Get A Head Start On Summer Camping By Grooming & Washing Your Sleeping Kit, Tent, Camp Kitchen and Your Camping Footwear

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Summer is almost here, and you know what that means? It’s time to get prepared for your next summer camping trip. While the whole preparation experience might seem daunting, it is a simple process that is not energy-consuming.

Whichever way you look at it, preparing for a summer camping trip involves sprucing up your camping footwear, kitchenware, and sleeping kit. Depending on your schedule, you can do this from 4 weeks to 1 week prior to your summer camping trip. 

In this article, we are going to give you tips on how to clean your camping gear prior to your summer camping trip. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Cleaning Your Tent

It’s very normal to end up with a dirty tent after camping since it picks up all kinds of grime, plant mutter, and mud in just a few days. However, if it gets too grimy, you might notice some nasty stains on the surface, a faulty zipper, and a funky odor. 

Proper maintenance and cleaning your tent regularly increases its lifespan. While dirty tents attract animals easily due to some certain smells, a clean tent will keep you safe from such animals.

To be on the safe side, you need to clean your tent regularly. Here are some of the essentials you will need to clean your tent:

  • Clean water (cold or lukewarm)
  • Dish soap
  • Cleaning cloth or a non-abrasive sponge
  • A cleaner that is specifically designed for camping gear. The most preferred in this situation is Nikwax Tech Wash.
  • A large container that can hold ample water (tub or basin)

Now, let’s go through all the steps of cleaning a tent from scratch.

  1. Spot clean your tent– using a small amount of dish soap, spot clean the dirtiest stains on the tent’s surface.
  2. Prepare your basin or tub- fill your tub/basin with clean water and add the formulated cleaner designed for outdoor gear. 
  3. Prepare your camp tent for cleaning- unzip your tent, then turn it inside-out. It’s more effective to clean it when’s it in an inside out position.
  4. Soak your tent- submerge your tent and its rainfly in water, and let it soak for a while as described by the instructions on the formulated cleaner.    
  5. Clean your tent – wash your tent manually using your hands and concentrate on the spots that have the dirtiest stains. Once are the stains are washed away, drain the water in your tub/basin and refill it with clean water. Rinse the tent thoroughly to get rid of the soap on the tent’s surface.

If your tent had developed mold or a foul odor, use an enzyme cleaner when washing it. An example of such a cleaner is Gear Aid Revivex Odor Eliminator. Follow the instructions as described on the enzyme cleaner’s container, especially the soaking instructions. Soaking your tent for a long period can bring about hydrolysis— chemical breakdown of polyurethane material on your tent through water.

Let it dry 

Place your tent in a nicely shaded area and give it some time to dry off completely. This might take 24-72 hours, depending on your location. Do regular check-ups every 6 hours to track the drying progress. Once it is 100 percent dry, reproof it using a UV protectant such as Nikwax UV Protection.

Sleeping Kit    

Whether your sleeping bag is filled with synthetic fiber or down, dirt and body oils can affect its loft and insulation. While a dirty sleeping bag can give you a rough and long night, a well-maintained sleeping bag helps you enjoy a comfortable sleep. To make sure that your sleeping bag works effectively, it’s advisable to clean it regularly. If you are a novice camper, you should be doing full washes annually. You can maintain the cleanliness through spot treatments. 

On the other hand, regular camping requires you to do frequent full washes. Based on your preference, you can either choose to hand wash your sleeping bag or use a washing machine.

Hand Washing A sleeping Bag

This is the most suitable method for cleaning down sleeping bags. You will need the following essentials to hand wash a down sleeping bag:

Follow these simple steps to hand wash a sleeping bag.

  1. Prepare the tub/washbasin– half-fill your tub with warm water and add the detergent. Don’t use too much detergent because it will give you a hard time when rising the sleeping bag.
  2. Prepare your sleeping bag for cleaning- zip your sleeping bag, then turn it inside out. This gets rid of any debris that might have been trapped in the bag.
  3. Immerse your sleeping bag in the tub/washbasin– submerge your sleeping bag in the tub. Let it sit there for about 20-30 minutes as water to seeps into its fluffiness.
  4. Wash your sleeping bag manually– focus your attention on the most stained spots on your sleeping bag. Using your hands, wash those spots first before moving to other parts of the sleeping bag, then leave it to soak for an hour.   
  5.  Rinse the sleeping bag– drain your tub and gently squeeze out water from your sleeping bag by folding it. Be careful not to rip it since it can be very heavy when it is wet. Re-fill the tub with warm, clean water until your sleeping bag is completely submerged. Squeeze it again to get rid of all the soapy water. Repeat the process until it discharges clean water when you squeeze it. 
  6. Drying your sleeping bag– you can either hang your sleeping bag or dry it using a dryer. If you opt for the latter, make sure the heat is maintained at the lowest setting. You should also check the dryer after every 20 minutes.

