Do's and Dont's: How to Clean Large Commercial Tents

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Posted by Jeff Sparks on Feb 23, 2018 1:58:54 PM
Topics: Tent Maintenance

Commercial tents ready to be cleanedIt’s very important for rental company owners to understand the proper way to maintain and clean the vinyl material that their tents are manufactured from. Commercial tents which are regularly cleaned and maintained with the proper techniques don’t just look better, they remain in good condition for longer, giving you a better return on investment. Dirt accumulation on the tent surface leads to mold and mildew growth, shortening the lifespan of the material.

Just as important as regularly cleaning your tent is knowing the best practices for cleaning your commercial tent fabric. There are several common techniques for cleaning commercial vinyl tents, including hand-washing, machine-washing, power-washing and even using a floor polisher - but some will do much more harm than good. Many tent owners make common mistakes during the cleaning process which result in damage or degradation to the vinyl fabric. These Do’s and Dont’s help you understand how to clean a commercial tent without making any harmful mistakes.  

Do: Clean The Commercial Tent on a Non-Abrasive Surface

The first and foremost consideration to account for is where to clean your commercial tent fabric. You should avoid cleaning the material on abrasive surfaces like concrete, which can lead to barely-noticeable damage that shortens the lifespan of your tent. If your only option is cleaning the tent on a pavement surface, use a drop cloth as a barrier between the vinyl fabric and the concrete. Ensure that the washing area is completely free from rocks or other pointed objects that could puncture the tent.

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Don’t: Use Commercial Washers Too Often

Given how large commercial rental tents can be, using a commercial washer is a common, expedient way to keep your tent fabric clean. While machine washing saves time and is necessary during the busy season, try to hand wash the tents whenever possible. Machine washing doesn’t offer the same level of gentle cleaning as hand washing the fabric does. In addition to limiting machine washer use, it’s important to not use too much soap when machine washing. In the case of difficult-to-remove stains, pre-treat them using a vinyl safe spotting solution.

Do: Use The Appropriate Cleaning Products

It’s extremely important to use the appropriate type of cleaning products on your commercial tent fabric. Using abrasive chemicals or products not intended for vinyl material can result in irreparable damage to your tent. For general cleaning, start with mild liquid detergents or dish soap and gradually increase the strength of the soap as necessary. Avoid abrasive cleaning products like Ajax or Comet which damage the fabric surface.

The toughest stains can be cleaned with more aggressive techniques. Always test a small area of the fabric first before moving on the rest of the fabric. Rust or mineral stains on the surface of the fabric can be treated by CLR (Calcium, Lime, & Rust Remover); use a weak dilution of the product to clean clear sidewall windows showing hard water residue or a foggy appearance. Mildew stains are best treated with calcium hypochlorite products like Blitz or X-14, which kill the spores of the mildew without robbing the fabric of plasticizers and making it stiff.

Don’t: Forget to Inspect Your Event Tent for Damage

Failing to regularly inspect the tent fabric is a critical “Don’t.” Commercial rental tents are regularly exposed to weather conditions and substances that can stain or degrade the material. It’s important for tent rental company owners to remain diligent and inspect each tent after it’s been used. This critical step ensures you know the condition of your stock. Simply assuming the material’s holding up can result in a bad surprise when your client is setting up for an event.  

Don’t: Put Your Party Tent Until Its Dry

A mistake which commercial tent owners sometimes make is improper storage. There are several best practices to follow for proper storage of your commercial rental tent. Failure to follow these practices leads to mildew, abrasions, cracking, and other damage. Always check to be sure the tent’s completely dry before storing it, and keep it in a cool location with low humidity. If you wash your tents in the same room in which they are stored, use fans and dehumidifiers to remove atmospheric moisture.

It’s also very important to properly and thoroughly dry commercial tents. Have a designated area to hang wet tents as they dry. Hanging the fabric vertically, using large capacity mops to remove excess water from the surface, and positioning fans to move the air around the drying room are all effective approaches to improve the efficiency of the drying process. Develop a systematic approach to the washing and drying process, allowing enough time to completely dry the vinyl fabric and tent components for storage. Even just a small amount of moisture can ruin a tent within weeks.

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Topics: Tent Maintenance