How To Wash A Tent In A Washing Machine: Front Loading Edition

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 as part of your overall camping gear upkeep. 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.

Properly maintaining your camping gear is essential for successful tent camping.

Do Basic Cleaning

Lightly soiled areas can be cleaned using a non-abrasive scrub, mild soap, and cold water. To clean a tent effectively, use a specific soap or detergent formulated for outdoor gear, such as Nikwax Tent Cleaner or Revivex Pro Cleaner, to maintain the tent’s longevity and technical features. For spot cleaning, particularly dirty areas like removing pine sap from the tent floor, use mild dish soap.

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, such as a dirty tent with molds or 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. For the tent floor, use mild dish soap to effectively remove pine sap and other stubborn spots.

Scrub All the Tent Fabric Surfaces

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

Tent Soak on a Tub

On a tub filled with cold or lukewarm 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 is crucial to dry the tent completely to prevent mold and offensive smells. Storing a tent wet can lead to mold and odors. 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 Poles

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.
  • Check the tent’s fabric for damage and reapply waterproof coating if necessary. This helps maintain the tent’s longevity and protection against natural elements.

Store Your Tent in a Stuff Sack

Be sure that your tent is totally dry before putting it in a stuff sack or carrying case. 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, as keeping it in the compact stuff sack can stress the materials.

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.

Additionally, a wet tent can become significantly heavier, so handle it carefully to avoid damage.


  • 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. Additionally, the agitation can damage the tent fabric and harm the waterproof coatings, leading to reduced effectiveness.
  • 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.
  • Clean and maintain your outdoor gear after a camping trip to ensure it is ready for the next adventure. Use technical mild soaps made for outdoor gear and repair any damage incurred during the camping trip, such as rips or broken tent poles.

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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