Often times, you will find your tent a mess after coming home from an adventure. You may start to notice ugly stains, funky odors or a zipper that doesn’t work as well as it once did. No matter who or what you blame this mess on, you tent will need to be cleaned. Learning how to clean a tent is easier than most would expect. Not only that, it will prolong the life of your tent so you can continue to go on awesome adventures.
- Bathtub or Other Large Tub
- Cold to Lukewarm Water
- Old Toothbrush
- Dish Soap
- Hand Broom and Dust Pan
- Non-abrasive Sponge
- Nikwax Tech Wash
Sweep out your Tent
The first thing you’ll want to do is sweep out all the mud, dirt or sand on the floor of your tent. If you bring a hand broom and dustpan on your adventure, you can clean as you go and skip this step when you get home. If you forget a hand broom, you can flip your tent over and shake it out before tearing it down. Note that this method doesn’t usually work as well as sweeping.
Next, you’ll want to spot clean dirty the areas. Pour a small amount of mild dish soap on the cloth or sponge and gently rub onto the spots that need to be cleaned.
If you are trying to remove pine sap, it is best to spot clean with mineral oil. Be careful not to over scrub as you could end up puncturing the tent. You can also try alcohol-based products like hand sanitizer or wet wipes. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with water once the sap is removed.
Dirt, sand or mud often times gets trapped in the zipper teeth. It is a good idea to take a toothbrush and scrub out any particles after you are done spot cleaning. If the dirt remains stuck in the zipper teeth, rinse the zipper with water while brushing. Cleaning the zipper is something that many don't think of when first learning how to clean a tent.
Soak your Tent
Fill your tub with cool to lukewarm water and add your tent cleaner product. It is important to follow the directions on the bottle to see how much cleaner you should add to your tub.
Before immersing your tent and rain fly in the tub, unzip the doors and windows and turn you tent inside out. Again, follow the directions on the cleaner bottle to see how long to let your tent soak.
If your tent has mildew, mold or foul odors, use an enzyme cleaner such as Mirazyme. It is important to follow the directions closely for the enzyme cleaner, especially in regards to how long to soak the tent. Leaving the tent soaking for longer than the prescribed time can risk hydrolysis. This is where water begins to break down waterproof polyurethane coatings.
Drain your tub and refill it with clean water. You may have to do this several times to get all the soap off the tent and rain fly.
Set up your tent in a shaded area until it is completely dry. Be sure every square inch is dry before storing your tent. If you do not have the room to set it up, you can hang it until it is completely dry.
Cleaning the Tent Poles
If your tent poles are dirty, dusty or sandy, take a rag and wipe them down. Do your best to shake out any dirt that has gotten in them. You can use a pick to clean out the ends if dirt or mud has been lodged in and dried. Tent poles are another part that often gets overlooked when learning how to clean a tent. Your tent poles are just as important to take care of as the rest of your tent.
Waterproofing and Storage
If your tent isn’t keeping rain out like it once did, it may be a good time to renew the waterproof coatings. You can learn how to waterproof your tent here. If you don’t think your tent needs a new waterproof coating, check out this post to learn how to store your tent.