There is no doubt that while protecting you from the elements, tents do get dirty. And washing them by hand can be cumbersome, purely because of their size and of course the amount of dirt they have on them.
So out of curiosity for convenience, you might ask: Can I wash a tent in my washing machine? Well, the short answer to that question is yes, you can wash it in your washing machine. But there are some complications as well.
You need to bear in mind that it shouldn’t be a top-loading washing machine. And a unit with a regular size won’t do the job either. It needs to be front loading, industrial-sized unit, and it must feature a gentle cycle.
Won’t it tear up my tent?
Sometimes, it’s better to leave the thing alone because it is made to handle the elements that way. But if you want to do it and have plenty of mud in your tent then you need to use a washing machine, and the type that we have mentioned above, ONLY!
Top loaders are not designed to accommodate this much content into it. It will either tear the tent or will remove the protective coating that the tent has on it. Without this coating, your tent will become much more unreliable to the elements, especially the sun and rain. It will wear out pretty quickly. But in most cases, the tent won’t survive the wash itself.
At a Glance!
|Hand washing||Spot cleaning and gentle scrubbing||Spot cleaning and gentle scrubbing|
|Tent size||Any sized tent||Any sized tent|
|Machine washing||Front loader, industrial-sized unit||Front loader, industrial-sized unit|
|Tent Size||1-person tent||2 or 3- person tent|
|Drying place||Outdoors||Indoors and outdoors|
|Drying technique||Pitch-dry and layout to dry||Pitch-dry, hang dry and layout to dry|
Tent Material Types
Manufacturers of these tents use cotton in them. If you are looking for excellent durability and insulation, then these are the tents for you. But you need to take care of them properly.
These tents don’t have any synthetic materials in them, and you can’t just hose them and then wipe them down. It is better for you to shake them and get rid of that excess dust.
You can also use your vacuum brush for this purpose and get rid of any excess debris from the inside as well as the outside. If you want to go for a deeper clean, then you should submerge it entirely in a large-sized bathtub or a container. Now use a microfiber cloth/sponge as well as a mild soap and start spot cleaning.
You will have to repeat this process based on the fact of how dirty your tent is. If you have found that there is some mildew or mold developing in your tent, then take four parts of water and mix one part vinegar in it and use this fluid directly on the section that has the growth.
Allow this solution to stay there for 10 to 15 minutes and then scrub it with your sponge. But don’t go deep or your or the fabric will start to wear.
You can go for quick and soft motions right on the surface. After the scrubbing, rinse the area with warm water and allow it to air dry.
Polyester and nylon are synthetic materials. They are very versatile and lightweight. It is the exact reason why they are the best choice for backpacking. Another advantage they have is that these tents are very simple to clean.
A simple hosing will do the trick. If you want to go for a deep clean process, then there is a simple thing that you need to do.
Just set your tent up, and with the help of a large bucket, some mild soap and a washcloth just start spot cleaning the dirty areas. The submerging method will work here as well if you want to go for that all-over clean.
But you won’t need to that unless you have dragged it through a mud pool. And then you will have to be 100% sure that your tent is all dried up before you start winding it up to store. Focus on the seams as well, as they tend to store some moisture.
How to dry a tent?
Even after all the advice that we have given to you about not to machine wash your tent, if you still have done it, then don’t machine dry it, EVER! A dryer will expose your tent to a significant amount of heat damage.
And your machine washing has already exposed it because the coating is all gone. Therefore, the only way to dry your tent is to allow it to stay in the open air. But of course, there are a couple of variations here as well: outdoor and indoor.
Drying it out in the open
Outdoor is the best place for drying your tent entirely, and there are some obvious reasons for that. There is fresh air that will allow your tent o dry a lot faster. Drip drying a tent can be a huge mess, especially if you are doing inside. There are three different techniques to air dry your tent out in the open.
Pitch-drying is the most convenient
This one is a no brainer as you can leave your tent pitched out in the open and allow it to air dry. If you can pack your tent up dry and clean from your campsite, it will save a lot of time. This technique works the best with a synthetic tent, particularly if it is pretty windy outside.
These tents are very lightweight and won’t take more than an hour to dry completely inadequate conditions. This technique is not entirely effective with canvas tents because the cotton content will hold a lot of water, and the tent will take a lot longer to dry completely. Due to this reason, canvas tents are more prone to mildew and mold.
Hang-dry is pretty effective
Of course, you can go for a hand drying method as well. You just need to be sure that your tent is UV-safe. And if it is, you can hang it in a windy and sunny area for drying. This technique is equally good for synthetic and canvas tents.
Laying out to dry is quick
You can also allow your tent to dry if you lay it down on a sun-exposed and warm rock right near the edge of a cliff. The radiating heat from the rock’s surface will allow your tent to dry quickly.
