Last Updated: May 5, 2021

How To Clean A Tent

Let’s be honest, how many of you really know how to clean a tent? You might think it’s obvious, and it kind of is, just soap and water right? Almost, but there are some handy tips to ensure your tent stays clean, to begin with, and how best to clean it without damaging it once it needs a wash. We’ll take you through all the ways to clean your tent in quite a few different scenarios. 

Clean While You’re Camping 

This is more about preventing your tent from getting dirty so that you don’t have to clean it so often. It starts with good camping manners and extends into cleaning on the road. There is no way of stopping all the dirt from getting in but there are a lot of things you can do to keep a lot of it out. 

No Shoes In The Tent 

Make sure all shoes are taken off before anyone gets into the tent and that they are left outside or in the vestibule so they don’t get wet. If your shoes do need to be inside the tent, to stop a scorpion from making them its home, or due to heavy weather, then make sure they are taken off outside and put into a bag and tied up. This way they won’t leave any dirt inside or on your tent floor, and you might reduce any possible bad odors. 

Have A Footbath At The Entrance 

You’ve probably all stayed near a beach once or twice, and dipping your feet in a foot bath before going inside does wonders to stop the sand from getting in. The same applies when camping. If you’re in a muddy, dusty, or sandy area, it’s best to dip your feet and dry them off before getting into your tent. 

Use A Ground Sheet

Putting something under your tent, like a camping tarp or an actual groundsheet not only keeps you warm and protects your tent floor from any damage, but also reduces the amount of dirt that will end up stuck to the floor of your tent. It’s a lot easier to clean the groundsheet than the bottom floor of your tent, believe me. 

Keep Cleaning 

If you’re like us, then you’ll find living in a mess an unpeaceful experience, and the same applies when camping. Make sure you clean out your tent every few days to get any dirt, sand, grit, grass and sticks out. If these are left inside, they’ll end up in your gear and you could end up sleeping in a sandy, gritty tent. 

By removing all this debris you’ll also stop any of it from digging into your tent floor or damaging your gear. 

Cleaning Your Tent When Packing Up 

Now that you have minimalized any dirt while you’re camping, it’s time to make sure you take as little of it as possible home with you. It’s quick and easy, plus it’ll save you time later. 

Sweep The Floor 

Once you have emptied your tent of all your gear, it’s time to get any leftover dirt out of it before you pack it up. Sweep the tent floor thoroughly so you get as much of the dirt out as possible. 

Clean It With Water 

If there are any stubborn bits, take some cold water and a soft sponge and wipe away and stubborn dirt. Do not use any old dish soap, as some household soaps can damage the delicate tent fabric. 

Shake It Out 

Once you’re done, give the tent and rainfly and good shake to make sure anything that is clinging on doesn’t make it into the tent bag. 

How to clean a tent

Cleaning Your Tent At Home 

Cleaning your tent at home after a camping trip is the ultimate way to make sure it’ll last longer and be fresh and ready for the next adventure. The first thing you need to do is read the instructions, as not all tent materials are the same and some may require a different approach to others. Some  And, always make sure you clean the tent on a smooth surface where any ribbing isn’t going to cause it to be damaged. 


The best way to clean your tent is to handwash it in cold or warm water. If that doesn’t do the tick, try soaking it for a while and up the water temperature too. You can also use a detergent that’s made for tents, or dish soap if the manufacturer’s instructions say it is ok. Once you’re happy that it’s cleaned, rinse it out with cold water from a low-pressure hose. You should also wipe down the tent poles with a wet cloth to remove any build-up and to stop them from rusting. 


Once you have washed your tent, or even added water to it in any way, you have to make sure it’s 100% dry before you store it. Dampness brings mildew and mold which is hard to clean, plus the odors that come with it are not pleasant and don’t make for a happy surprise camping adventure. 
The best way to dry your tent is to pitch it and leave it in the sun for 3 hours or so. If it’s raining, hang it in an enclosed space. 


Storing your tent correctly is just as important as drying it. Do not store your tent in a humid environment or moisture will start to build up, followed by mold and mildew, which you have just tried to avoid by drying it so well. A good place is under your bed or in a cupboard. 

You should also consider no putting it in the included bag as it is most likely not breathable. Put it in something loose like a big container with a lid so it has some airflow. 

How to clean a tent

Clean It Often Enough

You should always take the steps mentioned at the beginning to clean the tent while camping and to keep it clean when you’re packing up. You don’t need to handwash it at home after every camping trip if you’re camping in normal areas and we’d recommend handwashing it after every 15 days of camping.  

If you have been camping in a salty environment, you should 100% handwash it once you’re at home to get the salt off. This also goes for any extremely muddy camping trips too. 


About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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