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10/25/2022 11:22AM  
My wife and I were fortunate to entertain our 4 and 6 year old granddaughters over MEA weekend. Besides a bonfire, pumpkin decorating, plant pressing and various other activities, I pulled a dormant circa 2000 REI two-man tent out and set it up for the girls to "camp". Much to my dismay, the tent had that funky smell associated with old gear. Retentive about shaken clean and packing/storing dry gear, I was surprised at the musty odor.

After an internet search I purchased some Revivex Odor Eliminator, and followed the spray - on directions. Unfortunately the dank smell persisted. I did a second wash applying the five minute soak instructions. The gentle swish of tent in 20 gallons of solution produced an amazing amount of dirty discoloration. That has me wondering how much soil my gear attracts though use and if perhaps I need to up my cleanliness game. Historically I had never really considered cleaning my tent as a maintenance practice. A turbulent shake out followed by a couple days hanging on the deck rail always seemed to do the trick.

My decades old tent is now clean and, even better, doesn't stink. It is ready for the next indoor granddaughter camping adventure! How often do you clean your tent and and what is your methodology?
 
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Loony_canoe
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10/25/2022 11:54AM  
I wash my pack tent and other exposed gear after each use, if I'm putting it away for storage. Sometimes I have multiple trips planned with only a short delay between trips.

My own method that has kept the camp mildew smell off is to soak and wash gear in a "baby" pool using warm water and liquid laundry detergent. I then rinse several times with a hose.

For the tent I start with it set up, spray detergent mixture on the tent inside and out and scrub with a soft brush. I also turn it on its side and wash the bottom. I then give it a bath in the pool, set it up again and rinse very well.

I also make sure its very dry prior to storage. this has worked well for me,

Although it doesn't always remove a heavily smoked tarp's burnt wood smell, it keeps the mold and mildew smell away.
 
10/25/2022 04:30PM  
I've never washed a tent. I always hang, dry, and air my tent about a week after each trip.
 
OCDave
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10/25/2022 04:31PM  
I have never washed any of my tents. Occasionally, I will wipe out the inside with a damp wash cloth, usually because one of the dogs has tracked in dirt.

I redeploy my used tent or tarp in my back yard after trips to assure they are dry and allow then to air out prior to going back into storage. My oldest tent still in use is about 25 years old. My newest tent is only about 10 years old. No odor or outrageously offensive soiling so far.

However, given the OP's tent did have an odor, I might suggest spraying with Frebreze or other scentless odor eliminator. My concern with washing an old tent would be degrading or reducing the durable water repellent coating
 
10/25/2022 07:02PM  
I have alway done as OCDave does minus the Frebreze and my tents have held up well. I have attributed the old tent funk odor to urethane deterioration. Washing the tent helped some but never eliminated the odor.

I have tossed a few old tents due to the odor but they were both well past 30 years old. I tossed out a 1979 Timberline 4 several years ago but should have gotten rid of it 5-10 years before. I did save the pole set since these poles are made of higher quality aluminum than the current poles that come with Timberline tents.

I also ditched 3-4 coated EMS stuff sacks from the late 1970’s which reeked.
 
jhb8426
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10/25/2022 11:54PM  
bobbernumber3: "I've never washed a tent. I always hang, dry, and air my tent about a week after each trip."


That's been my practice as well. I've had two Timberline 4 tents over the past 30 years. I think once I had to hose one down to get the dust off after a trip to South Dakota.
 
10/26/2022 10:54AM  
bobbernumber3: "I've never washed a tent. I always hang, dry, and air my tent about a week after each trip."


+1
 
papalambeau
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10/26/2022 02:45PM  
bobbernumber3: "I've never washed a tent. I always hang, dry, and air my tent about a week after each trip."


+2. Have been doing it this way for 40 years and it works great. Outfitters use the same technique with their tents as well.
 
portagedog09
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10/26/2022 03:46PM  
Whenever it's seriously, visibly dirty and at least once per season. Light detergent, light scrub, thorough rinse and air dry. Once dry, stored 'loose' in a large bag similar to storing a sleeping bag so that it's not tightly rolled - in a cool dry place, like my basement. This makes sure moisture is not trapped and helps keep the fabric from taking a 'set'. BTW - there are outfitters that wash their tents after every rental and are certainly not airing them out for a week - I can name you one.

pd
 
10/27/2022 09:45AM  
I wash it when it rains while I'm camping, but then making sure it is bone dry when I put it away.
 
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