Machine Washing

If you prefer machine washing, read the instructions on the manufacturer’s care label first. They will give you some insight on how to wash it. Visit the manufacture’s website for guidelines if the sleeping bag doesn’t have a care label/tag.

You will need the following equipment & products to wash it:

  • Front-loading washing machine (traditional washing machines have agitators that can ruin your sleeping bag insulation)
  • Special detergent. If you are washing a down sleeping bag, opt for Gear Aid Revivex Down Cleaner. Use Nikwax tech wash for a synthetic sleeping bag.
  • Tennis balls.   

Once you have those essentials, follow these steps to wash your sleeping bag.

  1. Use lukewarm water and a gentle cycle to wash your sleeping bag. 
  2. Toss in some tennis balls to break the detergent’s clumps. 
  3. Rinse the sleeping bag by running it through a second rinse cycle to get rid of all the soapy water.
  4. Take the sleeping bag out of the washing machine by holding both ends— this prevents the seams from ripping apart.
  5. Put the sleeping bag in a dryer with a low heat setting and keep an eye on it as it dries off. 

Spot Cleaning

Unlike your bedsheets, most sleeping bags are made of materials that can withstand a little bit of dirt. This means you can use your sleeping bag for some seasons without completely washing it. However, you need to spot clean it from time to time. 

These steps below will guide you through the spot cleaning process:

  • Apply a small amount of detergent—Granger’s Outdoor gear cleaner—on the spot you want to clean.
  • Using a brush with soft bristles, clean those spots gently.
  • Rinse the spots using a sponge.

Sleeping pad

Your sleeping pad is one of the most crucial camp accessories that saves your back from nasty aches and injuries, which can develop from sleeping on a hard ground. Maintaining it isn’t as cumbersome as it seems. While a foam-only pad requires you to follow a few storage precautions, an air-pad requires you to be keen when storing it.

Before you store your sleeping pad, clean it first. Use alcohol wipes to rub off any pine sap stuck on its surface. If it goes unwiped, it can glom onto dirt particles and grit. You can also use a wet sponge or a soft brush to clean its surface. Make sure that the valve is closed on self-inflating pads, and the outer surface is free of any hole that can seep water to the interior surface. Punctures can be sealed using Tenacious Tape Flex Patches or Gear Aid Seam Grip WP Repair Kit.

Let your sleeping pad dry in a place that doesn’t have direct UV rays because they can damage it. Once it’s completely dry, store it in an area with low humidity levels and optimal temperature (hung it a closet). Avoid storing it damp basements, car trunk, or any other place that might have high temperatures and high humidity levels.   

Hiking Gear

Your Boots 

While your hiking boots are designed to help you navigate gritty and muddy trails, it is not advisable to stash them in your closet/shoe-rack without cleaning them. If you store your hiking boots without cleaning them, mud will dry-out the leather surface, making it more pliable. Not to mention, dampness makes them develop a funky odor.

hiking-boots

hiking boots

Grit and sand particles can also penetrate to deeper parts of your hiking boots, leaving them more vulnerable to wear and tear.

Cleaning your boots will help you enjoy many years of hiking without needing to replace them. The following essentials will help you to clean your boots:

To clean your boots, follow these steps:

  1. Shake off large chunks of mud or any debris stuck on the outer sole.
  2. Remove the laces and the insole.
  3. Using a brush, rub off dirt particles from the surface of the boots.
  4. Wet the boot’s surface slightly and apply some cleaning gel.
  5. Scrub the surface gently.
  6. Use a brush with hard bristles to clean the outsole. This restores its traction. 
  7. Rinse your boots with clean water.

Since new hiking boots come from the factory treated with a durable water-repellent finish, it’s normal for the finish to wear off after hiking for a while. If water doesn’t form small beads that roll off your boots’ surface, it’s time to treat your boots with waterproof wax. 

ApplyNikwax Waterproofing Wax after soaking your boots to restore the waterproof finish (make sure that water has completely seeped through the boots’ thickness before applying).

Use a conditioner to rejuvenate your boots’ cracked leather. Be careful not to use too much conditioner because it might soften the leather, reducing its functionality.  

Dry your boots in an open area with optimal humidity levels and normal temperatures. You can use a fan to speed up the drying process. A newspaper also comes in handy— stuff it in your boots and change it when it gets damp.

Hiking Backpack

Body oils and sweat can easily seep through your backpack material, leaving it dirty. Your camp kitchenware can also make it more greasy. Failing to wash your backpack might degrade its fabric and material— zips will stop working smoothly, and it can attract animals through its funky odor. 

