Can You Wash a Tent in a Washing Machine? The Myths and The Reality

Tents can get dirty easily after being exposed to the outdoors. So, it is essential to know how to clean them for long-term utilization.

Last summer, I was out camping. I took my tent so I could stay out overnight. It was a pleasant experience for me, but for my tent? Not so much. It got dirty and I needed to clean it up very quickly because I had more plans on camping with my friends. So, with me being in a rush, I had a weird thought and it was, can I wash my tent in a washing machine? Because a washing machine is the quickest way to clean any type of cloth.

Let’s find out the truth then. 

Can You Wash a Tent in a Washing Machine? 

Can you wash your tent in a washing machine? In short, no. A washing machine can damage your tent and delaminate waterproofing. Not only a washing machine but a dryer can destroy your tent with heat. So, how do you clean a dirty tent? To know how to clean a dirty tent keep reading.

Read Directions at First:

Every tent is different. Before you wash your tent, you should read the instructions that came with your tent to make sure you do everything right. The instructions should give you an idea of how to wash your tent the way the manufacturer recommends. Not all tents are made with the same materials. So, not all tents are going to be the same. To care for one particular tent you have to know the materials of that tent first.

If Needed Fix the Tent:

If your tent has tears or holes in it, then washing it will cause further damage. So, before washing your tent mend it if necessary. You can either sew the tears or use cloth repair tape on the affected area. This should do the job.

How to Clean Your Tent:

You can clean a tent in many ways. Just do not put it in the washing machine. A washing machine can tear and damage a tent. So, wash your tent using the following methods.

  • If you use your tent frequently, then clean your tent every time you come home from a camping trip. If you do not use your tent that much then cleanse it gently, once a year. You can clean your tent in your shower, back yard or any other place you want. To clean it, you need a tent specific cleaning product and a sponge. Firstly, soak you’re your tent in a tub full of water and cleaning product. After 15-20 minutes take a sponge and gently rub the tent. After cleaning the tent hang it up to dry in a shady place. The extreme UV light can damage waterproofing. When your tent is completely dry store it in a cool, dry place, never store your tent until it’s scorched.
  • If you are not a big fan of using chemical products, then you can mix baking soda and vinegar and rub it on your tent gently. It will not work as good as store bought cleaners, but it will get rid of any smell or dirt. After cleaning your tent with baking soda and vinegar wash it with warm water and hang it up to dry.
  • Use a toothbrush and a cleaning product to clean the zippers of a tent. Put the cleaning product on the toothbrush and gently rub the dirt off.
  • If there is bird poop or something similar on your tent, then brush it off with a toothbrush and clean the area with water. Then make a paste with lemon juice and water and rub it on the area. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. After that wash it with water. This should get rid of any stains.
  • If there is mold or mildew on your tent mix bleach and warm water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture on the affected area and rub with a sponge. After that, wash the tent with detergent and water and let it dry. This should get rid of the mold. If this doesn’t get rid of the molds, then mix vinegar and water in a tub and soak the tent for an hour or two. After that, wash the tent normally. This method is highly effective.
  • If your tent stinks then mix warm water and detergent in a tub and wash your tent thoroughly. After cleaning it with a detergent rewash it with a mixture of vinegar and water. Then let it dry completely.

Take Good Care of Your Tent:

It is not enough that you wash your tent once in a while, to ensure the longevity of your tent you have to use and wash it properly. Use the zippers of your tent gently because they can break easily. When you enter your tent leave dirty boots outside. Never keep any unsupervised pet in a tent because they can damage the tent with their teeth and claws. Set your tent up properly. When you pack up your tent shake out the dirt and debris. If you use it with care, your tent will last a long time.

Keep Your Tent Clean:

It is not only important to wash your tent but also to keep it clean.

  1. If you can do not eat your food inside the tent as it attracts insects and animals. Also, eating food in your tent can make the tent dirty.
  2. Make sure your tent has proper ventilation because poor ventilation can make the tent very humid. Mold can overgrow in a moist environment. Cleaning the mesh on your tent is essential to the flow of ventilation, plus having it clean makes for a great stargazing tent during the spring and summer months. 
  3. Do not enter your tent with dirty shoes.
  4. After every trip wash your tent.
  5. Do not let your tent dry in direct sunlight because UV ray can damage waterproofing.
  6. Do not store your tent until it’s completely dry. Your tent can grow molds if you store it while it’s wet.
  7. If your tent has any tears or holes, fix them as soon as you can.
  8. Store your tent in a cool, dry place.

Final Thoughts:

To a camper or a hiker, a tent is not only a source of comfort and warmth but also a source of safety. In the wilderness, a tent protects you from the elements and wild animals. So, it is essential to take care of your tent. In this article, we show you how to wash your tent properly and why you shouldn’t use a washing machine. If you use and take care of your tent correctly, it’ll last you a long time.

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