Your new tent is an investment that will provide many years happy camping if you look after and store it properly.
The best way to avoid lengthy tent cleaning and repair is to make sure it is dry and clean when you pack it away at the end of each holiday.
Sweep out grass and leaves from inside your inner tent, secure guy lines and fold the tent as neatly as possible. When you’re camping, take a spare plastic sheet (or Ikea bag or the boot liner from your car!) to store shoes and boots on to avoid your tent becoming muddy and damp smelling.
Packing away your tent
If the inner and outer of your tent pack together as one unit, make sure that the clean fabric parts of the tent are folded together to prevent the outside groundsheet ‘mucky’ parts from making the fabric of your tent dirty. If the insides are removable and can pack separately, keep them in a separate bag to keep them clean. Likewise, wipe mud from dirty tent pegs as you remove them from the ground, and store tent pegs in a separate smaller bag to prevent them from becoming lost or causing damage to your tent. When folding your groundsheet or tent footprint use a tea towel or soft cloth to wipe away mud, dew and bugs as you roll it back up. If your tent is damp when you pack it away, it could quickly become mouldy by the next time you use it, so it’s important to dry it in the garden as soon as you get home.
Store your tent in a cool, dry place. Avoid storing your tent poles on their end, lay flat to avoid damage to the poles.
Every few seasons you might need to reproof your tent, especially if you’ve been camping in lots of wet weather. Signs to watch for are if your tent starts to develop damp patches, if condensation starts to form on the inside of your tent, if water droplets don’t roll off your tent, or you don’t feel it is as waterproof as before. There are a range of products available from outdoor camping supplies stores or maybe even the camp shop on your camping site. These can easily be applied either at home or once you’re already on holiday, so don’t panic that it’s time to pack up and come home!
To prolong the proofing of your tent, avoid using any detergents on your tent as this will reduce the fabrics waterproofing. This includes bubbles that the kids blow and even laundry detergent residues on damp towels, if you hang your towel on the tent to dry, for example.
Tears and patches
If your tent or groundsheet has a small tear while you’re on holiday, duct tape is a great quick fix that will hold until you get home and have chance to repair it properly. Many new tents come with adhesive tent repair patches, alternatively these can be purchased from outdoor and camping shops. Seam sealant is ideal for damage along the seams of your tent, or if the seams begin to leak (especially if the weather has been particularly wet!) although this is best left to dry for a few days after application, so don’t apply seam sealant the day before you pack up to come home from holiday.
Fibre glass poles can be prone to snapping when pitching in bad weather or put under pressure. Replacement poles can be bought direct from the manufacturer as they are often specific to your tent design. Generic poles will often need to cut to the exact size. Split poles can be repaired with duct tape, and detached poles can be rethreaded with pliers, new shock cord and a little gentle patience. Pushing poles through the fabric sleeves (rather than pulling them) when pitching your tent and taking it down along will help prevent damage. Let poles collapse in the direction the cord or spring wants them to fold, do not force your poles.
Zips can become stuck if covered in mud or grass, so keep your zips clean. If your zip gets caught on the tent fabric or gets stuck, do not force it. Gently try to reverse the zip action to free any obstructions, or use a zip lubricant product (or try using beeswax) to ease the zip along.
If your tent is dirty and needs cleaning, use a tent wash or a mild soap mixed with water. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely before packing away. Do not use washing up liquid as detergents can reduce the waterproofing of your tent fabric. Never put your tent through the washing machine.
If you have space, it’s a good idea to pack the following in your tent kit:
- Duct tape
- Dust pan and brush
- Seam sealant
- Needle and thick thread
- Spare guy lines
Read our tips on how to safely pitch your tent here: ‘How to pitch your tent safely’