If you find yourself stuck with a wet tent, you might be wondering, can you put a tent in the dryer?
The short answer is no – not even if you set it to tumble dry.
Let’s dive a little deeper into why not, the right way to dry a tent, as well as how to store it.
Why Can’t I Put A Tent In The Dryer?
Tents are designed to be tough in rugged environments. However, they are not meant to withstand the extreme heat of a man-made clothes dryer (nor should you wash a tent in the washing machine).
The heat of the dryer can:
- Warp the shape of your tent
- Cause the seams to de-laminate, which may be irreparable
- Affect the water-resistant or waterproof coating
Not to mention the tumbling action of the dryer can create small rips and tears, which will also shorten the life of your tent, if not ruin it altogether. Some tents may even melt.
How To Dry A Tent The Right Way
There are several effective options for drying a wet tent, whether it be a nylon/synthetic fabric tent or you are drying a canvas tent. Plus, there are a few important tips to keep in mind to make the process go as quickly and smoothly as possible.
The ideal environment for drying a tent is outdoors, out of direct sunlight, on a warm breezy day.
This isn’t always possible, so some other good options include:
- Bathrooms (hang the tent fabric in a bathroom shower stall)
- Other well-ventilated rooms
Setting your tent up is a great way to dry the top and sides but will make it more difficult to dry the bottom, and it takes up a lot of space. Hanging your tent is a more efficient way to ensure it dries completely.
It’s important to make sure there are no deep creases in the tent as it hangs—these creases will facilitate mold growth and can weaken the tent’s fabric over time.
If you’re hanging the tent in a bathroom, leave the exhaust fan on to help pull excess moisture out of the air. You can also use a portable fan to keep the air circulating throughout the room.
Make sure your tent isn’t hanging anywhere near a direct heat source, as this can cause some of the same problems as using a dryer. This is also why we don’t recommend using a portable heater to speed drying time.
How Dry Does The Tent Really Need To Be?
Your tent needs to be 100% dry before you store it. End of story.
What happens if you put away a wet tent?
Any lingering moisture on or inside your tent could lead to mold or mildew growth. This bacteria will make your tent smell musty and potentially destroy the fabric, as well. And keep in mind, mold can begin to grow in as little as 24 hours, so time is of the essence.
Tip: If you do find mold or mildew on your tent, check out our guide on how to clean a tent with mold to effectively kill the bacteria.
If you have to pack up a wet tent at the end of a camping trip, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Try to dry it off as much as you can before you take it down. It helps to bring a sponge or towels along for this purpose.
- It’s ok to pack up a wet tent as long as you remember to take it out to dry as soon as possible after getting home.
Making sure your tent is completely dry before properly storing it is worth the extra effort to prolong the life of your tent.
Tips To Keep Your Tent Dry While Camping
While short of camping indoors, there’s no way to keep your tent 100% dry, there are some steps you can take to prevent it from getting as wet, which may reduce the time you spend getting it dry.
- Always set up your tent on a high spot with a tarp or tent footprint fully under it (the tarp/footprint should not stick out past the bottom of the tent)
- Look for areas with natural rain blocks, such as under trees or in alcoves.
- Consider hanging a tarp above your tent at a slight angle (directed downhill from your tent).
- Never wear wet clothing or shoes in your tent. Consider a tent with a vestibule or extent your overhead tarp to create a dry buffer zone at the entrance of your tent.
For more tips check out our complete guide on how to keep your tent dry while camping in the rain. Plus, check out these helpful tips to keep your tent dry on the inside.
Storing Your Tent
You just put time and effort into making sure your tent is 100% dry. Now, it’s equally important to store it properly.
Simply put, your tent will last longer if it is packed loosely and stored in the right conditions.
Packing A Tent For Storage
The sack your tent came in is a great way to transport it, especially for activities like backpacking, but oftentimes it is much too tight to store your tent long-term.
Keep your tent in a breathable fabric bag or pillowcase instead. You can store it out in the open, but use some form of protection to keep dust off it. Opt for a loose fold rather than a tight sleeping-bag-like roll.
If you have space, store the poles partially assembled to reduce tension on the shock cords. Otherwise, always break down the poles starting in the middle and work out to the ends.
Choosing The Best Storage Spot
Store your tent someplace cool, dry, and well ventilated, such as under a bed or in a gear closet. Garages can be a good place for tent storage, as long as the conditions are right. Attics, basements, and backyard sheds aren’t ideal because they are often too humid, too hot, or can experience large temperature swings. All of which can lead to condensation, which will undo all your hard work getting your tent dry.