Can You Wash a Tent in a Front Loading Washing Machine?

Tents serve as your outdoor homes. They require tender love and proper care to provide years of service. The question, “Can you wash a tent in a front loading washing machine?” makes people wonder. Read on and know the answer.


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Basic Tent Care

Tents, while unbelievably tough when used outdoors, also need cleaning and maintenance. Good thing, you do not have to wash it often, unless it gets stained or starts smelling bad. Depending on the degree of soiling, here are the things you can do.

Do Basic Cleaning

Lightly soiled areas can be cleaned using a non-abrasive scrub, mild soap, and cold water. You have to clean it with your hands, giving extra attention to the coated parts.

Avoid using household cleaners made from harsh chemicals as it may affect the tent’s water-repellant system. You can use DIY cleaning mixtures to remove dirt and mold patches on tents. Also, refrain from using scented soaps as it can attract insects and other creatures.

Deep Cleaning Your Tent

Tents that are heavily soiled, with molds, or has foul odors should undergo deep cleaning. This is not an automatic process and requires a lot of hand-works.

Prepare the Stuff Needed

  • Mild soap – Should be free from harsh chemicals and scents
  • Big sponge and soft scrub brush – You can also use soft cloth as long as it does not put stress on fabrics.
  • Bucket of water and garden hose – Preferably cold water

Prepare the Tent

Pitch your tent in a good location, preferably wide-open spaces without loose tree branches and twigs. This will keep your tent protected against potential damage. Yards and campgrounds are perfect spots.

Once set, remove all present debris and loose dirt with your hands.  This includes leaves, pine needles, and equipment. Be sure that your tent is empty before cleaning.

Spot Clean with Soap

Using a sponge with a small amount of soap, spot-clean the areas with excessive dirt and stains.

Scrub All the Surfaces

Gently scrub all surfaces of the tent, inside and out. You can use a brush to clean corners and hard to reach areas.

Soak on a Tub

On a tub filled with water and soap, soak the tent for a couple of minutes depending on the directions. This is an optional procedure and can be omitted depending on personal preference.

Rinse Thoroughly

Rinse the entire tent using a hose. Continue rinsing until no more soap residues are present.

Dry Completely

Let your tent dry completely before storing. It can be air-dried to prevent the growth of molds. A waterproof spray can be used to increase your tent’s life.

Evaluate Your Tent

After cleaning and drying, evaluate the condition of your tent. This includes checking the seams, mesh, and zippers.

  • Ripped seams should be patched using a small sewing kit. Apply sealing products to make it waterproof.
  • Clean zippers using an old toothbrush to remove residue and dirt. Add lubricants to the zipper’s teeth if necessary.
  • Damaged mesh should be replaced immediately.

Store Your Tent

Be sure that your tent is totally dry before keeping in a bag. Never keep it while it is still damp as it may lead to mold growth and unpleasant smell. You can also keep it in a mesh bag or pillowcase to allow the fabric to breathe and relax.

Tent poles are recommended to be stored in their assembled state. This will increase life due to the reduced tension in the shock cord.

Store your tent in a cool and dry place. Never keep it in hot and damp areas including your garage, attic, or basement.


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Can You Wash a Tent in a Front Loading Washing Machine?

Yes, you can, but it is not always a wise idea. Machine washing your tent can save time and energy. However, even its gentlest setting can increase the risk of damages. It also depends on the style of tent, for example a Teepee style tent would be too large to consider machine washing.


  • Cleaning tents become a lot easier and require only a little time. You can accomplish other tasks while the washing is ongoing.
  • Lesser physical effort is required to clean your tents in washers. You just have to put it in the machine and wait for the cycle to finish.


  • Tents are made from delicate materials such as nylons. Using a washing machine may cause tearing of fabrics and ripping of seams which may lead to major leaking.
  • Machine washed tents may have problems with its waterproofing system. The heat generated by the machine can cause the laminate to corrode.
  • Loading tents in a washing machine may be difficult and cause cram-up unless you use an oversized unit.

The only exception to these factors is the professional-grade tents. They can be washed using a washing machine, but utmost care should still be given.

Now that you are aware of the pros and cons of using the washing machine in cleaning your tents, it is for you to decide. Are you taking the easier yet risky way or the longer but less damaging method? Just a piece of advice–do not compromise quality. Ever.

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Other Caring Tips for Your Tent

With these additional guides and tips, camping and outdoor trips can be easier and more enjoyable.

  • Always use a ground cloth that perfectly fits under your tent to protect the floor against excessive dirt and possible damages.
  • Make it a habit not to wear shoes inside the tent to keep it tidy.
  • Do not store and eat foods inside to avoid hungry critters and unwanted insects.
  • Bring a small rug for immediate cleaning.
  • Fold tent properly using the fold lines as guides so as not to mess with its foldup structure.
  • Seek professional help for more effective and efficient repairs.

Final Thoughts

The question, “Can you wash a tent in a front loading washing machine?” can be answered depending mainly on your preference. Though it offers some obvious and immediate advantages, the use of a washing machine can damage your tent and shorten its life. You’d better follow the conventional methods in cleaning a tent or end up losing your outdoor home.

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