5,800 forum posts
Mountain Hardwear is one of the top tent (and other outdoor gear) manufacturers. This URL is their discussion of tent care and storage -
A few pertinent quotes:
When assembling the poles, never allow the pole sections to snap against each other. Always make sure that all pole sections are fully engaged before bending. Keep the poles clean and free of silt, sand and salt, taking special care with the aluminum tips, as they are not anodized and can corrode.
Zippers: One of the keys to zipper longevity is to keep them free of sand and grit. When pitching your tent, be careful to keep the door and window zippers out of the dirt. Never step on the zipper. Keep zippers clean by washing them (at home) with a garden hose and pressure nozzle. Most zipper failures result from wear to the coating on the inside of the zipper slider (the metal toggle). Once that coating wears off, the metal abrades rapidly, and the zipper slider no longer joins the continuous plastic coils securely. The plastic coils then tend to separate behind the zipper slider.
Store your tent in a cool, dry environment. Pack the tent loosely, and, if possible, leave the shock-corded poles completely or partially assembled.
Never pack or store your tent if it is dirty and/or damp. If you do so, mildew can form and ruin the waterproof coating on your tent. Mildew will cause your tent to smell and can eventually delaminate and damage the polyurethane coating. This will cause your tent to leak. There is no cure for mildew damage. Prolonged moisture on the polyurethane coating (storing the tent wet for more than a few days) can cause hydrolysis. The coating becomes soft and sticks to itself, peeling from the fabric which will lead to leakage.
Cleaning Your Tent
Never machine wash or machine dry your tent. For localized cleaning, use a sponge with warm water. When cleaning the entire tent, wash in a tub (bathtub) of cold water. Never use hot water, bleach, dishwashing liquid, pre-soaking solutions, or spot removers. If you use soap, always use a non-detergent soap. Dry your tent by pitching it in the shade or by line drying only. Never machine dry your tent.