If you go camping or backpacking outdoors regularly, your tent will gradually become filthy. Having been caught in heavy rain can be the most leading symptom of tent damage, both inside and out. Mud, dirt, mold growth, and other substances could quickly degrade your tent’s appearance and feel.
If you’d like to keep your tent looking nice and feeling warm when it’s time to sleep, you need to carry out regular gentle maintenance such as washing, drying, and airing your tent regularly.
To save time, you may think, can you wash a tent in a washing machine? It is advisable to never put your tent in a front-loading washing machine, even on a gentle cycle.
Unless your tent manufacturer specifies it is possible, never put a tent in the washing machine. A tent is vulnerable with a top-loading washing machine as the agitator can stretch and tear tent fabrics, mesh inners, and seams. (Read our Tips for Camping in the Rain)
Besides stretching and tearing fabrics, agitation and detergent use could harm and potentially damage the waterproof coating applied to the fly, board, and inner tent.
In our guide, you can learn about your tent care and why there isn’t a tent washing machine capable of cleaning a tent as well as you can by hand.
Should You Wash Your Tent?
Tents will get dirty and smelly, so they need care and attention to get the most from them.
Never machine wash a tent, as this can ruin them. Top loading washing machines are hazardous, especially for your tents.
Using the instructions, we have below, all you need are warm water and mild soap, a large soft sponge or cloth to gently scrub the tent fabric, floor, and seams.
- Pitch your tent in your yard.
- Gather the supplies such as your hose, sponge, soft scrub brush, and tent soap.
- Sponge, and scrub down all surfaces, inside, then out and brush off any debris.
- Use your hose and thoroughly rinse the entire tent.
- Let it dry completely in the sun before you put your tent away for storage when not in use.
- The best way to tackle the fly without a machine wash is to lay the fly flat on the grass so you can wash and rinse both sides.
- Once you have done this, search for a suitable spot to hang the cloth to dry. Using your clothesline is the best option, although you can use your fence or large lawn chairs to drape it over.
Can a Tent Be Washed in a Washing Machine?
Before camping, practice setting up your tent at home. You go, take the time to set up a new tent at home, and you’ll become acquainted with setting up your tent outdoors in all weathers.
After your camp, we advise washing your tent in specific ways. You can give them a good rinse with a hose, yet using soaps and scrubbing isn’t recommended for tents.
You can give them a good rinse with a hose, yet using soaps and scrubbing isn’t recommended for tents. You will sometimes discover a rinse isn’t enough, and it needs washing.
Avoid the temptation to chuck a tent in a top-loading washer since the action can severely damage your tent. (Find the Best 14 Person Tent)
You could find the fabric and tent seams torn or stretched, and you could lose all the fabric waterproofing. Even if you have a tent that has the potential to be washed in a front-loading washer, it is preferable for washing a tent by hand. For one, when you hand wash and rinse the tent gently with a sponge and non-detergent soap, you have complete control of your actions rather than a machine.
How Do You Wash a Tent After Camping?
Here are the straightforward steps to wash your tent.
Clean cold water. Bucket or garden hose to rinse.
A tent-specific soap wash. It is recommended to use such items as Nikwax Tech Wash. It is proven not to degrade any of your tent fabric coatings.
A soft sponge.
Note: Don’t give in to temptation and throw your tent in the washing machine.
You can wash your tent in a shower or bathtub, yet it is easier in an outdoor environment.
- Wet down your tent with warm water.
- Liberally apply your tent-specific wash.
- Gently soap and lather your tent using the tent soap and sponge.
- Rinse your tent thoroughly.
- Hang your tent to dry completely.
- Once your tent is dry completely, place your tent in a stuff sack so the air can circulate, and it will help prevent mold and mildew.
How Do You Clean a Stinky Tent?
Tents that have been stored in damp areas or not used in a while can smell of mildew. Besides this, if you have used it a lot, then there could be the smell of body odor or sweat lingering.
Mold and mildew grow fast, and it is vital to store your tent in a warm, dry place. For this and other smells, you can use these steps to clean a smelly tent.
- Tent cleaners such as Revivex cleaner and deodorizer products
- Large soft sponge
- A large container or use an outdoor environment (warm weather needed)
- Mild Dish Soap
- Recommended odor eliminator
Cleaning can take as little as 30 minutes, yet to dry thoroughly, you need to hang your tent so it can air dry for between 6 to 8 hours.
- Spot clean dirty areas using your sponge, soap, and water.
- Add cleaner to warm water following bottle instructions.
- Submerge your tent, or if erected, hand wash the outer fabrics.
- Never scrub the tent fly as you could damage or remove the PU waterproof coating.
- Rinse with water to remove residue.
- Air dry completely and carry on deodorizing your tent of smells.
- Fill your container with enough water to submerge your tent.
- Add your chosen odor eliminator as per the manufacturer’s instructions and mix.
- Unzip all the zippers and open your tent flaps.
- Soak your tent in the odor eliminator solution for a maximum of 5 minutes (or manufacturer’s recommendations) to saturate the tent fabric with microbes.
- Do not rinse your tent at this stage.
- Let the tent air dry completely out of strong sunlight.
- When dry, loosely fold or stuff into a large stuff sack to let air circulate.
Using all the above, you can find machine washing of your tent doesn’t help besides using less effort. Besides this, it can quickly damage your camping gear and reduce the active life of your tent and its ability to keep you dry if it rains, so it is best to use our tips above.
Read more: Best Queen Size Camping Cot