Climbing slings are the workhorse of your gear rack. You use slings and webbing every time you go climbing for belay and rappel anchors, rope drag, clipping to gear, and tying to trees and boulders. Slings, however, wear out with regular use as well as from age. Store slings properly to ensure their integrity and strength. Inspect your slings regularly to make sure they're strong and safe and retire them when they get old and decrepit.
How to Store Your Slings
Store your slings, and the rest of your climbing equipment for that matter, in a dark, dry, and cool place. Don't store them in the trunk of your car or in an outside container that gets hot inside. Protect the strength of your slings as well as make them last longer by storing them away from sunlight, chemicals, and heat. If you store them in a garage, make sure there are not chemicals, including auto supplies, gasoline, oil, garden chemicals, and fertilizers in close proximity to them. It's best to store them in a tight container.
Chemicals and Heat Damage Slings
Chemicals and heat are particularly bad for sling strength and life. Chemicals, including chemical gases, reduce the strength and breaking force of webbing, even if there are no visible signs of damage. If your slings come in contact with chemicals, consider immediately retiring them and buying new ones.
Slings Don't Last Forever
Climbing equipment, especially soft goods made from webbing like slings and harnesses, don't last forever. Regular climbing use wears the gear out. Keep a close eye on your slings and retire them as they age. Besides chemical and heat damage, slings are damaged simply by using them in sunlight and by wet conditions, rockfall, and friction burns. Regularly inspect your slings for friction heat and burns, which can occur just by the rope running over the sling or if the sling is pressed against or runs over a sharp edge.
Inspect and Replace Old Slings
Inspect your slings for damage after every climbing trip. If they're old and fuzzy, trash them and buy new ones. New slings are not too expensive and your life is worth the investment in new slings. If you're at a rappel station, replace the old webbing and slings with new material. Daily exposure to sunlight and weather at rappel anchors quickly ages webbing and robs it of strength. Also inspect your quickdraw slings. They get a lot of use and log a lot of air time from falling. If you regularly climb, consider replacing them every couple years. Ditto for the slings on your cams, although you may have to return them to the manufacturer for replacement.
How to Wash Your Slings
Maintain the safety of your slings by regularly cleaning them. Read How to Clean Climbing Slings and learn how to wash and maintain your slings so they last longer on the rocks and keep you safe.