Can You Wash a Tent in a Front-Loading Washing Machine? 10 Easy Ways!

After spending some days or weeks outdoors, it definitely feels like everything needs a quick wash. Your clothes, shoes, utensils, skin, and more. But what about your tent? Most people tend to leave out this important equipment while considering other options. However, your tent is what protects you from elements, which in turn leave it looking muddy and dirty. 

The majority of the time, the tent is simply dusty, but other times, it usually requires a complete washdown. In this case, you just want nothing other than to throw the whole tent in a washing machine. This brings me to a frequently asked question; can you wash a tent in a front loading washing machine?

Yes, you can wash your tent in a front loading washing machine, however, it should be an industrial type washer with a mild cycle. Then simply hang-dry it, and treat it with a weatherproof and UV proof spray. Never wash in a top-loading washer if you want to maintain your tent.

While tents appear to be unbelievably tough, especially when we use them outdoors, they also require regular cleaning and maintenance— just like any other item or equipment. If you’ve been camping for some time, you’ll realize that it’s totally normal for tents to get stained by dirt splashes, bird droppings, or other matter, and it may even begin to small.

Tents actually serve as our outdoor homes or shelter. For this reason alone, they require proper care and maintenance to enjoy their benefits for a long time. This is where washing your tents come into the equation. If you’re unsure about washing your tent in a washing machine, then you’re at the right place! In the rest of this article, we’ll be sharing some important tips to consider when washing your tent, as well as the pros and cons that come with washing them in a front-loading washer. We’ll also be discussing other washing alternatives or conventional methods that you might find very helpful. Sound good? Let’s get to it!


When it comes to washing your tents with a front loading washing machine or any machine at all, this depends mainly on your preference and the level of the mess caused. If the mess level is low, then a good manual cleaning will suffice. However, if you’re dealing with a high mess level, a washing machine may be the best option in this case.


While this method offers some prominent and immediate advantages such as saving time and energy, using a washing machine may also shorten the life span of your tent, and lead to extra cost in the long run. 

Yes, you can wash your tent using a front loading washing machine, but it may not always be a wise idea as it can also increase the risk of damages. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of using a front loading washing machine.

1. Consider Basic Cleaning

As discussed earlier, this depends on the degree of soiling or messiness. For areas that are lightly soiled, you can easily clean them by using a non-abrasive scrub as well as a mild detergent with water. This requires you to scrub with your hands. However, you must give extra care to the coated parts to prevent damage.

In addition, do not use household cleaners as these are made from very harsh chemicals, and can damage the protective coating of the tent. Also, avoid using scented soaps and cleaners as they can attest to insects, as well as other elements. You can make use of some DIY cleaning mixtures for removing specks of dirt and molds.

2. Manual Deep Cleaning

For tents that are soiled heavily with dirt and molds, or have developed bad odors, it is only appropriate for it to undergo some deep cleaning. While this process requires a lot of handwork and effort, it is quite effective and generally safe. There are some basic steps to follow before you begin the deep cleaning. 

3. Prepare the Cleaning Essentials 

These are basic materials and stuff you need for the cleaning process and it’s very important to have them ready before you begin.

  • Soap- Make sure you’re using a mild soap that does not contain harsh chemicals or scents. 
  • Soft scrub/brushes- if you don’t have one, you can easily use a soft cloth as well as a large soft sponge 
  • Water- cold water is preferable in this case. You can also get a garden hose for easy application and washing.

Check out some cleaning essentials here.

4. Pitch Your Tent

To wash properly, your tent must be pitched to access all other areas. Look for a good location (preferably a yard or campground) without loose branches or twigs and set up your tent. The major reason for this is to protect your tent against any damage.

After pitching, carefully handpick and remove any visible debris, loose dirt, or other materials. Also ensure that you have removed all objects inside the tent, making sure it is empty.

5. Clean Spots with Soap and Water

Apply a little amount of soap on the sponge and spot-clean areas that have excess stains or dirt. Remember to scrub softly to avoid damage.

6. Scrub All Surfaces

Next, carefully scrub all the surfaces of your tent without missing any part. For hard-to-reach areas and corners, make use of a brush (small to medium size), and scrub the tent inside out. 

7. Soak for Some Time

This procedure is actually optional and can be ignored, depending on your personal choice. All you simply need to do is fill a tub with water abs soap, then soak your tent for some minutes. This will help get rid of stubborn grimes and debris that have refused to come off.

9. Rinse

Rinse off the deposits on the entire tent thoroughly using a hose. Ensure that all soap and dirt residue is completely rinsed off to avoid visible markings once the tent is dried.

10. Air-Dry

Never machine dry a tent. It simply exposes your tent to heat damage. Leave your tent in the open for some time, allowing it to dry off completely before storing. The fresh air will help dry it faster and also save you the stress of drip drying in your house. This will also help prevent molds from growing as well as the most odor. 

There are two different ways to air dry. These include:

1. Pitch Drying

This involves leaving your tent pitched and allowing it enough time to dry. This method is even more suitable for nylon and polyester tents and works better on a windy day. Because they are lightweight, these tents can dry completely for under an hour as long as the conditions are favorable. 

Most canvas tents can also be pitch dried, however, since they are made from cotton and hold water well, you might need to wait sometime before they finally dry off.

2. Hang Drying 

This is another method to dry your tent. It must be a UV-protected tent. Simply hang it in a sunny area with exposure to the wind and allow it to dry. This method is suitable for both canvas and polyester nylon fabrics.

