tent cleaning tips

Cleaning The Tent – In 7 Easy Steps – Step By Step Instructions

Does your tent look dusty and dirty? Does it smell funny? Then it’s time for a cleaning job to clean the tent. Here you will find detailed instructions for cleaning your tent and the best tips to make your tent shine in new splendor.

Why tent cleaning is important

After a camping trip, your tent is likely to be dirty. Dust, mud, plant and food scraps – a tent can accumulate a lot. If the tent is not cleaned regularly, it can rotten quickly in the pack sack. A clean tent offers you these advantages:

You are doing something good for your health
Because mold has no chance of spreading in the tent.

A clean tent lasts longer
Because dust and sand have no chance of sanding off the sensitive waterproof coating.

Small crawlers stay in front of the door
Because they are not attracted by interesting smells.

Of course, a clean tent also makes a better impression. Let’s go to the tent cleaning!

tent cleaning
We campers want to enjoy nature – this works even better in a clean tent.

Instructions: How to clean your tent

In the following step-by-step guide, we explain how you can clean your tent properly and give important tips to avoid mistakes when cleaning your tent. These are the main steps:

  • Get cloth, tent cleaner, tub and other accessories
  • Shake or vacuum the inner tent
  • Put up the tent and wash off the dust
  • Selectively clean particularly heavily soiled areas
  • Wash the tent in a tub with tent cleaner
  • Rinse the tent with plenty of clean water
  • Thoroughly dry the tent

You can now find out how to do this and which cliffs to avoid.

  1. Get cloth, tent cleaner, tub and other accessories

A really thorough tent cleaning is not difficult. You will need these tools to clean a dirty tent:

  • Cold or lukewarm water
  • Fragrance-free detergent (for spot cleaning)
  • A detergent for outdoor equipment, such as B. Nikwax Tech-Wash
  • A soft cloth, soft brush or microfiber wash mitt
  • A large tub or bathtub
  • Wash-in impregnation for functional textiles, e.g. Nikwax TX.Direct

Under no circumstances use harsh cleaners or hard brushes! The tent can leak!

  1. Shake or vacuum the inner tent

There is a nice trick to quickly throwing sand and dry blades of grass out of your tent: turn the tent inside out and shake it out. Complete.

This method is also gentle on the tent material: you do not sweep or rub grains of sand over the tent floor.

If there is still a little dirt in the tent, you can remove it with a hand vacuum in the next step when the tent is up.

  1. Put up the tent and wash off the dust

The tent walls are best cleaned when the tent is up. Use a soft brush to clean the outside of your tent from dust, dry mud, and salt.

You can also easily rinse off the dust with a garden hose. The advantage: stubborn dirt is softened and can be removed more easily when cleaning the tent.

A high-pressure cleaner quickly cleans the tent, but exerts too much pressure on the seams!

  1. Clean spots that are particularly heavily soiled

There may now be some stains left on the outside of the tent or inside the tent. Use a soft cloth, lukewarm water and a few splashes of fragrance-free washing-up liquid to tackle the stain. Simply rub in the dirty areas, let it work for a short time and rinse off well.

If you want a better cleaning effect, you can use a special tent cleaner such as Nikwax Tech Wash. Nikwax received the Outdoor Industry Award, among other things, and we have had good experiences with Tech Wash with our tents.

Professional tip: A microfiber washing glove for cars is ideal for cleaning large areas. The glove is particularly soft and gentle on the surface.

If your tent was only slightly dirty, you are now almost done cleaning the tent. You can now dry the tent. We recommend that you re-impregnate the tent afterwards so that it stays clean longer.

Did you come back from the camping tour with a really dirty tent or do you want to do a really thorough thorough cleaning? Then it goes on with the tent linen.

Avoid vigorous scrubbing! The coating on your tent is delicate.

  1. Wash the tent in a tub with tent cleaner

Fill your bathtub or shower tray with lukewarm water and add Nikwax Tech Wash. The bottle says how much tent cleaner to add.

