Tents are necessary to have if one loves outdoor adventures. And these aren’t limited to adults as there are play tents which are great for kids to help nurture their creative side. But tents, just like any other outdoor equipment and gears, require cleaning. This is especially true if the shelter has been subjected to dust, dirt, and mud. But what is the best way to clean and care for it? Can you put a tent in the dryer? These are just some of the questions many inexperienced tent owners have.
If you’re among them, then you’re in the right place! Here are some tips for using, cleaning and storing your tents to make them last for years.
Proper Use of the Tent Matters
Many people think that owners only need to clean and store the tents properly to make them last longer. This, however, is not true. How you use the tent is just as essential as cleaning and storing if the shelter is to be used for many years.
Practice pitching the tent before heading to the campsite. Read the instructions first then set up the tent at home or a nearby ground. This is because knowing how to use the tent properly once on the field will help extend the tent’s life. Putting up the tent in the wild without knowing how it works can result in serious damage to the shelter.
No Excessive Sun Exposure
Many tents are weatherproof. This means they can withstand different weather conditions like sunlight and rains. However, a tent even if its weatherproof tend to deteriorate due to excess exposure to the UV rays. You will notice this in the fabrics of the rainfly and canopy.
Seasoned campers recommend finding a tent spot that is far from direct sunlight since hot weather can be uncomfortable. Plus, too much sun on the tent is no good for its fabric either.
Be Gentle with the Poles
Naturally, the poles of the tent are made of strong materials like aluminum. But this does not mean you can snap the shock-corded in any way or whip the pole around. Extra care must be taken when unfolding the pole sections and fitting them in the ground.
Tips for Cleaning a Tent
How an owner cleans the tent also matters when it comes to making the product last for years. There are some rules in cleaning the shelter.
The Basic Cleaning
As a rule, tents should be cleaned gently. This means using gentle products for scrubbing and removing the dirt and stains.
Use proper cleaning materials
One should use cold water, a non-abrasive sponge and a non-detergent soap. Using rough scrub pads can cause damage to the fabric. This is the reason why a non-abrasive sponge is recommended. Meanwhile, hot water can be too rough and can result in the melting or holes in the fabric.
No harsh chemicals
Never use harsh household cleaners such as bleach, strong dish soaps, spot removers or pre-soak laundry products. One should also be careful in using household soaps as they often contain perfume that will definitely attract rodents, insects, pests and even bigger animals. These soaps also tend to impair the tent’s water repellant coating.
Can You Put a Tent in the Dryer?
Rookies of camping or new owners of tents often ask, “Can you use the washing machine to clean the tent?” or “Can you put a tent in the dryer?” The simple answer to these questions is no. One should not use a washing machine or dryer for cleaning.
Washing machines, especially the top-loaders with an agitator can either tear the fabric and seams or simply stretch the fabric. Unfortunately, dryers cause the same damage as well due to the heat.
Tents must be cleaned by hand to prevent any damage.
Storing the Tent Properly
Storing the tent the proper way is just as crucial as cleaning and using the shelter properly.
Clean after every trip
After each trip, tent owners should air-dry the items thoroughly. One can never go wrong in leaving the tent to dry regardless of how long it takes. It is best to dry out the item in a shaded outdoor area or even indoors where there is good air ventilation.
Air dry only
One also has to keep in mind that drying the tent does not mean leaving it exposed to sunlight for hours. It only has to be air dried.
Do not store while still damp
Never store the tent when it’s still damp. It has to be 100 percent dry before tucking it in a safe place.
Storing the tent when it’s not 100 percent dry can give the shelter a funny smell and can also affect its polyurethane waterproof coatings. The moisture will eventually break down the tent’s coatings. The tent will then become tacky, smelly or flaky. You might need to do some thorough repairs or worse, replace it altogether.
Store Loosely in a Cool and Dry Place
Most tents come with a carrying bag that makes the tent compact for portability. However, these stuff sacks are no good for long-term storage.
The best way to store the tent is to place the item in roomy storage like an old pillowcase or mesh bags. It is important to let the fabric of the shelter to breathe and relax. The room where it will be stored matters greatly, too. Never place the tent in a hot or damp area like the attic, vehicle trunk or basement.
Make Your Tent Last Longer
Many tents sold on the market are durable and can last for many years. But a product, regardless of the features that make it durable, will not last long if not cared for properly.
For tents, it is important to be gentle with its use and cleaning. Tent owners should practice pitching and avoid exposing the item in direct sunlight for long hours. Being extra careful with the poles will go a long way, too.
Washing machines or dryers are no good for the tents either. One should clean the item by hand. Avoiding abrasive scrubs and cleaning materials is the best way to clean the tent. The item must also be dried completely before storing and placed in a container that allows the fabric to breathe. A cool and dry room is where the tent should be stored for long-term.