Washing a tent inner

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Washing a tent inner

Postby randomblue » Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:57 pm

Hey guys!

I'm a few weeks into my tour now and everything has been going pretty well - a few steep learning curves but that's to be expected I guess!!

One problem I'm not sure how to solve is cleaning the fabric part of my tent inner. While in hamburg there was nowhere I could unpack it and lay it out to fully dry and since then the inner has some slightly lighter patches which I guess are a result of this? Any tips on cleaning/washing this or other suggestions?

Thanks!
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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby tim_f » Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:20 pm

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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby vinyl_theif » Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:43 pm

When my tent has been damp / wet in the morning I wait until my early afternoon lunch on a quiet field / park and lay the tent outer (and sometimes inner) to dry, takes 10 minutes when it's hot, so how about on the morning you intend to depart Hamburg simply clean it in the shower/bath with luke warm water and mild soap, packing it away wet, then dry it later in the day when out of the city along one of the inevitable cycle routes?

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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby profpointy » Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:12 pm

Probably the manufacturer's web site may advise something - but other than that I'd not "wash", but do what you can with a damp cloth. Anything that smacks of detergent or soap is likely to damage or remove any waterproofing applied by the manufacturer.
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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby simonineaston » Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:24 pm

I'd just wait 'till I got home and then pop it into the washing machine on a mild cycle with (maybe) a very small quantity of soap flakes, if it's particularly soiled...
http://www.msodistributing.com/soapflakes.html
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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby pjclinch » Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:06 pm

Similar to the Terra Nova advice, Hilleberg's FAQ says:

Can I wash my tent when it is soiled?

If you tent is dirty try and clean it with a wet cloth or sponge in luke-warm water or rinse it in a bath tub. Do not use any detergents and do not wash your tent in a washing machine!


Note that soap is not detergent and won't work against coatings (detergent shouldn't strip a coating, but any residues will tend to do the opposite so compromising the function). Dripak's "Liquid soap flakes" are available from supermarkets (certainly Tesco) and being in solution form to start with are easier to mix than the normal flaky sort.

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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby cycleruk » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:10 pm

If it's just the tent "inner" then it will probably have no waterproofing and I would assume that it has a sewn in ground-sheet.
I just hang mine on the washing line, wash down with the hose pipe and then let it dry in the sun.
If it is stained then soap should help or if difficult then maybe something like "Astonish" stain removal soap.
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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby Edwards » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:26 pm

Black dots on tents that have been stored wet used to be called Mildew and is a from of mould. In the days of canvas tents this would rot the material to such an extent that it would fall apart. Modern man made fabrics (nylon) tend not to suffer as badly but should be treated if possible.
For canvas Milton Fluid was recommended to kill the mould but I am not sure this is good for modern fabrics.
It is important that tents are well aired as soon as possible as the mould spreads in damp conditions but only lies dormant until next time.
Some water proofers have mould treatment in them and it would do no harm to use some on the inner tent.

A good inner tent would have been treated to stop the fabric holding water, so using something like Nikwash Techwash will clean and replace some of the treatment.
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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby andrew_s » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:57 am

cycleruk wrote:If it's just the tent "inner" then it will probably have no waterproofing

The inner will have a water repellent treatment to make water bead up on it. This makes any condensation drips from the outer just roll off rather than soaking into the fabric. You don't want to damage it.
What's death to water repellent coating is fabric conditioners. Don't use anything that may have a fabric conditioner in it, and don't use a washing machine that has had fabric conditioner in it recently (last dozen washes or so). This applies to waterproof jackets as well as tent inners.

I just use water & a cloth, and put up with any dead fly marks that don't come off easily.
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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby pjclinch » Tue Jun 10, 2014 11:02 am

Edwards wrote:
A good inner tent would have been treated to stop the fabric holding water, so using something like Nikwash Techwash will clean and replace some of the treatment.


Techwash is a liquid soap, so it will clean stuff but there's nothing in there that would replace a light proofing treatment. A big point about Techwash (or other pure soaps, I use Dripak Liquid Soap Flakes as it's much cheaper but pretty much the same!) isn't what it does so much as what it doesn't, in particular leave any traces that will work to reduce surface tension in water droplets so they penetrate the fabric easily (which is how detergents work: great for getting things clean, but...).

However, since tent inner walls generally don't get much abuse the original coating should be there for a long time before you'd need to do anything about renewing it.

andrew_s wrote:What's death to water repellent coating is fabric conditioners. Don't use anything that may have a fabric conditioner in it, and don't use a washing machine that has had fabric conditioner in it recently (last dozen washes or so). This applies to waterproof jackets as well as tent inners.


They are indeed a Work Of Stan, at least as far as technical fabrics go. They don't so much kill coatings as smother them in goop (the difference being if you can get the goop off you might have something worth saving). So as well as Andrew's caution on conditioners on jackets and tents, add to that pretty much anything with technical performance fabrics (base layers, windproofs etc. etc.).

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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby profpointy » Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:31 pm

One or two posters have suggested the inner is not waterproof - unfortunately forgetting that the groundsheet is part of the inner - and absolutely has to waterproof or the tent is in the bin.
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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby Sweep » Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:51 pm

andrew_s wrote: Don't use anything that may have a fabric conditioner in it, and don't use a washing machine that has had fabric conditioner in it recently (last dozen washes or so). This applies to waterproof jackets as well as tent inners.


I always assumed that as long as you didn't use fabric softener on your wash you'd be fine so always made sure I have some simple straightforward washing powder to hand (some devilish powders I think have the conditioner "built in") for my stuff when sharing the washing machine with the gf.

Your post seems to very strongly suggest that I've been living in a fool's paradise.
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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby pjclinch » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:21 am

Sweep, if you want to treat sensitive stuff via your washing machine after it's had conditioner etc. in it it's often recommended to give the machine itself a wash. http://www.dri-pak.co.uk/laundry-cleaning-tips/clean-your-washing-machine.html#.U5gP6pRdXi4 has a run-through.

Being their company page it obviously touts their products, but soda crystals are soda crystals are soda crystals, so it shouldn't matter to use alternatives. For a pure soap I like their Liquid Soap Flakes because they're easier in use than the traditional solid kind (that need dissolving and make enough foam in a washing machine that it tends to leak out the door) and are much cheaper than the likes of Nikwax Techwash or Grangers Performance Cleaner.

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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby randomblue » Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:26 pm

There's definitely not black mildew marks on it, just a few areas that are a little paler than the rest. I'm at a hostel right now but will try and remember to take a photo tomorrow night to show what I mean. From the sounds of it there's no need for me to worry, I'll give it a sponge clean at some point when the weather is hot and I want a long break. When you all say about using soaps rather than detergents is Dr Bronners use it for everything soap an acceptable option? I've just used the last of what I brought with me but have more at home that I can give it a good clean with before I pack it away.
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Re: Washing a tent inner

Postby pjclinch » Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:53 pm

randomblue wrote:When you all say about using soaps rather than detergents is Dr Bronners use it for everything soap an acceptable option?


No idea, not familiar and their web site doesn't obviously flag up "use it for everything". You're after something with no extras (like fragrances, stuff to be nice to your skin etc.), as the extras tend to get left behind and compromise the fabric's performance.

If in doubt, hold off, is my opinion.

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