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CleaningMatters logo sm September/October 2010

Putting Camping Gear into Hibernation

Tips for cleaning and storing camping equipment

For many, the end of summer marks the end of the camping season. If this is true for you, don’t just plop your gear in a corner until the warm weather returns. Instead, give it all a careful once-over to spot what needs to be cleaned and repaired. Not only will everything be camping-ready in the spring, but your gear will also last longer and serve you better, says Nancy Bock, Vice President of Consumer Education at the the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI?).

Sleeping bags: At the very minimum, sleeping bags should be aired out and thoroughly brushed clean before storage. If a more thorough cleaning is required, check the care label or contact the manufacturer. Most sleeping bags, even down ones, are washable – preferably in a front-loading commercial washing machine so the bag has plenty of room to circulate. Dry it thoroughly – again, in a large commercial dryer. A synthetic bag can take up to an hour to dry; a down bag can take two hours or more. Storing your bag in its stuff sack can cause the filling to deteriorate. If possible, hang the bag over a rod. If that’s not possible, wrap it in a sheet (to keep the dust away) and store it flat under your bed.

Tents: Wait until a clear day, then set your tent up outside and let it air out. Using a damp sponge, wipe both the inside and outside. While doing this, check for holes and tears that will need to be repaired. Once the tent is completely dry, disassemble it and store in a cool, dry place. Prolonged sunlight and high temperatures may disrupt the coatings.

Cookware: Thoroughly wash and dry all your cookware. Even the smallest particle of food, left to molder all winter, can turn into a nasty surprise.

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