fairy. Start the process with soaking the harness in the slightly warm bath for a while (how long to soak in the bath will be up to how dirty the rig is), and use a soft brush to get rid of the stains and grease if there are any.
After washing in the soapy water, the harness needs to be rinsed over and over until the rinsing water runs clear, to make sure there are no remains of detergent left.
You will need to let the harness dry naturally; away from direct sunlight. The best way is to hang it on the back of a chair or a stool and put a fan on it. Make sure that the harness has dried fully before it can be re-assembled and repacked. The drying period can change with the season/country you are in so, the longer you leave the rig to dry, the better. (Drying period normally takes 24 to 72 hours.)
You can also wash your rig using dry cleaners. If you are thinking about dry-cleaning your rig please check with the manufacturer first.
You can wash your rig by putting inside a pillowcase and putting in a washing machine using soft detergent and a cold (30°) or low temperature (40°) wash. Once again, make sure you check with the manufacturer first.
If you can’t be bothered to do any of the above to clean your rig, you can give it to your skilled rigger and they can wash it for you and repack.
You should at all times follow the instructions in the Owner’s Manual. If you can’t find anything about washing your rig in the instructions, contact your manufacturer directly!
Adding Scotchgard to your rig after it’s fully dried is a great idea. This will protect the fabric and it will help you keep it clean. Scotchgard should be applied 2 or 3 times maximum and lightly. When applying, make sure you only do it to the Container Fabric and NOT the webbing. Once again, if you are not sure, you should pass your rig to your skilled rigger to do this for you.
While your rig is drying out of direct sunlight and you are admiring your job, why not give your 3-rings a service? Video guide by Sun Path here.
Also, it is always good to check your gear parts:
If you are all set, and don’t need any maintenance on your harness, you need to take your lovely clean shiny harness with your AAD, reserve canopy, cables and main canopy to your Rigger to re-assemble your rig and re-pack, so you are ready to jump out of planes once again. Woo hoo!
So, in future, if you land off and get your rig dirty again, you won't feel so bad, as you know how to clean it up. But you know you can’t wash it often like a dirty t-shirt :-) Take care of your gear and take care of yourself.