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When camping, your tent is your home, and like your house, it needs looking after. Investing time in caring for your tent will lengthen its life and avoid undesirable problems when you next come to use it.


The best way to clean a tent is while it is up; it is much easier to see what you are doing. Pick a dry day because once you have cleaned the tent you will need to allow it to dry before applying any proofer.

MOULD OR MILDEW - Check for any mould or mildew. Because mould is a living organism it needs to be killed off or it will spread and become worse. A dilute solution of a sterilising fluid such as Milton is ideal for this ( One part sterilising fluid to ten parts water should be satisfactory ). You should carefully sponge the solution onto the mould and then after half an hour rinse off with cold clean water. It is a very good idea to test a section of fabric that is inconspicuous before treating other areas. Never pack your tent away when it is damp; this is a classic way of encouraging mildew.

GENERAL CLEANING - Next use a General or Universal Cleaner such as Fabsil Universal CLeaner or Nikwax Tech Wash, to remove any dirt . If the tent is devided by design into sections, then it is a good idea to clean one section at a time to avoid tidemarks.

Universal Cleaners For Tents

Nikwax Tech Wash and Fabsil Universal Cleaner are ideal for cleaning tents as they clean without stripping away any inherent water repellent treatment.

Note: Never wash the tent in a washing machine and do not be tempted to use detergents to clean the fabric as these will destroy the waterproofing.


A general indication that the fabric of your tent needs reproofing is given when water either penetrates directly through the fabric or it soaks into the fabric rather than 'balling' or 'beading' and running off.

CHECKING THE TYPE OF PROOFER - firstly, you should determine whether the proofer you have chosen to use is water based or not.

  • For water based proofers like, 'Nikwax Texnik Tent & Gear Proof', it is actually recommended that the tent be proofed whilst still damp.
  • For non-water based proofers like, 'Fabsil Universal Protector', you must allow the tent to dry properly before proofing.

Follow the instructions provided for the product you have chosen. This is important as the application methods are different for each type of proofer.

If you only need to re-proof a small section - perhaps a high wear area, then you may consider an aerosol solution like Fabsil Gold that can also be used on Rucksacks. 

Finally. leave the tent to dry for as long as possible before putting it away (three hours is an absolute minimum).

Water Proofing Products for Tents

Both, 'Nikwax Texnik Tent & Gear Proof' and 'Fabsil Universal Protector' are ideal for waterproofing your tent. The Nikwax is water based whilst the Fabsil is spirit based.


Not a complete list by any means, but we have sought to galvanise your thinking and concentrate on the essentials.

TENTS PEGS - knock or wipe off the worst of the mud. If necessary wash them in a bucket of water and dry thoroughly. Replace broken or damaged pegs and make sure you have some spare for next year.

GROUNDSHEET - the groundsheet will normally need to be turned over as even in dry conditions condensation will form on the bottom. It is important to give the underside time to dry otherwise you will encourage mould to grow whilst it is in storage.

POLES - Check for damaged poles. Give yourself plenty of time to obtain replacements. Putting your tent up next year is not a good time to find out you need a replacement; indeed to ensure you can get the correct length, size and type it may need to be ordered for you.

GUYLINES - check for fraying or loose knots. Replace where necessary. It is worth having spare guylines and packing them away with the tent.

ZIPS - check that the zip runs freely and that it is clean. Zips are proned to seizing up in storage. There are products on the market for lubricating zips if required. (McNett Zipper Lube)

Guyline Information

Inspecting, Repairing and Replacing Guylines Inspection 

It is always a good idea to check your guylines for fraying and loose knots at the beggining or end of each season. Damaged guylines should be replaced where necessary. However, nylon cords that have only frayed at the end(s) can be fixed by melting the end so that the chord strands 'bond' together. Beware that the melted nylon will be hot and avoid touching the end until it has cooled! Fraying that has occured mid-way along the cord will cause a weakness and cannot be fixed; in this circumstance we recommend replacing it. 

Replacing Guylines - The Options 

When replacing guylines it is not always necessary to replace 'as is'. Take this opportunity to consider purchasing guylines that have additional beneficial features. Therefore it is worth considering the following:-

  • Visibility: Guylines are notoriously difficult to see and very good at tripping both the young and old alike ( they don't seem to care who they catch ). As dealing with accidents is not exactly most peoples idea of a relaxing, enjoyable time, you could consider purchasing brightly coloured or luminous guylines. They won't remove the problem, but they certainly help to reduce the risk! 

