How to Clean A Tent: A Step-by-Step Guide

A guide on how to clean your tent. It includes cleaning products, methods you can do yourself, and ways to take the tent in for cleaning.

Have you ever been camping and woke up to a tent that is soggy, muddy, and dirty? Well, I have too! And it’s not fun. Or how many times have you been camping and realized that it is time to clean your tent? After a long day of hiking, fishing, and exploring the great outdoors, there is nothing more refreshing than coming back to an immaculate tent. However, this task can seem daunting.

But the good news is, it’s easy to clean! I have put together this guide on how to clean your tent so you can enjoy more time out there.

Also, consider checking out my other article on staying warm in a tent: How to Stay Warm In A Tent: Planning Your Next Camping Trip

Supplies you need before cleaning your tent

Cleaning a tent can be tricky because typical household items are not enough to get rid of all the dirt and grime accumulated over time. Fortunately, there are some easy ways you can clean your tent with just a few materials from around the house. Let’s walk through what supplies you need before getting started:

  • Warm to cold water
  • Fragrance-free dish soap
  • Outdoor gear cleaner
  • Sponge or cloth with non-abrasive material
  • Bathtub or a large bucket

7 steps on how to clean a tent

The following instructions are for cleaning your tent in your backyard or at another location with easy access to running water.

1. Remove all the gear from your tent

Start by emptying all items from inside of the tent and laying them outside on a tarp or something similar. This will help keep any dust that may be created during cleaning from spreading into other areas of your item-filled campsite.

2. Spray down the inside of your tent

Next, use a hose or bucket full of water mixed with camp soap to scrub down the entire exterior surface area of the tent—including ground stakes, interior tents walls, and rainfly.

3. Rinse off any soap residue with a hose or a bucket of clean water

It is important to rinse off any soap residue with either a hose or a bucket of clean water. A key reason for this is that it avoids the buildup of soap scum in the tent, which can cause sheets and pillows, in particular, to become damp or even moldy.

4. Get rid of any dirt and debris that may have accumulated

Once you’ve removed any dirt or debris clinging to your tent’s exterior, it is time to scrub the inside of the tent—specifically at the seams where dirt likes to hide. It’s best to do this with a toothbrush to ensure you don’t miss any spots.

5. Hang up your wet tents to dry in a well-ventilated area

Depending on the size of your tent or if it has mesh windows, now is a good time to use a half and half mix of water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle to disinfect these areas. Allow drying before packing away or using again.

6. Finishing the cleaning process

Now that the tent is clean, it’s time to give a quick wash to everything that was outside on the tarp. If you have items that are not machine-washable, just spray them down with water and allow them to dry in the sun before packing away.

7. Store your camping gear until you’re ready to use them again

After all of your stuff has dried, pack it all away in your tent bag/backpack, and enjoy the rest of your camping trip!

Frequently asked questions

What can I wash my tent with?

You can wash your tent with cold to lukewarm water, mild fragrance-free dish soap, and a cleaner designed for outdoor gear. It’s also common to place it outside after washing, preferably somewhere with no trees with low branches that could scratch the tent’s fabric.

It’s important to keep in mind that you always want to check inside your tent before putting it up after cleaning. Some soils may attach themselves to the material, and they’re difficult if not impossible to see without sticking one’s head inside the fabric of your tent.

It is equally important not to overdo it when you clean and avoid using harsh soaps or chemicals that will degrade certain materials.

Here’s an article covering the best tent cleaners.

What is the easiest way to wash a tent?

Take your tent and carefully lay it inside a tub or bucket of water. Then, get a spray bottle filled with water and soap (or another cleaner). Soak your tent thoroughly. Once the whole thing is wet and soapy, rinse off all of the soap. Lastly, hang up your tent to dry. And voilà, a tent like new!

How do you clean an outdoor tent?

It depends on what kind of tent you have, but ideally, you should use a cleaner specifically designed for washing outdoor gear. Otherwise, simply wash the outside of the fabric with warm water and detergent and then air dry completely before using it again.

Can I put a tent in the washing machine?

Putting your tent in a washing machine that is not specifically designed for that purpose will result in stretching or tearing. If for some reason, you are absolutely set on doing so, keep in mind the fabric, mesh, and seams are all very susceptible to damage.

Final thoughts on how to clean a tent

As you can see, cleaning a tent is not rocket science. It’s more like an advanced level of arts and crafts that requires some time to master (and it probably won’t take too long before your kids are ready to show you up). However, the whole process doesn’t have to be so daunting when all you need is this simple guide!

So grab your favorite homemade recipe for soap, get out the bucket and start scrubbing away with these seven easy steps. Your family will thank this blog post later – or at least they’ll never complain about their camping trip again.

So don’t fret; next time you need help cleaning your camping gear, make sure you come back here! We’ll show you how with our step-by-step guide found above.

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Jakob Staudal

I love to spend time outside and reconnect with nature every now and then and cut-off all the noise from social media and everyday life.