Can You Wash Your Tent in the Washing Machine?



Can You Wash Your Tent In The Washing Machine

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No, it’s not recommended to wash your tent in a washing machine. The agitation of the washing machine could cause damage to the fabric, seams, and zippers of the tent. Additionally, the tent’s waterproofing could be compromised by the detergents typically used in washing machines.

The Dangers of Machine Washing Your Tent

Tents, while designed to withstand a certain degree of rough handling in the outdoors, are not built to endure the rigors of a washing machine. The agitation of a washing machine can cause significant stress on the seams, zippers, and delicate fabric of a tent, leading to potential damage. Furthermore, the harsh detergents typically used in washing machines can strip the tent’s waterproof coating, reducing its effectiveness in protecting you from rain and dew.

Dos and don’ts of Wash Your Tent in the Washing Machine


  • Do use a mild, non-detergent soap: These types of soap will gently clean your tent without stripping the waterproof coating.
  • Do use a soft sponge or cloth: To prevent any damage to the tent fabric, use a soft sponge or cloth when cleaning.
  • Do clean all parts of your tent: Make sure to clean both the interior and exterior of your tent, including zippers and poles, to ensure thorough cleaning.
  • Do air dry your tent completely before storage: To prevent mildew and mold growth, make sure your tent is completely dry before packing it away.


  • Don’t use harsh detergents or bleach: These substances can damage the fabric and strip the tent’s waterproof coating.
  • Don’t machine wash or machine dry your tent: The machine’s agitation can cause stress and damage to your tent’s fabric, seams, and zippers.
  • Don’t pack away a wet or damp tent: This can lead to mold and mildew, which can degrade the fabric and create an unpleasant odor.

Steps to Hand Wash Your Tent

  1. Prepare a mild cleaning solution: Fill a large tub or basin with cool to lukewarm water and add a non-detergent soap. Avoid using hot water as it can damage the tent’s fabric and protective coatings.
  2. Submerge your tent: Unzip all doors and windows, turn the tent inside out, and then gently place it into the tub.
  3. Gently scrub the tent: Using a soft sponge or cloth, gently scrub the entire tent. Pay special attention to particularly dirty areas, and be sure to clean the zippers and poles as well.
  4. Rinse thoroughly: Drain the soapy water from the tub and fill it with clean water. Rinse the tent thoroughly to remove all soap residues. You may need to repeat this step several times to ensure all soap is removed.
  5. Air dry: Finally, hang the tent in a shaded outdoor area or in a well-ventilated indoor space to air dry. Make sure the tent is fully dry before packing it away to prevent mold and mildew growth.

In conclusion, while machine washing might seem like a convenient solution, the potential for damage makes it a poor choice for cleaning your tent. By following the guidelines and steps outlined above, you can ensure that your tent is clean and ready for your next adventure while also prolonging its lifespan. Happy camping!


How should I clean my tent then?

Answer: The best way to clean a tent is by handwashing it. Use a soft brush, a sponge, or a cloth with lukewarm water and a mild soap or specialized tent cleaner. Gently scrub the affected areas and rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Can I use a hose to clean my tent?

Answer: Yes, using a gentle spray from a hose can help remove loose dirt and debris from your tent. However, avoid using high-pressure settings or powerful jets that could damage the fabric or seams.

Can I remove stains from my tent during handwashing?

Answer: For stubborn stains, pre-treat the area with a mixture of water and mild soap. Gently scrub the stain with a soft brush or cloth. Avoid using harsh chemicals, bleach, or solvents, as they can harm the tent’s materials.

How should I dry my tent after cleaning?

Answer: After cleaning, let your tent air dry completely in a shaded area. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can damage the fabric and coatings. Do not use a dryer or any other heat source to speed up the drying process.

Can I store my tent while it’s damp?

Answer: No, storing a damp tent can lead to mildew and mold growth, which can damage the fabric and cause unpleasant odors. Always make sure your tent is completely dry before storing it.

Can I use soap on the tent’s zippers?

Answer: Yes, you can use a small amount of mild soap on the zippers to keep them clean and functioning smoothly. After applying soap, rinse thoroughly with clean water to prevent residue buildup.

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