Carpa Supply/Florida Tent Supply Commercial Tent Cleaning and Care
All vinyl fabric and frame components developed for our tents require specific attention during assembly, installation, disassembly, cleaning, and storage in order to efficiently maintain the tent system’s maximum life span and safety features inherent in its design. All components of the tent system, including the top, sidewalls, and frame parts, as well as anchoring components, should be periodically inspected for damage and cleanliness to insure longevity and safety. Please follow the following care and maintenance guidelines provided for our product.
Lists of supplies required when cleaning and caring for your tent:
A large clean outdoor tarp or ground cloth, or several smaller clean tarps or ground cloths, to place underneath your tent tops and sidewalls during cleaning. Your tent tops and sidewalls, and specifically, your Clear tent tops and sidewalls, will take a lot of space to properly clean. Therefore, you will need to purchase enough tarps, or several smaller sized tarps, that are large enough to be placed under the tops and sidewalls that are to be cleaned. You will need enough ground space covered with tarps to comfortably lay out your tent tops and sidewalls with extra space around them.
One or two garden hoses with water pressure nozzles attached, to make the rinsing of the cleaning solution process easier (caution: make sure that the water being used for the tent washing is clean and free from rust or tannins).
Several buckets of clean, homemade “tent cleaner.” Mix warm water with sufficient drops of gentle, bleach-free, dish soap and thoroughly mix. Avoid soaps with fragrances. Avoid bleach, vinegar, or other acids.
Softest thistle brushes you can find, soft sponges, or soft clean 100% cotton rags for scrubbing the tent top (without damaging it)
Some large, 100% cotton clean towels
A large blower with, preferably, filtered air to speed up the drying process (Optional)
An industrial vacuum (Optional)
Rubber gloves, so we don’t end up with dishpan hands (Optional)
*******Make sure that selected cleaning site is dust-free, dirt –free, and wind-free
Preliminary Considerations: Commercial tent cleaning is best done by hand washing. Do not put tent tops in washing machines unless supplied by reputable tent-washing machine companies. Don’t use bleach or bleach products, vinegar, or heavy-duty industrial cleaners; they will usually do more harm than good and should be avoided. Also make sure to install the tent away from trees since residue from leaves and falling branches can cause permanent damage to the tent top.
GROUND CLOTHS: The usage of ground covering material under the tent fabric during installation and dismantling will protect the tent fabric from soiling and from minor surface abrasions. Never drag the tent top unprotected or across abrasive services to avoid scuffs, tears or pinholes. This is especially important when placing the top on the tent frame.
Initial Inspection & Pre-Cleaning
Before we can get into cleaning the tent top or sidewall, you first need to lay the tent top or sidewall as flat as possible on top of the clean tarps that have been layed-out under them. Make sure that the area under the tarp(s) is clean of debris that can tear or damage the tent (this should always be done, even when assembling the tent). You need to thoroughly inspect the tent top for dirt or grime, mold and mildew, and any damage the tent top may have before you begin cleaning it. If the tent top has been damaged, you’ll want to repair it before the cleaning process unless the damaged area is extremely dirty and absolutely has to be cleaned first. Realize that the cleaning process itself over a damaged area can further damage the tent top. It is always recommended to carefully clean damaged areas prior to cleaning. If there isn’t any damage, or, if repairs have been completed, then the tent is ready to be cleaned.
Scrubbing the Tent Top Clean
Begin by using a soft thistle brush(es) immersed in cleaning solution to remove any visible accumulation of dirt, grime, mildew, bird droppings, leaf residue, mold, etc. After cleaning the initial, obvious dirty spots of the tent top, complete the cleaning by applying the cleaning solution to the remainder of the top. This is best done by hand or using the soft thistle brush(es). You do not have to dry the top yet since you still need to wet the other side to clean it. However, thoroughly rinse the tent top as described in the rinsing guidelines below prior to turning the top over. After you are finished with the rinsing process explained below, then you can turn the tent top over and clean the other side in the same way. Avoid dragging the tent top. Always use enough people so that the tent top is lifted and not dragged. Inspect the top again for any damage as you did for the other side.
MILDEW TREATMENT: Our vinyl fabric is pretreated with mildew inhibitors that help control (but not prevent) excessive growth and spreading of mildew and fungus. Although treated, proper care should be given to avoid potential growth. If you see mildew, wipe it away immediately with a clean towel and diluted soap solution. Never fold or roll tent covers and/or sidewalls if the fabric is even slightly wet since mildew will grow in moist environments. Your best bet is to keep your fabric clean and dry to prevent mildew growth. If additional mold and/or mildew is observed while cleaning your tent, you will need to also remove it entirely to avoid further spread. Clean it by making a more concentrated soap water cleaning solution. Apply the more concentrated cleaning solution to the affected area and then scrub as hard as you safely can. If this doesn’t work, you may need to purchase some cleaning solution sold in the marketplace and test it on a very small section of the tent to make sure that it is not causing any damage to the vinyl. We would recommend testing a piece of scrap vinyl material before applying any new cleaner to the actual product.
