Are Tent Carpets Washable? Yes, But Check This First [2021]

Some people might scoff at the idea of using tent carpets when camping.

Aren’t we meant to tough it up and go without our everyday conveniences for once?

Let us validate you – there’s nothing wrong with desiring extra comfort when camping. Tent carpets offer other advantages like extra insulation and protection as well.

Of course, with every new piece of tent equipment, we learn new care methods too.

Are tent carpets washable? Generally, tent carpets are washable. How you can wash it depends on the type of carpet. Thicker, PVC backed carpets, for instance, should not be put into washing machines.

Our guide will outline the best ways to clean tent carpets based on material type, whether you should machine wash or otherwise, and other general tips for carpet longevity.

We’ve personally tested different ways of washing tent carpets, so you’re in expert hands!

Let’s go.

Why You Should Get a Tent Carpet

What seems like a frivolous purchase actually comes with several important advantages:

  • Extra insulation – Most tents are made thin and lightweight for easy storage, but it also means weak insulation. A lot of heat is lost through the floor especially.
  • Floor protection – If you’re setting up chairs and other pointy objects in your tent, a carpet will help protect the groundsheet.
  • Quiet – Imagine rolling over in your sleeping bag only to hear leaves or rocks go crunch, crunch, and crunch underneath. A tent carpet will muffle any crinkles and unwanted sounds to offer you better sleep.
  • Comfort – Most importantly, tent carpets are an extra layer between you and the hard ground. Who wouldn’t want the padded comfort?
  • They’re easier to clean than the sewn-in groundsheet.

In addition, watch the video below that explains very well the benefits of owning a tent carpet.

It might not be among the most important components of a camping tent, but it's surely one that adds up to your overall comfort.

Are Tent Carpets Washable?

Let’s take an in-depth look at whether tent carpets are washable, because proper care is essential for longer use.

a vacuum cleaner over a carpet

The short answer is: yes, tent carpets are washable.

The longer answer is: how you wash your tent carpet will depend on what kind of tent carpet it is.

The most basic type of tent carpet is made of relatively hardy but regular materials you’d use for home carpets.

Some may carry fleece blends for camping in cold weather. Others are designed to weather outdoor use in more extreme climates or environments.

Since manufacturers layer these with waterproofing material and thicker stitching, they require more steps to clean.

Types of Tent Carpets

Tent carpets can be separated into two large categories – single-layer or backed.

  • Single layer carpets – Made from breathable weave, they’re designed to be lightweight but hard wearing and rot free.
  • Backed – Typically thicker, these tent carpets often feature an insulation top layer and heavy-duty waterproof backing made from PVC.

The Best Way to Clean Tent Carpets

Before you even think about hosing your tent carpet down, clean it the best you can!

a girl cleaning a tent carpet

Spread it out on even ground, then brush off debris and vacuum off any loose dirt. You don’t want wet dirt, manure or hair getting stuck in the tent carpet fibers.

With that done, we have to tackle the actual washing part of the cleaning process. There are a couple of ways to wash your carpet – by machine wash, soaking it in a bathtub, or hosing it down.

Single-layer tent carpets

You can comfortably throw these into a washing machine! I recommend using a relatively slow and mild cycle to prevent any damage to the weave. Check the manufacturer’s label to see if it’s machine-wash compatible.

a couple camping sitting on a tent carpet

Alternatively, you can soak them in a tub of soapy water. Some tent carpets may be too big to put in a washing machine.

Step on them to imitate a spin cycle, then gently scrub at any stubborn spots. Make sure to rinse thoroughly before hanging to dry.

Backed, triple-layer tent carpets

We don’t recommend throwing any PVC backed carpets into the washing machine because they’re either not washer safe, or they’re too big. You’ll most likely end up with the backing damaged or removed.

It’s better to spot clean using carpet shampoo or carpet cleaning liquid (diluted in a bowl of warm water). Use a sponge or soft cloth to scrub at the target areas. Here’s the process is somewhat similar to cleaning your backpack.

If there’s trodden-in manure or mud, the process is a little more taxing. Bring your carpet outdoors and try to brush off any dried sections if possible.

Then, turn pressured jets of water onto any stubborn areas – just be careful to stick to a low setting if you’re using a pressure washer.

Go in with the carpet cleaner and gently scrub with a soft brush. Rinse a final time if necessary.

After Washing Your Tent Carpet

No matter what method you use to wash your tent carpet, make sure to dry it completely afterwards.

Because lingering dampness turns into mildew, and tent carpets aren’t bleachable, double check that it’s fully dried before packing it away. The best way to dry your tent carpet is by air-drying it. In fact, that’s the recommended way of drying your tent too.

Hang it outside on a fence or drying line to allow even drying. We don’t recommend putting it in a dryer, as it could damage the carpet fibers. It’s also most likely too large to fit.

Cleaning a Vango Tent Carpet

Chances are, you’ve heard of Vango tent carpets. Cut to fit the size and shape of Vango tents (but fit perfectly fine in other brand models), they’re insulated and with a waterproofed back.

Vango tent carpets are not machine washable, but stains are easy to clean. We advise to clean with a damp cloth.

Pass with soapy water if there are any stubborn dirty areas. While it’s best to wipe up any messes before they get to stick, the material top isn’t hard to manage.

Related Questions about Washing Tent Carpets

Here are some frequently asked questions and our answers.

Can you machine wash your tent carpet?

It really depends on your tent carpet! You can put single layer carpets without backing in a washing machine, but make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Stronger cycles can result in rips and wear. Machine washing can damage tent carpets that carry PVC or other waterproof backing, as well as rip the stitching of layered, insulated tent carpets.

Can you use a steam cleaner on a tent carpet?

Generally, steam cleaning tent carpets is okay as long as you keep it short. It’s an easy solution for removing small stains, or if you don’t have time for a complete wash and dry routine.

Do vacuum up any loose dirt or grit before steaming, or you’ll end up with a muddy mess to clean up!

We also highly recommend checking the manufacturer’s instructions to see if your carpet is heat compatible.

How do I Make My Tent Carpet Last?

Tent carpets aren’t fussy camping additions, but you can treat them better by:

  • Airing it out every now and then.
  • Cleaning it well before storing.
  • Storing it in a loose sack or container so that the material can breathe.
  • Storing it in a cool, dry area to prevent mildew from growing.
  • Rolling any PVC backed carpets instead of folding them. Creases, especially when untouched for a long time, preludes to tears.

Bottom Line

The answer to the question “are tent carpets washable?” is simple. Yes, most tent carpets are washable. It’s more important to wash them the right way.

Single-layer tent carpets are the easiest to clean since most of them are machine washable. Those are often made using regular home-furnishing materials, woven to offer comfort rather than any weather-hardy features.

On the other hand, the insulated, PVC backed tent carpets that offer waterproofing require more care.

Washing machines, with their blades and enthusiastic spin cycles, can damage the backing and stitching. Spot cleaning is a much better way to clean them.

Like every other camping or hiking equipment, tent carpets come with their own maintenance requirements.

When in doubt, always check the manufacturer’s instructions on the care label. At the very least, it should indicate whether the carpet is machine washable.

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Asen Stoyanchev

Founder of this website, Asen is a passionate hiker and writer who is also a gear nerd. He’s been featured on many established hiking websites where he gives hiking advice & tips. When he is not trekking with his family or friends, he is writing articles and product reviews. Asen spends most of his time in Bulgaria but he constantly travels the world in seek of more unforgettable experiences. Read more about Asen here.

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