How to Store a Tent: 4 Simple Steps

Effective way on how to store a tent

Properly storing a tent after a camping trip is crucial for preserving its longevity and ensuring optimal performance in future adventures. As we carefully set up our temporary home in the great outdoors, taking care of packing it away is equally important.

By following a few straightforward steps, you can preserve the integrity of your tent and guarantee it remains a reliable shelter for many journeys to come.

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of cleaning, drying, folding, and storing your tent, and provide you with the knowledge and confidence to maintain this essential piece of camping equipment.

What Happened If I Store My Tent Incorrectly?

If you store your tent in poor conditions, you must expect these unpleasant consequences:

  • Mold grows on your tent. This can endanger your health if you sleep in the tent afterward.
  • Mold stains and discoloration on the tent look really nasty.
  • Hydrolysis irreparably destroys the water-repellent coating of your tent.
  • Your tent develops an unpleasant odor. You think you’re camping next to a garbage dump.

4 Steps to Store a Tent After Camping

To avoid bearing damage to your tent, just take the following important steps to heart:

  1. Roughly clean the dirt of your tent
  2. Completely dry your tent
  3. Wrap the tent loose and airy
  4. Store your tent in a cool and dry place

Step 1: Roughly Clean the Dirt of Your Tent

You came back from your camping tour with a dirty tent, right?

First of all, take a little time to clean your tent properly. This will increase the lifespan of your tent. Especially when it has been exposed to aggressive substances such as sea salt, fine sand or bird droppings, they slowly damage the coating of the tent fabric on a microscopic level. Organic substances such as leftover food, tree sap, and leaves should also be removed carefully.

Clean the dirt selectively with lukewarm water and a mild detergent. If you want to renew the UV protection of your tent at the same time, take Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarWash. You can get tree sap with rubbing alcohol. Then your tent is rinsed off with plenty of water.

Step 2: Dry Your Tent Completely

Make sure your tent is dry before packing it away. A damp-packed tent can mold very quickly and develop really unpleasant smells. In addition, moisture will damage the water-repellent polyurethane coating of the tents over time. This process is called hydrolysis. The coating becomes porous at first and then flakes off. The tent is then no longer waterproof.

To prevent this, pitch your tent outside in the sun for a few hours in good weather. Or dry it on a clothesline in bad weather. Make sure the guy ropes and tent pegs are dry too.

Step 3: Pack Your Tent Loosely and Airy

Have you roughly cleaned your tent and dried it thoroughly? Now you can wrap it up for storage.

Make the tent fabric loose

The pannier that came with your tent is great for transport. However, there are better options for long-term storage. Because the tent fabric wants to be able to relax and breathe.

A cotton sack in the right size or an old pillowcase offers your tent a comfortable place. Residual moisture can escape through the breathable cover, so your tent is safe from dust at the same time.

You can fold your tent up neatly or just stuff it in your bag. Loose stuffing is even advantageous: the tent fabric is folded in different places with each packing process. This prevents material fatigue.

  • Helpful: Choose a cotton sack that is a good deal larger than the original pannier. Then you can get the tent in more easily.

Reduce the tension on the tent poles

You can increase the life of the elastic bands in your tent poles by storing the poles together. The more segments are plugged into one another, the lower the tension on the rubber.

Do you have little space and prefer to fold the bars? Then start in the middle of the bar. This creates two parts. You fold this in the middle again. And where on? This will distribute the tension evenly on the rubber band.

Use packets with silica gel

Do you know those little, white parcels that say “Please throw away? Do not consume.” Stands? They are often included in product packaging and contain desiccant silicon dioxide, also known as silica gel. You don’t have to throw it away. Keep them and put them in your tent. There they absorb the humidity, protect against mold, and protect your tent from taking on the musty smell of the storage location.

Distribute a generous number of small bags in the packsack of your tent. Incidentally, the desiccant can be reused. You can regenerate the parcels in the oven at 60 – 80 degrees.

Pack poles and pegs separately

Sharp edges and corners on poles or pegs can damage your tent fabric relatively easily. Pack poles and pegs separately from the tent so that you don’t have more holes than you want in the tent on your next camping tour.

It is precisely for this purpose that there are pole bags in which you can also comfortably transport your tent accessories to the campsite. Emily and I stow our tent poles in such a bag. That’s why we’ve already gone camping without our poles …

  • Helpful: Store tent, pegs, and poles on the same shelf. Or attach a sign to your tent bag reminding you of your poles and pegs.

Protect metal parts from rust

Tent pegs, steel rods, zip slides and the metal sleeves on your fiberglass rods can rust a little if stored for a long time. This especially happens when the tent is stored in a shed or garage. The rust makes it difficult for you to stick the ends of the tent poles together. The sleeve then no longer slides completely onto the rod. This is a common reason for the bars to break under stress.

