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eagle90

Washing a tent?

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We spent this morning going thru all of our Eureka Tents to check for rips, bad zippers, poles, stakes, etc. We have two tents that are in perfect shape except for a bad stench. One is definitely a mildew smell, and the other has almost a vomit-like odor. Don't ask! Has anyone have any experience washing tents? We were considering a commercial washing machine, Power washer, etc. We'd like to try to salvage these tents, but they are unusable in their current condition.

 

Eureka basically said "don't let them get in this condition and consider replacing them with new tents" Thanks a lot!

 

Any advice would be appreciated.

 

Dale

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Eureka's advice is correct.

 

Once the mildew and whatever nasty microbes are causing your vomit aroma set in, they destroy the waterproof coatings. Washing won't repair the damage and machine washing will accelerate the damage. If these tents were mine, let alone my Troop's, I would toss them and treat their replacements much better.

 

Tents must be bone dry before being put back into storage. They should be hung and allowed fully to dry after each trip.

 

As for cleaning, they should be set up on a grass field and gently washed, by hand, with soap and lots of water. Then, they should be thoroughly dried before storing.

 

Good luck and sorry to confirm the bad news.

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On a campout once I was using a troop tent, it was really stinky. It smelled like mildew. I setup another tent, but I took this one home and put it in the washing machine. I used the normal cycle with warm water and normal laundry soap. I hung it in the garage to dry, I did not use the dryer, I have heard stories (myths?) of people who have used the dryer and melted the tent.

Got rid of the smell enough where you could use it. Was not perfect but okay.

The next weekend I set the tent up and ran the hose over it and saw no leaks. I did seal the seams on the tent after it was dry. This was a 4 man timberline tent.

Try it what do you have to lose?

 

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In regards to the mildew smell, what about trying some water and white vinegar solution, spraying it onto to the tent surface, then letting it dry? (Or using white vinger in the rinse if you attempt any washing?)

 

Years ago my sons had to take a small scrub brush, soap and water to our first tent that has been put away dirty. Afterwards we gently used a damp cloth to wipe it off. We left it set up to dry and then sprayed the outside with a water repellent product (and let that dry thoroughly). We did use that tent for a couple of more years. It was a cheap, off-brand tent. Perhaps that wasn't the best way, but what did we know?

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Of course the manufacturer of the tent suggested purchasing a new tent. I wonder why that is?

 

Many products today are not manufactured to be repaired - at least easily - or by the manufacturer. Instead they are made to be discarded and replaced. Again, I wonder why that might be?

 

Many times products can be cleaned, repaired, etc. through other means.

 

I was once told the same thing by another manufacturer of a tent I own that had a damaged zipper. Was advised to just buy a new one - and this was for a tent that was only one year old. Instead, I found a local canvas repair shop who replaced the zipper for a much better zipper for a very reasonable cost, and three years later I am still using the tent, which other than the zipper was well made.

 

There are a number of sources on the internet that discuss cleaning mildew from tents. While they may not be perfect methods, they might work well enough to save the tent.

 

I have tents that I have used regularly for about 20 years that while they are showing age and wear and tear, they are still serviceable. Like anything, they require care and maintenance. They can be cleaned (follow the instructions) at least to some degree, can be repaired, and can be treated to repell rain. Problem is that many tents are made of material that is not designed for rough use - instead they are designed to be light-weight and easy to carry and store.

 

As others have mentioned here, tents MUST be dry before they are stored. I actually hang mine from a clothes line after use to make sure the whole thing, including the ground tarp is dry before storage.

 

Tents should be set up and checked before use, and after use to check for moisture, damange, etc. They should be dried and repaired promptly.

 

 

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Sorry to hear you all had less than perfect experiences with Eureka. I have a 2-man Eureka tent that is 20 years old. My wife and I honeymooned in it. Twice in the last 6 months I had occasion to contact Eureka. First, I lost the nylon plastic tube that the connects the poles. Inquiring about the cost of a replacement, they sent me one FREE. Some weeks later the zipper deteriorated to the point where it would not zip properly. They sent a repair kit FREE.

