20 Tips to Clean and Maintain a Coleman Tent (REAL Pictures!)

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Over the past 4 years of using Coleman tents, I’ve experimented with numerous ways of cleaning and storing them, and I’ll share with you my very own methods right here.

To clean a Coleman tent, I recommend using water to wash down the tent base. Alternatively, you can use disinfecting wipes. After that, leave the Coleman tent to dry under the hot sun, before folding and storing it in a well ventilated place.

This is a picture of me washing the base of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent.
This is a picture of me washing the base of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent.

Best Practices When Camping in a Coleman Tent

1. Get Help When Setting Up

I have 14 Coleman tents, ranging from a small Coleman Sundome 2 to a large Coleman WeatherMaster 10. I have set up every single tent on my own, including the WeatherMaster 10.

This is a picture of my brother and I securing the rainfly of the Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent.
This is a picture of my brother and I securing the rainfly of the Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent.

However, I realized that setting these Coleman tents up on my own put more stress on the tent poles, as compared to when I have someone else helping me. This is because when you have someone helping you, the stress on the poles is in 2 spots, compared to just 1 spot when you’re setting it up on your own.

2. Unfold Tent Poles Gently

When putting up your Coleman tent, the best practice is not to snap the tent poles together. Instead, unfold the tent poles gently section by section, while pushing the poles through the pole sleeves.

3. Push, not Pull on Tent Poles

When inserting the Coleman tent poles into the pole sleeves, push the poles through the sleeves, rather than pull them through the sleeves. Sometimes, the poles might snag on the sleeve, and excessive force pulling the poles would cause the shock-cord inside the poles to snap.

This is a picture of me inserting the tent body poles into the pole sleeves of the Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent.
This is a picture of me inserting the tent body poles into the pole sleeves of the Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent.

The same goes when you’re removing the tent poles from the sleeves. Don’t pull them out of the pole sleeves. Instead, go to 1 end of the pole, push the pole out as much as possible, then go to the other end of that same pole, and pull the remaining out.

Thankfully, Coleman tent pole sleeves are not very long, which minimizes any instances of shock cord snapping.

This is what the Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent will look like when both poles have been inserted into the pole sleeves.
This is what the Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent will look like when both poles have been inserted into the pole sleeves.

4. Leave the Rainfly On

When I’m using a Coleman tent for a prolonged amount of time, I like to leave the rainfly on the tent, instead of taking it down.

The rainfly of a Coleman tent is usually made of 75D polyester, which is thicker and more rugged than the tent body of a Coleman tent, which is usually made of 68D polyester. Also, it has a thicker layer of waterproof coating (at least 450mm) compared to the tent body. As such, the rainfly will be able to shield the tent body from most of the UV exposure.

However, bear in mind that excessive UV exposure will cause your tent fabric and rainfly fabric to wear off and become thinner.

The dark room fabric of the Coleman Carlsbad Tent after a few years of light usage.
The dark room fabric of the Coleman Carlsbad Tent after a few years of light usage.

5. Use a Footprint or Tarp

When setting up camp in your Coleman tent, while you don’t strictly have to use a footprint or tarp, it’s recommend that you use one to protect the base of your tent.

This is especially so because Coleman tent bases aren’t quite rugged, made only of polyethylene. These aren’t particularly abrasion proof, and can puncture easily if there are sharp stones or rocks around.

A hole at the tent base of my Coleman Instant Tent 4.
A hole at the tent base of my Coleman Instant Tent 4.

6. Use Stakes and Guylines

When camping in strong wind, it’s highly recommended to use all the provided stakes to stake down the Coleman tent body and also guy out the guylines. This helps to anchor the tent into the ground, and decrease the probability of your tent being ripped away by the wind.

This is a picture of me guying out the Coleman Instant Tent 4.
This is a picture of me guying out the Coleman Instant Tent 4.

7. Don’t Over-Tension Guylines

All Coleman tents come with pre-attached guylines, which have pre-attached tensioners that look something like this:

This is a picture of the pre-attached guyline and tensioner of the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent.
This is a picture of the pre-attached guyline and tensioner of the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent.

I highly recommend not over-tensioning the guylines, as this can cause your tent fabric to rip in strong wind.

8. Don’t Force the Zippers

After your Coleman tent is set up, the most vulnerable part of the tent is now the zipper.

Coleman tent doors usually come with a rain cover, which tends to get in the way of the zipper path, causing the zippers to appear more “snaggy” than it actually is.

The rain cover from the outside getting in the way of the door zippers.
The rain cover from the outside getting in the way of the door zippers.

In this situation, don’t force the zippers using just one hand. Use your other hand to gently push the rain cover out of the way, clearing the path of the zipper before zipping it up.

9. Clear Your Coleman Tent Before Folding

When you’re done with your camping trip, clear your tent out of any debris and dirt before folding it up. This is because debris and dirt will become embedded when you fold the tent up, and might even scratch or cut your tent fabric.

For smaller tents, like the Coleman Sundome 2, you can easily pick the tent up and clear the debris out, as it’s free-standing.

For bigger tents, however, you might need to manually sweep the dirt out.

Can I Wash a Coleman Tent?

Coleman tents can be easily washed, and the 2 best ways are using water and mild soap, or using disinfecting wipes.

10. Use Water and Mild Soap

When I started camping, I used mild soap to get the dirt out from the tent base and the tent body, before hosing the entire tent down with a water hose, like so:

This is a picture of me washing the base of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent.
This is a picture of me washing the base of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent.

This was extremely effective in cleaning my Coleman tents, though each Coleman tent took quite a while to dry after, because there was a lot of water when using the water hose.

