Camping gear is designed for durability, and while you can use, abuse and batter it all around, you’ll still have to clean it as often as possible. Every maintenance session extends your mileage with the item, and you’ll want to squeeze every last ounce of usability out of each tool in your camping arsenal. The utilitarian approach takes center stage. Still, you should know that learning how to clean your camping gear is not as simple as it might seem.
The smell problem
Of course, durability is just one aspect of well-kept camping gear you’ll have to worry about. If you’ve ever packed, for example, your tent or your outdoor sleeping bag immediately after the camping trip without giving it a second thought, you were probably hit with a terrible cocktail of odors once you’ve unpacked it next time. You’ll simply have to clean camping gear regularly to avoid a pile-up of stench that usually originates from slowly developing mold.
Shake off the debris first
Therefore, it would be prudent if you began your cleaning routine by taking care of sleeping bags. First, you need to take care of the accrued debris. Your tent was especially pummeled by the elements, and there’s a good chance that wet dirt and slowly-rotting leaves are stuck in nooks and crannies. Turn all of it inside out, shake it, and ensure that the debris is out of the picture before you proceed with the following stage.
The matter of cleaning
Make sure that you’ve read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully so you’ll know what the best method is to wash the sleeping bag. You’ll also require quite a large space to dry it off – not to mention that you’ll have the same issue with something as bulky as a tent.
This is where backyards come in useful or, at the very least, a terrace. However, if you live in an apartment, you can always turn it in with professional dry cleaners and submit instructions on what they shouldn’t do when washing your camping materials (though they probably already have experience with similar equipment).
Tools and accessories
An inventory list of your existing gear is a lifesaver. This is something that you need to update every time before your camping trip because it happens now and then that people simply lose trinkets and small moving parts along the way. Before the cleaning session of tools begins, you should go through the checklist and see if you need to replace or purchase some of the tools.
Beyond that, it comes down to two types of cleaning. First, there are items you can (and should wash) under a steady stream of water. Metallic tools can be particularly tricky to take care of because there is a danger of rust settling in. Unless you are positive they are made from stainless steel, you will have to dry-clean them.
This means that you’ll first have to use a mildly moist rag soaked in a specific type of oil solution to clean your gear from dirt. They are typically easy to clean if you use an average toothbrush and/or soft bristle brush as well. You can find such solutions with pretty much every retailer that sells cleaning products for camping equipment. Just ask at the counter.
The boots (and pants)
Now, when it comes to boots and pants (or a camping outfit, if you own one) it’s fairly straightforward. Most of it goes into the washing machine, but boots can be a bit trickier.
First, you have to smack them together to get rid of the mud. Then you remove the laces and burrs, everything made out of some sort of fabric, and throw it in with the rest of the clothes into the washing machine. Then you should wash the shoes by hand, give them a good spray and scrub them from the inside with little soap and water before letting them air dry.
If you are an avid camper, the most important thing is to adopt that good old philosophy: if you can accomplish it today, don’t put off until tomorrow. Wash and clean your camping gear as soon as you get home, and leave it somewhere to breathe before neatly packing it up. By committing yourself to such practices, you will increase the durability of your gear for the indefinite amount of time!