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By no means am I dissing Eureka. They have always been very cooperative in the past. I have also had them send free parts to me when I called to purchase s-hooks and clips. Some of our Eurekas are approaching 20 years old and have stood up extremely well. I think we will give Dan's idea a try and wash them in a commercial washer. What have we got to lose? Any further suggestions? Thanks!

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I saw a cleanser recently that said it would take the mildew smell out of anything, including rain repellent gear such as tents. I don't remember the name of it, only that I wish that I had it three years ago. When we (re-)started our troop, the SM of the old T153 gave us a bunch of gear he had kept out in his barn. It included six or eight Eureka Timberlines. Physically they were in good shape. Odor-wise, there was not many words in the English language to describe them. The stench was beyond anything I could imagine. I aired out a couple of them, washed them with soap and a hose, aired them out some more, sprayed them with Lysol, aired them out some more.... two months later, the smell was no better. Unfortunately, after a few more months of trying, I ended up ditching the tents.

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Eagle 90,

 

Yes you can wash them and maybe even get the smell out...but how much pain and time are you willing to endure?

 

the commercial washing machine might work if it has a gentle cycle...otherwise

 

take your tents...one at a time and place in large rubber maid 44 gallon Brute trash can...fill half-full with water add cup of gentle detergent like woolite and aggitate (a new tiolet plunger with a mop handle works well)...about an hours worth of "churning" gently - empty and rinse two times with clear water...with gentle "churning" of about a half hour each....on second rinse add qtr. cup of bleach...to the water "churn" for only twenty minutes. empty water and add new clear water and a box of arm and hammer baking soda....churn well for half an hour and rinse well...dry completely...

 

smell should be tolerable...and mildrew gone...however color may be changed somewhat and the waterproofing will have to be redone...you can use several of the newer "recoating" urethane products on the market (they usually require you to coat the Outside of the tent rather than the inside of the fabric as the manufacturer did originally. Recoat twice...This will also impact the color somewhat... We have three tents that are still servicible that we did this to several years ago before our troop got its feet back on the ground...but it is a lot of work...and still a risk...vs @ $150.00 per tent outlay...value judgement time....

 

on the "vomit' tent you might try soaking (with some "mixing"/churning time -canoe paddle?)for 24 hours in a can full of water with a couple of boxes of Arm & Hammer...cheap test...and if you are careful the water proofing may "hold" (I would reseal the seams though!

 

I would check your equipment handling methodology...is your QM really checking the tents when they come back?

 

Do you keep a "paper trail" of who used the tent last...

 

When the boys and PARENTS understand that they have a responcibility to return the equipment in good and dry condition and that you have a "list" of the users of each tent at each event and which boys take them home for drying...(boy does that get a boy's attention...as well as a parent's- {and the troop's}...when you ask for the replacement of a damaged tent).

 

be interested in hearing what you finally do....

Anarchist

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When my son's tent-mate vomited in our 20 year old Eureka Timberline tent, I didn't even consider washing it. (my husband and I had honeymooned in that tent, just like FScouter) At that same camp-out, a wind storm bent one of the poles at a 90 degree angle, and one other pole had been slightly bent for years. I didn't know Eureka was so good about replacing parts, and I did not want to try cleaning it, so we threw the tent away. My son hasn't wanted to buddy up with another scout ever since then! His new tent is a 2- man tent (the other was a 4 man), but it's more comfortable for just one person, so he tells the other boys there isn't enough room to share.

 

I also like the advice to set up your tent before a campout, to make sure every thing is okay. One time my family borrowed a large tent from my parents, and we discovered at the camp site that the rain fly was missing! It was a hot summer night, with no chance of rain, so we were okay, but it could have been a disaster!

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I get a product through my shop that we use inside cars when they get wet and sour. It is put out by Marco. It is an enzyme digester. The hospitals use it for odor control. We had a sleeping bag that got left out of the trampoline that a cat used as a litter box. The smell wouldn't wash out. I finally sealed it in a bad and sprayed this stuff all in there. No more smell.

We started using it about 20 years ago whem a customers car was in a flood. The insurance sent it out and had the entire interior cleaned. But when it would get hot the smell was still there

It took about 4 treatments. We would sit the car in the sun. Spray the carpent until they looked white, roll the windows up and let it sit. We did this 4 days in a row. The customer still has the car and no smell.

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