How to Clean and Maintain a Tent

How to Clean and Maintain a Tent

(Last Updated: August 20, 2018)

The perfect gift you can give yourself while camping is resting in the comfort of a clean and well-maintained tent. Besides, if you are the kind of person who likes camping, then you need to get ready to clean your tent occasionally since it will always get dirty. Just think of what a well-kept tent can provide. Think of the warmth, shelter, and security just to mention a few. Additionally, a clean tent stands the test of time and can be used for years and years to come. The following tips on how to clean a tent, if followed, will make your tent last long years.

For starters, cleaning tent mildew requires sufficient practice and patience. Here is a heads-up for you; if you can try and keep the tent clean every once in a while, you will reduce the need to set more time aside for a major cleaning. For someone who is too lazy to clean, they most probably will opt to spray the tent and be done with the cleaning. But is spraying really enough? Of course not. You need to take the time and effort to clean every corner and inch of your tent. Actually, the best place and time to clean the tent is when it is pitched. If you clean it when it is pitched, you will use a considerably less amount of energy.

A sunny and warm day is best when doing a major cleaning. Why so? Well, because you need to give the tent ample time to dry and recover from the scrubbing. The best strategy that you can use when you want to determine how to dry a tent fast is when you do the cleaning over summer. The last thing you want is to have to pack your tent while it is still damp. You will not like the smell the next time you will be pitching it up. It will be so moldy.

Tent care and maintenance

Tent care and maintenance go beyond cleaning. In fact, it starts with the very first step of having a good place to pitch the tent. Look for a place that is relatively free from objects that might be harmful to the tent.

If you are a first timer in camping, you need to practice pitching the tent before going to the actual set up when camping. Remember they say that practice makes perfect. If you have done a sufficient amount of practice then the odds of you breaking or damaging the tent in the field is minimal.


Tent care and maintenance


The best thing about practice is that one is able to identify beforehand anything that needs repair (such as damaged zip or tent leaking at the seams). You are better placed to handle faults at home than when you are already on the camping ground. After all, it will ruin the fun of camping if you find out that your tent has faults while you are already on the camping site.

Tent maintenance also includes reproofing. It is thus important that you learn how to reproof a tent.

The following is a simple step-to-step strategy of reproofing a tent.

  1. Ensure that the tent is completely dry even if it means taking it out in the sun for three consecutive days. Reproof and clean the tent during the summer period when the weather is warm enough to dry the tent.
  2. Has the tent pitched so that you can check all the faults and make the repairs as need be? The things to look out for here include the seams, the zips, poles and the guy lines among others.
  3. Clean and wash the tent until all dirt and odor are gone.
  4. Reproof the tent to make it waterproof and durable for a longer time of service.

Part of tent care and reproofing is fixing the damages that happen occasionally. The repairs include mending broken poles that get damaged while pitching while other times it will be fastening guy line anchors that get loose by the day.

To be on the safer side, it is recommended to have extra tools and pieces of equipment to replace just in case one gets faulty. If you ask campers, they will tell you that it is crucial that you have a sewing kit with threads and needles since they will come in handy while doing the repairs.

How to wash a tent?

The first question that may come to mind is can you wash a tent in a washing machine? Chances are that if you do wash the tent in a washing machine you will need to get a new one sooner than you think. Why so? Washing tent in the washing machine alters the make of the tent. But not necessarily, because some tents are machine washable.


How to wash a tent


Can you wash a tent in the washing machine? Of course, you can, but when you are buying yours, insist on that, make sure it can be washed with a washing machine. Otherwise, seams, coatings, zippers, and meshes get damaged in the process. As much as tents are made to survive outdoors in the harsh weather conditions, they cannot withstand the severe conditions of the washing machine without having to tamper with the tent fabric.

Another question that one may be tempted to ask is can you put a tent in a dryer? Just like using a washing machine is not recommended, so is the issue of putting a tent into the dryer. Both of the options are not recommended.

How to roll a tent?

As much as there is a recommended way for how to roll a tent, people go about this in different ways. Regardless of this, it is essential to roll a tent as you head towards an open door or window of the tent. The reason for opening doors and windows in the room is to provide an outlet for the air being released from the tent. When there is an escape route for the air as the tent is folded, it makes it easier to roll and to store eventually.


How to roll a tent


Rolling and knowing how to fold a tent are closely related. For small tents, they can be rolled around the poles. On the other hand, bigger tents should be rolled into a sausage shape while ensuring that the length of the rolled tent is relatively smaller than that of the bag so that it can fit in the carry bag easily.

When it comes to how to get a tent back in the bag, it should be rolled as the bag is pulled upwards slowly until the whole tent is inside the bag. With such information at your fingertips, it should not be hard to remember how to pack away a tent the next time you go camping.

Tent footprint

Is a tent footprint necessary? Yes. A footprint is a custom piece of clothing that is placed on the surface floor beneath the tent to ensure a long life of the tent itself. The generic footprints for the tent work better and last much longer than the natural ones. The generic one extends beyond the surface floor of the tent.