11. Use Disinfecting Wipes

As such, I started using disinfecting wipes (like Dettol wipes) instead of soap and water. This method was equally helpful when it came to cleaning the dirt off the Coleman tent base.

The disinfecting wipes I was using to clean my Coleman Skydome 4 Tent.
The disinfecting wipes I was using to clean my Coleman Skydome 4 Tent.

At the same time, I didn’t have to use a water hose to hose down my tent. I just let the tent dry under the sun, and it usually dries in minutes.

A picture of me using disinfecting wipes to clean the base of my Coleman Skydome 4 Tent.
A picture of me using disinfecting wipes to clean the base of my Coleman Skydome 4 Tent.

Are Coleman Tents Machine Washable?

12. Do Not Use a Washing Machine

Bear in mind that Coleman tents, like all other tents, are not machine washable. Coleman tents do not have particularly thick fabrics, and the vigorous spinning motion of a washing machine is sure to rip the tent fabric.

So, never use a washing machine to clean your tent. Instead, you have to manually clean your tent with water and soap, or my own personal method of using disinfecting wipes.

How Do You Dry a Coleman Tent?

13. Leave the Coleman Tent Out in the Sun

Before packing the tent up to store it for good, I like to make sure that every inch of it has been dried, so that there won’t be any mold or mildew during storage.

As such, I usually leave the Coleman tent completely set up, and I also spread the rainfly on the ground for drying.

My Coleman Carlsbad 4 Tent drying under the sun, with the rainfly spread out beside it. Ignore my dog, he just somehow loves to lie on my rainfly.
My Coleman Carlsbad 4 Tent drying under the sun, with the rainfly spread out beside it. Ignore my dog, he just somehow loves to lie on my rainfly.

14. Dry While Folding

Once the tent body and the rainfly have dried, the only thing left to dry is the tent base, which is usually still wet as it is in full contact with the ground with no sunlight at all.

As such, what I do is to first fold the tent body in half, like so:

The Coleman Skydome 4 Tent folded in half, still with dirt on the tent base.
The Coleman Skydome 4 Tent folded in half, still with dirt on the tent base.

Then, I wipe off all the dirt using a disinfecting wipe, and then leave it out under the full blast of the sun for a few minutes to have it dry completely.

Once that part of the base has dried completely, I then fold it in half again, clean it again, and dry it again. I repeat this process until the Coleman tent is now small enough to fit back into the carry bag.

This is the Coleman Skydome Tent folded in half thrice.
This is the Coleman Skydome Tent folded in half thrice.

How Do You Store a Coleman Tent?

15. Fold Slowly

As you roll up your Coleman tent, you might find that quite a bit of air gets trapped inside the tent body itself. If you use a lot of force to push the air out, it may create micro-holes on the tent base, which will eventually let water in. This was what happened to one of my tents in the past.

This is a picture of me rolling up the Coleman Instant Tent 4.
This is a picture of me rolling up the Coleman Instant Tent 4.

As such, that’s why I recommend the above method of “Dry While Folding”. The benefits are two-fold. Not only does the tent base dry under the sun, this also gives the tent time to compress downwards. The weight of the tent itself will push all the excess air out gradually. This reduces the likelihood of any holes appearing from forcing air out instead.

16. Expand the Carry Bag

Most Coleman bags are expandable. There will be a white strip at the bottom of the bag, which says “Remove to Expand Bag”. All you have to do is to rip the strip off, and your carry bag will increase in size (by maybe about 50% or so).

You can remove this white strip at the bottom of each Coleman tent’s carry bag to expand it.
You can remove this white strip at the bottom of each Coleman tent’s carry bag to expand it.

I highly recommend doing this for 2 reasons. First, you wouldn’t have to spend so much time compressing your Coleman tent down to fit the carry bag. And second, storing your Coleman tent a little more loosely reduces the risk of damaging the tent when storing.

17. Use Separate Bags for Stakes and Poles

Coleman provides separate carry bags for stakes, as well as poles, so you don’t have to go out and buy your own bags. I recommend not tossing these bags away, and using them instead. Stakes and poles are thin and rigid, and can puncture your tent if not stored properly.

From left to right: Tent body of the Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent, poles, stakes, rainfly, carry bag.
From left to right: Tent body of the Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent, poles, stakes, rainfly, carry bag.

18. Learn How to Fold the Coleman Pop Up Tents

Coleman Pop Up Tents (both the 2-Person and 4-Person versions) are tents that pop open right out of the carry bag. These tents tend to have thinner fiberglass poles than regular Coleman tents, and need to be folded down a certain way.

This is what the fiberglass poles of the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent look like.
This is what the fiberglass poles of the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent look like.

I highly recommend looking up how to fold these tents up, and not force them back into the bag, so as to avoid having the poles break.

This is a picture of me folding one end of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent down.
This is a picture of me folding one end of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent down.

19. Fold Coleman Instant Tents on Soft Grass

Coleman Instant Tents differ from the Pop Up Tents in not only their set up but their folding as well, and I recommend watching a video on this before folding.

When folding up a Coleman Instant Tent, I also highly recommend doing so on soft grass. This is because the poles are pre-attached, and this adds a lot of pressure to the tent body. If you accidentally drag it across a small sharp rock or other debris (like I did), it will puncture holes in your tent base.

The Coleman Instant Tent 4 partially folded.
The Coleman Instant Tent 4 partially folded.

20. Well-Ventilated Storage

Once your Coleman tent is all folded up, it’s time to store it. I recommend storing it in the open (if you have the space), because this will be more well-ventilated and reduce the growth of any mold or mildew. This is highly recommended especially for long-term storage of a year or more.

Alternatively, you can store it in a confined space (like a closet or under your bed), but do take it out once in a while to air it out (every few months or so).

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