The phone calls are coming in! How do you clean playa dust off your tent after the Burning Man Festival?
We wrote this blog post last year and thought it was worth sharing again!
How do you properly clean your tent after attending
the Burning Man Festival?
The Burning Man Festival is famous for the Playa Dust that coats EVERYTHING. From your skin to your clothes and most certainly your tent, it gets everywhere and can be very difficult to clean off. It is however vital that you clean this playa dust off of your tent, not only for the comfort of future uses but because, if left uncleaned, it will damage your tent.
What is Playa Dust?
The playa dust at Black Rock City is almost like a fine powder and includes both gypsum, an alkaline dust, and silica. There is evidence that it is hazardous for your health so please be sure to use a proper mask and gloves when cleaning your tent. Because of the fine powder like composition, it is very important NOT TO WET YOUR TENT. Wetting your tent will turn the playa dust into a clay like substance and will ruin your tent. Follow the instructions below to best clean your tent.
What You’ll Need
- Old clothes you don’t mind tossing
- Hepa Respirator Mask and Filters (doesn’t let minute particles through)
- Industrial strength leaf blower
- Space to do the cleaning.
- Clorox Wipes (or similar)
If you clean the tent properly you can expect it to take about 5 hours.
Where to Clean Your Tent
From a customer: “The first time we tried to clean a tent after the Burning Man Festival we chose a large grassy spot on our lawn. By the end our grass was gray from the dust and a thick gray like sludge made its way to the storm drain.”
If you plan to do this in your yard, be aware not to impact your neighbor’s lawn and be aware not to let any children or animals play in the grass while it’s still wet.
Ideal Clean-up Space: A grassy lawn space with good drainage for the canvas top, and a large concrete space for the groundsheet
AN IMPORTANT NOTE
You really do have to wear a mask, it is not a suggestion. As you beat the tent to loosen and remove the playa dust, it will go into the air and it will irritate your lungs. This is not to alarm anyone but to share our experience so that you can take the proper precautions.
From a customer: “Our first time cleaning our tent after The Burning Man Festival we did not wear proper masks and we ended up with bloody noses and coughing for days.”
DO NOT WET THE TENT UNTIL YOU’VE REMOVED MOST OF THE DUST. IT WILL TURN INTO A CLAY AND BE NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO GET OUT.
Ready to Clean Your Tent?
Step 1: Prepare your gear and cleaning space
Step 2: Set up your tent (canvas top) and beat with a broom. After you’ve gone around the top of tent with the broom, use your leaf blower to blow dust away from the tent. You’ll want to repeat this step repeatedly until not much dust is lifting off of the tent. It’s at this point that you can hose the tent off. This is a good time to note the amount of water-proofing treatment left on the tent. You should see water bead up and run off. If you are noticing that the canvas is absorbing the water, then you will want to re-proof.
*We suggest setting up the tent without the groundsheet if possible. It is much easier to properly clean both the groundsheet and tent if they are not attached during the cleaning process because you will use water to clean the ground sheet. To do this, you will setup the tent as normal, and then unzip the groundsheet from the canvas all the way around. Then you will pull the groundsheet stakes out of the D-rings in the groundsheet, and instead stake the rubber loops on the canvas side-walls. The groundsheet can then slip out, and be moved to the concrete cleaning area.
Step 3: Clean the groundsheet.
As stated above, we recommend cleaning the ground sheet separately. You’ll need a bristled push broom, bleach, and a pressure nozzle hose. You’re going to clean both sides of the groundsheet a few times, scrubbing each time.
To begin, start by pouring a water mixture with about 4 or 5 tablespoons of bleach on the ground sheet, then scrub with the broom and spray off, repeatedly.
Once you’re finished with one side, flip it and repeat. You will need to repeat this process a few times. As you work you will need to power wash the ground beneath each time you flip so that you’re not laying the groundsheet back down a dirty work space.
When you are finished, let the groundsheet dry naturally in the sun.
**Pay special attention to the zipper track. If you leave playa dust in the zipper track it will blow dust back onto your tent each time you zip it. You may want to vacuum the track out with a shop-vac or something similar.
ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO CLEAN
Guy Lines: It makes most sense to replace all the lines, we have not found an effective way to clean them and they are inexpensive to replace.
Stakes: Power wash the stakes and then apply a WD-40 or other degreaser spray.
Poles: Use the Clorox Wipes (or similar) to wipe the poles completely.
Screens: If the bug netted screen/windows/double wall is still retaining playa dust, use a vacuum on it, but be sure to beat it really well before using a vacuum.
Stout Tent has multiple years experience cleaning tents that we have rented out to attendees of the Burning Man Festival as well as private events in Black Rock City. Back by popular demand, we are offering again this year an After Burn Cleaning Package and we are happy to accept ANY canvas tent up to 5M, not just Stout Tents. Send us your tent by Oct. 1. Cleaning tents after the burn is a time consuming and laborious process and since we’re at the height of our busy season, tents will not be returned until November.
Did you find this article helpful? Please share!