Camping tent footprint


What does a tent footprint do?

  • It prevents the tent from being scratched by rough objects among other things
  • It ensures that the tent does not get dirty fast
  • It ensures that the floor of the tent is always dry
  • It provides a clean area of operation during the setting up and the folding of the tent

So, do you need a footprint for a tent? I am certain that by now you know that the answer is “yes”.

How to remove mold from a tent?

After storing a tent for long, there are very high possibilities of finding mold and a very bad odor. The best way to prevent the growth of mold and mildew is to ensure that your tent is completely dry during storage. Otherwise, any damp area is a good breeding ground for mold and mildew. In some cases when the tent remains damp for too long, it might end up rotting especially if the tent is made of cotton. The bad thing about mold is that it not only has a bad odor but it also makes the tent uncomfortable for use. This is the reason why you need to learn how to get mildew smell out of the tent by a thorough cleaning.


Camping tent mold mildew


The tent will not always be dry especially when washed in the rainy season. In such a case, the most prudent option is to wipe off and dry the water with a dry piece of cloth. If possible, also, one can lay the tent on an empty seat to avoid folding the tent while it is still wet. This also applies to how to keep a tent dry in the rain.

People use diverse ways of cleaning a moldy tent. But of all the procedures, there is one that is simple and that has a solution that can be prepared from home.

  1. The very first step involves brushing the mold off. Use a soft brush.
  2. Secondly, prepare a cleaning solution that is made of lemon juice, warm water, and salt.
  3. Thoroughly scrub the tent with the solution until it is sparkling clean.
  4. Spread the tent to dry and then fold as per the instructions.

For the severe cases, you can learn how to get mold off tent by using a fungicide rather than the home-made solution. Whichever the solution you opt to use to remove mildew from tent choose one that is user-friendly and that will not cause any harm to the tent nor will keep you irritated while sleeping in the tent.

Waterproofing a tent

Are you there and you are possibly wondering, should I waterproof my tent? Of course, you should. While it is not wrong to trust the word of the manufacturer when they tell you that the tent is waterproof and has been sealed, it is safer if you go an extra mile of sealing every seam. After all, they say that prevention is better than cure. Depending on the type of tent that you have, establish the best seam sealer for your tent. If you can, seek that information from the manufacturer.


Waterproofing a tent


Not only tent’s seams may be additionally waterproofed. The entire tent may also be waterproofed using special waterproofing sprays. It is especially recommended to waterproof old tents because they lose their ability to withstand the water.

Leaking at the seams

Ensure that you seal the leaks to preserve the life of the tent. Depending on the type of the tent and the manufacturer, some tents will most often come with a tube sealant for use when there is a leak. How to apply a seam sealer to a tent is simple because you only need to identify where there is a leak and cover the seam with the seal. Make sure it the area being repaired is dry, free from moisture.


Tent leaking at seams


Once the seal is placed on the seam, it is always prudent to give the seam and the tent some time to dry completely. If it is a tear on the fabric, a tape sealer will do or better still, you can patch the fabric with the same kind of fabric that is used on the tent. Look for a dealer who provides a similar fabric at the time of purchase.

Fixing all these little damages and leaks is what reproofing is all about. Reproofing is simpler today than it was before since today there are reproofing materials and instructions for DIY reproofing abound online. If you follow the simple procedures given, you no longer have to say that “my tent is leaking”.

Fixing tent zippers

Take good care of your tent zips to prevent snagging and tent leaking at the seams. If they start to cause strain while closing and opening, then be sure to add lubricants to them for easy movement. As part of cleaning, ensure that the zips are clean and free from mud and other forms of dirt. You also need to know how to fix a separated tent zipper. Mainly, the problem is usually with the teeth not connecting or the zip slide coming off.


Fixing tent zippers


Either way, chances are that you will need to replace the zipper and the zipper slide. It is as simple as removing the old, damaged zipper slide and then sewing in a new one altogether. In such cases, you just need a zipper repair kit that comes with zips, tools and the instructions. Usually, I take my tent to the repair shop to replace the zip. People in the shop are professionals, so they know what they do.


How to care for a tent is also about limiting the exposure to sunlight, dirt, and mildew since they are major impediments to the extent of the service that a tent can offer. So far, we have covered the dirt and the mildew aspect. We need to address the dangers that exposure to sunlight has on the tent.

Just as the tent is not able to withstand the harsh conditions of the washing machine, so is it with the sunlight rays exposure. Knowing how to get mold off a tent is not enough, you also need to know how to prolong its life.


Tent exposure to sun


Most often, the exposure to the UV rays causes impairment to the tent fabric. Depending on where you are going to camp, it is best if you select a place that has shade to preserve your tent. Today, there is a spray used to treat and protect the fabric of the tent. This spray prevents the effects of the UV rays from penetrating to the fabric of the tent. How to keep the tent dry in rain is also important to prolong the life of the tent.

How long should a tent last? This depends on the type of care and maintenance that you use on your tent. If you follow all of the above tips, chance are that the tent can serve you for up to five years and beyond.

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