Updated at: 04-01-2023 - By: Sienna Lewis

You should carefully clean and dry your tent before storing it, especially if it has a moldy smell from a recent camping trip. You’ll be able to maintain your tent so that it’s ready for your next journey after reading these pointers on how to clean a tent.

Tent Cleaning Guide

Tent cleaning should not be attempted in the washing machine, despite the temptation. A tent’s fabric, mesh, and seams may be stretched or torn if it is washed! When it comes to cleaning your tent, you should follow these steps:

  • Turn the tent inside out and head outside to unzip the tent doors. To get rid of any loose trash, shake the tent.
  • Spot clean the tent with a sponge or towel and a few drops of mild dish soap. Bleach, spot remover, or laundry pre-soaking products should never be used because they are harsh or abrasive.
  • Soak the tent in cool to lukewarm water with a cleaner made exclusively for outdoor gear washing in a bathtub or utility sink. Immerse the tent and rainfly in water and let them to soak for a while.
  • After rinsing the tent, refill the tub with fresh water and start the process all over again. Spray the tent down with water by swiping it back and forth. Repeat until all the soap has been used up..
  • Pitch the tent in a shady area and allow it to air dry for a few hours at a time.

How to Wash a Moldy Tent

Mold can grow on damp tent fabric, resulting in a musty odor. A professional enzyme cleanser can be used to thoroughly clean a mold- and mildew-infested tent. The polyurethane coating on the tent can be damaged if it is soaked longer than suggested on the bottle.

Finish Up the Tent’s Decorations

Once the tent has been thoroughly cleaned and dried, inspect the seams, zippers, and netting for damage. Ensure that any necessary repairs are carried out.

  • Re-waterproof damaged seams with a tent sealing solution and a basic sewing kit.
  • To remove grit and grime from zippers, use an old toothbrush to scrub them. Apply a dry-zipper lubricant to the teeth. Replace any zippers that are broken.
  • Damaged mesh can be repaired or replaced.

Properly Store Your Tent

A wet tent should not be stored. After cleaning your tent, there is no such thing as too much drying time.

A pillow case or mesh bag is the ideal way to store your tent. Because you want the tent fabric to relax and breathe, the stuff sack it arrived in isn’t the ideal option for long-term storage.

It’s also critical to consider the area. Keep your tent in a cool, dry place. Avoid moist or hot places, such as the garage, basement, attic, or the trunk of a car, when cleaning.

How to Clean a Tent

More than just your tent has to be cleaned

Do you believe that the only way to find heaven is to spend time in the wilderness? The ultimate outdoor experience could be right in your backyard! With the help of The Grounds Guys, a Neighborly brand partner, you may achieve your goal.

When you go camping, your tent may be your home away from home, but what about your actual residence? Molly Maid can take care of all of your cleaning and deodorizing needs. We’re here to help whenever you need us. Allow yourself the option of a weekly or monthly deep-cleaning or a one-time deep-cleaning, depending on your needs.

Tent Cleaning Step-by-Step

Supplies: Cleaning a soiled tent calls for the following supplies:

  • Cold to lukewarm water.
  • Soap free of any scents or colors.
  • An outdoor gear and clothing cleaner such as Nikwax Tech Wash® is one option.
  • Wipe or sponge with no abrasiveness
  • The tub of your choice

A dirty tent can be cleaned using these steps:

  1. Using a damp cloth or sponge, apply a tiny amount of mild dish soap to any areas that are particularly soiled.
  2. Prepare the bathtub as follows: Take a bath and add your tent-cleaning product to the water. To determine how much cleaner to use, refer to the bottle’s instructions.
  3. Set up your tent as described in the following steps: Turn the tent inside out by unzipping the doors.
  4. Immerse your tent and rainfly in a tub of water. The instructions on the bottle of cleaning will tell you how long to soak your tent.
  5. Rinse your tub completely by draining it and adding fresh water. To remove all the soap from the tent and rainfly, you may need to repeat this process multiple times.
  6. Your tent should be entirely dry before you put it up or hang it in a cool, shady location.

Deep Cleaning Your Tent

Use an enzyme cleanser, such as MiraZymeTM, if your tent has mildew, mold, or unpleasant odors. When using the enzyme cleaner, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, especially when it comes to how long to soak the tent. Hydrolysis, where water begins to break away waterproof polyurethane coatings, can occur if the tent is left soaking longer than the recommended time.

If your tent has pine sap on it, use mineral oil to spot clean the area, but don’t scrub too hard. Other options include hand sanitizer and moist wipes that include alcohol. Once the sap has been removed, make sure to thoroughly wash the area with water.

The zipper teeth can become clogged with sand, debris and salty residue, so use a toothbrush to remove any of it. Rinse the zipper with water and then use a brush to remove stubborn dirt.

For poles that are covered in sand, salt, or dust, just wipe them down with a rag.

Refreshing the waterproof coatings is an option to consider. It is possible to reapply coatings to your tent if it isn’t keeping rain out like it formerly did.


Water is needed for cleaning, and drying water takes time. It will take a few days for your tent to fully recover from a thorough cleaning.


If you have a very stubborn stain, you may want to invest in a specific tent-cleaning spray from the manufacturer.

How to Wash a Tent | The Summit Register | MSR Blog


Inspect each section of your tent before putting it up. Tent flaps and seams need extra attention. Before moving on to the next stage, make any necessary repairs if you observe any fraying or severe wear. If you neglect to maintain your tent, it will deteriorate over time and become even worse.


