How to Clean a Tent

Cleaning a tent is a daunting task due to the size and various materials that make up the structure. Tents don’t usually have to be cleaned often and there are ways to prevent water damage and staining by waterproofing your tent. Cleaning a tent can be a laborious job and includes soaking it down and cleaning it by hand. It isn’t advisable to use an automatic washer or dryer to clean a tent due to the fabric used for the tent’s construction. The best way to clean a tent effectively is by using soapy water and a sponge. Whilst it may be time-consuming to clean a tent in this manner, it’s the best way to ensure that no damage is being made or hasn’t already been made to the tent. Always ensure that your tent is completely dry before packing it away, to prevent the build up of mold or mildew. Perfumed soaps are also not recommended, as they can possibly attract insects or other wildlife whilst camping.

Cleaning a tent is an easy process if you have the necessary equipment to do so. All it takes is some time and elbow grease, along with a place for it to dry.

How to Clean a Tent Whilst Camping

Cleaning the tent whilst you’re already camping can be a nightmare if you aren’t fully prepared. Not having access to regular cleaning supplies can make it tricky to effectively clean the area of concern. There are, however, a few methods of cleaning which could be considered when you’re preparing to set off on a camping trip. 

Whilst you’re highly unlikely to need to clean a whole tent whilst you’re camping, you may need to do some spot cleaning on problem areas.

Spot Cleaning a Tent

Spot cleaning is the act of cleaning up a small area that may be dirty, but doesn’t require a full wash. Sometimes clothes require spot cleaning due to stains, and the same applies to tents. Common reasons to need to spot clean a tent include muddy stains, food spillage or other dirt which merely needs to be wiped up but would be uncomfortable to leave on or inside your tent. There are a couple of ways to spot clean whilst you’re already out camping. 

  1. Wet wipes – Environmentally speaking, wet wipes aren’t the most popular choice for cleaning up after yourself due to their non-biodegradable nature, but they are handy to have around in case you need them whilst camping. Wet wipes are ideal for cleaning up dirt or food, but it’s important to ensure that they’re disposed of correctly and are brought back home when leaving the campsite. 
  2. Old Towels or Rags – Old towels and rags are useful to keep ahold of for camping trips as you’ll never know when they’ll come in handy. Whether they be for drying off from the rain or even as an extra layer to keep you warm in the tent, there’s a bunch of versatile uses for them. One of which is being able to spot clean inside a tent. The good thing about towels and rags is that they’re reusable and rewashable and can be used again in future camping trips. 
  3. Bottled Water – Using bottled water to swill the dirt away is also a method that could be used when spot-cleaning a tent. However, make sure you have enough water for the rest of your trip if you’re intending on using this technique. 

How to Clean Tarp

Tarp is cleaned similarly to the rest of the tent, but due to its smoother texture, requires water to wash away any debris. It very rarely sees the inside of a tent whilst camping so it can usually be left until you’ve arrived back home to wash. Simply use soapy water and a sponge to rub away any dirt, ensuring that the soap doesn’t smell too sweet to attract bugs or other animals. 

Cleaning the Whole Tent

Sometimes a tent needs more than just a quick rub down with a sponge and requires a deeper clean. This can be due to the smell, or perhaps you’d camped somewhere particularly muddy and dirty. 

In order to do a deeper clean, you’ll need some sort of bath or other large basin to put the whole tent in, some fragrance-free dish soap, a soft sponge or cloth, and lukewarm water. 

The first thing to do before cleaning the whole tent is to spot clean it to ensure that problem areas are given extra attention. Once spot cleaning is complete, the tent can be submerged in the basin. The basin should be filled with lukewarm water and fragrance-free soapy water. From there, the tent can be soaked and scrubbed with the soft sponge. 

To rinse the tent off, remove the tent from the basin, drain the water, and refill the basin with clean cool water. Place the tent back in the basin and repeat until you’re satisfied. 

Drying the Tent off

Once your tent’s been rinsed off, the only thing left to do is to dry it off. One way to do this is by hanging it up outside, in a dry, cool area. It isn’t advised to use an electric dryer in order to dry a tent, so the safest way to dry it off is by hanging it up and waiting a while. Repositioning the tent periodically as it’s drying is also ideal as it prevents water from pooling in any pockets which it may get trapped in. 

Removing Smells from a Tent

There are a number of solutions which can be used to remove specific smells or substances from a tent. 

  • Mold or Mildew – Enzyme cleaners are designed specifically to remove naturally occurring substances such as mold. These break down the natural matter of the substance, and remove the smell along with it. 
  • Pine Sap – Sap of any kind has the potential to attract unwanted insects or animals to your tent, so it’s important to ensure that your tent is clear of it. For pine sap, using an alcohol-based product such as hand sanitizer can help reduce the smell and the unwanted stickiness. 

How to Clean Camping Equipment While Camping

Camping equipment such as cutlery and other necessities also need to be cleaned whilst you’re camping. Not only is it much more sanitary, but in some cases it also keeps wildlife such as bears at bay. 

Luckily, there are a few ways to clean your camping utensils or other equipment without having access to running water or soap. 

Of course, these items should be thoroughly cleaned once you return back home and these solutions are only for temporary situations. 

  1.  Use Boiling Water – The careful method of using boiling water to clean crockery whilst out camping has been tried and tested. Warm and boiling water will often strip your pots and pans of any remnants of food and grout which leaves them safe and clean enough to eat from again. There are ways to boil water while camping, and once you have the hang of it, it’s really easy to do. 
  2. Reheat the pans over the campfire – Similar to the boiling or warm water technique, simply heating the pots and pans over the campfire will hopefully loosen any leftovers which can help them be disposed of safely.
  3. Sterilize utensils with an open flame – Perhaps a last-ditch method to clean your eating utensils, using an open flame from a match or lighter and running it over the surface of your utensils will kill some of the nasty bacteria that may have built up on them during your camping holiday.

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