Can You Wash A Tent In A Front Loading Washing Machine?

friends breaking down a tent

After a few times pitching your tent at a muddy campsite, you might be wondering how to get that dirty tent back into like-new clean condition.

If you’ve got your eye on the washing machine, then let us give you some tips before you just toss it on in with some Tide.

Should You Wash A Tent In Your Washing Machine?

No matter how tempting it might be – do not put your tent in the washing machine!

Though tents are designed to be durable and long lasting, they are not designed to withstand being put through the clean cycle of your home washing machine.

Damage that you can expect include:

  • delaminating the waterproofing
  • torn tent seams
  • torn tent fabric
  • melted fabric

If you put your tent into a top loading washing machine, then the agitator will destroy it.

If you put your tent into a front-loading washing machine, and use gentle cycle, then it might come out okay – but why risk it?

Just follow our rule of thumb and never put a tent in the laundry machine!

Keep in mind that if you do put your tent in the washer, then you will definitely need to reapply UV proofing and waterproofing sprays to the tent’s fabric before you take it out on a camping trip.

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How To Wash A Tent The Right Way

Unless you’ve spilled something inside the tent, we don’t see a good reason to wash your tent. That being said, some people still insist on cleaning it up.

If you are determined to wash that tent before your next camping tent, then let us give you a few tips on how to do it the right way to minimize the risk of damage to it.

What you need:

  • basin (or bathtub) with cold water in it
  • a tent-wash soap like Nikwax Tech Wash (or a gentle, non-detergent soap)
  • soft, clean sponge

Ready to get started? Here’s how to hand wash your tent:

  1. Wet the tent with the clean water
  2. Apply the Nikwax Tech Wash to the tent fabric
  3. Use the sponge to gently lather the cleaner on the tent fabric
  4. Rinse the tent thoroughly when done with cool, clean water
  5. Pitch or hang the tent to dry it – avoid sunlight!
  6. Once COMPLETELY dry, you can fold up and store the tent

Bonus tip: You can also clean the zippers on your tent with an old toothbrush. Use it to brush the “teeth” of the zipper to keep it clean.

How Often Should I Wash My Tent?

How does never sound? Because that’s the honest truth there. You really should not be washing the tent if you can help it.

Instead, take steps to keep the tent clean while you’re out on your camping trips. Don’t track mud into it and don’t bring in food or drink that you could spill inside the cabin.

And if you have access to a water source on your camping trip, and the weather is warm enough, just hose the exterior down on your last day so that it gets a rinse and can dry before you pack it up to head home. That’s really the only kind of “washing” that we can recommend.

Final Thoughts

We do not recommend washing your tent in a front loading washing machine or a top loading machine. Using either of these machines can seriously damage your tent to the point of no longer being usable out in the field.

Just to be clear – never machine wash a tent!

In fact, we suggest that you don’t even worry with cleaning your tent at all. It’s an outdoor product that is designed to get dirty – that’s how you know that you’re getting a lot of good use out of it!

But, if you insist on giving your tent a bath, there is a right way to do it and you should follow our directions for the best results. Even then know that there is still a small risk of damaging the tent.

Maybe having a dirty tent isn’t so bad, eh?

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