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Thread: Cleaning a very dirty mess tent canvas

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    Cleaning a very dirty mess tent canvas

    Some of our mess tents were out on loan ( to generate funds) just before Christmas, and one of them is a little bit muddy it was dirty before from various camps.
    So its in need of a clean, its also due to be re-proofed ( with fabsil ) over the February 1/2 term.
    At our disposal we have brushes, washing up liquid, car shampoo (?) hosepipes and access to a borrowed pressure washer

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    Senior Member recneps's Avatar
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    I would start by dry brushing if to get rid of any solid mud etc.

    I'd strongly avoid using washing up liquid or car shampoo... if you are going to use a detergent then i'd look at a very mild washing powder / soap flakes, and be aware that you will almost certainly need to reproof it (although you've said you're doing this anyway)

    It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

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    Senior Member bernwood's Avatar
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    If its a white tent - use washing powder, gently brushed in, pressure wash off, and your tent will positively glow in the dark when dried.

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    I haven't used this myself, but it might save you a lot of time and effort: https://www.bctshop.co.uk/pages/afte...nd-maintenance

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Our white mess tent requires cleaning after a very muddy winter camp in early Dec. Currently it is out of its bag loosly dumped in the corner of our gear room. When we get a chance and the weather is a bit warmer we will put it up outside and bush as much dried mud off as possible and then use a garden hose and stiff brush (no detergent) to clean as much mud off it as possible and then leave it up to dry and air before putting it away until the camping season. We have ground poles for it so we can and will put it up on hard ground so it shouldn't be at risk of ending up getting mudy again when we put it away. Out tent definitely does not need reproofing so we will be avoiding doing anything which risks us ending up having to reproof it.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bernwood View Post
    If its a white tent - use washing powder, gently brushed in, pressure wash off, and your tent will positively glow in the dark when dried.
    Won't washing powder break down the waterproofing? I mean, if you're talking about what I'm thinking of as washing powder, and not soap flakes or something?
    Ian Wilkins
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    We used to leave our marquees and other tents manky, that way people would know were out there doing stuff. We liked to think it made us look windswept and interesting.

    (Caveat. None of our tents went to weddings, they were never pristine. On the odd occasion, we'd be out somewhere and they'd be expecting something fluffy and fondant-like. The kids would be pounding metal pegs in to perfect lawns and we'd be pointing out that for 100 that's kind of what you got. We did used to have a parachute/frilly thing for the inside of the tent. So it was actually okay, so long as you didn't go outside.)

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    We don't tend to clean our green canvas which includes our small marquee (which did take about 5 years to lose all the mud from a muddy District camp some years ago) but a white mess tent with abit of a muddy side and roof and very muddy of the bottom of the door just looks bad so we do try to clean the mess tent if it gets really muddy (I think this will be the second occasion it has had to be cleaned in its about 10 year life)

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Washing canvas - This advice came from the Canvas Repair Centre in Burton when I last used them some years back. The gent who ran the business had been doing this for half a century and knew his stuff.

    1/ Do not use any form of detergent - ever. It removes the natural waterproofing that canvas has.
    2/ Good canvas is not waterproofed - it works by having a tight weave that pulls tighter when wet.
    3/ Canvas that has been waterproofed will need rewaterproofing (see point 1)

    To Clean Canvas

    1/ Pitch your tent or marquee in a place where you can leave it to dry.
    2/ Get a pressure washer and run it through with fresh water until all traces of detergent have been removed from the system.
    3/ Put on your swimming gear and go inside the erected canvas, and pressure wash the canvas from the inside.
    4/ With a stiff brush, have a second cleaner brush the outside of the canvas to wash away dislodged dirt.
    5/ Allow canvas and dry thoroughly before stowing.


    Now - I had tents dated back to the sixties. There was no evidence of them ever having been waterproofed but they may have been. They got wet and heavy but they never leaked unless someone made contact with the canvas. Equally, I had waterproofed tents that stayed dry but leaked without any contact. I suspect that modern canvas is made lighter for cost savings, and may not have the same properties as the old heavyweight canvas used to have.
    Ewan Scott

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    2/ Good canvas is not waterproofed - it works by having a tight weave that pulls tighter when wet.
    Ahh so that will explain why despite never having been rewaterproofed all our canvas tents are still perfectly waterproof despite being 25+ years old.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
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    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
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  12. #11
    Senior Member Mark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    Snipped..
    3/ Put on your swimming gear and go inside the erected canvas, and pressure wash the canvas from the inside.
    Brilliant! I would never have thought of washing the tent from the inside - makes sense though.
    Mark
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  13. #12
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    Brilliant! I would never have thought of washing the tent from the inside - makes sense though.
    If you wash from the inside, you blast the dirt out. If you wash from the outside you ingrain it further.

    As an addendum, I looked up The Canvas Repair Centre and according to their website Barrie is still the boss and they are still in business.

    http://www.canvasrepaircentre.com
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



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  14. #13
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    Great, looks like the pressure washer solution will be the way forward - although planning on doing it this weekend ( weather permitting) so the swim shorts idea may be replaced with full waterproofs
    Washing canvas - This advice came from the Canvas Repair Centre in Burton when I last used them some years back. The gent who ran the business had been doing this for half a century and knew his stuff.
    Is that Burton-upon-Trent??

  15. #14
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard T View Post
    Great, looks like the pressure washer solution will be the way forward - although planning on doing it this weekend ( weather permitting) so the swim shorts idea may be replaced with full waterproofs

    Is that Burton-upon-Trent??
    Yup, Burton Upon Trent.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



    www.upperdearnevalleynavigators.org.uk

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