Can You Wash Tarps In Washing Machine?



Can You Wash Tarps In Washing Machine

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No, it is not recommended to wash tarps in the washing machine. The heavy-duty materials used in tarps can be damaged by the agitator in most top-load washing machines.

Tarps are versatile and durable tools that protect items from the elements, serve as temporary shelters, and assist in various outdoor activities. However, after prolonged use, tarps can accumulate dirt, stains, and odors that prompt the question: Can you toss tarps into the washing machine for a thorough clean?

The answer is no, but fear not – there are alternative methods to restore your tarps to their optimal state. In this article, we’ll delve into the dos and don’ts of washing tarps in the washing machine, provide detailed alternative cleaning methods, and address common queries.

Dos and Don’ts of Wash Tarps


  • Inspect for Damage: Before cleaning your tarp, inspect it for any signs of damage, such as tears or weakened seams.
  • Regular Cleaning: Regularly shake off dirt and debris from your tarp and consider using a brush or broom to remove larger particles.


  • Using a Washing Machine: As mentioned earlier, avoid putting tarps in the washing machine, as their heavy-duty materials can be harmed by the agitator’s motion.
  • Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using strong detergents or bleach, as they can degrade the fabric and impact the tarp’s integrity.

Alternative Washing Methods for Tarps

While the washing machine is out of the question, there are several effective alternative methods for cleaning your tarps:

  1. Hose and Scrub Method:
    • Lay the tarp flat on a clean, smooth surface.
    • Use a hose to wet the tarp thoroughly.
    • Mix a solution of mild soap and water in a bucket.
    • Dip a soft brush or cloth into the soapy solution and gently scrub the tarp, paying attention to stained or soiled areas.
    • Rinse the tarp thoroughly with the hose until all soap residues are removed.
    • Allow the tarp to air dry by draping it over a secure, clean surface.
  2. Spot Cleaning:
    • For small stains or localized dirt, use a damp cloth and mild soap to gently scrub the affected area.
    • Rinse with clean water and allow the spot-cleaned area to air dry.
  3. Power Washer Method:
    • If you have access to a power washer, use it on a low setting to clean larger tarps.
    • Stand a reasonable distance away to avoid causing damage to the tarp’s material.
    • Avoid using excessive pressure, which can lead to fraying or tearing.


Can I fold my tarp while it’s still damp?

Answer: It’s best to allow the tarp to fully air dry before folding it to prevent mold or mildew growth.

Can I use a pressure washer on tarps?

Answer: While a pressure washer can be effective, use it on a low setting and maintain a safe distance to prevent damage.

Are there specific cleaning agents for tarps?

Answer: Use mild soap or specialized tarp cleaners. Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the tarp material.

Can I use a tarp with visible mold or mildew?

Answer: It’s not recommended to use a tarp with mold or mildew. Clean it thoroughly before use to prevent further growth.

Can I machine dry my tarp after washing it by hand?

Answer: Air drying is the best method to preserve the tarp’s integrity. Avoid machine drying, which can cause damage.

Final Words:

While the washing machine isn’t suitable for cleaning tarps, there are numerous effective alternatives that can restore your tarps to their former functionality and appearance. Whether it’s a heavy-duty construction tarp or a lightweight camping shelter, proper maintenance ensures your tarps will continue to serve their intended purpose for years to come.

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