Can I Wash a Tent in the Washing Machine?

A High-quality, sturdy camping tent provides excellent shelter in the wilderness, but it must be kept in good condition to do so. Cleaning your camping tent correctly is an essential part of camping tent maintenance.

So, can you wash a tent in the washing machine? The answer is No. Because washing machines are too harsh on the fabric, you should never wash your tent. This could harm the tent’s seams, mesh, and coating.

Why Washing Machine Is Not Recommended for Washing a Tent?

Tents can withstand the elements, so they appear to be capable of withstanding anything. Your camping tent is designed to withstand the elements, but it may not withstand a rough wash in the washing machine.

Even if you understand how a washing machine can wreak havoc in your camping tent, you may still be opposed to the idea.

The tent will expand and get thinner 

The majority of modern tents are made of nylon or polyester. Polyester is a very stretchy fabric. When you wash a polyester tent in the washing machine, it will most likely expand and become thinner.

Your tent’s structure will be weakened as a result of this. Polyester is brittler than nylon, which makes it more prone to tearing.

Dual-Wall Tents vs. Single-Wall Tents Tents made of nylon and polyester have single or dual walls. Dual-walled tents include both an internal tent and a rainfly. 

Seams and mesh can break by a machine 

In both nylon and polyester tents, seam tape is used to seal seams. In the washer, the adhesive on the seam tape can come loose, exposing the holes where the tent pieces were sewn together.

Water and small insects, such as ants, will enter your tent through exposed seams. While seam tape can be used to repair the seams, the tent will never be the same as it was before washing. If you do not use seam tape, your seams may rip.

How to Clean a Tent Without Damaging

According to the evidence presented above, you should only wash your camping tent in a washing machine if you intend to buy a new one soon.

If not, there is one silver lining, there are methods for keeping your tent clean without jeopardizing its structural integrity. Often, avoiding getting it dirty in the first place is the best way to avoid getting it dirty in the first place.

If you have access to a water source while camping, hose down the outside and let it air dry on your last day to keep everything in pristine condition.

Use mold and mildew repellent spray to keep mold and mildew at bay and let the tent dry completely before storing it. Here are some ways to properly clean a tent without damaging it-

Get your tent prepared for the cleanup 

Dry clean your dirty tent before washing it. Sweep or vacuum, for example, to remove any objects or camping equipment from the inner tent.

Even if you don’t intend to wash the tent, this is good practice. Mud, dander, stones, and other debris can easily get inside the tent.

Collect required materials for tent clean up 

The type of tent you have and the amount of cleaning required will determine the materials you will need for the clean-up. Persil is a well-known brand that produces a wide range of tent cleaning and weatherproofing products.

Can I Wash a Tent in the Washing Machine?

If you can’t find a cleanser made specifically for cleaning tents, a block of mild hand soap or baby soap will suffice. You would also require other materials such as –

  • A good quality vacuum cleaner
  • A tub or large pot to hold the water
  • Lukewarm water
  • A soft sponge
  • A hanging place for drying the tent
  • Mild vinegar
  • A soft dry towel 

Gently wash your tent with a pipe and a sponge 

Follow this simple washing method with a pipe and a sponge-

  • Spray the tent’s fabric with the nozzle until it’s completely soaked in water. 
  • Add detergent a little at a time on the sponge and start with cleaning the spots that are dirtier, particularly the coated areas of the tent carpet. 
  • Then, using the soft sponge, scrub all other areas of the tent. 
  • After scrubbing, use the nozzle to thoroughly rinse away the soap. 
  • The tent can be hung on a clothesline or draped over any suitable surface.
  • Hang the tent outside and leave it in the sun to dry.
  • When the tent is completely dry, put it somewhere secure.

How to Eliminate the Bad Odor From a Tent?

Fresh Wave odor removing spray is a highly rated eliminator that you may be interested in purchasing. Otherwise, spray your tent thoroughly with a spray bottle filled with a quarter cup of vinegar to one cup of water.

This should eliminate any residual odors. If your tent begins to smell too powerfully of vinegar, spray it with your preferred fabric deodorizers. 

Excellent Tips to Clean Tents

Tents made of synthetic materials are light and versatile, making them ideal for hiking. They are very easy to keep clean also!

Most of the time, a simple washing will suffice. Set up the tent and, if necessary, use a washcloth, a large bucket, and mild soap to spot and clean the areas that are extremely dirty. You can submerge and clean the tent if it has been dragged through the mud.

Take Special Care of Your Expensive Canvas Tent.

Canvas tents are made of cotton and, if properly cared for, are an excellent investment in terms of insulation and durability. These tents cannot be wiped down because they are not made of synthetic plastics such as nylon or polyester.

Instead, shake them out to remove any excess dust. Using a vacuum brush attachment, remove any remaining debris from the tent’s exterior and interior. If your tent needs to be thoroughly cleaned, immerse it in a bathtub or another large container. 

Clean with a microfiber cloth or sponge and a bar of mild soap, such as baby soap or Persil detergents. Depending on how dirty your tent is, you may need to repeat this process.

Make a one-part vinegar-to-four-parts-water solution and apply it directly to the affected areas if your tent has mold or mildew. Allow a few minutes for the solution to settle before scrubbing with a sponge.

Brushing too vigorously may cause fabric wear; instead, use quick, soft movements on the exterior. After scrubbing, rinse with warm water and pat the area dry. 

How to Keep Dirt Out of Your Tent

Naturally, keeping as much dirt out of your tent as possible will make things much easier. That way, you only have to wash it once a season, rather than after each camping trip.

Can I wash a tent in the washing machine

Fortunately, enforcing a few tips for your trip will help you avoid stains and keep debris out of your tent.

Some useful tips are as follows-

  • Wet clothing should be stored outside or in the vestibule. 
  • Use a mat to wipe your shoes and a towel to wipe your socks or bare feet. 
  • Shoes should not be worn inside; instead, they should be left outside or in the tent’s vestibule. 
  • Keep your backpack outside, covered with fabric.
  •  Baby powder can be used to remove dirt and sand from your skin.
  • Carry a small pail and sweep with you.
  • When preparing to leave, rattle your tent to eject particles.


Which machine to use to wash a tent if you must?

To keep a tent in good condition, it should never be washed in a top-loading washing machine.

If you have no other choice, you can wash it in a large, professional front-loading machine on a delicate mode, after washing you would need to dry it in natural sunlight and retreat it with weather protection and UV protective sprays. 

Does the washing machine remove away the protective layer from tents?

Your tent has a water-resistant protective layer, which makes it an ideal compact and defensive shield when you’re away from home.

Because of that protective layer, you can keep yourself and your valuables dry on those drizzly and wet camping trips. Clearly, a washing machine does not care for this protective layer. 

Can you wash canvas tents in a machine? 

Because they are intended to be portable, they are relatively thin. They are susceptible to straining in the washing machine due to their thinness.

Canvas tents are large and bulky, but they can last for a decade, so it’s natural to believe they can be washed in the washing machine. Canvas tents, admittedly, are subject to the “tents cannot be washed in a washing machine” policy.


Washing a tent is a hands-on learning experience, but it’s not difficult once you get the hang of it. The most important thing here is to take care of your tent and keep it away from the dryer.

It’s also a good idea to wash your tent once a season and to keep as much dirt out of it as possible. The cleaner you keep your tent, the less often you’ll have to wash it.