Best Tent Care and Cleaning Tips

In Beginners Guide, Tents by J. PenneyLeave a Comment

When you go camping being clean is not easy. It is certainly understandable that your tent can get dirty. This article includes the best way to clean a tent and how to take care of it too. I have listed some headings that include ways how to clean your tent and how to care for your tent below:

Tent Washing

Cleaning your tent is actually an easy process. It may take some time depending on how much cleaning it needs. It is a similar process I use to clean my car and dirt bike. Many ask, “Can you wash a tent in a washing machine?” but whatever you do, don’t machine wash a tent. Machine washing a tent can easily destroy the tent, resulting in ripped seams, ruined zippers and much more. Many people wonder how to clean a tent with mold and mildew? Here are the steps to keep your tent clean from most everything:

Step 1 – Set your tent up in an area where you can spray it with water. Then spray and hose inside and out.

Step 2 – Get a wash bucket and fill it up with warm water. Add regular liquid hand soap and toss in a sponge. If you don’t have a sponge a hand cloth will work. I do recommend a good tough sponge though.

Step 3 – Use a sponge and scrub tent all over, inside and out. Scrub areas that contain any dark dirty patches. Scrub mildew and mold areas if any.

Step 4 – Spray tent with water again, rinse any dirt off of tent. Spray inside the tent to remove dirt from inside. Tip – Place a piece of wood or something similar on the door opening to let water drain out easier.

Step 5 – If no remaining dirt and mildew then let the tent completely dry. If still dirty just repeat the washing steps. It is super important to let your tent dry or you risk the chance of mold growing in your tent when packed away.


These steps are super easy and effective for cleaning your tent. If your tent has excessive dirt stains or mold, then it may be time to buy a new tent. If it may be that time check out our tent types page here and see which ones you like. Or see our best tents of 2018 article.

Take Care While Setting Up Tent

When setting up your tent you have to take your time. If you are rushing you run the risk of several issues that can ruin your tent. The poles are an important part of your tent, so be gentle with them so you do not crack them in pieces. Also if you rush with the poles you might stick one through the outer material of your tent. Rain loves tent holes… Set up your tent right, because if you do not then the weather can damage your tent.

Take Care While Taking Down Tent

When taking your tent down you still run the same risks as setting it up. Be careful with the poles and take your time. There is no worse feeling then ruining an expensive tent. In the process of packing your tent away, make sure the ground you are on has no sharp sticks or objects that can puncture a hole. When rolling up the tent you are applying pressure to remove air inside, this leaves risk for a sharp object to cut through much easier. Just be gentle and aware, rushing through this easy process should not cost you.

Air Out Tent

If you store your tent while it is still wet or damp it can cause issues such as:

  • mold
  • mildew
  • odor
  • rotting material (material becomes weak)

Airing out your tent prevents all of these problems. Trust me it is not fun when you are setting up your tent and you find a large amount of sickening mold growing on your tent. It is well worth the extra work to set up your tent in the yard or somewhere inside to make sure it completely drys out. With your hand just feel around the tent for damp areas. When no wet material is found it should be time to put away. There is no harm in extra airing out time. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Extra Protection

What I mean by extra protection is creating better protection for your tent and camping site. When going tent camping it is always important to be aware of any possible weather issues. Rain is the most frequent problem tent campers come in contact with. Staying dry in the tent is number one priority. Sometimes tent campers rely on their detachable rainfly to keep them dry. Although, most tents have great rain-flys sometimes there can be leaks and it is not worth the chance. Through many tenting rainstorms, the best and easiest solution is setting up tarps. Tightly secure a tarp over your tent, here are the steps how to do so:

1– Place a tarp (larger than your tent) on top of the tent, but not directly touching everywhere. Make sure your tent can still breathe.

2– On sides and back of your tent peg down the tarp tightly in the ground. Leave the door side free from pegging. This allows you to enter and exit, also makes your tent breathable.

3– Make an awning or overhang with the tarp on door side. Tie rope or string to an object in front of the tent to create this overhang so water runs elsewhere.

Listening to these steps while tenting in the rain will keep you dry inside your tent.

