How To Wash A Tent

Every camper sooner or later wonders how to wash a tent. Its really not that difficult, but there are some concerns involved. Doing it the wrong way will destroy your tent, while doing it the right way will provide years of enjoyment. It also depends on various factors, such as what type of material, if the poles are steel or fiber glass, etc. Furthermore,you should never use harsh detergents to wash a tent, since these will ultimately destroy the fabric after repeated washings.

To wash a tent you will need:

  • dish washing detergent
  • soft brush
  • soft towel
  • bucket
  • garden hose
  • running water supply
  • tarp
  • hot sunny day
  1. Dissolve one eighth cup of dish washing detergent into one gallon of lukewarm water. To prevent foaming, fill your bucket first with water, then dissolve the detergent slowly into the water. Bubbles in the foam will not wash a tent correctly, since air pockets do not do any washing action.
  2. Spread out the tarp on level ground. The purpose of this is that tent floors are by nature delicate, and sticks, rocks, etc. could pierce it. You want your tent to last as long as possible. It is always best to protect your flooring when you wash a tent.
  3. Erect your tent completely on the tarp. Do not erect it partially, since to wash a tent correctly, all areas (including the floor) have to be saturated with the soapy water solution.
  4. Using your garden hose and water supply, saturate your tent with water. In order to wash a tent correctly, this has to be done. A damp cloth will attract soap better than a dry cloth, by capillary attraction. You want the soap to penetrate as deep as possible into the fabric.
  5. Dip a soft brush or towel into the soap solution, and scrub your tent gently. Don't be afraid here, use a liberal amount to wash your tent. if you need to make more soap and water, dish washing soap is cheap enough so you don't have to worry about cost. Also, wash the floor too.
  6. Let stand for about five minutes. This is a soak time. Let the soap do its work. By letting the soap penetrate deep into the pores, it will remove most organic stains and dirt.  
  7. Rinse your tent with the garden hose. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. Rinse the floor thoroughly as well. The overall goal here is to rinse the soap completely out of the fabric.
  8. Air dry your tent thoroughly. If you pack away a damp tent, it will mildew, making it worse than before you washed your tent. Mildew will rot fabric, and your tent will be destroyed.
  9. Line dry your tent.  As an alternative, you can dismantle your damp tent, and hang it up on a clothesline. This will assure your flooring will dry thoroughly as well.
  10. Wash and dry off all the poles with a towel. Make sure all the poles are completely bone dry before packing them away. Its a good idea to let them stand out in the sun, since the heat will assure dryness. Part of how to wash a tent is to wash, rinse, and dry the poles too.
  11. Pack away your tent after it is bone dry.
  12. Never, never, pack away a damp tent. This will allow mold and mildew to grow. Mold and mildew will eat away tent fabric, and when you unpack it, you will find holes where the mold ate completely through. Your tent and poles have to be completely bone dry before you pack it away.


Tent Care

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