How to Dry a Wet Tent: Best Ways to Avoid a Mouldy Tent

Imagine the scenario. The weather had been perfect for camping all weekend but just as we were contemplating packing up the gear ready to make a move, the sky turned dark, and the heavens opened. Cloudburst is the only way to describe the downpour. There was no time to pack up the tent and only just enough seconds to scramble inside to avoid getting drenched. The shower lasted all of five minutes, but there was no way we could’ve hung around waiting for the tent to dry or we’d have missed the last ferry.

The weather in France had ended up being as unpredictable as the UK’s. I shook off as much water as possible before stowing the tent in the back off the car. I’d have preferred to take a dry tent home, but to be honest, it didn’t bother me too much, because I’ve have learnt from experience how to dry a wet tent.


So what’s the best way to dry a wet tent?

If the weather conditions permit it and you have space, peg the tent out on the lawn. You can speed the process along by drying the tent with a towel or other absorbent cloth which is easier to do when you’ve put it up. If the weather’s bad, then you’ll need to look for an indoor option.

What’s the best place to dry a wet tent?

The garage or a garden shed prove to be very useful when it comes to drying wet tents. Many a time, I’ve parked the car on the drive and strung a line up inside the garage, pilfered several of the wife’s clothes pegs and hung the tent up there to dry.

Doing the same in the garden shed, so long as it’s big enough, works just as well and if you’ve got an empty greenhouse, well, the job’s a good’un as my old man used to say. Though if your tomato crop is in full fruit, you’ll find the tent takes on a certain green smell which, while not unpleasant, can be a bit overpowering the next time you go to sleep in it.

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Can a wet tent be dried in the house?

While drying a wet tent in the house is not the most convenient method of doing it, lots of soggy fabric hanging around while watching the TV doesn’t always make for a great family atmosphere, but if needs must, it has to be done. If you’ve got no other option, and have to dry your wet tent indoors, try to towel off as much of the dampness as you can to prevent any damage to your interior decor or furnishings.

If you have a staircase with a bannister, that’s the ideal place to spread your tent out. Ramp up the central heating and the tent will be dry in no time. You might need to turn it over a couple of times to make sure it’s thoroughly dry so watch your step on the stairs when you do.

If your house is a bungalow, yes, you guessed it, you’ll need to find a different solution. Conservatories are useful, almost as good as greenhouses in fact, but if you don’t have one of those, then your best bet is to try a clothes airer over the bath. It can be tricky getting the balance right particularly if you have a weighty tent, but once you do, you’ll find it works quite well, and after all, the bathroom is made to deal with water and wet things, so no problem there.

Is there any other way to dry a wet tent?

The only other way to dry a wet tent is to stay put at your campsite until the weather improves. Leaving the tent pitched in situ, if you’re not in a hurry to leave, so it dries before you pack it away will save you all the hassle of trying to dry a wet tent. If you’re not heading for home but rather changing campsites, then pack the tent in a bin bag until you get there and pitch it again as soon as you can. If you’re hiking, take a rest stop somewhere there are rocks where you can spread the tent out to dry or a handy tree branch to hang it from.

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If you’re on a schedule and only stopping for brief breaks, you might need to repeat the operation, packing the tent up and then getting it out again, several times before it’s finally dry. That might sound like a lot of work, but don’t get lazy about it, drying your tent when it gets wet is essential otherwise it’ll start sprouting mould and fungus and smell pretty disgusting.

Related Questions

Can I dry a wet tent in the washing machine? Yes, it’s tempting to put a wet tent in the washing machine and set the spin cycle working, but it’s not a good idea. The tent will most probably be too heavy a load for most domestic machines and the end result could see you footing the bill for a new one. The revolutions of a washing machine spin cycle also put a lot of stress on the seams of the tent and could play havoc with the stitching or the drum could even rub a hole in the fabric. The last thing you want is a tent that’s frayed at the edges, so, no, you can’t dry a wet tent in a washing machine.

Can I dry a wet tent in a tumble dryer? It’s a sad but true fact, tumble dryers and wet tents just don’t mix. Even on the coolest setting, the heat a tumble dryer generates to complete its function is too much for tent fabric. So, although it has most probably crossed your mind, forget nipping down to the local launderette and putting your wet tent in one of their industrial sized ones. If you do, the next time you use your tent and it rains, you may find you get as wet inside the tent as out. Yes, it’ll damage the waterproofing and you’ll need to buy a new one.