Congratulations on getting through the tough process that is choosing and purchasing a party tent!
As your reward, here’s an even harder task: actually caring for your tent so it lasts longer!
Don’t worry, your real reward is this gem of an article right here, which shows you how to clean and maintain your party tent to expand its lifetime and make sure you get every single penny’s worth out of it.
The best part is, the Kingpin has made sure that all the suggestions, tips and advice you’ll see here don’t require any shedding of tears or sweat. (Well, maybe a LITTLE bit of sweat…)
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of things, let’s look at why we need to take care of party tents in the first place. After all, they’re temporary structures. You put them up, they take a beating from the elements, you take them down and store them until the next nature beat-down event.
You might be wondering why you need to go through all that trouble. They’re fairly cheap anyway, so you can always just buy one when you see tearing at the seams or breakage on the frames.
Well, for one, it’s still your hard-earned money. No matter how affordable they are, each purchase is an investment and investments require a bit of effort on your part. You need to ensure that each dollar you put into it is well-spent so you don’t regret the decision of buying it.
If money matters don’t do it for you, then let’s go the sentimental route. Think of your party tent as a companion, a trusty sidekick, if you will. Your tent remained steadfast against the elements just so you can enjoy your day without your possessions getting blown away by the harsh winds and that your gorgeous little self doesn’t get burned to a crisp by the sun’s unforgiving UV rays.
Now, after all that your party tent has done for you, the least you can do is take care of it so it lives on to do battle for yet another day!
Like any good party tent owner, the Kingpin keeps a repertoire of tools and cleaning agents, which he can use on the fly to not only clean my party tent regularly, but ensure that any minors problems are dealt with quickly before they escalate.
Before you thoroughly clean your popup tent, you should gather all the materials first. Going in fully prepared minimizes hassles and lessens the time you’ll take cleaning your tent.
Now, you don’t need to get all of these. While some are basic cleaning tools, others like the CLR remover are for specific situations only.
- Multi-surface cleaner - When purchasing multi-purpose cleaning agents for your pop-up, make sure to read the label. The cleaner must be safe for waterproof materials, like vinyl, polyester and polyethene.
- Foam Sponge
- Scrub Brush
- Calcium, Lime and Rust (CLR) Remover
- Bucket or pail
- Mold and Mildew stain remover
- Liquid silver polish
- Organic citrus solvent
- Melamine “erasing foam”
- Fabric Guard water repellant
- Clean, dry cloth
The key to a longer lifespan for your party tent is to fix small breaks and tears quickly. You can purchase canvas repair kits in hardware stores, or you can buy items individually, since a lot of repair kits don’t come complete with all the items you’ll need.
- Canvas adhesive, or latex cement - this works on most fabrics, except vinyl and vinyl-treated material. Make sure it is resistant to both water and UV rays.
- Liquid vinyl
- Replacement canvas - Keep an extra canvas of the same material as your party tent
- Polyester thread - Make sure it is UV-resistant
- Patch tape
- Epoxy - for minor canopy frame mishaps
So how do you take care of your party tent? Well, first off, the Kingpin makes sure it’s nice and clean before he puts it away for storage. Remember, popup tents are temporary structures and should never be left on for too long, so you need to dismantle it once you’re done with it.
Now, begin the dismantling process of the party tent like you normally would. Separate the canopy top from the framework. If your framework or canopy legs can stand on its own without the canopy top, leave it that way. It’s easier to clean the legs while they’re standing straight up.
- Check the canopy legs for any cracks and bending. Minor problems can be fixed with some epoxy or heavy duty tape. If the damage is severe, you may need the help of a professional to weld and solder it back together.
- Make sure your multi-surface cleaner is compatible with the usual materials used in canopy frames (aluminum, steel) before using it
- Spray the multi-surface cleaner on the canopy frame and work the product in with a foam sponge. Use a scrub brush only in areas with persistent dirt clumps and stains.
- For annoying stains that can’t be removed by cleaning agent alone, try using liquid silver polish. Rust should be dealt with using a CLR remover.
- Rinse out the cleaning agent with warm water. Don’t leave any cleaning agent residue.
- Dry the canopy frames using a soft, dry cloth.
- Check the bolts and joints and make sure to tighten them if necessary. Also, make sure that bolt and joint crevices are completely dry as well.
- Apply some silicone spray sealant, making sure to get the sealant all over the canopy frame, even on the joints and bolts. If there’s cleaning agent residue or if the framework is still a bit wet, the sealant won’t stick to the frame.
- If you need to store the party tent, slowly dismantle the framework or compress it (if it’s a popup tent) and store it in its designated bag. Make sure it is completely dry before you store it. If you still need the tent up and running, simply leave it standing while you’re working on the canopy top.
