Have you just returned from a camping trip and your car and rooftop tent are totally dirty from the weekend? Anyone who goes camping knows exactly how much dirt a camping trip leaves behind on and in the vehicle and rooftent.
The rooftop tent must also be totally dirty, right? Especially if you go camping off the beaten path you will bring a lot of dirt and dust home with you… now it would of course be very easy to just stop at the next car wash and drive the entire vehicle, including the rooftop tent mounted, through the car wash, or?
I would like to advise you not to drive through the car wash with the rooftop tent ontop of your vehicle.
In this article, I would like to explain to you why this is not a good idea and what else you can do to clean the vehicle and the rooftop tent again and prepare them for the next camping trip. Since I have owned various rooftop tents for a long time, I would like to tell you from my own experience how you can clean very dirty rooftop tents without taking them to a car wash.
At a glance:
It is not a good idea to leave the rooftop tent on the vehicle roof and then go through the car wash. The mechanical brushes and the high water pressure can permanently damage the rooftop tent. Therefore, before visiting the car wash, you should dismantle the rooftop tent and clean the rooftop tent manually. In this way, you avoid damage caused by mechanical stress and also possible water penetration into the interior of the rooftop tent.
That’s why you shouldn’t drive the rooftop tent into the car wash
Modern car washes work with fast rotating brushes and high water pressure. A rooftop tent is not designed to withstand these high mechanical loads. The high water pressure can also lead to the water penetrating the interior of the rooftop tent. In the worst case, this can lead to mold formation. The water can also get into moving parts or the mechanics of the rooftop tent and cause damage there or lead to the formation of rust.
The mechanical brushes of the washing system can also damage the outer skin or the cover of the rooftop tent. A rooftop tent is not designed for such loads.
This is the right way to clean your rooftop tent
If you come home after a camping trip and your vehicle and your rooftop tent are totally dirty, you should either dismantle the rooftop tent and clean it on the ground, or you can set up the rooftop tent at home and then clean it thoroughly.
The advantage of removing the rooftop tent from the vehicle is that you can set it up on the ground and clean all sides of the rooftop tent more thoroughly.
This way you can first thoroughly clean the rooftop tent from the outside on the floor, wash the cover properly, and then set up the rooftop tent and clean hidden areas better.
If the rooftop tent is removed from the vehicle roof, you can also drive your vehicle to the car wash and have it cleaned there, or clean the vehicle in your driveway.
Before you start washing the rooftop tent with water, you should remove coarse dirt from the outside with a brush. You should also remove coarse dirt from the interior of the tent with a brush or vacuum cleaner.
Never use a pressure washer on your rooftop tent. The pressure could damage the fabric of the tent. You should always wash the tent with warm water only. You can also fill a bucket with water and add some soap to help loosen the dirt.
For example, if you own a hardshell rooftop tent, a pressure washer could also damage the paint on the cover or even peel it off completely. So it is better if you only use the pressure washer for your vehicle.
Once you have thoroughly cleaned the rooftop tent inside and out, it is important that you leave the rooftop tent set up for a few hours and open all windows and openings so that the moisture can escape.
This is extremely important, otherwise, mold can quickly form if you fold the rooftop tent up again immediately after washing it and mount it on your vehicle or store it in the garage.
You should do this after thoroughly cleaning the rooftop tent
Since you have thoroughly cleaned the rooftop tent and the vehicle, you should note a few important things. It can be important that you grease the mechanics of the rooftop tent. Cleaning can quickly remove the grease from the mechanics. Bare metal can quickly start to rust if you don’t apply a protective coating.
For example, you can use a grease spray that is used for lubricating bicycle chains or motorcycle chains. This grease forms a layer of protection and ensures mechanical stress on the moving parts of the rooftop tent.
But always make sure that all metal parts are absolutely dry before greasing. The grease must not be applied to wet areas.
If you have washed the fabric of the tent with water or soapy water, it may also be important to reseal the fabric against moisture penetration. There is also special tent waterproofing sprays that care for the fabric of the tent and waterproof it against water.
Here is a rough list of all the steps:
- Pre-clean the tent outside and inside with a broom or vacuum cleaner
- Only wash the tent with warm water
- Dry the tent well after cleaning or let it dry outside for at least an hour to prevent mold growth
- Seal or grease the mechanics of the tent and also bare metal parts
Download Our Roof Top Tent Overview (PDF)
In this pdf file, we give you an overview of the most popular rooftop tents. You can download this PDF file for free and use it freely!