The Beginner’s Guide To Packing And Cleaning A Tent

Tents are the essentials when it comes to camping. First, it keeps you safe from elements from above, sides and bottom and allows you to have a good night’s sleep. Next, tents shield you from various climates – from the chills of a snowy mountain to the beaming sun in a desert.

With everything that your tent goes through for your safety, it is bound to be soiled by the end of your camping journey. But instead of disposing of the tent for a new one or picking an alternative accommodation, why not repay gratitude to the tent for its service? Treat it just like you would treat your barcalounger.

Now the question is, how do you clean your tent without compromising its original function as a shelter? You might think that the tent’s condition is beyond reversible after a long day in a dirty environment. But read on as we explain how you can transform your tent back to its squeaky clean self like before. And, if you want even more tips on how to wash your equipment after going camping or hiking, check out for more information!

Pack the tent

The way you pack your tent can determine how tedious your cleaning process is later on, so follow these steps to take down the tent properly.

  • Shake it off – Once you remove the tent stakes, shake the tent thoroughly. Wipe away any dirt or remove any trash around the tent. This should be an easy step for those with freestanding tents.
  • Be careful of the fabric and stress poles – When you remove the poles from your shock-corded tent, remember to push the poles instead of pulling. Forcibly pulling the poles can cause it to be stuck on the tent fabric and place undue pressure on the cord below.
  • Dry before packing. Moisture is your biggest enemy when it comes to the maintenance of the tent. Most tents tend to gather condensation under the floor and rainfly. Moisture on the tent causes mould and mildew, so tents should be let out to dry as long as possible before sacking. When packing up in wet condition, dry the tent upon return. Set the tent up to dry in your yard if the sun is out or hang the tent on a clothesline to dry indoors during bad weather.

Tent maintenance tips

As you unpack from your expedition, follow these steps before moving on to the cleaning stage.

  • Air-dry the tent – Take out the tent from the sack and let it air-dry. This can be done indoors or even in the garage. If there is no space at home, drape the tent over a clothesline until dry.
  • Keep it loose – Leaving the tent in the stuff sack until your next trip is not recommended. The bag can keep the tent compact for camping but it’s not for long-term storage. Instead, keep the tent loosely (and out of the bag) in a cool and dry space. This allows the fabric to breathe and prevents moisture from gathering, causing the tent to be mouldy. Do note that storing it in a hot room can possibly damage the fabric. If you do not have a dry space to store the tent, place the tent in a sealed plastic container to keep moisture out.

The cleanup process

Returning back home from a camping voyage can sure be a bummer, but it is important to clean your tent early so that your upcoming camping journey is equally as enjoyable. You need to clean the tent if you spot stains or smell a funky odour from it after keeping it for too long in your dorm room.

For a complete cleaning process, you will need the following cleaning supplies:

  • Cold or lukewarm water. If the water is too hot, it will melt the tent fabrics.
  • A mild, fragrance-free dish soap
  • Specialised cleaner for outdoor gear
  • A non-abrasive cloth or sponge
  • Bathtub or a tub

Spot clean and immerse

  1. Use the cloth or sponge with a little bit of dish soap to scrub off the stains.
  2. Fill half the tub with cold or lukewarm water, then add the specialised cleaner (follow the instructions of the product).
  3. Unzip all the doors of the tent and flip the tent inside out.
  4. Immerse both the tent as well as the rainfly into the tub to soak. Check the instructions of the specialised cleaner for the duration to soak.

Deep Cleaning

This step is not necessary for all tents. However, if you spot mildew and mould on your tent or a foul odour, try opting for an enzyme-based cleaner instead. Please follow the product instructions carefully as the chemicals may damage the fabric.

If the zippers are causing problems, use a toothbrush to brush out any sand stuck in between the teeth of these zippers.

Pine sap can be a little tricky when it comes to its removal process. First, you can try to spot clean the affected area with mineral oil. Remember to be gentle with the scrubbing. Alcohol-based cleaning products such as hand sanitiser and wet wipes are other alternatives too. Once you spot clean, rinse the tent with water.

The final step: rinse and dry

After going through the tedious cleaning process, we have to ensure all the suds are off before we pack the tent into our storeroom. Drain the bathtub filled with sudsy water from the earlier washing session and fill it up again with clean water (cold to lukewarm). Continue this process until all the soap is gone from the tent and rainfly.

Once you rinse the tent, the final step will be to dry it. If your home has the space, we strongly encourage you to erect the tent and allow it to air-dry for the tent to dry quickly. Meanwhile, those with space constraints can instead spread the tent out evenly on a clothesline in a cool area with shade until the tent is fully dry.

Before you start packing, do ensure that the tent is completely dry without any moisture. Then, store it loosely in a cool and dry room to prevent any mould from growing onto the tent.


Tents play a crucial role in almost every camper’s adventure and we want to avoid a situation whereby you realise your tent is filled with mildew days before your next trip. Hence, follow these pointers to take down and clean the tent in the most efficient and hassle-free way possible.

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