Tent care - Part 1 Cleaning and Weatherproofing

Should I weather a Poly-cotton tent?

Definitely! This process is a must before you use a poly-cotton tent for the first time. It allows the fibres to swell and knit together at entry points such as stitch holes and seams, before going out in the rain.

Pitch the tent on a dry day and spray it with a hose (not too much pressure but so it is wet), especially on the seams. You may notice it leaks at first although this is to be expected. Leave the tent to dry out and this will allow the fabrics to knit together and create more of a water resistance.

Wet tents

It is important that the tent is thoroughly dry before packing it away. If a damp tent is left even for a few days it can cause mould and irreversible damage. Allow your tent to thoroughly dry out even if that means taking home to dry out before packing it away properly. Sponging with a 10% solution of Sterilising Fluid and then allowing to dry out will also help to freshen and clean the fabric.

Cleaning your tent

Sponging off dirt with a solution of Nikwax Techwash will keep the tent protected as well as clean. Bird muck and tree sap can harm the fabric so cleaning this quickly will prevent any damage. It’s also worth noting that detergents can ruin the water-repellent finish so avoid using these.

Ground sheets

Ground sheets or footprints protect the underneath of your tent and make it much easier to clean afterwards. Hosing and cleaning a groundsheet after use is much easier than cleaning the underside of a tent! It is also worth keeping some old towels to wipe away any surface water.


Dropping the pegs in a bucket of warm soapy water and allowing them to dry after your holiday will prevent them from rusting and prolong their life.

Tents vs Sunshine

Long term exposure to UV can weaken the fabric and ruin the water-repellent finish although this can be rejuvenated with a flysheet re-proofer. Most manufacturers now also offer a roof protector, which provides protection from UV and can add insulation or heat reflecting properties to the tent roof.

Should I re-proof my tent?

This shouldn’t have to be done too often. When the flysheet fabric “wets out,” and water is able to soak into the fabric it is a good indication that the water-repellent finish has worn.

Using a re-proofer with a UV inhibitor will provide extra protection and a seam protector will also give the seams more of a defence.


Tents can last years if they are cared for properly and a little effort following your trip will mean you can enjoy many more adventures with your camping equipment.