Friction, swirling zippers, and heat are not good for your tent. Please do not wash the tent in the washing machine.

Open the zippers and turn your tent inside out. Now dip it in the tub. The detergent bottle says how long the tent has to soak.

  1. Rinse the tent with plenty of clean water

Now the tent needs a lot of fresh water. Empty the tub, fill it with plain water, and wash the tent with your hands. You may have to repeat this until all of the detergent is out of the fabric.

Your tent is now really clean and can be dried. If you want, you can impregnate it with Nikwax TX. Direct in the tub beforehand. Then the tent is better equipped for rainy days and repels new dirt more easily.

  1. Dry the tent thoroughly

Dry the tent really well. To do this, simply set it up in the garden on a sunny day and open all entrances. If it rains, hang it on a clothesline in the garage or basement.

You are done cleaning your tent! Your tent is now clean, waterproof and dry. So you have optimally protected it from new soiling, mold stains and mold.

Clean zips, poles and lines

Of course, the best impression is made by a tent where all parts are sparkling clean. We give tips for cleaning and protection.

  • Make zips run smoothly
  • Clean poles and pegs
  • Cleaning the tent cords
tent zip
With many zippers, the slide breaks at some point. You can prevent this with regular cleaning.

Make the zips run smoothly

Take a toothbrush and scrub any mud, sand, and salt water off your zipper teeth. For stubborn dirt, rinse the zipper with water before and after brushing.

To ensure that the zipper continues to run well in the future, care for it with a little silicone spray or wax after scrubbing. Simply rub the zipper with a thin layer and open and close it a few times – you will feel the difference.

Clean poles and pegs

This tip is especially important if you have camped by the sea. Salt on metal causes rust.

Wipe your tent poles and pegs with a damp cloth, then apply a thin layer of silicone spray to the metal parts.

Poles and pegs are now protected from rust. Another advantage: the bars can be put together more easily.

Cleaning the tent cords

In most cases, it is sufficient to wipe the tent cords with a damp cloth. For heavy soiling, put the cords in a cloth bag and wash them in the washing machine.

Important: The tent cords must also be dried well after cleaning before you pack them.

tent cord
The tent cords and tent pegs must be cleaned regularly.

How do I clean which stain?

Some types of stains require special care or cleaning agents.

Mold, mold stains, algae, bad smells

Use an enzyme cleaner such as Mirazyme to remove mold, mildew, animal urine, and bad odors from your tent. Please follow the instructions on the bottle to avoid damaging the tent fabric.

Mold and mildew are among the worst things that can happen to a tent. In our test, the stains did not completely disappear when the tent was cleaned with the enzyme cleaner.

After all, the bad smell was completely eliminated. Enzyme cleaners are also highly effective against mold spores. To do something good for your health, you should treat a moldy tent as quickly as possible.

A mold up close – you can clearly see the spores through which the fungus can spread.

Candle wax

The best method is to let the wax cool and then gently scrape it off with a spoon. This works particularly well with a cold spray.

If there are still wax residues afterwards, you can put blotting paper on the stain and warm the area very carefully (!) With a hairdryer. The blotting paper soaks up the wax.

Bird droppings

Bird droppings are quite easy to scrape off with a spoon when dry. Then the leftovers are soaked with lukewarm water and a little washing-up liquid and wiped off with a cloth.

Dust, sand, mud

You can brush off dried mud, sand and dust very easily with a soft brush.

Tree sap

Gently scrape off any dried resin with a spoon. A cold spray makes it easier to scrape off.

If the spoon doesn’t completely remove the resin, clean the tent fabric with mineral oil or rubbing alcohol. Then you have to wash the tent well with water.

Caution: alcohol attacks the tissue. Just leave it on the tent as long as necessary!

Coffee, wine

Fresh coffee and wine stains should be wiped off immediately with water and a cloth if possible.

