How to Wash a Tent in The Washing Machine

Are you wondering if it’s possible to wash your tent in a washing machine without causing any damage? Tents are prone to getting dirty and smelly after multiple uses, making cleaning an essential task.

In this article, we’ll guide you on how to wash your tent in the washing machine while preserving its fabric and waterproofing. Additionally, we’ll provide valuable tips on maintaining a clean and well-maintained tent.

So, if you’re ready to learn the proper technique for washing a tent, keep reading!

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Can you wash a tent in the washing machine?

The answer is a bit complicated. While technically possible, it’s usually not recommended due to the risks below.

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.

Despite the risks, if your tent is grimy enough to warrant machine washing, there are ways to do it safely. But tread carefully, my adventurous friend, and follow these steps to a tee. Your tent’s life may depend on it!

Preparing Your Tent for Washing Machine

Before placing your expensive piece into risk (washing machine), consider performing these following steps:

  1. Inspect The Tent: Ensure there are no holes, rips or tears in the fabric. If any damage is found, repair it before washing your tent.
  2. Remove Attachments: This includes poles, stakes and guylines. Take care to detach all supplementary items from your tent before putting it into a washer.
  3. Invert It: Flipping the inside of your tent outwards helps to protect against terrible agitation caused by a washing machine.

Using The Right Detergent

To protect your tent fabric and waterproofing, choose a detergent specifically designed for delicate materials.

  • Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach that can strip away the water repellent treatment. 
  • Opt for mild detergents formulated to remove dirt, stains, and odors without causing damage. 
  • Check the product label for suitability on nylon or polyester fabrics commonly used in tents. 
  • Consider Eco-friendly options for a gentle and effective clean.

How To Wash A Tent In The Washing Machine

To successfully wash your tent while minimizing damages, follow these step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Choosing The Suitable Washing Machine

To choose the right washing machine for your tent, consider these factors:

  • Load capacity: Check your home washing machine’s load limit. Smaller tents can go in regular machines, while larger ones may need an industrial-sized machine.
  • Size and dimensions: Ensure the machine has enough space for your entire tent without cramming it inside.
  • Agitation type: Front-loading machines are gentler on fabrics, avoiding potential snags or tears.
  • Temperature control: Look for a machine with adjustable temperature settings to follow fabric care instructions.
  • Spin cycle speed: Choose a washer with adjustable spin speeds to prevent stress on seams and zippers.
  • Rinse cycles: Quality rinsing is crucial to remove soap residue and maintain tent performance.

Step 2: Set Your Washer Properly

For optimal results when washing your tent fabric, follow these steps to set your washer correctly:

  • Select the recommended temperature: Check the manufacturer’s instructions or fabric labels to determine the suitable temperature setting. When unsure, choose a lower temperature to avoid potential damage.
  • Choose the right agitation level: Different fabrics require different agitation levels. For delicate fabrics like silk or polyester, select a gentle cycle to minimize wrinkling or tangling.
  • Opt for the gentle cycle: The gentle cycle option provides slower and gentler movements, preserving the integrity of tent fabrics and reducing wear and tear.
  • Use cold water: Stick to cold water as hot water can damage the fabric and its coatings, such as waterproofing treatments. Cold water effectively removes dirt and stains without compromising your tent’s quality.

Step 2: Add the Proper Amount of Detergent

To properly clean your tent, it’s essential to use the right amount of detergent. Using too much can leave residue and be hard to rinse out, while using too little may not effectively remove dirt and stains.

Check the recommended amount of detergent for your washing machine, either in the manufacturer’s instructions or on the detergent dispenser.

Generally, use less detergent than you would for regular laundry, starting with approximately 1/3 of the normal amount. This helps prevent excessive suds and facilitates rinsing.

Choose a mild detergent designed for delicate fabrics, avoiding harsh chemicals or bleach that can weaken your tent’s waterproofing.

Before washing your entire tent, perform a colorfast test by applying diluted detergent to an inconspicuous area. Gently rub it in, rinse thoroughly, and check for any color bleeding or fading.

By using the right amount of mild detergent, you can effectively clean your tent without compromising its integrity or water resistance.

Step 3: Place Your Tent into Washing Machine

To properly clean your tent, it is important to place it into the washing machine correctly.

Start by turning the tent inside out before placing it in the tub of the washing machine. This will help preserve the vibrant colors of your tent and ensure a thorough cleaning for both the interior and exterior.

When placing your tent into the washing machine, take care to evenly distribute its weight. Avoid simply cramming it into one side or corner for a quick wash.

Uneven distribution can lead to inadequate cleaning as well as cause strain on certain areas of the fabric and may result in damage.

Step 4: Begin Laundry Cycle and Monitor Progress:

Start the laundry cycle and keep an eye on its progress. If possible, stay nearby during each stage to ensure everything is going smoothly.

Step 5: Once Done with Cleaning Process, Air Dry Your Freshly Cleaned Tent:

  • After completing the cleaning process in your washing machine, remove your tent promptly.
  • Do not put it in a dryer as this may cause shrinkage or damage to delicate features like seams or zippers.   


  • Find a well-ventilated area where you can hang it up or lay it out flat (like a backyard or garage). Best practice suggests air drying wet tent outside especially under shades.
  • Make sure all parts (such as poles, pegs, and ropes) are removed first before drying
  • Allow sufficient time for air-drying; preferably outdoors if weather permits
  • Depending on climate conditions and fabric thickness/density approximately 24 hours should be adequate 
  • Do not fold damp cloth until dry completely as creasing may cause warping or tearing seams which could easily break when next used outdoors.

Remember: When hanging up large tents outside avoid doing so while sun is still energy strong/ hot overhead.

Alternatives To Washing Your Tents In The Machines?

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:

If doing laundry traditionally via hands seems easy then utilize effective hand-wash method to get rid of dirt and grime.

  • Professional Cleaning

Taking tent to professional cleaner is wise move, personally you may not feel confident tackling fabric cleaning part hence relying on experts becomes inevitability.

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.

Can You Put a Tent in a top-Loading Washing Machine?

No, you shouldn’t put a tent in a top-loading washing machine. Agitators and impellers can cause damage to the tent fabric. Use a front-loading machine instead.

How do I dry my tent if the tent is 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.


By following these tips for washing a tent in the washing machine while minimizing risk during each step; ensuring proper techniques are used from pre-wash preparation through post-process care prolongs lifetime whilst giving fresh appearance after every use.

Making sure that all steps performed right way mentioned keeps quality as new will allow extending validity duration period without much effort required for maintaining upkeep easily achievable with such approach.

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