After a seemingly endless summer of hiking and camping (weather permitting) its time to store away all that valuable outdoor equipment until next year and taking some care how it gets stored will keep your kit going year after year. Packing some types of camping gear away before giving them a clean will cause damage and in some cases leave you having to buy new.
Tents are probably one of the most crucial things to clean before storage as they have a nasty habit of trapping little bits and pieces in the corners, flaps and the rings where the poles slot through. Left to ferment for a few months this dirt and moisture can ruin a tent.
Turn your tent completely inside out and give it a good shake to release anything that has gathered during the summer. Take a mild cleaning solution (weak diluted washing up liquid works for us) and give the whole inside a clean paying close attention to the corners or any other place where dirt can get trapped.
Do the same cleaning with the outside especially around any metal fixtures or tent peg holes and leave to dry completely before folding up and putting in storage.
Many modern sleeping bags come with an impregnated lining to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria but this protection doesn’t last forever and if your sleeping bag is smelling a bit ripe it may be time to give it a good clean.
No matter what it says on the label we would never machine wash a sleeping bag as too much can go wrong and destroy the inner lining totally. Fill the bath with warm water and some mild washing powder, open up the sleeping bag and leave it to soak for as long as possible, change the water for clean cold water and soak again.
The reason that sleeping bags and quilts get all lumpy when machine washed is the violent motions created by the washing machine detaches the lining and it all clumps together. Its OK to give your sleeping bag a gentle scrub when in the water but don’t go overboard.
Drying the sleeping bag is best done as naturally as possible by laying it down outside and letting the sun do its work, drying on radiators can sometimes cause damage and you will have to hang the sleeping bag which is something we would not recommend during drying.
Flashlights and Electronic Equipment
The very first thing to do with any thing that takes batteries is to remove them before storage. If the battery leaks it can corrode not only the battery terminals but eat its way through your nice shiny kit.
Electronic Equipment doesn’t react well to huge changes in temperature over long periods and is best stored inside the house where you can give it a more stable overall temperature during the winter months.
Cooking equipment is very likely to grow mold if stored unclean so take every thing apart and give it a good soak. The bigger items can be cleaned by hand or you could use a steam cleaner to ensure no bacteria is left afterwards.
Dry completely and optionally coat any nuts and bolts with light oil to make sure they can be removed easily next year.
Make sure any tools are clean and dry before winter storage to avoid rusting, anything with moving parts can be given a coat of light oil to protect it during long term winter storage.