How to Clean and Store Camping Gear After a Trip (tips and storage ideas)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclaimer here.
Taking good care of your camping gear is important. After all, you want your gear to last you for many years to come, right? In this post, we’ll go over all the do’s and dont’s when it comes to cleaning and storing camping gear after a trip! It’s not complicated, but there are a few crucial steps to get right.
Prefer to watch?
Check out the video below where I walk you through the entire process in my living room.
Before You Store Camping Gear:
Before we can even talk about storing camping gear, you need to make sure that your gear is clean and dry!
If you remember only one thing from this entire post, let it be this – you want your gear to be completely dry before you store it!
Most of your gear probably isn’t wet, but if there’s any dampness on things like your sleeping bag, tent, extra blankets, or a hammock, make sure to let things air dry when you get home.
Drying your Tent
Your tent needs to be dry before you store it.
It’s very possible for your tent to be wet or damp as you’re packing it up, even if it didn’t rain on your camping trip.
Dew and condensation can build up on your tent overnight. Ideally, if I have the time at camp, I like to let the sun rise and dry off my tent before I pack it up. But sometimes that’s not an option, and so you’ll need to unpack your tent at home and let it dry.
If you have a backyard, you can do this outside in the sun.
Drying your tent in small spaces:
If you’re like me and you don’t have a backyard, you’ll have to get a little creative.
I hang my tent from a pull-up bar, over the shower curtain rod, or over the chair in my office. (See the video above.)
There are lots of options, but however you do it, you want to make sure that all the parts of your tent have a chance to fully dry before you store it.
This same procedure goes for other things that might be damp or wet such as a hammock or sleeping bag.
Storing Camp Kitchen Gear & Pantry Bins
I like to keep some of my gear organized into bins. This makes it really easy to find things and pack for camping trips.
I have two bins – my camp kitchen bin and my camping pantry bin.
After a trip, these bins need to be cleaned and organized.
The Pantry Bin:
- For the pantry bin, I simply look through it and make sure I remove any open or perishable foods. I don’t want things rotting in the bin when it’s in storage.
- I also look for any expired foods and restock any of the food that I ate so that the bin is ready to go for my next trip.
- As needed, I will take everything out of the bin and do a deeper clean to make sure there are no food crumbs collecting on the bottom.
The Camp Kitchen Gear Bin:
- For my camping kitchen gear, I make sure everything in the bin is clean and dry.
- If needed, I will take out utensils or plates that need to be washed. Once they’re washed and dried, I will return them to the bin.
- A couple of times throughout the year, I go through and do a deeper clean of the bin to clear out any dirt that accumulates in the bottom.
Having the bins makes it really easy for me to stay organized. They take up less space than if things were scattered all over.
They’re also stackable, making it easy to store them in a closet.
Storing a Camping Stove, Cooler, and Water Jug
Lastly, we have the stove, cooler, and water jug.
- When I notice that my camping stove has gotten dirty, I will wipe it down with a cloth to remove any buildup and stuck-on food bits.
- For my cooler, I remove all the food and wipe down the inside to make sure there’s no food or water sitting in the bottom. I store the cooler open so air can circulate inside.
- For my water jug, I dump out all the water and I leave it uncapped to dry out. It does eventually dry out and I’ve never had any mold or nasty buildup in the water jug.
Where to Store Your Camping Gear
Where you store your camping gear is going to of course depend on where you’re living and the space available to you. But there are a few environments you want to avoid if possible.
Places to avoid:
In general, you want to avoid storing your gear in damp musty environments.
For example, my parents live in Connecticut where the climate is very humid. They also have a garage that is sort of underground because their house is built on a slight hill.
Their garage is very damp, musty, and dark – not a great place to be storing camping gear.
In their case, I would recommend that they bring their gear into the house and store it in a closet where things are a little more temperature controlled.
get my free
Camp Cooking Starter Kit
Printable camping recipes, a gear checklist, and a camping meal planner so you can go camping with confidence and good food!
Storage for small spaces:
I live in a small condo. I don’t have a garage or any extra space, so I have to get a little creative about how and where I store my gear.
I live in Utah where we have a very dry climate. If I had a garage, I probably would store my gear in there.
Since I don’t, I store my gear in a closet or on a shelf in my office. I had to buy a large shelf from Ikea just for my gear. It actually works out great because my gear is now organized and in a dry temperature-controlled environment.
Note about sleeping bag storage:
In general, you never want to store your sleeping bag compressed for long periods of time. This is especially important if you have a down sleeping bag.
If you store your sleeping bag compressed, it won’t loft up as well the next time you go to use it, and therefore, it won’t keep you warm.
Again, this is less of a concern if you have a synthetic sleeping bag since they’re not as compressible as down, but I think it’s still a good idea to leave them uncompressed.
You can use a large pillowcase or laundry bag for this.
It might be tempting to store your sleeping bag compressed so it takes up less space, but don’t give in to the temptation!
What about a deeper clean?
You might be wondering about a deeper clean for something like your sleeping bag or tent.
Honestly, I hardly ever really clean these things. For my tent, I shake out any dirt as I’m packing it up, and that’s it. There’s really no need to wash your tent.
Cleaning a sleeping bag is not something I do often, but it does need to be done occasionally.
You can check out my video tutorial for how to clean a sleeping bag if you want to do a deeper clean. Note: the tutorial is for a down sleeping bag.
If you have a down sleeping bag, you need to be really careful about how you clean it.
Have any questions About Your Camping Gear?
If you have any other questions about how to store and clean your camping gear after a trip, please comment below!
Check out some of the other camping tips and resources from the blog:
- Car Camping Clothes 101 (what to wear camping)
- How to Clean Dishes While Camping
- How to Find Amazing Campsites