How To Clean A Tent

Camping is one of the best summer activities. Nothing beats finding the ideal site, setting your tent among some of the spectacular views, and dozing off to sleep to the calming natural sounds. One of life’s most simple joys is the very first inhale of morning air once emerging from your tent.

Tents are now built of tough, ultralight synthetic fibers that can withstand the outdoors. However, while contemporary tent fabrics are designed to resist water and other intrusive natural forces like dust and debris, their daily cleaning requirements remain the same, ensuring your tent will last for decades of camping adventures to come.

How to clean a tent

When you take a tent out of your garage or storage facility, it often has an awful, musty stench. This could be due to the growth of mold and mildew as a consequence of filthy storage or poor storage of the tent. It might also be the odor of your tent’s urethane covering on the canvas flooring or fly deteriorating due to a reaction.

There are a few things you can do to avoid unwanted scents and keep your tent clean and in neat functioning order. Tents must never be machine washed to prevent agitating the material or special coverings. Sweep the area in front of your camp when setting up camp to keep twigs, pine needles, loose mud, and other debris from coming inside. To avoid finding flaws in your tent’s flooring or sidewalls, make it a routine to clean out any dirt that has made its way in on shoes and clothing on a regular basis.

When washing your tent, resist using bleach or other chemical treatments to avoid destroying the textiles as well as other components. It’s also not a smart option to use a power washer because you risk damaging the seams. Try these basic tent care techniques to make your camping vacations more enjoyable while also extending the life of your tent.

How To Clean A Tent

Step 1

Avoid washing your tent on harsh surfaces like stone. Doing so may result in unseen harm to your tent, particularly if the floor has rough edges. When washing your camp tent, a great general rule is to use a sheet.

Step 2

Rinse your tent in lukewarm or tepid water to remove more tenacious marks. If the washing directions allow it, use a soap made specifically for outdoor equipment. Wash your tent completely with freshwater or with light pressure from a water hose. While you’re at it, use a soapy sponge to clean any dirt or seawater from your straps.

Step 3 

Make absolutely sure that your tent is entirely dry before storing it, even if you’ve performed a quick clean on-site or washed it at home. Moist tents quickly grow mold or fungus and are difficult to eliminate. Aside from causing damage to your tent, the odor will rapidly ruin any unplanned camping trip. Put your tent up and then allow it to air dry over a few hours out of direct sunshine to dry completely. If it’s drizzling, drape it inside a covered shed or home.

Use your screens to keep moisture (and mildew) at bay in your tent. Keep an eye on the air direction to avoid grit getting into your closures and window liners.

Step 4 

While the packing sack will keep your tent safe in the car, it’s preferable to store it with something open and airy at home. By putting your tent in a cover, you will allow the tent fabric to rest and ventilate, reducing the risk of mold and mildew. Avoid storing it in warm, humid environments, such as an outside garage, and instead keep it elsewhere dry and cold, such as your corridor cupboard.

How to clean a tent

The Importance Of Drying Your Tent

It may be acceptable to leave your tent panels entirely open depending on the location, but you’ll normally want to keep them slightly closed to avoid dirt and debris from flying inside your tent and spoiling all of your hard graft. Place the tent in the shade to dry. After 6-12 hours, inspect your tent. After around 3 days, your tent ought to be entirely dry. Let the tent completely dry before wrapping it up; else, you’ll have to deal with a weird odour if you’re lucky, and mould if you’re unfortunate.

After your tent has dried, you can reproof it if it requires further protection from the weather and sunshine. Use a tent-specific proof, preferably one with UV protection. Examine the directions that came with the proof; many operate with damp tents, so you’ll need to understand if this is the situation before you begin. Wear old clothing items and gloves to protect your hands.

How to clean a tent

Deep Cleaning 

Use an enzyme cleaner if your tent has mildew, mold, or odors. Read the enzyme cleanser instructions carefully, particularly the part about how long to immerse the tent. If you immerse the tent for an extended period of time, you risk hydrolysis, which occurs when water starts to break down impermeable polyurethane coverings.

If there is tree sap on your tent, use oil to touch wash it, but don’t scrape too hard. You could also experiment with alcohol-based items such as hand sanitizer or baby wipes. When the  sap has been cleaned, gently rinse with lukewarm water.

If the zippers and closures aren’t working properly, use a paintbrush to scour out any dust, grit, mud, or water residues that have become stuck in the zipper edges. Wipe the zipper after rinsing it with water to remove dirt particles. Disinfect dirty, filthy, sandy, or greasy poles with a cloth. Try upgrading the waterproofing layers. If your tent is really not preventing rain from coming in like it used to, you can recoat it.

Bottom Line

Camping holidays can easily be ruined by dirt, grime, punctures, water damage, and UV damage. To prevent these issues from cutting your vacation short, we recommend following the detailed instructions above to ensure your tent is in tip-top condition before heading out in it. 

Eric Willis
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