The simple answer to the question: “Can you put a tent in the dryer?” is no, you can’t. While it may be tempting to dry your tent in the dryer to speed the whole process up, what you save in time will cost you in the long run.
So now that you know that you can’t dry a tent in the dryer, let’s take a look at how you can properly dry your tent without damaging it.
Why You Can’t You Put a Tent in the Dryer?
It’s important to ensure that all of your gear is dry before you put it into storage as wet gear can grow mold and be ruined if not properly cared for. Especially if you live in a small space and don’t have the time to air dry your larger pieces of gear, like a tent, you may wonder if you can put them in the dryer. Unfortunately, putting certain pieces of gear, like a tent, in the dryer (or a washing machine, for that matter) is a surefire way to ruin your gear.
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Instead of putting your tent in the dryer, you’ll have to look to other methods to ensure that your tent is free of moisture before storing it for extended periods of time. Coming up, we’ll discuss different ways to dry your tent and the pros and cons of each method.
The Best Way to Dry a Tent After Camping
Hands down, the best way to dry a tent after camping is to hang dry it on a clothesline outside on a warm, sunny day with a light wind. When a tent is dried in this manner, the potential for damage is minimal.
If a clothesline is not available, draping the tent over a fence is another good option. Pitching the tent in a sunny place is another good way to dry it quickly while also checking it for damage, but this method makes it difficult, if not impossible, to dry the base of the tent.
On the other hand, putting a tent in a dryer can easily damage the waterproof coating or the fabric itself. Especially with tent bodies, which are often made from mesh, a dryer can easily rip the fabric and cause serious damage.
In fact, I go into much more detail on how to dry a tent (even indoors) in my article, here.
How Long Does it Take a Tent to Air Dry
The length of time that it takes a tent to dry is all dependent upon the conditions the tent is dried in and how wet the tent was to begin with. A warm, sunny day, with low humidity, and a light wind will cause a tent to dry fairly quickly, even if it’s soaking wet. In such ideal conditions, a damp tent could dry within 30-45 minutes.
That being said, tents will take longer to dry if it’s cold or particularly humid outside. In these conditions, you can expect the tent to take hours, if not days to dry. Beware, though, if it is too cold outside, you may risk freezing your wet tent or if it’s very humid out, you might make your tent damper than it was when it started!
Can You Dry a Tent Indoors
If you live somewhere with particularly poor weather or you’re expecting a storm while drying your tent, you might want to consider drying it inside. This can be a bit tricky if you live in a small space as you’ll need to find somewhere to hang your tent, like a makeshift clothesline in a garage. If all else fails, a shower rod can be a great place to dry a tent, especially if it’s actively dripping water, since a bathroom is already designed to handle moisture.
Once you find a suitable place to hang your tent indoors, the next step is to create the ideal conditions for it to dry. Sure, you can just hang your tent up in the bathroom and wait, but it could take a while and you might want to use your shower eventually.
Since warm, slightly windy conditions with low humidity are ideal for drying tents, you’ll want to recreate these conditions to the best of your ability inside your home. A great way to do this is to get a small space heater and a fan.
If you plug them both in and align them with the tent (being sure to keep the heat far enough from the tent to avoid damaging it), you will have created the heat and wind necessary for drying. If you’re drying your tent in your bathroom, we also recommend closing the door and leaving the exhaust fan on to help lower the humidity in the room.
The Quickest Way to Dry a Tent
As we’ve discussed, the quickest way to dry a tent is to hang it up outside in warm, sunny, low humidity conditions with a slight wind. While these are the best conditions for drying a tent, in the absence of such pleasant weather, drying a tent in a warm, well-ventilated room, with a fan blowing a light breeze is another surefire way to dry a tent.
How Dry Does a Tent Need to be
In the world of tent care, this is the million-dollar question. Although it might be tempting to pack away a tent as soon as its starting to feel dry, even slightly damp conditions can ruin a tent. If a tent is slightly wet, mildew will quickly form and cause a horrible smell in your tent.
A bad smell is the least of your worries, though if you pack away your tent when it’s still wet. The mold that can form on a wet tent can easily destroy its waterproof coating, weaken the fabric, and cause it to leak or tear. Even though there are products on the market that claim to reduce the effects of mildew, there’s nothing that can completely fix a fabric damaged by mildew.
Thus, before packing your tent away, you must ensure that your tent is bone dry. If you’re not quite sure that your tent is completely dry, leave it out to dry for a while longer. It’s better to spend some extra time drying your tent than risk the damage that will occur if you pack away your tent when it’s still wet.
Simply put, putting a tent in the dryer is a surefire way to destroy it, so you’re better off hanging your tent up to dry outside on a nice, warm, sunny day. If you can’t find a place to hang up your tent outside a garage or bathroom in your home can also be a good makeshift drying area for your tent.
Remember that if you take care of your tent, it will take care of you for many years to come!