How to Clean a Tent

Campsite with tent and campfire on lake

If you just returned from a camping trip, make sure you clean and dry your tent thoroughly before storing it, especially if it has a moldy smell to it. With these tips, you’ll learn the best way to clean a tent so it will be ready to go the next time adventure calls.

Tips for Cleaning a Tent

Your first thought might be to throw the tent into the washing machine, but this is not the best way to clean a tent. In fact, laundering a tent could stretch or tear the fabric, mesh, and seams, so never do this! Instead, follow these steps to clean your tent:

  • Prep the tent for cleaning: Head outside, unzip the tent doors, and turn it inside out. Shake the tent to remove loose debris.
  • Spot clean the tent: Scrub extra-dirty areas with a cloth or sponge and a drop or two of mild dish soap. Never use harsh or abrasive cleaners, such as bleach, spot remover, or laundry pre-soaking products.
  • Soak the tent: Fill a bathtub or utility sink with cool to lukewarm water and add a cleaner specifically designed for washing outdoor gear. Immerse the inside-out tent and rainfly and let them soak.
  • Rinse the tent: Drain the tub and refill it with clean water. Swish the tent around to rinse it. Repeat until all the soap is gone.
  • Dry the tent: Pitch the tent in a shaded outdoor spot and let it dry for several hours.

How to Wash a Moldy Tent

Damp tent fabric may harbor mold, giving it a funky smell. To clean a tent with mold and mildew, use a commercial enzyme cleaner. Don’t soak the tent any longer than recommended on the bottle to avoid breaking down the waterproof polyurethane coating.

Give the Tent Some Finishing Touches

Once the tent is clean and dry, take the time to evaluate the condition of the seams, zippers, and mesh. Make any repairs as needed.

  • Patch ripped seams with a small sewing kit and re-waterproof them by applying a tent sealing product.
  • Scrub zippers with an old toothbrush to remove grit and residue. Lubricate the teeth with a dry-zipper lubricant. If any zippers are broken, replace them.
  • Patch or replace damaged mesh.

Store Your Tent Properly

Never store a damp tent. There’s no such thing as too much drying time after you clean your tent.

It’s best to store your tent loosely in a pillowcase or mesh bag. The stuff sack it came in is nicely compact for transport, but it’s not the best choice for long-term storage because you want the tent fabric to relax and breathe.

The location is also important. Store your tent somewhere cool and dry. Avoid damp or hot locations including the garage, basement, attic, or car trunk.

Clean More Than Just Your Tent

A tent may be your home away from home when you go camping, but what about your actual house? If you find cleaning and deodorizing to be unbearable, hand over these tasks to Molly Maid. We offer the services you need when you need them. Customize your plan to include a one-time cleaningoccasional cleaning, or routine assistance with household chores.

For more useful cleaning tips, or to hire a professional housekeeper in your area, please contact your local Molly Maid for a free in-home estimate.