Can You Wash A Tent Tarp In The Washing Machine?

Wash camping tarp

It isn’t recommended that you wash a tent tarp in a washing machine.

Using a machine to clean your tent tarp leaves it vulnerable to becoming worn down.

Eventually tearing, particularly if this is something you do often.

For this reason, it’s recommended that you only machine wash your tent tarp in extreme cases.

For general maintenance of your tent tarp, spot cleaning is usually considered good enough.

This will allow your tent to be reused as and when it is needed and make sure it remains in the best condition possible.

In most cases where only a little bit of cleaning is necessary, spot cleaning can be done using a hose or mild, soapy warm water.

Similarly, it is not recommended that you put your tent tarp in a machine to dry.

Driers expose the tent fabric of your tarp to extreme temperatures and conditions that it simply cannot withstand.

This can create the possibility of tears and rips as the fabric is worn down.

Instead, it is sufficient to allow your tent tarp to dry naturally either outside or inside.

Can a tent tarp be washed in a washing machine?

A tent tarp should not be washed in a washing machine, particularly a top loading one.

If you have no other options, you can use an industrial front-loading machine to wash your tent tarp, but it isn’t recommended.

Tent tarps are easily worn down and rip, and the movement of a washing machine makes this is all the more likely.

A good quality tent tarp is able to withstand harsh temperatures outside.

But one thing it cannot stand against is the rough movements of a washing machine cycle.

This would be made even worse if you were to choose the wrong cycle and opt for anything other than a very gentle, mild wash.

In cases where you cannot avoid putting your tent tarp in a washing machine (as in extremely muddy or dirty conditions), make sure you do so with an appropriately gentle cycle.

Following the wash, you may also need to treat the tarp with weatherproofing and UV-protection sprays to ensure its weather-resistant capabilities remain in place.

Wash camping tarp

Tent Care, What’s the best way to clean a tent?

In place of cleaning your tent tarp in a washing machine, there are some other more effective methods to ensure it remains clean and working the way it should.

The two best methods of cleaning your tent tarp are spot cleaning with mild dish soap.

Use spot cleaning as and when is needed and keeping up the general maintenance of your tent tarp as you use it.

Spot cleaning is usually far easier and quicker than completing a whole washing machine cycle.

It also allows you to keep your tent clean without compromising on the wellbeing of the fabric.

To spot clean, simply take a hose or bucket of mild, soapy water or mild dish soap and remove dirt from your tent tarp as you see it.

As well as spot cleaning, you can protect your tent tarp by doing all you can to make sure you tent doesn’t get too dirty.

Try to get in the habit of doing things like keeping pets out of the tent unless supervised.

Remove muddy or dirty clothing items from the tent, and storing food safely to keep bugs away.

These habits will help to keep your tent tarp clean and should help you to protect it in the long-run, too.

Can you machine dry a tent tarp?

While it isn’t recommended that you machine wash your tent tarp, it definitely isn’t wise to machine dry the tent tarp.

Machine driers expose your tarp to intense heat, which can cause all sorts of damage to the material.

This combined with the effects of a washing machine can result in a seriously ruined tent tarp.

Possibly the easiest way to dry your tent tarp is by putting it outside.

You can do so by leaving it pitched and letting it dry naturally, which takes no time at all when done in the right conditions.

Alternatively, UV-protected tarps can be hung out to dry, particularly on a sunny but breezy day.

Ideally, your tent tarp will be dried outside, but of course this isn’t always possible.

You can also dry your tent tarp inside if you have enough room in your house to store it while it dries.

To dry your tent inside, make sure it has enough warm air hitting it directly to ensure you speed up drying time as much as possible.

Make sure to let it dry, meaning allow enough time to pass so that the tarp is completely dry, air dry before storing.

Tarp water beads
For after tent care, make sure that the tarp is completely dry especially when using the air dry before storing for your next trip.

Do you always need to clean your tent tarp?

In an ideal world, you would wash your tent tarp as infrequently as possible to make sure it stays in its best condition.

Washing your tent regularly exposes the tarp to harsh conditions and temperatures that can cause it to rip and wear down.

To avoid this, you should limit how regularly you are washing your tarp.

Washing your tent tarp is not only a serious undertaking, but it is also usually pointless.

Depending on how dirty your tent gets and what activities you partake in when camping, there is likely no need to wash your tent fully every time you return from a trip.

All that happens is your tent ends up getting dirty again, especially if you camp regularly.

Although deep cleans are not recommended for a tent tarp, you should continue to spot clean and hose down your tent as is needed.

Spot-cleaning your tent following a camping trip, particularly those very muddy or wet trips, helps to keep your tarp hygienic and working correctly.


It is not generally recommended that you use a washing machine to clean your tent tarp, unless in cases where it is extremely dirty.

The harsh temperatures and rough movements of a machine cycle can cause the material of your tent to wear down.

Instead, spot cleaning and proper maintenance are the best ways to keep your tent tarp clean.

This will make sure you get the best out of your tent tarp.