  • Thickness / Strength: Most modern guylines are between 3 to 5mm thick. It is not possible to state with absolute certainty what thickness you will require as this is dependent on the size and weight of the tent and tent fabric. However, we can give some guiding principles.
    • Small 2-3 Person Tents - Unless you are absolutely fanatical about keeping weight to an absolute minimum then a 3mm or 4mm guyline should be ideal.
    • Average Size Family Tent (4 - 6 Persons) with Lightweight Modern Materials - 4mm guylines are usually ideal for this size and weight of tent.
    • Large Capacity Cotton or Polycotton Tent - these may well require a 5mm guyline but generally will not need anything thicker than this.
  • Length: What length will you require? Well, as a general rule of thumb: measure the height of the attatchment point on the tent and double it. Then add a bit for the runner double back adjustment.

It is worth having spare guylines and packing them away with the tent. 

Guyline Runners 

A good time to check that the guyline runners are not broken is before packing the tent away at the end of the season. If you have metal runners it is also important to ensure that they are clean and dry. Some cheap metal runners have a tendency to rust which inturn spoils the tent fabric. 

Prevention and Removal of Mould and Mildew Information

Mould and Mildew

What is mould or mildew? 
Mould and mildew are essentially different names for the same thing. Moulds are fungi - living organisms that thrive on many materials, including clothing, leather, paper and unfortunately tent and awning fabrics! They particularly grow on materials that are stored in places where there is poor moisture control or where moisture levels are high.

What is the problem with mould or mildew? 

There are two areas to focus on here. When mildew starts to grow on fabrics, it attaches and intertwines itself to the fabric. It generally creates a dark unsightly patch and the fabric takes on a musty undesirable odour. As the mould grows, it typically causes the tent fabric to deteriorate and rot. If mould is allowed to grow for too long, the tent fibers may be irreparably damaged. 

The second aspect to be aware of is the effect of mould on a persons health. The extent of the effect varies greatly from person to person but moulds have the potential to cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Symptoms caused by mould allergy are watery itchy eyes, a chronic cough, headaches or migraines, difficulty breathing, rashes, tiredness, sinus problems, nasal blockage and frequent sneezing.


How do I prevent mould growing on my tent or awning? 

On the generally accepted precept that prevention is better than cure, what steps can be taken to reduce the risk of getting mould growth on that valuable tent or awning. 

Essentially, take the storage preparation of your tent seriously. Never pack your tent away when it is damp; this is a classic way of encouraging mildew. If the tent is even mildly damp when you are preparing to put it away into storage, then wait till a dry fine day, peg it out and ensure that it is well and truly dry. At the same time, inspect the tent for soiling. Clean off any earth or mud as this will retain moisture and create a haven for mould to grow whilst in storage. Check it also for any mould or mildew that may have grown whilst it has been in use. If you find any then remove it using our guide below.


How do I clean my tent fabric and prepare it for storage? 

On the generally accepted precept that prevention is better than cure, what steps can be taken to reduce the risk of getting mould growth on that valuable tent or awning. 

Firstly, some do nots. We do not recommend using bleach as this can damage the fabric. If you use bleach, then wash the area thouroughly with water to remove the bleach as much as possible. Additionally, don't use washing up liquid or detergents as these will neutralise any tent proofing in the fabric. This will encourage the fabric to retain water leading to a greater risk of mould and also of leaks. 

In answer to the question, 'What should I use to clean my tent or awning?' We recommend a product such as Nikwax Techwash developed specifically for the purpose or alternatively, use a dilute solution of a sterilising fluid such as Milton. If using a sterilising fluid, then one part sterilising fluid to ten parts water should be satisfactory. You should carefully sponge the solution onto the soiled or mouldy area and then rinse off with cold clean water after half an hour. Note: it is a very good idea to test the solution on an area of fabric that is in an inconspicuous place before treating other areas.


Is there anything else I should do to protect the tent fabric before storing my tent away? 

The process of cleaning the tent can reduce the effectivness of the proofing that the tent fabric will have been treated with. And anyway, tent proofing does not last forever. Having chosen a dry day, pegged the tent out, inspected it and got rid of all the dirt and soiling, what better time to reproof the tent and make it suitable for both storage and next seasons use, than now? 

There are a large number of products specifically developed for reproofing tents and awnings. Most, if not all, require the fabric to be dry, so let any areas that you have cleaned dry off thoroughly before re-proofing. Instructions will of course, vary from product to product so follow the application instructions given by the manufacturers. After proofing, leave the tent till it is at least touch-dry but longer if possible. Once dry, your tent is ready to store away!