To prevent damages to your tent from wind it is best to have anything around your site cleaned up and placed in a secure location. If you have a vehicle, load as much as you can inside since your vehicle is certainly strong enough to handle wind. If you are wild camping you should not have too much on hand. Your tent should be in a secure location (refer to choosing tent location below). Take all gear and equipment inside the tent, make sure it is not soaked with water. Place around edges of the tent for stronger support. Doing this adds weight around your tent which makes it more difficult for wind to cause damage.

The main tip when protecting your tent from wind is to make sure your tent is always pegged to the ground correctly. Hammer pegs in on a slight angle, and check to make sure they are tightly stuck in. Watch for rocks and tree roots. Read our article on how to tent camp in high winds and properly secure your tent.

Keep Inside of Tent Clean

Cleaning the inside of your tent is like cleaning your bedroom at home. You just have to keep up with it so the mess does not pile up. Stay tidy by making your bed and putting things where they belong, like putting your clothes back in your bag. To prevent dirt and mud from entering the tent get a shoe mat and place it outside the tent door. Whenever you enter the tent, you can place your shoes outside on the mat. Your shoes can have a lot of dirt from outdoor activities so it is best to place them outside. However, the weather might ruin that idea so placing your shoe mat inside will work if you have the room. Just make sure your shoe mat is waterproof so there won’t be any puddles inside.

When eating while camping it is best to do it at the picnic table or anywhere outside the tent. You can eat in the tent, just eat with care because you might get some crumbs. It’s not the end of the world if the tent has a few crumbs in it. Having a mini broom set is perfect for inside the tent, I bring a mini set every trip and it helps with all the small dirt build up. Sweep up once a day and you will have a super clean tent. If you have the room there is never a problem with bringing some towels just in case of any liquid spills. Just hang it up outside to dry if you use it.

Choosing Tent Location

Choosing the location of where to set up your tent is extremely important. When tenting on a campground you only have a limited number of options. When camping in the wild you have plenty of different areas to choose from. What you need to consider is the safety of the area. Is the wind going to blow me away or will the rain flood the tent here? Avoid placing your tent on top of hills, or in an area that is just windy. Wind can cause items to fly into your tent or cause your tent to collapse. Rain will probably reach your tent no matter where you are outside. A great way to hide from wind and rain is to camp in an area surrounded by trees. Trees can block wind coming in and help lower the amount of direct rainwater hitting your tent.

I wouldn’t recommend setting up tent near water. The ocean can change its water level in a very short amount of time and it can be extremely dangerous, watch for high tides and low tides. Rivers can flood pretty quick to so just be aware. Small lakes and ponds are not as serious of an issue but still something to be aware of. Place tent as high above the water levels as you can, flooding incidents while in a tent are life-threatening, it is something you do not want to be a part of. Sadly, it happens more often then you would think.

The ground location of your tent should be as cleared off as possible. Rocks and sticks can undoubtedly shoot up through the base of your tent damaging the tent. Clear off area, grass is usually my favorite place to set up just for the reason it is comfy. Laying out a large mat under your tent always keeps it safe from anything sticking up through. If you want to get professional I have used these interlocking tiles from Amazon, and they work perfect to keep your tent base clean and hole free. Plus its super comfy!

Waterproof Tent Sealing

There is water repellent gear spray that repels water right off your tent. (Click here for latest price) Through looking at different water repellents, this one is best priced, while still having the most top reviews. The best waterproof tenting product I found and people have sprayed a can directly on there tent and it has made it much more waterproof. Use this with the tarp and you will be dry.

Your tent should be very water proof anyways, however, if you put it through a little spray test it may not pass. Sometimes your tent might need some repairs… I have used a few tents that needed a couple sealed corners. If your tent does have leaking seams then give this Seam Grip Repair Adhesive and Sealant a try. Through my experience and many online reviews this stuff is the best for sealing seams. If you have a lot of sealing to do you might need a couple packs, however, test it out first if you want to see how it works.


Tent care and cleaning is something that can be easily done. The tips in this article have kept my tents in top condition. I enjoy passing on my tent knowledge and I hope it helps you.

Check out our solar power camping article.

Photo Credits: andoaventurando

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