If there is one thing that is exposed to the elements of nature, it is a tent. And that's fine, because that's what a tent cloth is made for. Maintenance is important to extend the life of your tent. Cleaning your tent canvas is an indispensable part of this.
We share 7 handy tips to clean your tent canvas without damaging it. We also tell you what you absolutely must not do and what you should never use to clean your tent canvas.
Maintenance and preventive treatment is crucial. The first thing to do is to prevent dirt from adhering to the cloth. You do that by impregnating. Once dirt has adhered to your tent cloth, the cloth will remain wet for longer. This in turn attracts more dirt, mold and algae. The result: the coating and fibers of your tent are affected.
A tent has to endure a lot during the camping season. The fabric is exposed 24/7 to wind, sun, rain and other influences. You put the tent under a tree, and you will soon have stains of resin and bird droppings. Or you pack the tent while it has just rained. You understand: it is not strange that your tent cloth gets dirty.
The most important tip we can give you is that you should impregnate your tent in advance. This is water and dirt repellent, so that your tent will last for years longer. It is also important that you rinse the tent with water after every camping holiday and let it dry well. This way you prevent a dirty tent cloth.
Cleaning your tent cloth: tips and explanation
Ultramar was originally a tent laundry. We have washed thousands of tent cloths and made them spotless again. In more than 20 years we have seen every possible stain. We are happy to help tent owners to get their tent cloth clean again. That is why we have listed 7 extensive tips for you:
- Tip 1: What do you do with which tent cloth material?
- Tip 2: What do you do for which stain?
- Tip 3: Which cleaning products should you never use?
- Tip 4: What should you not forget to clean?
- Tip 5: How do you store your tent?
- Tip 6: How do you prevent stains in the future?
- Tip 7: Step-by-step plan and checklist for tent cloth cleaning
Tip 1: Take the material of your tent cloth into account
One tent is not the other. If you want to remove a stain from your tent fabric, you need to consider the type of material your tent is made of. This prevents you from damaging the canvas.
If you want to clean the entire tent, it is best to buy special tent cleaner. For basic cleaning, Ultramar has the Sprayhood & Tent Shampoo. Do you have stubborn dirt on your tent? Then you use our Power Cleaner.
Cleaning a plastic tent cloth
Do you have a tent cloth made of polyester, nylon, PVC or another plastic? Then it is best to first clean the cloth with a brush and lukewarm water. This is enough for most dirt. Are there still stains on it? Then use a special tent cleaner.
Cleaning a cotton tent cloth
With cotton it is important to act immediately if there is a stain on it. If you see dirt, remove it immediately with lukewarm water and a soft brush or cloth. If that is not enough, it is best to use a special cleaner for cotton. You must treat a cotton tent well. That's why we have a special explanation about it cleaning your cotton tent cloth.
Tip 2: Treat every stain the right way
Is there a stain on your tent? The sooner you catch it, the easier it is to clean the stain. A tip in advance: always try it with water first. Only if that does not help, switch to special cloth cleaners.
Do you want to give your tent a major cleaning? In our step-by-step plan we guide you in the complete cleaning and impregnation of your tent. Includes checklist, so you don't forget anything. This is how you start the camping season fresh!
Remove resin from tent cloth
If you stand under a tree, you are wonderfully in the shade. The disadvantage is that resin can get on your tent canvas. If you see resin on your tent, it is best to let it cure first. You can use an ice cube to let the resin solidify completely. Then carefully scrape it off, for example with a spoon.
Honeydew also comes from a tree, but is not the same as resin. Honeydew creates a sticky layer. This is because it contains a lot of sugar. For the life of your tent, you must remove this as soon as possible. If you leave these stains on for too long, you run the risk of leakage. To remove honeydew, use a generous amount of lukewarm water and a soft brush.
Cleaning stains from drinks
An accident is in a small corner. Fortunately, drink stains can easily be removed from your tent canvas. For example, you can get red wine out of your tent by sprinkling salt over it. Let it soak in, pat with kitchen paper and rinse with lukewarm water. If you have spilled coffee, lukewarm water and a cloth will suffice. With drink stains, act as soon as possible to prevent discoloration.
Remove bird droppings from tent
Cleaning bird droppings is never a fun job. Our tip: remove the worst first, for example with a spoon. That way you don't spread it further. If you are there immediately, all you need is a cloth or soft brush and water. Even if it has already hardened, it is best to scrape off most of the bird droppings first. You can remove the leftovers with water and a cloth.
Grease stains from your tent cloth
With grease stains, it is really better to prevent than to cure. If you do have a grease stain in your tent, it is best to dab the stain with kitchen paper. Never rub, you will only spread the grease. When you get home, clean the tent with special cleaning agents for tent cloth.
You have to treat candle wax differently. Do not try to remove it immediately, but let it harden first. Once candle wax has hardened, it's much easier to remove. You can then break it or scrape it off your cloth. Do not use a knife or anything sharp for this, as this will damage your tent. Better to use something else like a spoon.
Rust cleaning tent
Rust stains in your tent are often caused by rusty accessories, such as pegs or tent poles. Unfortunately, rust stains are difficult to remove on site. Ultramar Rust Remover has been specially developed for rust stains in cloth. This product removes rust and does not affect your tent canvas.
Remove mold and weather stains from tent cloth
It is also better to prevent mold and weather stains. Mold can permanently affect your tent: it eats up your canvas. You will often see gray-black streaks or black dots. Can you see it's back in the tent? Perhaps you can still brush it out with a little lukewarm water, but often that is no longer possible. In that case it is best to clean your tent with a special tent cloth cleaner. And most importantly: impregnate your tent after cleaning. This will prevent it from occurring again.