Rub older, already dried stains with Nikwax Tech Wash and let it sit a little. Then wash the treated areas with plenty of clear water until there are no more soap residues in the fabric.

Grease stains

Grease is insoluble in water and therefore cannot be removed with water alone.

Soak up fresh grease stains as best you can with a tissue or a piece of toilet paper.

You can remove grease stains that have already penetrated the fabric with an unscented washing-up liquid or shampoo. Soak the stain with warm water and a little washing-up liquid. After a few minutes’ exposure time, wash the treated areas with plenty of clear water.

If you use a cleaning agent, the tent must then be re-impregnated according to our instructions.


The UVA filter in the sun cream creates light or yellowish spots. Because the UVA filter is oil-soluble, you can clean sunscreen on the tent the same way you clean grease.

cleaning the tent

More knowledge and tips on cleaning tents

Your neighbor told you that he washes his tent in the washing machine with fabric softener and then puts it in a wet garbage bag so that the good smell is retained until the next tour? You can do that, but … don’t do that! Find out why here.

Can I wash my tent in the washing machine?

If you are brave Machine wash saves time and effort. In our experience, tents can withstand laundry with the right settings on the washing machine and the right detergent.

But: machine washing is not as gentle as hand washing. If the tent seams get too much tension or there is too much friction on the coating of the tent fabric, your tent can leak. Cotton tents can shrink in high water temperatures.

How often do I have to clean my tent?

It’s simple: when your tent is dirty! We clean our tents after every major tour. We clean seldom used tents that are only set up on a few weekends a year at the end of the season.

Which cleaning agents should I not use?

Gentle detergents and special tent cleaners such as Nikwax Tech Wash are ideal for cleaning tents. Please refrain from the following means:

  • Scouring milk: if the coating is damaged by strong friction, tent windows become dull.
  • Fabric softener: The intense smell can attract animals that nibble curiously at your tent.
  • Liquid soap: it contains substances that can mold in the tent fabric.
  • Power cleaners: Acid or alkaline power cleaners are far too harsh for synthetic fabrics. They destroy the tent surface.

When do I have to re-impregnate my tent?

Tent cleaners not only wash away dirt, but also the waterproofing agent from the tent. So you have to renew the impregnation if you used cleaning agents on your tent when cleaning the tent.

Because the impregnation is washed out by the rain over time, we also re-impregnate our tents about every 2 to 3 years at the beginning of the season.

How much does it cost to have my tent cleaned?

There are professional tent cleaners who competently clean your tent for you and even offer convenient shipping by parcel service.

The price is often calculated per square meter of tent space. For example, large tents can cost several hundred dollars. It can even be more expensive to clean than a new tent.

Tip: Get an offer before you go to a tent cleaner or send in your tent.

How do I clean my tent windows?

With a soft microfiber cloth, a little mild detergent and plenty of water. The detergent must be completely washed off after cleaning. Then dry the windows with a towel to avoid streaks.

What can I use to clean Vaude, Coleman and Outwell tents?

You can clean tents from Vaude, Coleman, Outwell, Kampa, Hilleberg, Decathlon or MSR according to our instructions above.

Many manufacturers offer their own, high-quality cleaning agents. You can use them for tent maintenance if you want.

How do I properly store my tent after cleaning?

The tent must be absolutely dry when you store it so that no foxing or mold can develop on the tent fabric. A dry, cool storage location is ideal.

Tip: Your tent prefers it if you store it loosely and airy outside of the tight pack sack. A cloth bag or an old pillowcase are ideal for this.


In a clean tent, you can enjoy the “unsullied” beauty of nature particularly well.

  • Be gentle with your tent when cleaning your tent. Avoid using scouring milk, washing machines and high-pressure cleaners.
  • Shake out the tent and remove dirt with a soft cloth and water.
  • If your mobile accommodation is heavily soiled, it will look forward to a cleaning bath with Nikwax Tech Wash.
  • Dry the tent thoroughly after cleaning and re-impregnate it to protect it from dirt.

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