Considering the very nature of camping equipment like tents, it’s important to know how to clean it. After all, a tent can sit in storage for most of the year and then gets set up on the ground.
So, can you put a tent in the washing machine? Let’s take a look.
Can You Put a Tent in the Washing Machine?
You can’t put a tent in the washing machine for a few reasons. The first is that the way a washing machine works can damage the delicate tent fabric. At best, it’ll stretch it. At worst, it’ll tear.
Also, washing machines can affect the waterproof coating on a tent’s outer layer. In most cases, tent fabric has a hydrophobic coating applied, which laundry detergent can remove. While you can (and should) reapply this, it’s best to cause as little damage as possible.
Can You Clean a Tent Without Washing it?
Just because you can’t put a tent in the washing machine doesn’t mean you can’t wash it at all.
As noted above, the problem with the washing machine is that it agitates laundry, which is how it cleans. Delicate fabric (such as tents) can be ripped or stretched through this action.
Instead, you can hand wash a tent. Depending on its size, it might be easiest to do this in a bathtub. Provided you’re gentle, there shouldn’t be any issues doing it this way.
What Is the Best Way to Clean a Tent?
The best way to clean a tent is by hand, whether spot-cleaning or washing. Some of the most suitable products to use are:
- Mild washing up liquid (ideally fragrance free)
- Enzyme-based cleaner, such as Simple Solution Extreme
- Nikwax Tech Wash
- Hand sanitiser or isopropyl alcohol
Before cleaning with water, make sure you brush any loose debris off the tent. It might be easiest to set it up outside and then use a broom to remove dried dirt.
Spot clean with a soft sponge or cloth and some mild dish soap. Just wipe areas as needed and make sure they can dry properly.
Use the enzyme cleaner if you’re dealing with mould or odours. Be sparing and make sure you follow the product’s instructions. Prolonged exposure could damage the fabric.
Finally, if you need to remove something like tree sap (i.e., something sticky), use hand sanitiser or rubbing alcohol. It shouldn’t damage the fabric if you use it sparingly.
If you need to wash the tent, run warm water in a bath and add mild dish soap. Gently move the tent around and use a sponge to treat any spot stains. Rinse and then rewash using Nikwax, following the product’s instructions.
Sure, putting a tent in the washing machine would be the easiest way to clean it. But handwashing isn’t difficult and is only necessary if your tent is very dirty.
In most cases, a simple spot-clean should be enough. So, dust off the tent, give it a wipe down, and happy camping!
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.