In addition, you can also spread out the tent fabric on a warm area exposed to the sun and near a cliff’s edge. The radiating heat from the surface will allow the tent to dry faster. 

11. Apply WaterProof Spray

During the washing process, it’s normal for some of the protective coatings to come off. However, this can be replaced by applying a waterproof spray to increase the life span of your tent. 

12. Examine the Tent

After ensuring that your tent is completely dried, examine the entire tent to determine its condition. You might want to check the seams, mesh, as well as zippers. For dirty zippers, clean using a little brush or better still, an old toothbrush. If needed, add lubricants to the teeth of the zippers to avoid being stuck.

If the seams are ripped, simply patch them using a sewing kit. You can also apply sealing products as these will make it waterproof. 

For damaged mesh, replace immediately to prevent insects and bugs from crawling in.


After making sure that your tent is totally dry, you can now store it in a storage bag. Do not store your tent when it is still damp as this can lead to mold growth and bad odor. To allow airflow to the fabric, you can also store it in a mesh bag, this will allow it to breathe. An old pillowcase can also suffice in this case.

Another part of the tent that requires proper storage is the pole. It’s highly recommended to store the poles in their assembled started, as this will reduce tension in the shock cord and also increase the life span. 

Additionally, always store the tent in a dry and cool place, away from moisture out heat. Hence, you should never store your tent in a garage, basement, or car trunk. 


1. Time-Saving- when using a washing machine, cleaning your tent becomes a lot easier and faster. Compared to the conventional cleaning methods, washing machines work with a timer. Hence, you can easily set the timer and go-ahead to complete other tasks while washing is ongoing. 

2. Less Energy- this method often requires less physical activity or effort. All you simply need to do is put your tent in the machine and wait for the cycle to be completed and you’re good to go! 

3. Using a washing machine means fewer cleaning elements such as detergent, water, etc. Unlike manual washing, a washing machine requires less soap and water, and these would help you achieve effective cleaning, even in small quantities.

4. Washing a tent manually is never a job for one individual. A tent is large and heavyweight, hence, requires 2 or more individuals to get the job done. This is why a washing machine has an edge over the manual cleaning method as it allows you to complete the job efficiently. 


1. Wear and Tears- tents are often made from delicate fabrics such as polyester or nylon which may easily tear or rip off when using a washing machine. The seams can also be broken in this process, leading to a major leakage.

2. Damaged Waterproof Coating- all tents are made with an outer waterproof coating which prevents water from getting inside or staying on the surface. However when using a washing machine, the cycles may damage this coating, and the heat generated may cause the laminate to corrode. This will render this protective coating useless.

3. Loading tents into a washing machine may be difficult and can cause cram-up. This may affect the material and damage the fabric. It can however be prevented if you use an industrial size unit, which is large enough to accommodate your tent, but you must handle it with extra care. 

4. A tent often comes with a mesh that covers the whole body, which is for adequate airflow and ventilation. This mesh appears to be the most delicate part of the tent that requires extra care. If you use a washing machine, the mesh can break down or form cracks on the surface. This causes it to appear rather ugly and gives an easy pathway for bugs and insects to enter your tent!

Now that you have learned of the pros and cons of using a washing machine in cleaning your tent, you can finally decide as to what you prefer. If you’re still unsure about using a washing machine, there are other methods you can consider, some of which will be discussed below. 

Other Important Tips For Your Tent

While it is important to clean your tent regularly, it is equally important to avoid deteriorating the condition of your tent. These additional tips will help make your camping trip and the service of your tent more enjoyable.

  • Avoid wearing shoes inside your tent to keep it clean and free of dirt. Most camping terrains are usually sandy, and the chances of walking into mud or puddles are quite high. You wouldn’t want to get this into your tent.
  • Do not eat foods inside your tent to avoid attracting insects or unwanted creatures.
  • Make it a habit to use a ground cloth that fits under the tent to protect the ground from excessive dirt or damage.
  • Always fold your tent properly when not in use by using the fold lines as a guide. This will keep you from messing with the folded structure
  • Always clean spillage immediately 
  • Fix all damages immediately before they get worse, and seek professional help when needed
  • Try a quick wash after or even before every trip to keep soiling to a minimum

How Often To Wash My Tent?

To be honest, you really shouldn’t wash your tent very often. Of course, you can dust when necessary or spot clean if it calls for it, but when it comes to a full tent wash, it’s not always necessary except for severe cases. Not only will washing regularly cause damage to your tent, but it’s also very stressful and requires a lot of effort. I mean, it’s going back out anyway.

There’s no fixed period for when to wash your tent. This actually depends on your choice, how dirty your tent gets on your trip, the fabric and material, and your camping terrain. As I mentioned earlier, you can do a simple cleaning after each trip but this doesn’t necessarily mean a full wash. Sometimes you just need to spot clean, dust off the dirt, or do a little elbow grease. However in worse cases, a full bath may be required, or better still, purchase a new tent.

Final Thoughts

Washing your tent in a washing machine is highly efficient and saves time. However, you should only use a front loading washing machine or an industrial size type. Utmost care must also be taken to avoid damage to the fabric and the protective coating of your tent. 

Ultimately, if you can avoid washing your tent, then you should totally do so. Only wash in extreme cases— or simply replace the tent. 

We hope this article has been helpful. Let’s know what you think in the comments!
See also: how to repair a torn camping chair