Below are some additional considerations for clear vinyl that should be adhered to:
CLEAR VINYL: The clear vinyl used in window-style sidewalls, clear sidewalls, and clear tent tops needs to be managed differently than standard tent fabric. Polyester scrim is what gives standard tent fabric its strength, stability and durability. Standard white and other color laminated vinyl tent fabric enjoys the benefit of encasing this woven layer of rip-stop polyester, called scrim, between the layers of colored vinyl film. Clear vinyl, however, does not enjoy those benefits. Because of this, clear vinyl has a very low tolerance to ultra-violet ray exposure, wind, airborne particulate matter, hot or cold temperatures, and elasticity due to wind and rain and handling. Any or all of these factors will cause clear fabric to under-perform when compared to traditional tent fabric.
CLEANING: Special attention should be paid to the cleaning of these items. Use only the softest towels when cleaning the clear membrane to avoid scratching the highly polished surface, and wipe dry to avoid water spots (just like with car drying). Use standard diluted tent cleaning solution as described above. DO NOT USE OTHER CHEMICALS. Bleach and vinegar will fade colors, making parts of the tent appear “blotchy,” and it can damage vinyl, too.
STORAGE: Store in a cool, dry area in the storage bags that came with your cover. We also recommend using pallets under the material to allow air circulation and to prevent condensation from forming on the vinyl. Putting away and storing damp or wet clear vinyl can result in a color change and other problems.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS FOR CLEAR VINYL: Exposure to ultra-violet rays for an extended amount of time, as will occur with time over the life of the product, can cause clear vinyl to appear milky or opaque. A steady wind can whip clear vinyl back and forth creating surface abrasions or cracks in the material. Heat in excess of 85°F can cause clear vinyl to change shape, bubble, shrink or stretch. Although our clear vinyl has a cold crack rating of minus -15°F, that rating is for a static environment. Any introduction of wind, or manipulation by handling, can cause failure (cracking like glass) even at nominal temperatures above freezing. Airborne particulate matter can cause surface abrasions causing the finish to become less translucent. Since clear tent covers and sidewalls are highly elastic, they are very susceptible to rainwater ponding. If rain is forecasted during the use of these products it is recommended to take additional precautions with frequent inspections throughout the duration of the rainfall to inspect for potential ponding on the clear vinyl cover. If rainwater ponding occurs at any point on the cover, evacuate the tent, remove the water, and adjust the tie back rope/web pre-stress tension and/ or cover tensioning over the duration of the activity.
Thoroughly Rinse the Tent Top
Using the hose, rinse the top thoroughly with water (caution: make sure that the water being used for the tent washing is clean and free from rust or tannins), and make sure that all of the soap has been entirely removed. There should be no soapy residue left on the tent top. Be very careful and rinse intensely.
Fabric Drying and Additional Commercial Tent Cleaning Tips
It is imperative that your tent top is completely dry prior to storage to avoid it getting mold and mildew and becoming tarnished.
FABRIC DRYING: The best way to dry the vinyl tent fabric is to hang-dry in a low humidity environment. Please also make sure that other components, such as straps, Velcro flaps, and roping, are dry before folding to avoid mildew and mold from forming on other components of the tent top. Fans can be used to circulate air, but, do not use heated dryers.
Professional vinyl cleaners for clear vinyl are available on the market. Carpa Supply / Florida Tent Supply do not make recommendations or endorse any particular products on the market as a policy; however, feel free to ask us prior to experimenting with a few of them if necessary. Cleaners that include chlorine bleach, and/or any petroleum-based solvents will degrade the fabric, discolor the fabric, and shorten its life span. As always, do your due diligence and consult the manufacturer’s documentation for instructions and safety advice.
It is not recommended to use soaps or detergents with fragrances during any phase of cleaning your party tent. They attract bugs and can fill tents with irritating smells that could potentially annoy customers or their guests.
Cleaning Tent Tubing and Other Components
Tent tubing, fittings, and other metal frame components also need to be maintained. Using a similar cleaning solution, as mentioned above, to clean the tent top (maybe a bit more concentrated if needed) scrub the tent legs, tubing, fittings, and other frame parts with a rag or sponge soaked with your soapy water. Be sure to rinse and dry them prior to storage. Tent stakes may also be cleaned in the same way if the upper parts of the stakes are visibly dirty and you feel that they need cleaning. Ropes and ratchet straps can be soaked in cleaning solutions and spread out to dry in the sun. The sun can actually help to clean them just like white clothing.
OXIDATION: The hardware components for this tent system have been supplied to you with specialty coatings to help limit oxidation. With usage, these coatings will need to be maintained in order to limit oxidation and for the product to reach its full intended lifespan. Our anodized aluminum components will get scratched over time and these scratched areas can develop a thin black oxidation common with mill finish aluminum. This black oxidation can cause staining on any fabric components that come in contact with the pole/component. Your best preventative measure will be to avoid scratching the anodized coating by avoiding any sharp edges that may come in contact with the aluminum frame
STORAGE RECOMMENDATIONS: The tent frame system should be stored dry in a cool, dry, low humidity covered place.
INSPECTION: Hardware components that are bent, cracked, or damaged should be immediately replaced and not used. Specific attention should be paid toward any devices used for anchoring including ratchets, ropes, cables, and web straps.
We hope that this commercial tent cleaning advice helps you get your tents clean enough to keep your customers coming back. If you should have additional questions, we will try to answer them as best possible. Thank you for considering Carpa Supply / Florida Tent Supply for your tent needs!
Office Phone: 844-756-4495