A Simple Guide to Spring Cleaning Your Camping Gear

camping gear

Every experienced camper knows that one of the most important things to do after a trip is to clean all the gear you used thoroughly. Whether you’ve just come home from a daylong hike or a weeklong camping trip, you shouldn’t just leave your dirty camping gear because you want to get some much-needed rest.

The Importance of Cleaning Camping Gear

Even if you didn’t run into rain or mud during your trip, you still need to clean every bit of camping gear you use. Simply laying a backpack on the ground for several minutes means all sorts of dirt and harmful organisms are on it. You can’t just take the bag back into your home and store it at the foot of your closet. All the bacteria and tiny organisms will continue to grow in the right conditions. They will likely make any space smell, and potentially destroy the fabric of the bag. Besides your backpack, other camping gear are also at risk of facing similar, if not more severe, forms of damage.

Read on for a simple guide to spring cleaning all your outdoor gear.

Tents and Sleeping Bags

Even if it was perfectly sunny throughout your camping trip, you still need to clean off your tents and sleeping bags before you stuff them in their storage bags and leave them in your garage or basement.

When you get home, lay out your tents and sleeping bags and do your best to wash off all the debris with soap and water. Use a soft brush to remove any stubborn spots. If you spent several nights in your sleeping bag, make sure to clean out spaces your body touched. Sweat and oil from your body can collect in those areas and damage the fabric if they aren’t cleaned out.

Leaving even a small bit of moisture is an invitation for mold and mildew to grow. Once they start growing in your gear, they will be very difficult to remove completely. After cleaning your tents and sleeping bags, remember to dry them off thoroughly before folding them back up for storage.


If you leave dirt and mud caked on your camping footwear, they can cause severe damage to the fabric and stitching. To ensure that all your shoes and sandals last as long as possible, scrub out all the gathered debris from the surface. You can just use simple soap and water or opt for a special shoe cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.

Scrub the outsoles and the interior parts of the shoes, too. Dry them out in a cool place with low humidity. Don’t store your outdoor footwear in extreme temperatures. Before you go back out for a trip, closely examine them and take them out for a walk to ensure they’re still in good shape.

Bags and Backpacks

Your camping bag likely goes through the wringer every time you bring it out for the trip; after all, it carries so much sweat and dirt from beginning to end. If you’re tempted just to throw your bag into the washing machine, don’t do it. The agitation in the machine will damage the fabric and twist up the straps.

Instead, empty your bag and vacuum out all the remaining debris. Wipe down the entire bag using a sponge or cloth soaked in warm water and a mild detergent. Make sure the entire bag is dry before putting it back in storage.


A simple trek through the mountains on a hot summer day is a fun activity for every outdoors person. The trip doesn’t end after you make your way back home because one of the most important parts of any outdoor trip is the cleanup. Use this guide to ensure that all your camping gear is thoroughly clean before storing them.

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