How to Wash a Tent in The Washing Machine

How to Wash a Tent in The Washing Machine

Many tent campers have asked how to wash a tent in the washing machine.

I’m Jaden, a camping enthusiast with 12 years of tent camping experience. I’ll take you to the depths of the washing tent world, specifically using a washing machine.

But first, let’s ask the important questions: Can you machine wash a tent? And is it the best way to clean it? If you’re curious, keep reading to find out by the end!

Can you wash a tent in the washing machine?

According to the instructions of most tent makers like REI and Coleman, the answer is no; you should not wash a tent in the washing machine, and if you do, be prepared to buy a new tent soon.

The harsh agitation and high spin speeds of a washing machine can damage the tent’s fabric, seams, and waterproofing. This can lead to leaks, tears, and a shortened lifespan for your tent.

The risks of washing a tent in the washing machine

Tents are sturdy, but they’re not invincible. Tossing a tent into a washer can potentially damage both the machine and caused the following for the tent: 

  • Washing a tent in a washing machine can harm the fabric and seams. The machine’s agitation can result in tears or rips in the fabric, and the weight of the wet tent can damage the machine’s drum.
  • Stripping the tent’s waterproof coating. Most tents have a waterproof coating on the fabric, and machine washing can cause the coating to wear off or become damaged, leaving the tent vulnerable to leaks.
  • Machine washing can cause the tent to lose its shape, making future setup difficult. Tents are designed for specific setup methods, and machine washing can disrupt their form.
  • Washing a tent in a machine can harm the machine itself. The weight of the wet tent strains the motor and drum, and any dirt or debris on the tent can clog the filters and pipes, leading to damage or blockages.

Woow! Now you are wondering how I can wash my tent. Don’t be afraid; in the next line, we’ll discover the best ways to wash your tent.

Best ways To Wash a Tent

Despite numerous outlined warnings associated with cleaning tents using machines; there still appears alternatives worth trying alternate ways without taking risk unnecessarily,

Hand Wash Method

Hand wash will gently clean the tent without damaging it. Here are the steps on how to hand wash your tent:

  • Shake out any loose dirt or debris.
  • Fill a bathtub or large sink with lukewarm water.
  • Add a small amount of mild soap to the water.
  • Submerge the tent in the water and gently swish it around to clean it.
  • Rinse the tent thoroughly with clean water.
  • Hang the tent to air dry in a shady spot.

Hand washing is the most recommended method for cleaning a tent, but there are a few other alternative methods that can be used in certain situations.

These methods should only be used as a last resort, as they may damage the tent if not done carefully.

Spot cleaning

This method is best for cleaning small, isolated areas of dirt or grime.

Simply mix a mild soap and water solution and apply it to the affected area with a sponge or soft cloth.

Gently scrub the area until the dirt is removed, then rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Pressure washing

Pressure washing method is only suitable for tents that are made from durable materials and have reinforced seams.

Use a low-pressure setting and hold the spray nozzle at least 12 inches away from the tent surface. Avoid spraying directly at seams or zippers.

Rinse the tent thoroughly with clean water after pressure washing.


Soaking method is best for tents that are heavily soiled or have stubborn stains.

Fill a large bathtub or sink with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild soap.

Submerge the tent completely in the water and let it soak for several hours or overnight.

Gently agitate the tent occasionally to help loosen dirt and grime. Rinse the tent thoroughly with clean water after soaking.

Professional cleaning

If your tent is extremely dirty or damaged, you may want to consider taking it to a professional cleaner.

They will have the expertise and equipment to clean your tent safely and effectively.

Related: How to Clean a Tent with Mold

Tips For Maintaining Your Tents Cleanliness

  1. Storage: Store your tents in dry, clean place which prevent building up of moisture or accumulation of dust particles /dirt.
  2. After Each Use: Cleaning your tent after every use helps reducing build-up mold and preventing damage caused due to accumulation over time.
  3. Consistent Inspection: Make it practice that  regular inspection sessions include checking any signs of visible wear, holes can be checked since this will result capturing potential damages before them worsening overtime. 


Do Tents Need To Be Washed?

Yes, tents should be washed regularly to remove dirt, stains, and prevent mold or mildew growth.

Can I Clean My Tent By Spraying It Off?

Yes, you can clean your tent by spraying it off with a gentle water spray, but avoid using a power washer or high-pressure settings.

How do I dry my tent if it’s wet in the morning?

To dry a wet tent in the morning, hang it in a sunny and open area, or brush off the outside wetness before taking it down. If you need to move on, fold it up while blotting moisture with a towel and dry it as soon as you can at the next campsite.

Washing a tent in washing machine: Final Thoughts

I’m sharing this article following a challenging encounter with an automatic washing machine when I transformed my tent into a soggy mess that suffered irreversible damage.

From my personal standpoint, I strongly advise against washing your tent in a machine due to the significant risks of damage.

Stick with alternative methods such as hand washing, spot cleaning, pressure washing, soaking, and professional cleaning to ensure your tent enjoys a long and durable lifespan.

Related Topics:

How To Clean A Tent Carpet

How To Wash A Down Sleeping Bag

How to Replace Tent Zipper With Velcro

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