How to clean your tent after summer adventures


A little care goes a long way when it comes to keeping your tent in tip-top condition. Photo / Unsplash

For some people, the meticulous cleaning and packing of a tent is an enjoyable process.

For the rest of us, it’s more a case of swiftly shoving things into impossibly small bags and tossing them into the depths of the garage for another year.

However, a well cleaned and packed tent can make a huge difference, not only to how easy it is to use next time but long it stays in good nick.

Here are some simple tips and tricks for packing up your tent after summer adventures.

Sooner rather than later

The last day of vacation can be a bit of a scramble, we get it. If you didn’t have time to sweep, clean or dry your tent, it’s crucial to do it as soon as you can after arriving home. It will be easier to clean and prevent any damage.

Sweep and spot clean

After sweeping the tent of any loose dirt, grass or debris, do a small spot clean with a little dish soap and sponge. Avoid using bleach or spot remover as this can damage the material.

Full wash

If you used your tent for a day or two, you may get away without needing to clean it. However, if you’ve used it for several days, or haven’t washed it in a few months, it will need a clean.

Tent body and fly
Depending on the make and model of your tent, the brand will likely have specific cleaning instructions.

Most will involve rinsing the tent body and rain fly in a basin or bath using lukewarm water. Then, wash it with a cleaner designed especially for outdoor gear — stay away from regular detergent!

Poles and pegs
Using a wet rag, wipe down the pegs and tent poles. Pay attention to the ferrules, which are the parts that insert into the next segment, as these can get rusty or muddy and damage the poles.

This part of the tent is often ignored, but one can guess that a tent becomes pretty useless if you can’t actually get in or out of it. Grab an old toothbrush and some warm water to loosen any dirt or salt from the ‘teeth’ of the zippers. Extra for experts: use dry-zipper lubricant for any sticky parts.


If you endured a little rain while camping, or have just done a full clean, pitching it out to dry is a crucial step. Even a little moisture, if left for a long-time in a dark camping bag, can cause real damage to the materials and metals.


Once your tent is clean and totally dry, it’s time to store it away.

Let it breathe
The handy stuff sack your tent comes in may seem like the most obvious way to keep your tent, however, this isn’t necessarily the best choice for the long term. If it will be a few weeks or months before you head out camping, it pays to keep your tent in a spacious pillowcase or mesh bag. This allows the tent fabric to breathe and relax and prevents harsh folds and creases.

Location, location, location
Step away from the humid garage or sunny car trunk; the best place for your tent is somewhere cool and dry. Avoid anywhere that is prone to dampness or heat.

Next steps

Now your tent is in tip-top shape, it’s time to sharpen up your camping knowledge. Read our

to a Kiwi camping holiday and peruse NZ’s

from 2021.

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