How To Dry A Canvas Tent (And Store It)

There are perhaps fewer things more important than properly drying your tent before storing it.

Packing away a wet tent can lead to mold and mildew growth, and speed up the deterioration of the tent’s fabric.

And just as important, storing your tent in the proper conditions will help deter mold growth and increase the lifespan of your tent.

So, let’s look at how to dry a canvas tent and store it properly to keep it in the best condition possible!

How To Dry A Canvas Tent Correctly

When it comes to drying a canvas tent, there’s more than one way to skin the proverbial cat.

Each method is effective in its own right, so choose the one that’s easiest and most convenient for you.

1. Drying Your Tent Outdoors

The ideal way to dry your tent is to set up your tent outdoors on a warm day, out of sunlight, and with a gentle breeze hitting it.

If possible, hang your tent to ensure all of the sides dry completely. Be sure there are no creases in your tent as it’s hanging.

Tip: No place to hang your tent? Make one! You can quickly fashion a clothesline using strong rope and hooks attached to any standing structure that can take the tent’s weight, e.g., a tree, balcony railing, or hooks on a wall. You may also use towel-covered furniture to support your tent as it dries.

Otherwise, set up your tent, rainfly, and ground tarp separately, preferably in a shaded area free of debris and dirt, flipping the ground tarp and rainfly to ensure that both sides are dry. You may have to elevate one side of the bottom of the tent for it to completely dry.

Of course, the weather doesn’t always cooperate, which leads us to…

2. Drying Your Tent In The Garage/Basement

One of the most convenient ways to dry a canvas tent is to set it up indoors. For example, in the garage or basement.

Again, if possible, hang your tent to dry. Turn on a ceiling fan or place a box fan pointed at your tent to help speed up the process.

If hanging is not an option, set up your tent without the rain fly attached. Once your tent has dried, you can clip on the rainfly, stretching it out fully to ensure no creases are holding any water.

3. Drying Your Tent In The Shower

Drying a tent in the shower is another excellent way to dry your tent, especially if it’s small.

Stretch out the tent over the curtain rod as much as possible to remove any creases. Using a space heater, warm up your shower to remove any moisture in the air. To prevent the fabric from warping, do NOT point the heater directly on the tent’s material.

Once the tent is dry, place the ground tarp and rain fly over the curtain rod in the same way and repeat the process.

How Not To Dry Your Tent

As important as it is to know how to properly dry a canvas tent, it’s equally as important to know what NOT to do!

Here are 3 examples of what real-life tent owners have done to dry their canvas tents. If we can save just one tent life, our job here is done!

1. Drying A Tent In Its Carrying Bag

You may be tempted to place your canvas tent in its carrying bag and leave it inside to dry in its own time.

Not a good idea…

This method is one of the worst ways to dry a tent as that’s not what a tent bag was designed for. This will allow the tent to retain moisture, encouraging the growth of mold and mildew. Only use your carrying bag to carry a dry tent.

2. Drying A Tent In A Clothes Dryer

Another way you can cause un-needed damage is by putting a tent in the dryer.

Clothes dryers use heat, which can warp and shrink cotton canvas tents. The tumbling action also stretches the tent fabric, weakening its fibers, potentially causing tears, and shortening its lifespan. Because of this, we do not recommend using clothes dryers, even if it is only for a few minutes.

Tip: If you’ve been drying your tent and have noticed tears in the fabric, learn how to quickly patch a canvas tent using our step-by-step guide.

3. Drying A Tent Using A Hair Dryer

Using a hairdryer to dry your canvas tent is also not recommended, even if it is relatively small.

Hot air from the hairdryer negatively impacts the tent’s material, shrinking and warping cotton and synthetic canvases. Using the dryer on a cold setting may work to get your tent dry, but is still not as effective as a large fan.

How To Store A Canvas Tent Correctly

Once your canvas tent is completely dry, it’s time to store it. When done right, your tent should be loosely packed and stored in a location that doesn’t experience high humidity levels and/or temperature swings.

The bag your tent came in is great for traveling. But, not so great for long-term storing as it keeps the tent packed extremely tight. Instead, store your canvas tent in a loose bag or even a pillowcase if it will fit. This will protect it from the elements and allow the material to breathe.

When you’re ready to store your loosely packed tent, choose a location that is dry, out of the sunlight, and well ventilated. The main floor of your house is ideal. Garages can work if the conditions are right. Just be wary of basements and attics as the humidity levels are often high.

FAQs

How Can I Protect My Canvas Tent As It Dries?

You can protect your canvas tent as it dries by:

  • Keeping it out of direct sunlight during the drying process.
  • Drying your tent on a clean surface or hanging it to dry.
  • Air drying your tent or using a fan to create a breeze. Do NOT put your tent in the dryer.
  • Drying your tent indoors. For example, in the garage or in the shower.

How Long Does It Take For A Canvas Tent To Dry?

This will depend on many factors including how wet the tent is, the conditions in which you are drying your tent (air temperature, whether there is a fan, etc.), and so on. But, it typically takes anywhere from a few hours to a full day in the right conditions.

Keep in mind, a canvas tent will typically take longer than nylon or synthetic fabric tents to dry.

Can I Use A Clothes Dryer To Dry My Tent With A Protective Laundry Bag?

No. We recommend not using a clothes dryer to dry your tent in any circumstance, even if using a laundry bag to protect it. Putting your canvas tent in a clothes dryer, even on the gentlest cycle or on the lowest heat setting, is still harsh enough to damage the fabric.

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