Tie-down straps are pretty sturdy objects. They have to be. The average tie-down strap, whether it is used for personal or industrial applications, will be put under an enormous amount of strain for a long time. The objects that typically require tie-down straps are not light and when being transported by a moving vehicle the driving motion puts even more strain on both the mechanism of the buckle and the strap itself. Accordingly, it is wise to look after them. Rollercam, a company that specializes in cam straps, recommends that while maintenance is important, far more important is ensuring you have purchased a durable tie-down strap in the first place.
The reason maintenance is important, therefore, is not to make the straps last for as long as possible (from a safety perspective it is always wiser to get new ones once you come across any damage) but rather to prevent that damage happening in the first place and to spot it as soon as it does. Proper tie-down strap maintenance requires regular inspection, cleaning, and proper storage. This is the holy trinity of tie-down strap maintenance, and there is a set way to go about each of these tasks.
How to Inspect Tie-Down Straps
As mentioned, when you inspect a tie-down strap you are trying to spot damage so you can address the situation before it presents a safety hazard. Therefore, the first rule is to inspect regularly – after every use is best. The actual process of inspection is in fact nothing more complicated than simply looking at the strap. However, you need to know precisely what you’re looking for and you need to know when the damage necessitates disposal of the strap and when it is acceptable to use it again.
Accordingly, you should look for evidence of visible damage (thankfully, tie-down strap damage is nearly always visible). Look for evidence of abrasion, burns, loose threads, knots, and cuts. Generally speaking, if you notice that damage has gone all the way through to the other side of the strap material, then it is time to consider throwing it out.
How to Clean Tie-Down Straps
As we will mention below, you should never store a dirty or wet tie-down strap. This is because biological damage to the fabric from things like mold and fungus spores can weaken the strap over time. Moreover, when it comes to the metal parts, allowing rust to take hold can be disastrous. Accordingly, cleaning is especially important.
To clean your tie-down strap, use a mild cleansing detergent mixed with warm water and scrub the length of the strap to remove any visible dirt. The key is to avoid any bleached based cleaning products or products that contain any form of acid as these can seriously damage the strap.
How to Store Tie-Down Straps
Storage should ideally begin after cleaning, although you do not have to clean a strap after every use. The most important thing is to make sure the strap is completely dry before you store, as moisture can hang around long enough to cause damage once the strap is rolled up. When you are actually wrapping up the strap, this is the best time to inspect for damage as you will be passing the length of the strap through your hands. Make sure you store tie-down straps away from heat, direct sunlight, and moisture.
And that is the threefold approach to making your straps last as long as possible and ensuring they offer optimal safety. It is not difficult, but neglect here can be dangerous.