If you enjoy hiking and camping, then a tent is your outdoor home. If the trip coincides with a rainy season, you already know how dirty the tent becomes. Serious campers know that they have the responsibility of cleaning the tent and according it proper maintenance. The tent is durable, and you can help it live longer through appropriate care.
After coming from a one-week camping trip, you are already tired and exhausted. The idea of scrubbing the muddy tent makes you sick. An idea floats from nowhere; can you wash a tent in a front loading washing machine? Yeah, that looks like a good idea. After all, it will save time and energy. You only have to put your tent and switch on the machine and relax. The machine will do the rest.
Although that seems like the best option, don't take that route. After taking the shortcut, you may end up going to the shop soon to buy another tent. Some materials in your tents, such as nylon, can't stand the machine. If you wash with the machine, they will be damaged, and as a result, the tent will get holes. Not to mention that you may require to get help to overload the tent since doing it alone is not easy.
Your tent is waterproof. As the machine cleans your tent, it will produce some heat. The heat will corrode the laminate of the waterproof system and destroy it. As a result, you may end up disposing of the tent and budgeting for another one. So, unless you have a professional-grade tent or the front loading washer is a big oversize unit, avoid this option.
How Often Should You Wash Your Tent?
Now that the idea of how to wash a tent in a washing machine is already dismissed, how often should you wash your tent? Remember, the manufacturer designed the tents to be hand washed rather than using a washing machine.
Unlike clothes, you don't have to wash tents every time you go camping. But the camping site and the season should be a significant consideration. If you camp along the ocean, the tent may get some salt residue. So, if possible, rinse and dry it at the camping site before going home.
After a dirty camping trip, you should wash your tent. If it's a rainy season or if you camp in the snow, the tent will have grim, mud, and some plant matters. You can't keep it without cleaning. So, if that's the case, wash it.
After staying for some time, you may realize that the tent has mold, and it smells terrible. You should deep clean and dry it. It is good to wash and reproof your tent after a few months. If it gets some dirty spots, wash the messy part.
Basic Tent Care
You can prolong the durability of your tent through proper maintenance. Some of the basic tent care includes;
Use Established Camping Sites
Since your tent is delicate, you need to take extra caution when setting it. Debris, plants, and stones can easily tear on the floor of your tent. So, look for an already established campsite that is flat with no vegetation. You can clear any debris and stones before setting.
Avoid Leaving A Pet.
If you have a pet, never leave it in the camp alone unattended. Most pets have sharp teeth and nails that can easily tear your tent.
No Food In The Tent
When eating, the chances of spilling food particles on the tent floor are high. If you sleep and forget to wipe them, the food may attract insects. You don't want to feel ants crawling all over your body at night. Also, avoid some perfumes since they attract insects.
Minimize UV exposure
You will be doing a disservice to your camp if you leave it exposed in the sun for long. So, what are the effects of UV on your tent? It degrades canopy and rainfly fabrics.
No Shoe Rules
Before entering the tent, leave the shoes outside. Some shoes contain spikes that may harm the floor. If it's a rainy season, you don't want the entire floor to get mud.
Clean With A Rag
No one loves staying in a dirty place. When camping, dust, and debris enters the camp courtesy of the wind. Again the mud may spill over. The rug will help you wipe dust, debris, or mud before they dry and stick.
Dry The Tent
Before leaving for home, you need to dry the tent first. Note that molds thrive well in the wet environment bring an odor. If it's raining, ensure to dry it once you get home.
Care When Setting
When setting or breaking down the tent, take care not to destroy its delicate parts. Protect the tent floor by using footprints and be careful when handling the poles. Once you break down the tent, roll it well according to the tents guidelines. If possible, practice setting and breaking down long before going to the camp. It will make life easy, especially if you arrive at the camping site at night.
Maybe you had cleaned your camp in your camping site. But when you get at home, you realize that it has some lightly soiled areas. The best option is to clean the affected area using a soft cloth, water, and liquid soap. If you fail to wash it, mold will start accumulating and stain it, resulting in an odor.
Also read: [Top 10] Best Budget 4 Season Tent
Cleaning The Tent
If it's a rainy season, the tent is full of mud by the time you go home, and it already smells. Apart from cleaning the tent, you want to lie in your bathtub and clean all clothes afterward. Avoid leaving a muddy and wet tent folded for long. Knowing how to clean a tent is vital. Start by checking the manufacturer's instructions. Here is the process of deep cleaning it.
Check The Weather
A sunny day is the best time to wash your tent. Remember, if you fail to dry it thoroughly after washing it, mildew will grow. Again, if it's raining, mud will spill on it, and it will take longer to dry.
Get The Right Space
Find a perfect spot to pitch your tent. It should be away from loose tree branches or debris and should be flat. It should not be on the concrete floor, either. A spot with a small grass and minimum dust is perfect.
Check The Tent's Condition
After pitching the tent:
1. Check if it has any excessive wear. Remember that if you clean it with excess wear, maybe in the tent flap and seem, it will worsen.
2. Repair any damaged part before cleaning.
Gather The Right Materials
- Cold/ lukewarm Water-Get a bucket full of cold water and a hose.
- . Mild soap -if possible liquid soap that is non-scented and without harsh chemicals. Unless instructed, avoid detergents.
- A Non-abrasive material such as soft brush, cloth, or sponge-
- Large water holding bin or even a bathtub
Wash The Tent
Start by handpicking any debris in your tent. Take a rug and sweep any dust on it. Spot clean any dirty spot using mild soap and a soft cloth. The best way to clean a tent is to deal with each side at a time. For the corners, you can scrub them using a soft brush. Go easy on the delicate fabric.
Soak your tent either on the bathtub or on the large holding bin. Leave for some time before rinsing it thoroughly with a hose. Avoid leaving any soap particles on it.
Dry The Tent
Leave the tent under a shade for three days with the tent flaps partially closed. Ensure the area has minimum dust. In between, keep on checking the progress. Once the tent dries, increase its protection by reproofing it. If your location is humid, consider air-drying it. Drying it well will protect it from the mold.
Check and be sure that your tent is 100% dry before storing it. Your fabric requires breathing space. Follow instructions on how to fold it and put it on the mesh bag. Place it in an area that is cool and dry.
You can prolong the life span of your tent through proper care and maintenance. The way you handle it when camping matters. Follow instructions when setting it, dawn breaking, folding, and cleaning it. Avoid leaving it exposed to UV rays for long, and don't leave your pets unattended. You can clean it before breaking for home, and when you get home, spot cleans it. Avoid using abrasive materials and soaps that contain harsh chemicals. After cleaning your tent, let it dry under a shade. Before storing it, ensure that it's completely dry. Avoid storing it in a damp area since the mold will start to grow.