Camping Tent Care

Before you go camping, learn how to care for your tent. If you take care of it properly, your tent will last a lifetime.

With a good tent over your head, you can sleep soundly without worrying about wind, rain, bugs, and other critters disturbing your peace. Take good care of your tent, then you can just enjoy every camping trip. Listed here are some camping tent care tips that will help you extend the life of your tent.

Seam Sealing

camping tent care

Even if your new tent says that it is waterproof, all camping tents do need the seams sealed before use. The needle holes from the stitching will allow water inside, even though the fabric may be waterproof. You can buy seam sealant in applicator bottles that you rub along the inside of all waterproof seams. It is available at most hardware and camping stores.

The best time to seal the seams is when you do a trial setup at home. Hose it down with water and check inside for any leaks. Let your tent dry completely, and then apply the seam sealer to the areas you noticed to be leaking. The sealant usually dries very quickly and efficiently. Be sure to use the seam sealant in a well ventilated area.

Use a Ground Cloth

You can greatly extend the life of your camping tent if you protect it underneath with a ground cloth (ground cover, tarp, tent footprint). It will shield your tent from the rough ground, stones and sticks. A ground cloth will also help keep moisture out of the tent, adding more camping comfort.

A ground cloth will preserve and protect your valuable investment. A ground cloth is much easier and less expensive to replace than your tent floor. When you do place a ground cloth under your tent, make sure that it is slightly smaller than the floor of your tent. It could collect a puddle of rainwater under the tent if it extends beyond the tent edge.

Camping tent care Photo by Luke

Protect the Top of the Tent

Avoid leaving your tent set up in the outdoors weather any longer than is necessary. The fabric and waterproof coating will be damaged by excessive sunlight exposure. You can avoid the harmful UV rays by setting up your tent in a shady spot if that's available.

Leaving the rain fly on even on clear days is a good protection from the sun. It will also protect your tent from bird droppings, sparks, and tree branches. It is easier, also less expensive to replace the rain fly than the whole tent. If your tent doesn’t have a rain fly, try putting a large tarp over the top of your camping tent for extra sun and rain protection.

Protect the Tent Poles  

If your tent poles have hinges, you can help them last longer if you lubricate them with a spray-silicone lubricant. Try not to scratch your tent poles’ anodized coating. The coating protects the metal from the weather and they may rust if the anodized coating gets chipped.

Keep Inside Clean

When you keep the inside floor of your tent clean, it prolongs the life of your tent. It is a good idea to keep the fly of your tent closed to keep out dirt and insects. Another thing that you can do is place a mat outside the tent to wipe your feet on. You may even want to leave your dirty shoes outside. You’ll be surprised that your tent will stay much cleaner.

A whiskbroom and dustpan are handy tools for sweeping out the dirt and leaves that will inevitably appear, no matter how careful you are. You can pack them right in with your tent poles and stakes.

It may be wise to use a tarp to cover the inside floor of the tent. It will minimize greatly the wear and tear that can grind away your floor with extended use.

Another great tip to help you protect the interior of your tent is to avoid touching the sides of the tent as much as possible. Your skin has natural oils on it that can be corrosive to the waterproof coating of the tent.

Don't Cook Inside

If at all possible, avoid cooking inside your tent. Tents, jackets, sleeping bags, etc. are all easily flammable. If cooking inside is absolutely necessary, be sure to open all doors and windows and keep the tent well ventilated. This will keep noxious fumes at a minimum.


Protect from Chemicals

Chemicals and other substances that you may have inside your tent may damage the tent fabrics. Insect repellant, aerosol sprays (like hairspray), stove fuel, and leaking batteries are all detrimental and may harm the tent material. NEVER spray insect repellant directly on your tent. The tent can also be damaged by acid rain. Be sure to clean the tent well after each use. Rinsing it with cold water will help prevent damage.

Tent Cleaning

After use, set up the tent and hand wash it with cold water, rinse it well and air dry it completely. You can also wipe stubborn spots with a soft sponge or rag and mild detergent. Never use abrasives or tough brushes to scrub a tent. Strong soap or chemicals can actually ruin your tent or affect the waterproof coating. And never ever machine wash a tent or put it in the clothes dryer.

If your tent has stubborn tar or tree sap stuck to it, just dust them with cornstarch or dust to keep it from sticking to other parts of the tent during storage.

Clean the dirt from all poles, stakes, and the tent bottom before storing. If you camped near salt water, you should rinse them in fresh water and let them air dry to prevent corrosion.

Keep Your Tent Dry

If your tent gets damp from rain, frost, dew, etc. Make sure it is properly dried out before you store it. Never store it until it is completely dry to avoid the possibilities of mildew and odors. Damp storage breads mildew, and will damage the fabric, coatings, and weaken the seams and threads. Try leaving the tent bag open to allow extra moisture to escape.

Sometimes it may be necessary to take your tent down while it is still wet. Be sure to set it up as soon as possible at home and let it dry thoroughly before storing it.


A cool, dry place is the best place to store your tent. High heat temperatures are detrimental to the fabric coatings. Never leave it for extended times in hot places such as car trunks, in bright light, etc.

Put the tent poles and stakes in a separate sack, they can tear or poke holes in your tent.

Putting your tent away unfolded is the best way to store it. Packing the tent folded along the same crease lines repeatedly will wear out the material along the fold long before the rest of the fabric. The tent will wear out faster and may even crack along the excessive creases. Stuffing your tent into the bag after use makes the creases different every time.

A tent should not be stored sitting directly on concrete. The chemicals in the concrete are detrimental to your tent.

These tent care tips are intended to help you on your way toward a rewarding camping trip. Use good judgment and care for your tent carefully to help your tent last as long as possible.









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