How to Clean A Tent – The Right Way to Make It (2024)

how to clean a tent

Tent care is something that we might not always take with such importance as we should and people generally find that their tent has deteriorated because the necessary precautions were not taken to ensure that the tent is clean and in pristine condition.

In this article, we have decided to look a little deeper at tent care and how to clean a tent after each use. We have also explored a few different avenues of tent care that will help you keep up the durability of the tent and also have it last you much longer than you might have bargained for.

Like everything in life, a tent will deteriorate if it is not cared for and treated and once this happens, it can be a costly process to restore and even clean the tent sufficiently.

Keeping Your Tent Protected

One of the best and most efficient ways of ensuring that you get the most out of your tent is to keep it clean.

You can simply wipe it off the moment it becomes dirty or mold starts to appear, or you could simply avoid setting up the tent in precarious situations where the ground is muddy and you know that a lot of moisture will be falling on it. Here are a few camping tips to help you sufficiently set up your tent.

1. Only Use Established Camping Sites

how to clean a tent

Established camping sites are designed to accommodate the tent and they will also offer many more levels of protection from the elements than you will find in the wild. Camping sites also have easier-to-use set up systems and you will not have to force the poles into the ground which might lead to them breaking or weakening.

2. Do Not Leave Your Tent In Direct Sunlight For Too Long

As powerful as water and cold weather may be, the sun can also inflict a lot of damage on your tent and the longer the tent has to take the direct sunlight at its hottest, the warmer the materials will get and they will also start to weaken.

Many brands do offer UV protection in their tents, but over time, your tent will still take some damage from being exposed to the sun.

We would also recommend that you consider investing in a good tarp. The tarp can be used as an overlay to the tent and this will significantly improve the overall durability and limit the exposure of your tent to the elements.

3. Consider Investing In A Good Tent Footprint

The tent footprint is not that well-known by every camper, trekking or backpacking enthusiasts, but it can definitely make the cleaning process much easier. A lot of the dirt and problems you generally face come from the bottom or the floor of the tent.

The footprint will basically reinforce this bottom area and ensure that you are protected and have less dirt to deal with in the end.

How To Clean A Tent

One of the most common questions we generally face is the fact that we do not know exactly how to clean a tent and you are not alone with this problem. Most tent owners do not know how to clean their tents properly and the general method now is using a hosepipe to simply spray down the dirt on your tent.

These tips will help you to clean your tent much more efficiently and while the hosepipe technique might not cause any problems, you might want to be a little more cautious and take the gentle approach to ensure that you do not accidentally damage the tent in the cleaning process.

Step 1: Set it up on a sunny day before starting

how to clean a tent

It is important that you set up the tent before starting to clean it. You should have every part of the tent fully set up to help you see where the dirt or the mold might be and then you could start planning your approach to get it cleaned.

Bottom Line: By setting it up, the wiping process will also be much easier and when you leave it to dry, you will find that it does dry out much faster.

Step 2: Use a hosepipe to spray and loosen the dirt

how to clean a tent

While we do not prefer this method of cleaning the tent, there can be no arguments for the effectiveness of the method, but it certainly does place the tent at some level of risk. If you do plan on using the hosepipe, we recommend changing the setting to sprinkling to avoid putting too much pressure on the tent itself.

Bottom Line: The sprinkling method might not spray and loosen all of the dirt, but it is a good way for you to get the tent wet before starting the wiping process.

Step 3: Rub the fabric with soap

how to clean a tent

Yes, detergent might be the stronger and more effective option, but there are too many harmful ingredients in most detergents and this could potentially harm your tent and your health. We recommend using a hand soap to go about cleaning the tent as this will not weaken the fabric and it will still allow you to loosen some of those tough dirt patches.

Bottom Line: You can even leave the soap on the tent for a little while to help weaken the dirt and thus allowing it to come off much easier.

Step 4: Use a cloth or a sponge to clean the mold and dirt

Cold water might not be ideal when it comes to loosening dirt and warm water will weaken the fabrics of your tent and this could damage it in the long term. We recommend using lukewarm water when you are cleaning your tent. This will also help loosen tough dirt patches and preserve the fabrics of the tent itself.

Using a cloth instead of a sharper brush is essential and while a brush might allow you to scrub off those dirty patches, it could also potentially rip into the fabrics and cause some damage to the tent.

Bottom Line: A softer sponge will also be ideal, but if you do not have a sponge at home for cleaning your outdoor equipment, the cloth will work just as well.

Step 5: Use a soft cloth for the tent poles

Never forget about cleaning the tent poles as they can also weaken after too much dirt has become attached. The tent poles are much easier to wipe and depending on the location you have been, they should be wiped with either a dry or wet cloth.

Bottom Line: For backpacking in the backcountry, you will be fine with a wet cloth to help you remove stubborn dirt patches that nature has asserted on your tent, but if you are camping in the coastal regions where the moisture in the air is full of salt, you will need to let the poles dry and then wipe off the salt with a dry cloth. The salt can erode and cause lasting damage to the tent poles over time.

Step 6: Let the tent dry out completely before storing

how to clean a tent

It is imperative to let your tent fully dry out before packing it up and storing it. If any moisture is left in the tent, it could potentially damage the tent and even cause a horrid stench of old water and moisture.

Bottom Line: Air drying your tent is the most effective way to go about drying it out and you should then carefully pack up the tent for the next camping trip.

Additional Tips On Tent Care

After multiple years in the wilderness camping and backpacking with tents, there are a few tricks of the trade that we have managed to learn. These tips can help to improve the durability of the tent and it will certainly add to the lifetime of your tent.

1. Use A Spray-On Treatment For Your Tent

Fabric should be protected and while thoroughly cleaning the tent and keeping it pristine might seem like enough, it is still hard to contain the damage caused by the elements.

By using a spray-on treatment for your tent, you will be able to keep the tent clean and add some sort of UV protection to the outer coat. Many of these treatments will even add another waterproof coat to the tent.

2. Clean Your Tent Immediately After Each Trip

After a long camping or backpacking trip, you might feel exhausted and tired, but taking care of your tent is a chore that you definitely should not put off. The bacteria and the more dirt could build up and they will also become harder to remove over time. To avoid this, you should clean your tent as soon as possible when done on your trip.

3. Respect Your Tent

This might not be a tip, but it certainly is some good advice that you should keep in mind. You should respect your tent for how it protects you and once you do respect the tent, you will find yourself taking much better care of it.

Final Thoughts

We certainly do hope that you now have a better understanding of how to clean a tent. Tents are expensive and they need to be taken care of as much as you would take care of your car.

Please share your thoughts on this article in the comment section and let us know if you think we might have missed any of the other good ways to clean your tent sufficiently.


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