Tents are typically made from a variety of textiles including but not limited to: Nylon, Rayon, and/or Vinyl. These fabrics are often designed with features like waterproofing, mold and mildew resistance, and UV ray and tear resistance. These can be small, personal tents or large shade structures used in weddings, outdoor parties, or for industrial or military purposes. (Think medical tents during military operations, or a large structure over an outdoor commencement ceremony.)
Tent fabrics are not your typical textiles; they’re made from various specialty fabrics and require far more care and upkeep than just shaking off excess dirt.
Regardless of size or function, tents are made to withstand the outdoor elements. However, they are not indestructible. Tents need to be maintained and cared for like any investment-- a spray down alone won’t suffice. In fact, there are a variety of things you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your tent fabric.
Here’s a quick list of things you can do to help keep your tent in great condition:
- Do regularly brush off dirt and debris from your tent while it is in use.
- Do wash your tent with water, a soft sponge, and a non-detergent soap. Or use a tent cleaning product specifically for your textile. We recommend asking your local manufacturer which products you can or cannot use on the fabric.
- Do let your tent dry completely after being washed or wiped down. Ensure that the whole tent - including ratchets, ropes, poles, zippers and other components are moisture free, as mildew or mold can easily grow on damp fabrics.
- Do inspect your tent regularly. This requires checking the interior and the exterior of the tent for damage, in addition to the poles, zippers and screens. Consistent and thorough inspections can add years to the life of your investment and prevent damage to the fabric of the tent.
- Do check the seams of your tent and make sure they are not coming apart. If they are, have them repaired as soon as possible. Or, consult your tent fabric supplier if you would like to repair the seams yourself.
- Do use an extra UV ray protection sprayon. You can do this with water resistance as well, so ask your local tent manufacturer where to buy UV Ray or Water repellent sprays appropriate for your tent.
- Do use a dry spray on poles and zipper tracks to help keep the parts lubricated.
- Do check stakes, ropes, ratchet straps, and other tension pieces of the tent and make sure they are clean and free of debris, or dirt. Make sure the ropes are not loose or coming apart.
- Do check your tent for tears or rips and have them repaired. If left unchecked, tears or rips can grow and eventually destroy the integrity of your tent’s fabric.
- Do keep up to date with the latest in the tent rental and tent fabrics industry by reading about and researching the topic. There are many surprising advances being made in terms of specialty fabrics (think solar tents!)
Now here’s a list of things you should not do:
- Do not use a detergent on your tent fabric, this will break down the material and any specialty features like UV and water resistance.
- Do not use bleach, as the fabric will deteriorate. Bleach can also change the color of the tent’s fabric.
- Do not store your tent in a wet or damp area, this can encourage the growth of mold or mildew.
- Do not let debris, dirt, water, or items collect in the inside of your tent. This can cause damage to the fabric as well. Remember, taking care of the interior is just as important as the exterior.
- Do not leave your tent set up, or out in the sunlight for extended periods of time (i.e. weeks or months) unless specifically instructed to do so by your manufacturer. You don’t want your tent subjected to the elements for longer than it has to be. If your tent is out for too long in the sunlight, you risk degradation of the fabrics UV resistance properties.
- Do not use abrasive brushes or sponges to clean your tent. you risk scratching, ripping, or tearing the fabric.
By following these instructions, you’ll ensure that the investment you’ve made will last. If you’re not sure how to best care for your tent, always consult your textile supplier on how to clean and maintain your fabrics.
Remember, taking care of your tent involves due diligence. Printing out a list of the Do’s and Don’ts of tent fabric care for your employees or yourself is a great step in keeping best practices on the top of your mind. Consult this list every time you use and store your tents, and train your employees on the do’s and don’ts of cleaning and maintaining your tent fabrics. Knowledge is the first step in preventing damage to your investment.
Tent fabrics require special care, and selecting the right material is just as important as proper upkeep. Download our free guide, Five Factors to Consider When Buying Tent Fabric Material to help inform your decision making.