Can You Put A Tent In The Washing Machine?

No, you should not put a tent in a washing machine. Washing machines can damage the delicate fabrics, waterproof coatings, and stitched seams of a tent due to the agitation and tumbling action. 

Tents require gentle hand-washing to avoid stretching, tearing, or stripping away the waterproofing. While this coating can be reapplied, it’s wiser to minimise damage from the start. 

You’ve learnt why washing machines are a no-go for tents, but what about other tent cleaning alternatives? 

Keep reading to learn how to properly hand wash, tackle tricky stains, and store your tent to ensure it lasts for many adventures to come.

How To Hand Wash A Tent

The best way to clean a tent is by hand-washing it, whether it’s spot-cleaning or a complete wash. Before cleaning, brush off any loose dirt while the tent is set up, using a broom. Here are the steps:

  • For a thorough clean
    Fill a bathtub with warm water and mild washing up liquid. Carefully move the tent in the water, sponge any stains, rinse, and rewash with a waterproofing agent following the directions.
  • For spot cleaning
    Use a soft sponge or cloth with a mild, unscented washing up liquid to clean spots. Wipe only as needed and ensure it dries fully.
  • For sticky substances like tree sap
    Try hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol. It’s safe for the fabric if you don’t use too much.
  • For mould or odours
    Use an enzyme cleaner carefully, following the usage guidelines to prevent fabric damage.

Pro tip: It’s important to avoid typical household cleaners like bleach, spot cleaners, harsh washing up liquids, or pre-soaking laundry products. These can attract bugs and other creatures because of their scents and can also reduce the effectiveness of the tent’s water-repellent coating.

How To Properly Dry And Store A Tent


Avoid using a tumble dryer as it can cause tears and generate heat that may damage the tent.

After cleaning, it’s important to store your tent completely dry, as moisture leads to mildew, odours, and breakdown of waterproof coatings. Moisture over time will break down these barriers chemically. If your tent becomes flaky, sticky, or starts to smell, it could be time for a major repair or to get a new one.

Store the tent loosely in a cool, dry space, such as a pillowcase or mesh bag. The tight pack for hiking is not good for storing it for a long time, as the fabric needs to breathe.

Keep your tent away from warm or moist areas like garages, lofts, or car boots. If no dry space is available, place the dried tent in a closed plastic box.

SEE ALSO: Can You Tumble Dry A Tent? (expert advice)

Frequently Asked Questions

How to wash a tent in a washing machine?

You should not wash a tent in a washing machine, as it can damage the tent’s delicate fabrics, waterproof coatings, and stitched seams due to the machine’s agitation and tumbling action.

What is the best way to clean a tent?

The best way to clean a tent is by hand-washing it. This can be done either through spot cleaning or a complete wash in a bathtub with mild washing up liquid and warm water, avoiding harsh chemicals.

How to remove mould from a tent?

To remove mould from a tent, use an enzyme cleaner and carefully follow the product’s usage guidelines to prevent damaging the fabric.

Is it OK to put a tent away wet?

It is not OK to put a tent away wet. Storing a tent wet can lead to the growth of mildew, odours, and the breakdown of waterproof coatings, damaging the tent over time. Always ensure the tent is completely dry before storing.

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