How to Clean a Tent in an Apartment (3 Easy Steps)

Nothing creates as much fuss as a wet tent does.

Leaving it unclean after returning from a camping trip will make it moldy and rotten, which will be a hassle to clean up the next time or require a tent replacement. I’ve ruined an expensive tent this way.

Now, the question is ‘How to clean a tent in an apartment.’ It seems to be difficult but believe me it’s not that much but a bit tricky. You just need to get creative with limited space.

Cleaning tents fast can save money, and prolong their lifespan. Read on to find out the ways.

How to Clean a Tent in an Apartment (3 Easy Steps)

You should have the following things to clean your tent.

  • Lukewarm to cold water
  • Bathtub or utility sink
  • Mild dishwashing soap
  • Cleaner specifically designed for clothing and outdoor gear
  • Cloth or non-abrasive sponge  

Cleaning your tent includes washing, drying, and repairing the tent to make it useable for the next time you go camping.

1. Washing your tent

Tents are not machine washable. Let’s discuss some simple steps to easily clean your tent even in a small apartment as I do.

Spot clean the tent. spread it out evenly in your tub. Using a drop of mild dish soap and a cloth or sponge, scrub extra-dirty areas. Gently scrub the coating area of the floor and fly surfaces.

Never use harsh cleaners like bleach or laundry pre-soaking products as they can impair the water repellent coating of a tent. Then, put all the debris in the trash so that they do not clog your bathtub.

Soak the tent. Fill a bathtub with cool or lukewarm water and use a cleaner designed for washing outdoor gear. Soak the tent and rainfly in water. You can see how long you need to soak your tent based on the directions on the cleaner bottle.

Cleaning zippers and tent poles. In case zippers aren’t running smoothly, take a toothbrush and scrub off any sand, dirt, mud, or saltwater that’s stuck in the zipper’s teeth. You can clean stubborn dirt from zippers by washing them with water and then brushing them. Using a rag, you can wipe down dirty, dusty, sandy, or salty poles.

Rinsing the tent. Drain and refill the tub with clean water. Swirl the tent around to rinse it. Repeat until the soap is completely removed. 

2. Drying

Tent set up inside the apartment for drying purpose.

Ensure your tent is completely dry before storing it. Don’t worry about the small apartment, try to utilize the available space to dry the tent in your apartment.

If you have enough space, you can dry a free-standing tent indoors. Simply set up the tent in the living room, dry off any standing water using a microfiber towel, and open all the windows, doors, and vents.

Don’t have enough windows for tent ventilation? A box fan can be used to speed up drying inside the tent.

When I was living in a small apartment, I didn’t have enough space in the living room to set up the tent. Then I tried different tricks to use up my small space for drying that really worked.

Firstly, wipe off any standing water and hang up the tent in any available space. 

  • You can use the kitchen table to spread the tent over it. Use the exhaust fan to increase ventilation in order to speed up drying.
  • Connect the chairs according to the area of your tent and place it over them. You can also utilize the fan for drying.
  • A Curtain rail can be used to hang the tent for drying.
  • Your tent will dry incredibly fast if you use a balcony to dry it. Your tent is like a giant kite, so make sure it is secured and won’t blow away. A balcony on the second or third floor is fine, but on a high rise, I won’t even consider it. 
  • A shower rod can be a good option but it might work for small tents since apartment bathrooms don’t have enough space and ventilation. Also, you have to move the tent every time you take a shower. Before taking a shower, remove the tent. Then turn on the exhaust fan and wipe down all surfaces before rehanging the tent.
  • If you can park in your garage, as do 75% of Americans, then your garage can be another convenient place to dry your tent.
  • You should consider using a nearby park or a neighbor’s lawn if you have the option. In this way, your tent will dry in 2 to 3 hours.  

3. Repairing Your Tent

Even the most careful cleaning can tear a seam or strip the waterproofing of your tent.  Therefore, after drying, inspect it properly. If you observe any holes or tears, patch them.

Apply seam tape. Apply Seam tape or sealant to all tent seams regardless of whether or not they are damaged. It will prolong the life and will avoid any leakage while camping.

Waterproof your tent. You can further waterproof your tent by applying spray-on water repellent to the sides and bottom of your tent.  Don’t go too heavy when coating your tent and make sure the coating has a chance to dry before you pack your tent up for storage.

Re-waterproofing a tent or rainfly is an easy way to extend the life of your tent. Most tent sealing products need 24 hours to dry completely, so make sure you have a designated space free from debris where the tent can be spread out for a day to dry.

Scrub zippers. Use an old toothbrush to remove grit and residue. Lubricate the teeth with a dry-zipper lubricant. If any zippers are broken, replace them. Patch or replace damaged mesh.


So, Cleaning and drying your tent in a small apartment just demands you to be smart. Utilize your bathtub to wash the tent and then dry in the living room, balcony, and shower rods or nearby park. As soon as I started cleaning my tent by using these steps, my tent has been saved and it saved me from the extra expense of a new tent. I hope this will help you as well.

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