Nobody thinks about tent maintenance when they're buying one, but the bottom line is that properly cleaning and maintaining your tent is a crucial part of owning it. Do it right and your tent will last a lifetime. Do it wrong and you'll be buying another tent soon.
Here are some tips on the best ways to care for your camping tent.
First, never put your tent in the washer machine, as the speed of the cycle could cause it to tear. All tents (including dome tents and family cabin tents) need to be washed by hand, preferably with a mild soap, such as hand soap. You'll want to use lukewarm water and a sponge to gently massage the surface of the tent. When you're cleaning your tent, don't neglect the poles, as they can grow grimey and smelly with use. Additionally, it's important to give your zippers a quick dip in water. If they become full of dirt and grime, they may get jammed and become inoperable.
Cleaning Mildew From Your Tent
Hopefully you'll never have to deal with a mildewed tent, but if your tent is stricken by this smelly fungus, it's important to take the correct steps to remediate the damage.
What is mildew?
Mildew is a fungus that typically grows in hot, humid places. Tents are particularly attractive, as the dirt and soil that clings to them helps mildew reproduce.
How mildew damages tents
In addition to making them smell awful, mildew can invade the urethane coating of tent fabric and destroy it. After this, the tent will no longer be waterproof and essentially rendered useless.
How to combat mildew
If you see the signs of mildew growing on your tent, it's imperative that you move fast. First, wash the tent using the instructions above. Then, use the product MiraZyme (which needs to diluted in accordance with instructions) to spot clean the tent. Lastly, if you still have odor issues with your tent, mix 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of concentrated lemon juice with 1 gallon of hot water and rub the solution into the mildew. When you're finished, make sure to dry the tent out to prevent further mildew growth.
When storing your camping tent, the most important thing is to find a cool, dry place to put it. If the tent gets wet while in storage, mildew may grow, leaving you with a smelly mess. When packing it, try to not use the stuff stack, but store the tent out in the open. Also, refrain from folding the tent on the same crease lines each time, as those creases could become permanent and damage the tent.
When looking for a storage space, pick a spot that doesn't get direct sunlight, which has the potential to damage the tent's coating. Lastly, if you've just finished washing your tent, make sure you dry it out sufficiently before storage to prevent mildew. The best way to do this is to spread your tent out on the lawn on a sunny day.