HOW TO CLEAN YOUR TENT AFTER BURNING MAN

by | May 23, 2023

It’s that time of year again, the Burning Man Festival is over and people want to know…. 

How do you properly clean your tent after Burning Man?

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 this playa dust off of your tent, not only for the comfort of future uses, but because 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. The Burning Man Project has some valuable Post-Play Tips for cleaning your body and your gear after the festival. As for cleaning your tent, because of the fine powder 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: 

  • Gloves 
  • Old clothes you don’t mind tossing
  • Hepa Filter/Mask (doesn’t let minute particles through) (amazon link)
  • Industrial strength leaf blower
  • Space to do the cleaning.
  • Goggles (amazon link)
  • Clorox Wipes (or similar)

What YOU WILL NOT NEED:

Vinegar and Bleach. Checkout our blog on why you should never use vinegar or bleach on your canvas tent.

Time Needed: 

If you clean the tent probably you can expect it to take about 5 hours. 

Find a proper space to clean your tent.  

From a customer: “The first time we tried ton a tent after the Burning Man Festival we chose a large grassy spot on our lawn. By the end of cleaning, the grass was gray from the dust and a thick gray 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 is still wet. 
If you plan to do this in your yard, be aware not to impact your neighbors lawn and be aware 
 
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 will take proper precautions. From a customer, “Our first time cleaning our tent after The Burning Man Festical 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 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 ip and run off. If you are noticing that he canvas is absorbing 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 as you will use water for the groundsheet. To do this, you will setup the tent as normal, and unzip the groundsheet from the canvas all the way around the tent. Then you will pull the groundsheet stakes out of the D-rings in the groundsheet, and instead stake the rubber loops on the canvas sidewalls. 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 pushbroom, bleach, and apressure nozzle hose. You’re going to clean both sides 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 groundsheet, then scrub with the broom and spray off, repeatedy. Once you’re finished with one side, flip it and repeat. You will need to repeat this process a fewtime. 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 on a dirty workspace. When you’re 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 out the track with a shop-vac or something similar.
  • 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. 
  • Pole: Use the Colrox Wipes (or similar) to wipe the pole completey. 
  • Screens: If the bug netted screen/windows/double wall is really bad, use a vacuum on it, but be sure to beat it really well before using a vacuum
Did you find this article helpful? Please share!  

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