You can either light clean or deep clean your backpack. Here are some of the things you will need to clean it:

  • Soap— a fragrance-free soap that is free of any hazardous additives. Such an example is Castile soap.
  • Washcloth or sponge
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Tub or a large basin

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when cleaning your backpack. While some advise you to immerse your backpack in a tub, some are against it. So, be keen when washing your backpack.

Deep cleaning A Backpack

  1. Empty your backpack pockets. Vacuum the pockets and crevices to remove any crumbs or dust particles stuck in there. 
  2. If your backpack has removable straps and a removable hip belt, clean them separately using a soft sponge and some soap. Rinse those parts to get rid of soapy water.
  3. Fill your basin/tub with lukewarm water, then add some soap. Immerse your backpack and wash it gently using a soft-bristled brush. Scrub spots with the dirtiest stains until they become clean.
  4. Drain the tub/basin, then refill it with clean water (lukewarm or cold). Rinse your backpack to get rid of all the soap. You can repeat this process again to make sure there is no soap residue. 

Light Cleaning Your BackPack      

If your backpack is not too dirty, you can clean it lightly through the following steps:

  1. Empty your backpack’s pockets and shake off any dust particles or crumbs.
  2. Using a wet sponge and some soap, wipe off its exterior surface.
  3. Wipe off any particles stuck on your zipper with a sponge.
  4. Scrub nasty stains using a soft-bristled brush.
  5. Rinse it with clean water. Dip your sponge in water, then wipe the soap off.
  6. Hang it in a nicely shaded place that doesn’t have direct UV rays

Camp Kitchen

A lot of grease can build up on your camping stove, affecting its performance. Plus, using a dirty camp stove can put your health at risk. Cleaning it thoroughly at least once a year will save you from such troubles and improve its performance. You will be able to enjoy good fuel efficiency and better flame control.

To clean a stove, you should have the following items:

  • A dish soap like Dawn dish soap
  • Wire brush
  • Lukewarm water
  • Scouring pad
  • A garden hose (any hose that emits water at high pressure is suitable too)
  • Paper clip 

Once you equip yourself with those items, follow these steps:

  1. Disconnect your stove’s hose from the regulator.
  2. Detach knobs for the front part of the burner.
  3. To get a clear opening to the burners stems, you have to open up your stove’s air damper. 
  4. Using a garden hose and a brush, clean out any debris—dirt particles and spider web—that is stuck in the burner stem.
  5. Reattach the knobs on the burner.
  6. Clean the stove’s surface using a wet scouring pad and dish soap.
  7. Scrub the burners using a wire brush to remove any food debris.
  8. Unclog the burners gas portholes using a paperclip.
  9. Rinse your stove with clean water from the hose.
  10. Let your stove dry for one hour.

Personal Hygiene Essentials To Carry To Your Next summer Camping Trip    

Spending long hours under the sun can make your body sweaty, however, maintaining your personal hygiene at your campsite can be very easy if you have the right essentials. Make sure you are equipped with the following items the next time you go camping, they will help you clean up after spending time on long sunny days. 

Hand Sanitizers  

Climbing rocks on a hiking trip can leave your hands dirty and covered with germs. While water can be used to wash dirt particles from your hand, hand sanitizers get rid of almost 100% of the germs that may pose a risk to your health. Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Singles can be carried easily in your pocket or your backpack. Sanitize before you eat or cook meals.

Wipes

Finding the perfect place to take a shower while camping can be cumbersome. Wipes can help you freshen up and get rid of sweat, grime, and dirt that can accumulate in your body. All you have to do is remove the wipes and rub off all the sweat, dirt, and grime from your body. You can use Venture wipes to disinfect your skin. 

Mouthwash 

If you are not planning to carry a toothbrush and some toothpaste on your next summer camping trip, consider getting a mouthwash. Go for something small, which is easier to carry around.

Mild Biodegradable Soap

Unlike the normal soapy water which drains to the sewer, soapy water in the woods can affect plants. A biodegradable soap decomposes back to its natural form, preventing pollution. Such an example is Castile soap. You can use it to wash your hands, face, and hair.

Final Thoughts       

And there you go, everything you need to know about sprucing up for the next summer camping trip. 

Clean up your camping gear and store it safely in a place that is free of dirt particles. Make sure that the temperatures and humidity levels are maintained at an optimum state that is suitable for your gear.

Prepare a checklist of essentials you’ll need in your next trip and get the essentials before time runs out. You should also pack your camping equipment early to avoid forgetting some things behind. Research more about your campsite just to make sure you have the necessary equipment. 

With all that, you will be ready for your next camping trip.

If you have any questions/thoughts you would like to share, let us know in the comments below.


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