Start near the flap and work your way outward. Use a broom or a brush to remove dust and dirt clumps. Spot cleaning can be done with detergent and a sponge, while the hose can be used to clean the tent from the outside. Spray all of the soap out of your tent before drying it, or you’ll wind up with a dirty, unpleasant residue.


It’s possible to leave your tent flaps open all the way, but it’s normally best to keep them slightly closed to discourage dust and leaves from flying into your tent and destroying all of your hard work. Let the tent dry in the shade.

Every six to 12 hours, check on your tent. Your tent should be entirely dry in about three days. If you don’t wait until the tent is completely dry before packing it up, you could end up with a weird scent or even mold.

If your tent needs additional protection from rain water and sunlight, you can reproof it after it has dried. Use a tent-specific proof that includes UV protection. Some proofs can be used with damp tents and you’ll need to find out if this is the case before you begin the process. Protective gloves and old clothes are recommended.


It’s a good idea to thoroughly clean and re-proof your tent at least once every few months and immediately after a messy camping excursion. It is best to wash your tent as soon as possible to prevent the hardening of dirt and the staining of your tent’s fabric. Your tent can endure a long time with proper care, but don’t put it off cleaning and maintaining it. Check out our post on proper tent care for more helpful advice on how to keep your investment safe.


If you’re looking to preserve your tent’s exterior floor from wear and tear, a simple tarp can do the trick. It will also help you clean your tent at the end of a trip by reducing the amount of grit and dirt that you have to remove and possibly roll up into your tent bag.

The first step is to thoroughly clean the interior of your tent.

Sweep the dirt and debris from the tent floor with the dustpan and brush once you’ve finished packing up your gear. Remove any plastic and nonbiodegradable garbage from your campsite, but leave all natural materials (soil, stones) in place for your next camping adventure.


Using a sponge or soft brush, gently remove any mud or debris from the tent and fly. To remove tough clumps of dried dirt, use a soft cleaning brush (like the dustpan broom). Use a sponge and clean water to gently remove mud or other mysterious stains.

Avoid using your regular dish soap and detergent during this time. Tent materials can be damaged over time if these products are used because they are excessively abrasive.

3rd Step: Shake it up!

The next step is to shake the tent to eliminate any debris that may have slipped through the net. It’s time to put the tarp back in its storage bag for the trip home.

Read on to learn how to make sure your tent is bone dry before you depart if it hasn’t dried entirely when you arrive.



When washing your tent, always follow the instructions on the back of your tent. Before you do anything else, read the label on the tent you’re considering purchasing.

Select a Work Surface That Is Smooth

Avoid washing your tent on rough surfaces, including concrete. Doing so could result in damage to your tent that is difficult to detect, especially if the surface has jagged edges. Using a tarp to clean your camping tent is a good rule of thumb.


Cold or lukewarm water can be used to remove more tenacious stains off your tent. Use a detergent specifically intended for outdoor clothing if the cleaning instructions allow. Use a yard hose or a fresh batch of water to properly clean your tent. Remove any salt water or dirt from your tent poles with a damp sponge while you’re there.

Use a small section of the tent as a test area before applying it to the rest of the tent with a light cleaning solution, such as vinegar or ammonia.

Check to see if everything is in order. IT’S DRY AS A BONE.

Make sure your tent is entirely dry before storing it, no matter how thoroughly you cleaned it. Mould and mildew grow quickly in damp tents, and they can be difficult to get rid of. To top it all off, the scent will ruin any fast camping trip.

Pop your tent up and let it air dry for a few hours in the shade to ensure adequate drying. You can also use an enclosed garage or the interior of your home if it is pouring.

Make use of your tent’s windows to keep moisture (and mold) at bay. Consider the wind direction to ensure that grit does not get into your windows’ zippers and linings.

Your tent should be stored in an appropriate manner

Even if your tent is protected in the car, it is best to put the tent into something loose and breathable when you get home. A pillowcase is a great way to keep mold at bay since it allows the tent material to relax and breathe.

Store it in a cold, dry place, such as a hallway cupboard, rather than in a hot, humid location.

How to Clean Your Tent and Get Back Outside


It’s nearly impossible to hoist a large family tent into the air and turn it upside down to shake out dirt and debris. Instead, carefully clean the tent’s floor using a vacuum’s brush attachment. The tent’s floor could be damaged if you use other attachments on your vacuum cleaner.


In the winter, the best method to keep your tent clean is to keep it out of the snow. While common sense dictates that you leave your shoes outside, here are a few additional tips to help keep your home snow-free:

Compress the snow under and around the tent to keep it from blowing away. Wait 20-30 minutes for the snow to refreeze before putting up your tent, and pack the snow down as much as possible. Create an area around the tent where hard snow won’t be kicked or dragged in by your boots when you enter and exit the tent.

2. If at all possible, construct a wind-blocking wall. Using this can help keep snow from falling on your tent..

Between the tent’s vestibule and the entrance, dig a trench. Use this to keep more of your belongings out of the snow.


No, you can’t wash your tent in the dishwasher.

Sadly, that’s not the case. An agitator’s incredible force is too much for delicate tent materials to handle (or most household cleaners). As an alternative, follow the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations or clean your tent by hand.


Your tent’s lifespan can be extended by a simple sweep and spot clean after each use. Campsite conditions may necessitate the use of hand-washing detergent. It’s important to rinse your tent after a beach camping trip to eliminate salt spray residue.


A durable water repellency (DWR) treatment can be applied with Grangers Tent & Gear Repel once the tent is dry. UV protection is also part of the solution, which helps to prevent fading.