- Make sure you have enough space to work with when cleaning your canopy top, as it’s better to lay the entire thing out on a flat surface.
- Check for any tears and damage. If there are, skip to the next segment first before continuing with the cleaning process.
- Fill a bucket with warm water and add some multi-surface cleaner into it. The cleaner itself should have instructions on how much you’ll need to mix in with the water, depending on your canopy’s material. Remember that not all multi-purpose detergents are the same; some are milder than others. Use cleaners with the mildest formulation, especially if your tent has UV-protected, flame-retardant and waterproof properties.
- Clean the entire surface of your canopy top front and back. If your tent is rather small, a foam sponge will suffice. For larger canopies, you can use a scrub brush mop for more convenience; just make sure you use minimal force so you don’t damage the surface.
- For persistent mold and mildew stains, spray some designated mold and mildew cleaner on the area and wait for a few minutes for the product to do its magic. After around 5-10 minutes, you should be able to just wipe the mold and mildew off.
- Use organic citrus solvent on any sticky stains and residue left by duct tape, oil, glue and tar.
- Lay your wet canopy top on any flat surface for drying. Make sure to properly clean the surface beforehand. If the weather is sunny, make the most use out of it by sun-drying your canvas top. Sunbathing your canopy top removes certain stains and kills off any leftover mold and mildew.
- Once dry, spray some fabric guard on your canopy top. This will strengthen the waterproofing abilities of the fabric, as well as protect it from stains to some extent. You may use a soft, dry cloth to rub the fabric guard onto the canvas properly and to make sure it is completely dry.
- You may now put the canvas top over the framework if you still need your party tent for something. If not, you can fold it and store it along with the framework in its designated storage back. Store the bag in a cool, dry place.
Repairing Small Canopy Top Tears
Before cleaning your canopy top, inspect it thoroughly first for any tears that need fixing. If you see a tear, be sure to patch it up first before you start cleaning.
- Use a clean, dry cloth to clean the area first so any patches or adhesives you use on the tear would stick better.
- For small tears on vinyl tent tops, use liquid vinyl to close the tear. Use this step for vinyl-treated polyester fabrics as well. For polyethene and plain polyester fabrics, use canvas adhesive.
- If the tear is large and has left a gaping hole on your beloved canopy top, cut out some replacement canvas of the same material as your tent canopy to use as a patch. The replacement patch should be slightly larger than the hole or gap. Stick it on the gap or hole and use canvas adhesive/liquid vinyl to secure the edges of the patch.
- You can also sew tears and patches using a polyester thread and large sewing needle, but only do so if you know how to sew properly. Creating too many stitches mean creating more holes into the fabric.
- Wait for the adhesive to completely dry before moving on to the cleaning process. Some patches need to be dried overnight.
Over the years, the Kingpin has learned how to maintain his pop up canopy through trial and error. However, this means that those mistakes have cost me a lot of time and money on repairs, part replacements and buying new canopies.
Pop Up Tent Care Tips
To prevent you from making the same mistake, we’ve compiled a neat list of basic tips and tricks that you can use to maintain your popup tent and extend its lifespan.
- Don’t neglect the manual. They’re there for a reason! Unfortunately, some people just toss them into a box, never to be seen ever again. Some manuals even have cleaning and maintenance tips specific for your popup tent. At the very least, give it a once over so you don’t miss out on things.
- Don’t have multi-surface cleaner for your tent cleaning? Use mild soap instead. Some detergents can chip off your tent’s specially treated layers. Bleach is an absolute no-no.
- It goes without saying, you should always keep your tent dry. This applies to the tent itself, the storage bag and even the area it is stored in.
- Tents are temporary structures to be put up before the event, and taken down after. If you leave it outside for an extended period of time unattended, expect it to deteriorate quickly.
- Small components like joints, bolts and other parts should be stored in a dry zip-lock plastic bags.
- If you’re in for rough weather, consider buying extra weight bags for your tent.
- In case of lightning and storms, quickly dismantle your party tent and store it.
- For tent frames that need to be pulled outward in order to extend it during installation, it’s better to pull it using one of the inner poles and trusses, instead of the outer ones. The inner ones are usually thicker and better supported by adjacent poles.
See? Cleaning and maintaining your party tent is not all that difficult, so there’s no reason why you should neglect it. After all, your poor tent is already suffering much abuse from the elements, it doesn’t need the same treatment from it’s owner.
By following the tips and tricks stated in this guide, you can extend the lifespan of your popup tent and ensure that you’re getting the most out of your money. Then there’s also that sense of achievement and pride that you get when you do things right. Good luck!