Removing green deposits from your tent
Green deposits are difficult to remove, as is mold. In this case too, it is better to impregnate your tent well, so that you prevent it from occurring at all. Once it is on, you can clean the cloth with a special cleaner.
Tip 3: You should absolutely never use these cleaning agents
The biggest mistake people make: using aggressive cleaning agents and house, garden and kitchen cleaners. You may remove the stain with it, but you will also cause (invisible) damage to your tent cloth and the coating. We list the most common mistakes.
Never use aggressive cleaning agents
People often turn to aggressive cleaning agents if there is an annoying stain in the tent canvas. We always advise against this. Bleach, spirits, turpentine – it affects the coating and waterproofing of your tent. And with a bit of bad luck, such a cleaning product also leaves a discolouration in your tent.
Always start with lukewarm water and a brush or cloth. If that doesn't work, it's better to clean your tent cloth when you are at home with a special tent cleaner. These products clean the canvas and provide protection at the same time.
Do not use detergent or all-purpose cleaner for your tent cloth
Dishwashing liquid and all-purpose cleaner are less aggressive, but unfortunately also not good for your tent. Drugs such as Dreft, Andy and Dasty break down fat. This creates hard spots or dull spots in the cloth. In addition, it affects the water-repellent coating of the tent, so that your tent starts to leak faster.
Do not clean the tent cloth with vinegar or green soap
Vinegar and cleaning vinegar are agents that work very well for all kinds of chores in and around the house. But it is better not to clean your tent with vinegar. The high acidity is very bad for your tent. It affects the impregnating agent, the coating and the window film.
Green soap is also a good cleaning agent for almost everything, but not for tent cloth. Green soap leaves a greasy layer, even if you rinse well. This makes it easier for fungi, algae and dirt to adhere to your tent. Properly impregnating your tent is also more difficult if you use green soap for cleaning.
Tip 4: Clean your entire tent
Your tent consists of more than just the canvas. Some parts need an extra freshening up every now and then, such as the accessories, groundsheet and seams of your tent.
Don't forget the accessories and the groundsheet
Are you camped out? Also clean the (metal) accessories of your tent. This prevents rust stains and the parts last longer. You can easily wipe tent poles, pegs and ground stakes with a clean damp cloth.
Cleaning the groundsheet is a difficult and heavy job. Just sucking is not always enough. Brush off the worst dirt from your groundsheet first. You can then clean the groundsheet with lukewarm water. If the tarp is very dirty, use a special tent cleaner.
Clean the seams every now and then
Seams of a tent are particularly vulnerable. However, we recommend that you clean the seams well every now and then. Then you can see if the stitching is still good. Do you notice that the seams are no longer completely waterproof? Spray them with a strong impregnating agent, such as Ultramar Sprayhood & Tent Protector. This works even with very bad stitching.
Tip 5: Maintain your tent cloth well
By properly maintaining your tent, the material will last much longer. Our advice in short: always rinse after use. Isn't that enough and the tent remains dirty? Then you use special cleaning agents. After cleaning, impregnate the tent. As a result, the tent cloth repels dirt and moisture. Below we explain in more detail how to clean and keep your tent clean.
Clean after every use
Make it a habit to give your tent a short cleaning after each use – simply rinse with lukewarm water, possibly with a brush or cloth. By keeping this up, you prevent dirt from adhering to your tent.
If you do this every time after camping, cleaning your tent canvas does not have to take much time. You will benefit from this in the long term, because your tent will last for years longer. Also nice: the tent will look wonderfully fresh next time.
Is rinsing not enough? Only then do you use special cleaning products for your tent canvas. For basic cleaning, Ultramar has the Sprayhood & Tent Shampoo. For stubborn dirt, then use our Power Cleaner.
Prevent stains by impregnating tent cloth
When your tent is clean and dry, it is time to impregnate. Impregnation of your tent is crucial. This makes your tent waterproof and dirt-repellent. You can impregnate your tent in two ways:
- Lay the tent on the ground and spray it. Then set up the tent to let it dry.
- First set up the tent and apply impregnating agent to the canvas with a plant spray or sponge.
Store the tent properly
Is the camping season over? Then it is time to store your tent neatly. You should have cleaned and impregnated the tent. Then let your tent dry out completely. This prevents mold and weather stains. It is best to remove the tent from the bag and store it loosely folded, for example in a dry attic. For example, store the tent in an old cotton duvet cover, so that the fabric can breathe.
Tip 6: Prevent stains
Some stains are very easy to prevent. Keep this in mind while camping, and you will avoid a lot of cleaning work:
- Impregnate your tent every year, so that your tent cloth is water and dirt repellent.
- Provide good ventilation. Condensation quickly forms indoors, for example due to temperature changes. This is especially true for plastic tents.
- Pay close attention to where you set up your tent. For example, it is better not to stand under a poplar, because the resin of poplars is very difficult to remove.
- Place the tent in the shade if possible. UV radiation is disastrous for the quality of the tent canvas.
- Never hang wet laundry or towels over your tent or inside your tent. This often still contains soap residue. This reduces the watertightness of the tent cloth.
- Did you just rub yourself with sunscreen? Do not touch your tent cloth, otherwise you will get grease stains. The grease in the sunscreen can affect the waterproofing of your cloth.
- Make sure that furniture does not rub against the cloth. This can cause damage, which often leads to leakage.
- It rains? Better not to touch the cloth. Water can remain in the places where you touch the tent canvas. This increases the risk of leakage.
- Always ensure that there is a good voltage, so that rainwater flows away properly.
Tip 7: Use our simple three-step plan
In our e-book we explain step by step how to completely clean your tent yourself. As a result, your tent will last for years longer and the canvas will look completely fresh again. Curious? Below you can download the e-book completely free of charge.