Drying your tent inside
It is better to dry your tent outside using one of the techniques that we have mentioned above. But if the weather is not right then, you will have to do it indoors. In such a scenario, you will need a good location for it.
Your garage or basement will be a good choice because there is a lot of room. You can either hang it or pitch it dry. You can also drape it over that shower curtain if the tent has the right size.
You can also allow your tent to drip dry by placing it on your dining table. No matter where you place it, just make sure that the conditions are right. Circulating warm air is the best option to dry it faster.
Therefore, you can have a space heater around it as well. Several fans blowing air directly on your tent will also get the job done. If your tent is pitched or hanging, just leave it alone.
But if you lay it down somewhere inside your house, then you need to flip it after every couple of hours to ensure that it dries up from all around.
How to maintain your tent?
It’s not just about washing your tent and getting rid o those nasty stains for good. You also need to properly maintain your tent and take care of the tent while using or before storing them.
As there are two different types of tents in terms of materials, there are slightly different techniques that you need to use for proper maintenance.
Canvas tents do tend to get dirty a bit more if you compare them with the synthetic tents because they have cotton in them. And cotton But you don’t need much maintenance either.
There are no spray coatings you need to use on this type of tent material.
However, you do need to allow it a proper time to air dry. It is one of the best materials that you need in most weather conditions.
However, when it is a bit moist, then this tent will also start to give off a musty smell. Just make sure that your tent is properly dry from all corners before you think about storing it.
Synthetic tents are very lightweight because they are either made of man-made polyester or nylon. These materials are way better to use in damp weather, and they are durable as well.
These are a lot easier to wash and handle. However, before storing them, you need to maintain them properly.
Before storing, you need to apply some waterproof coating on them. Just can water-resistant spray from the market and spray it evenly on the outer surface of the tent and wipe any excess spray using a dry cloth.
Then store it and make sure that it is bone dry.
How to keep you tent clean while it is in use?
For your next trip, the best practice is to keep your tent clean while you are on your trip. Here are some of the important things that you need to keep in mind on your next trip to keep your tent squeaky clean.
- Keep your dirty apparel, shoes, drinks, and snacks out of your tent for good.
- If you have access to a water hose on your campsite, then you can use it to clean the outside of your tent and allow it to air dry. You need to do this on the last day, or you can do this as per the requirement.
- Make sure that you use proper protective sprays to prevent any growth of mildew or mold on or inside your tent.
- Allow your tent to air dry entirely before you start thinking about wrapping it up and storing it.
- Don’t leave your pets as well as children unsupervised inside your tent. They will make a mess eventually!
- You can go for dusting from time to time, and the same is the case with hosing. But make sure that you allow your tent to air dry properly both from the inside and out.
How often should I wash my tent?
To be honest, you don’t need to wash your tent at all. These tents are designed to get dirty. After all, a tent is an outdoor product. It is not something like your indoor furniture that frequently requires cleaning and maintenance.
The best way to clean your tent is to do some dusting, hose it, and then spot dry. There is nothing else needed here. However, if you are still thinking about giving that tent a full bath, then you need to rethink it.
Bathing your tent will do more harm than good. Apart from that, washing an entire tent is a real pain in the neck. And you’ll be washing it for what, putting it back out there to get dirty again: it just doesn’t add up.
So, there are no rules here on how often you should do it. It all boils down to yourself and your camping style, and how much dirty it gets after your trips. The best way to keep your tent clean is during and at the end of your outdoor excursion.
But we are not talking about a full-blown bath. It might just need a bit of shaking, dusting, and hosing. You can also get some help for cleaning and maintenance form the instruction manual to find out the best technique to clean your tent.
Can I put a tent in a dryer?
You should not put your tent in a dryer under any circumstances. As your tent will be exposed to heat, it will get damaged, and you will have to buy a new one for you.
What materials can I use to wash my tent?
Mild soapy water can work whether you are spot cleaning or going for a full tent bath. White wine vinegar is also useful in this regard. Just make sure that you don’t roughly scrub the tent’s surface. Soft and quick scrubbing and washing with warm water will work. You can repeat the process if the spots remain.
How can I waterproof my tent?
Make sure that the external side of your tent is clean/ you can spray it with water if required. Now apply the waterproofing spray for a tent on it.
You don’t have to wait for your tent to dry after the water spray. Make sure that you evenly spray the fluid on your tent. Using a soft but damp cloth, you can wipe off any excess amount of coating due to extra spray.
Now leave it to dry. Your tent is now water-proofed.
It is not necessary to use a washing machine to clean your tent. You can clean your tent manually, and it’s pretty effective. But in most cases, you don’t need to clean it at all because it is designed that way.
Machine drying is, of course, possible, but you will have to go through a lot, and then you will need an industrial-sized front-loading unit for this purpose too.
Therefore, it is better to sot clean your tent and make sure that you maintain its cleanliness during your trips. It will save you a lot of your time.