Published February 25, 2021
Can I Put My Tent in the Washing Machine?
No matter what kind of tent you have, our recommendation is to never wash it in the machine. Though washing by hand takes longer, you’ll be able to better maintain your tent. Some tents may even claim to be machine washable, but that doesn’t change the fact that it will wear down and degrade your tent quickly. ‘Can I put my tent in the washing machine’ is one of the most frequently asked questions we hear, and it’s understandable. However, experts suggest taking the effort to wash by hand for better results.
If you’re wondering how to get started washing your tent by hand, have no fear. We’ll cover that information in this guide, as well as some additional tips and information to help you properly maintain your camping gear. That way, you’ll be prepared the next time you’ve got a trip planned!
Preparing to Clean Your Tent
The very first thing you should do when you want to clean your tent is to figure out what kind of a wash it needs. In many cases, you can do a simple spot cleaning, or a quick spray with the house. This depends on what type of tent you have, and how dirty it is. If your tent is like most others, it’s made from either polyester, nylon or a combination of both. However, it’s also possible for you to have a canvas tent. If that is the case, you’ll have a different cleaning process than most others, which you can find some details about farther down below.
Take a look at your tent and see what needs cleaning. Are there a few problem spots? If so, that’s good news. That means you shouldn’t have to go through an intensive cleaning process. However, on the other hand, if your tent is covered in dirt, mud or anything else you want to clean off, you may have to go through a deep clean process. Additionally, it’s not super uncommon for tents to develop mold and mildew when not stored properly. If you run into this, a deep clean is in your future if you want to keep your tent.
When selecting a soap or solution, it’s best to either pick a mild soap or a cleaning product specifically meant for tents. This will ensure you don’t damage the fabric, which is the entire reason to avoid using the washing machine. If you need to deep clean your tent and have chosen your cleaner, follow these steps to move forward!
Step-by-Step In-Depth Cleaning Process
1. Spot Cleaning
Once you have chosen your cleaning solution, start by looking over your tent to find any trouble spots. If you’re dealing with mud, dirt, or mold, find the areas where the contaminants seems the worst. Then, take a soft brush, some water and your cleaning solution and go to town. Don’t scrub too hard, or you could damage the tent. Just go over the surface areas in need and take a look at the rest of the tent. If you’re lucky, this will be the only step you need to complete. However, if you finish the spot clean and the tent still smells bad or has visible dirt, it’s time to move further.
2. Soak in Soapy Water
The following step should be to fill up a bin with soapy water. If you have a laundry bin and faucet, this is a perfect opportunity to put it to good use. Fill the bin up about halfway and then dunk your tent in the water. Make sure to get the fabric entirely submerged. From there, let it soak for a solid half hour. That should be enough time to get rid of most bad smells and dirt residue. If you do not have access to a laundry bin, any sort of plastic bin that’s large enough should work! It just may be a bit harder for you to fill with water.
3. Hang Your Tent Outside
After you’ve let it soak for awhile, it’s time to dry. However, you don’t want to put it in the dryer or wring it out, as both can once again damage the tent. Your best bet is going to be to let the tent hang outside and air dry. However, keeping your tent directly in the sun, especially when soaked, can cause some major issues due to UV damage. That’s why it’s best to keep your tent in the shade as it dries. We know that’s a lot of limitations, but it’s the price you must pay for keeping your tent in great shape! It should only take a couple of hours for polyester or nylon to dry outside, and then you’ll be ready to move on to the final step.
4. Final Spot Cleaning
There’s just one thing to do before you’re done deep cleaning. Take one last look across the whole tent, making sure there are no spots that were missed. If there are, take your good old brush, soap and water and scrub them out! With this, you should finally be able to have a 100% clean tent. If you were plagued by nasty smells or anything else unpleasant, it should be gone by now. If not, it may be time to invest in your next tent. Hopefully after all this work it won’t come to that!
Still Wondering Can I Put My Tent in the Washing Machine?
We know it’s so much easier just to throw your tent in the machine, but we promise that this way of cleaning is worth the effort. If you want your tent to last a long time and maintain its quality, unfortunately the washing machine won’t cut it. Nylon and polyester tents are outfitted with a coating that makes them resistant to UV rays, which can tarnish the fabric. A rough wash in the machine with harsh soap and a spin cycle is sure to get rid of this coating. That’s why it is so important to give a soft wash to your tent if you don’t want to ruin it.
Cleaning a Canvas Tent
If you need a deep clean for your canvas tent, you’ll have to take a few steps out of the process above. Because they’re made of cotton, canvas tents don’t react well to spot cleaning from brushes. Instead, invest in a microfiber cloth. This should work much better, and won’t damage the material of the tent. You can still go ahead with soaking the tent in a tub of soapy water. Just remember to stick to a mild soap, and let air dry out of the direct sunlight! We realize that cleaning your tent is about as easy as taking care of a gremlin. Stick with us, though, and you’ll be glad in the long run that you did!
Last Minute Tips for Camping Gear Maintenance
Before we let you go, there are just a few more tips that we think will come in handy when preparing for your next camping trip. Take a look and you might pick up a piece of knowledge that helps you out in the future!
Invest in a Quality Camping Chair
One of the main goals of a camping trip is relaxation. Good luck finding a quality place to relax if you don’t have a reliable camping chair with you. Whether you want to spend some time sitting on the beach, or you need a comfy place to plop down near the fire, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time with your chair. Find one that won’t collapse on you, is easy to haul around, and offers enough comfort and support! It’s easy to pick up the cheapest chair you can find and assume it’ll work. However, we’ve found that’s often one of the first pieces of camping gear to break. Choose the right chair and this won’t happen to you!
Washing Sleeping Bags
While you’re here, it doesn’t hurt to talk a little bit about keeping your sleeping bag clean. If you’re wondering can I put my tent in the washing machine, it’s also common to hear the same thing asked about sleeping bags. If you’re really eager to skip the hassle, it won’t immediately destroy your sleeping bag by washing it in the machine. All the same, it’s not good for the lasting quality of the bag. If you have time, a hand wash is always preferable.