Caring for Your Carabiners

47 reviews with an average rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars
Close-up photo of four carabiners hanging off of the climbing harness a person is wearing

Carabiners play an important role in any climber’s gear assortment. To enhance your safety, be sure to keep them regularly inspected and maintained.

This article gives you basic tips on inspecting, cleaning, sanding and storing your carabiners.

Shop REI's selection of carabiners.

Carabiner Inspection

  • Check all surfaces regularly for cracks, sharp edges, corrosion, burrs or excessive wear. Even hairline cracks can reduce carabiner strength significantly.
  • Make sure no rivets are bent or missing.
  • Check each gate to make sure it opens and closes quickly and easily. Be sure all gates (and any locking mechanisms) close freely and completely. If the gate does not function properly, or if it's askew or bent, retire the carabiner.
  • Carabiners that have been dropped a significant distance should also be retired. Dropped carabiners can suffer significant damage yet still appear intact. When in doubt, do not use it.

Time for new carabiners? Shop REI’s selection of carabiners and quickdraws.

Carabiner Cleaning

  • Clean gates by blowing dust and dirt from the hinge area.
  • If you notice a sticky gate, wash it in warm, soapy water (citrus-based bike cleaners also work well), rinse it thoroughly and let it dry.
  • Lubricate it with dry graphite or any dry, waxed-based lubricant around the hinge area, the spring hole and the locking mechanism. Be sure to wipe off all excess lubricant.
  • Always clean and lube your carabiners after contact with saltwater or salt air.

Burr Removal

  • Keep your carabiners free from burrs that can damage a rope.
  • To sand down burrs, use 220-400 grade sandpaper. If this doesn't remove the burr, destroy the carabiner.
  • Do not file carabiners for any reason.


  • Do not store your carabiners in humid or salty air, with damp equipment or clothing, or near corrosive chemicals.

For more carabiner information, see the REI Expert Advice article, Carabiners: How to Choose.