What Is The Best Way To Clean A Tent?

Last Updated on February 10, 2023

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For outdoorsy types who adore camping gear, it’s easy to forget key maintenance duties. One of the most common overlooked tasks? Cleaning your tent!

Coming home from a camping trip can be as daunting as preparing for one. Everyone and everything is covered in a layer of dirt, including your tent. To make sure you don’t spread any extra dirt around your house, and extend the life of your tent, it’s important to properly clean and store the tent after a camping trip.

The easiest way to keep a clean tent starts with keeping your tent clean during use.

Tent Care During Use

  • Sticky zippers: When dealing with a stuck zipper, instead of forcing it open or closed, use one hand to hold the track and then back up the slider using gentle wiggling motions until you have freed any fabric that was stuck in the teeth. If your zipper splits at any time during this process, gently move backwards until everything lines up correctly again.
  • Do not leave dogs unsupervised in your tent: Dogs can cause a lot of damage to the interior of a tent and unfortunately, it is not always easy to repair.
  • No shoes inside the tent: Not only will it keep your tent clean, but also prevent sharp objects from tearing up the floor.
  • Before packing up, take a few moments to sweep or shake out any dirt and debris that has collected in the corners of your tent before folding it away. This can help you during your tent cleanup later.
  • To discourage any unwelcome visitors, make sure to store all food and scented items outside of your tent in a secure container, and never eat food inside your tent. You would not want to wake up to critters trying to get into your tent because you have so many delicious scents attracting them.

When You Get Home

When you get home, take the tent outside and shake it vigorously to remove any extra loose debris or dirt. Make sure to inspect all the seams and pockets of the tent for any damage caused by wear and tear.

Can A Tent Be Washed In A Washing Machine?

Never machine-wash or machine-dry a tent.

To preserve the life of your tent, avoid machine-washing or drying at all costs. It’s best to clean your tent by hand.

Even the most resilient tents are susceptible to a buildup of dirt and grime. When you think of something needing to be scaled up from hand-washing, the washer and dryer can seem like a great solution. However, when it comes to tents – big or small – it’s best to stay away from using either one. Even a gentle washing machine cycle can stretch fabric, tear mesh, and weaken seams and zippers. Similarly, the heat produced by a dryer could also cause damage to your tent. Therefore, stick with hand-washing and air drying if you want to keep your tent in peak condition.

Read next: 10 Amazing Benefits Of Camping With Family

When Should You Wash Your Tent? Here’s How To Know

After a journey, it’s effortless to shove your equipment aside without so much as an afterthought. However, the attention you devote to its preservation will be returned in spades as far as its longevity is concerned. Gradually, dirt, smoke, sand and other environmental factors can wreak havoc on a tent’s fabric and wear down its components.

Revitalize your tent by giving it a proper washing – investing in good quality gear is essential for any outdoor enthusiast, and with the right maintenance techniques you can ensure that your tent lasts longer.

Scenarios That Require A Wash

If your tent has a dusting, that’s normal and doesn’t require immediate attention. However, if you observe an accumulation of dirt or grime over time, it is likely time to give it a good clean.

After being exposed to the smoke from a campfire for an extended period of time, your tent will likely be coated with particles. To take proper care of it and ensure its longevity, clean away these microparticles as soon as possible.

Grime can erode the impermeability of waterproof coatings. The fabric will not cause water to form into droplets, preventing a soggy mess. Cleaning up the tent and re-waterproofing will work wonders.

When camping by the sea, sand can act as a micro-abrasive to fabrics. Furthermore, saltwater in the air corrodes zippers and aluminum tent poles, while sand often prevents pole ferrules from being fully inserted.

Best Way To Clean A Tent

For A Gentle Clean, Hand-Wash Your Tent In The Bathtub For Optimal Results

Use a mild non-detergent and warm water to gently rub away any dirt or debris. Make sure to pay extra attention to the seams, pockets, and zippers of the tent since those areas tend to accumulate more dirt. Once you’re finished washing your tent, hang it up outdoors in an area that is not exposed to direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays can cause the fabric to fade and weaken over time. Allow at least 24 hours for your tent to air dry before packing it away.

For optimal cleaning results, use a soft sponge with non-detergent soap and cold water. Gently scrub away any dirt or grime by hand – paying special attention to coated surfaces for the best results.

Steer clear of residential cleaning solutions such as strong dish soaps, bleach, spot removers or laundry presoaking items. These everyday household products are typically scented and can attract bugs, rodents and other unwelcome creatures to your campsite. Furthermore, these detergents can to harm a tent’s water repelling ability- nobody wants to wake up in the middle of the night soaked.

We suggest using the combination of Nikwax Tech Wash & Tent & Gear SolarProof (Spray-On). This will help you keep your tent properly waterproofed too.

To extend the life of your tent, re-waterproofing is a simple and effective solution. However, it’s important to remember that most tent sealing products require 24 hours for full drying time; be sure to have an area clean from debris prepared where you can lay out your tent in order to let it dry properly.

Read next: Family Camping Tips: How To Setup And Enjoy Your Campsite

Washing A Tent

Steps To Clean Your Tent In The Bathtub

  • To ensure a thorough cleaning, fill the tub with enough cool water to completely cover your tent. Do not use hot water!
  • Add a small amount of Tech Wash.
  • Knead the tent, pressing it down and tossing it around for roughly 5 minutes to make sure water penetrates all areas of the fabric.
  • Leave the tent to soak for a few minutes and repeat.
  • If the water is really dirty, you will want to drain the water, refill with fresh water, and do this process until you feel it is clean enough for your liking.
  • Do not twist and pull the tent to wring out the water.

How To Dry Your Tent

  • Hang the tent somewhere that does not have sharp areas that could cause ripping. Make sure the tent is fully supported so the fabric does not get stretched out.
  • Be sure to air dry the tent afterwards, as the high heat of the dryer could shrink or damage your tent.
  • Shift the tent around while drying to ensure it is completely dry.
  • When storing your tent, be sure to clean it and allow it to completely dry before folding it up for storage.
  • Ensure all areas have had time to dry out properly – otherwise, moisture can cause damage due to mold or mildew during storage.

Read next: Camping Essentials: The Gear You Should Have

It Is Best To Spot Clean A Tent When Possible, Rather Than Washing The Entire Thing At Once

A tent is essential to a successful camping trip, so providing it with proper care and maintenance will help ensure your next getaway is free of any surprises. To be on the safe side, spot clean whenever possible. This method involves tackling smaller areas at a time to ensure that you protect the integrity of the material without doing anything too drastic. Providing your beloved tent with loving care will allow it to stay looking its best for many seasons to come!

How To Clean A Tent With Mold

If your tent has been exposed to prolonged dampness, chances are it may have developed mold. You cannot wash mold out of a tent, so being diligent and taking proper care of your tent is a must.

Cleaning and storing a tent after a camping trip is essential in preserving its longevity and ensuring that it is kept in top condition. With the right cleaning methods, you can keep your tent looking like new for years to come. From hand-washing and air drying to spot cleaning, it’s easy to give your tent the care that it needs – just make sure you don’t miss any steps! With a little extra effort and time, you can guarantee all of your future camping trips are a success.

Regular maintenance and cleaning can make all the difference when it comes to preserving the lifespan of your tent. So, take a few extra steps during this process and you’ll be sure to have a reliable shelter with you wherever your adventures take you.


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