How to Clean a Tent Carpet: Can You Really Put It in the Washing Machine?

The new tent carpet I bought for a weekend camping expedition with the kids really did its job. For once the salesman didn’t lie. He’d recommended the tent carpet saying it would improve our camping experience and it had. The kids slept much better than they had on a previous outing when they spent most of the night tossing and turning because the cold crept in through the groundsheet. I slept better too without them fidgeting all night. So happy days all round, well, apart from this morning and I can’t blame the kids, it was my fault.

We’d finished breakfast, and I’d been pretty impressed on how they’d pitched in to help wash the dishes without me having to badger them into doing it for a change. Then they were in a hurry to go exploring in the woods, fair enough, I thought, but we’d traipsed halfway across a field when I realised, I’d forgotten to pick up the trail map. We’d never been in that area before, so it was all new territory and getting lost was not on the agenda. The youngest one says, I’ll go, Dad and he ran back to the tent to get it while the rest of us contemplated daisies, the cows on the other side of the field chewing the cud and whether or not to have a barbecue for dinner.

When we got back to the tent, about two and a half hours later, I pulled the tent flap back, and the stink hit me. It was unbelievable. Just like a farmyard. I tried not to breathe in as I scratched my head and thought, how on earth do you clean a tent carpet?


What’s The Best Way To Clean A Tent Carpet

The easiest way to clean a tent carpet is to spread it out on level ground, the garage floor or on the lawn if the weather’s good, vacuum off any loose dirt before giving it a going over with a carpet shampoo machine if you have one.

If you haven’t got a carpet shampooer, then use some carpet cleaning liquid in a bowl of warm water and a sponge or cloth. Extend the tent carpet over a fence or washing line until it’s dry.

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Is It Easy To Clean A Very Dirty Tent Carpet?

Cleaning a tent carpet is a simple process so long as the dirt you’re trying to remove is not trodden-in cow pat. That involves a completely different approach to the job and requires a more diverse process. After being strictly forbidden to use the household hoover or carpet shampooer to remove the now, very dried on manure, I was forced to get a little more inventive with my tent carpet cleaning methods than anyone would normally expect to have to be.

I had thought about sneaking the tent carpet upstairs, filling the bath with water and a good dose of biological soap powder, but got caught in the act and prohibited from stepping foot back in the house if I had the tent carpet with me. Admittedly, it was by that stage, ponging quite badly. After being banished from my own home, I took refuge in the garage which is where I go when I need to ponder on life’s problems. While idling amid my sanctuary of tools, I realised I had just the thing for the job, well, two things actually.

What Do You Need To Clean A Tent Carpet?

I’d spied the roll of garden hose and had just finished spreading the tent carpet on the lawn, thinking to give it a good dousing down then a gentle scrub with carpet cleaner and a soft brush, when I thought the pressure washer might be an easier, less strenuous option. I’m pleased to say; I wasn’t wrong.

For ease of manoeuvring with the pressure washer, I decided to drape the tent carpet over the washing line before attacking it with the water jet. To be honest, it gave me a pretty good feeling of satisfaction blasting that cow pat and watching it peel off the tent carpet and disintegrate into lawn fertiliser. While most campers won’t need to deal with ingrained cow manure, if the tent carpet does get overly grubby, a pressure washer really is a great solution. Though take care to use a relatively low setting on the pressure washer, or you might end up fraying or worse, blasting a hole in your tent carpet.

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Whichever method you decide to use to clean your tent carpet, do it on a day when you can be certain it is going to dry completely. Any traces of lingering dampness can soon turn to mildew which is difficult to remove as most tent carpets are not bleachable. Damp will leave your tent carpet with an unpleasant odour too which is not much fun to sleep with the next time you use it. So always double check to make sure it’s fully dried and aired before packing it away.

Related Questions

Can I Put A Tent Carpet In The Washing Machine? The answer to that questions depends greatly on just what type of tent carpet you have. If your tent carpet has a PVC or any other type of waterproof backing, then the answer is no. The washing cycle could damage the carpet. The same goes if it’s a triple-layer insulating tent carpet, the stitching can be affected by the robust tumbling in the washing machine drum. If your carpet is single layer with no backing, then yes, it will withstand being machine washed, but check the manufacturer’s instructions for which cycle is best.

Can I Use A Steam Cleaner On A Tent Carpet? Steam cleaning a tent carpet is okay so long as it’s not too prolonged an operation. Hoover up any loose dirt from the carpet before starting, or you could end up with a mini mud bath on your hands. Steam cleaners are a great solution for removing the odd stain if something’s been spilt on your tent carpet and you don’t want to put it through a complete wash and dry routine for lack of time or if the weather’s bad.