We therefore occasionally spray our metal parts with a silicone care spray. This protects against rust – poles are easier to put together and zippers slide as well as on the first day.

Salt and sea air accelerate the formation of rust. Also on your tent.

Step 4: Store Your Tent in a Cool and Dry Place

The right place to store your tent is cool, dry, and free from bugs. In addition, there are a few other properties to look out for.

Keep your tent cool

Try to find a cool place for your tent. The ideal temperature is between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius. So don’t keep the tent in hot places like the attic, the trunk of your car, or next to a radiator. Also avoid cold rooms such as the garden shed, where it can freeze. Good storage places are a closet in your living room, under your bed, or a heated cellar.

Take care of bugs and mice

Mice like to eat tents. That’s no joke. I assume that the furry robbers find the smell of the tents, mostly food that was stored at some point attractive. Therefore, looking for a storage room with more than two legs is not allowed.

If you store your tent badly, sometimes a small colony of beetles nestles in the cozy, safety-promising tent fabric during the winter. That is the reason why we never put our tents loosely on a shelf, but always store them in a tent bag. The bag is a great protection against bugs, cobwebs, fly droppings and dust.

Keep your tent dry

Places like a damp basement, a barn, or even a carport are not good for your mobile accommodation. If you want to store the tent properly, the humidity should be below 55%. The reason is mold spores begin to germinate when the air humidity is high.

Living rooms, heated cellars, and garages with access to the house are usually dry enough.

  • Helpful: Monitor the humidity in the basement with a small hygrometer. If necessary, you can help yourself and use a dehumidifier to make the air in your storage room drier.

Your tent loves the dark

More precisely, your tent doesn’t like the sun because it hates UV radiation. The ultraviolet radiation bleaches the tent fabric and makes it brittle over time. That can happen after a few weeks. Therefore, never leave your tent outdoors for long periods where the sun’s rays can reach it. Even a window pane does not offer complete protection against UV-A rays.

UV radiation can even dismantle the tent bag in the long run. Therefore, choose a storage location that cannot be reached by the sun.

Keep the tent away from petrol cans, garlic and garbage cans

Have you ever smelled your jacket after an evening around the campfire? It smells like smoke. Fabrics take on odors. Your tent does that too. If you store it for weeks next to a petrol lawn mower, next to cleaning products, groceries, scented candles or even a garbage can, you take these smells with you to the campsite.

For the first few nights, you will sleep in a gas station, on a lemon plantation, on a bed of rose petals, on a huge garlic bulb, or on a garbage dump. Keep this in mind when choosing your storage location.

Conclusion: The most important is …

Dryness! If you dry your tent thoroughly before storing it and the humidity of the storage room is below 55%, you have made it a lot harder for mold, stains, and bad smells to damage your tent. The ideal storage temperature for your tent is between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius so that you can protect your tent from UV radiation and pack your tent poles properly.

With these tips and hacks on how to store a tent, your tent will live significantly longer. It will accompany you on your beautiful camping tours for many years!


Here are some frequently asked questions about tent storage:

You store tents made of cotton, polyester and nylon alike. However, cotton tents are even more sensitive to moisture than tents made of synthetic fibers. This is why you need to dry cotton tents thoroughly before storing them so that no mold forms. Cotton tents must always be stored in a breathable bag so that residual moisture can escape.

If you have the space, you need: Sure! Exhibition tents at the dealers stand around for many years, it doesn’t hurt them.

Note: Your tent must be protected from UV rays, moisture, dust and vermin. Also keep in mind that you have to dismantle and pack the tent again before your next camping trip – so the sense of storing the tent when it is set up is questionable.

With good storage conditions, a tent will last for many years. I have seen tents that were more than 30 years old and still stood “like one” in the autumn storm. In order for your tent to grow old, the humidity during storage is an important factor. When the humidity is high, the PU coating, which provides water protection on many tents, becomes perforated at some point.

I have already experienced that myself. This can be dirt that was packed with the tent when it was stored. It is also possible that the tent has been kept damp or in a very hot place. Then the sticky spots are damaged by the water-repellent coating of the tent wall.

In any case, you should now wash the tent thoroughly. If there are any sticky spots left, you can rub them with a little talcum powder so that they no longer stick. I keep my fingers crossed that your tent is still waterproof!

Should I wash my tent after every camping trip?

It’s not necessary to wash your tent after every trip, but if it’s visibly dirty or has encountered harsh conditions, a gentle cleaning is advisable. However, always ensure it’s completely dry before storing.

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