cleaning Camping Hammocks

How to Clean a Hammock – The Ultimate Guide

by Tom Miller

Welcome to our all-encompassing compendium that delves deep into the art of cleaning a hammock. Whether your hammock has been basking in the glory of your leisurely escapades a tad too vigorously or has fallen victim to unforeseen blemishes and grime during your ventures into the wild, fret not! We are here to lend a helping hand. For a pristine and invigorating outdoor experience, the cleanliness of your hammock plays a pivotal role. Join us as we embark on a journey through the meticulous steps involved in purifying your beloved hammock, right from the preparatory stage all the way to its immaculate maintenance.

Table of Contents

  1. Preparation
    • Gathering the necessary supplies
    • Choosing a suitable location
  2. Removing Dust and Debris
    • Shaking out the hammock
    • Using a soft brush or vacuum
  3. Washing Methods
    • Handwashing technique
    • Machine wash (if applicable)
  4. Dealing with Stains and Mildew
    • Spot treating stains
    • Removing mildew
  5. Regular Maintenance
    • Proper storage for longevity
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
    • Can I wash my hammock in a river or lake?
    • When is it time to get a new hammock?
    • What’s the easiest hammock fabric to keep clean?

1. Preparation

Before you begin cleaning your hammock, it’s essential to gather the right supplies and choose a suitable location for the task.

Gathering Supplies

To ensure a successful clean, make sure you have the following supplies on hand:

  • Mild detergent or outdoor gear cleaner
  • Soft brush or sponge
  • Stain remover or color-safe bleach
  • Hose or bucket for water source
  • Hammock stand or drying line

Having these items nearby will make the cleaning process more efficient.

Choosing a Location

The location where you clean your hammock plays a crucial role in the overall process. Consider the following factors:

  • Spacious outdoor area with good ventilation: If you’re using chemical products for cleaning, it’s best to work in an open space with proper ventilation.
  • Hanging options: Opt for sturdy trees or a hammock stand to hang your hammock during cleaning and drying. Ensure that the hanging structure can support the weight of a wet hammock.
  • Backpacking or dispersed camping: In the absence of suitable trees, find the cleanest spot available, such as grass rather than mud or sand. You can also use a tarp to keep the hammock off the ground during drying.
  • Civilized locations: Utilize picnic benches, lean-tos, or your RV’s roof for drying your hammock. Ensure proper shade and protection using a tarp or similar cover.

By selecting the right location, you can facilitate the cleaning process and ensure efficient drying.

2. Removing Dust and Debris

cleaning a hammock

Before starting the cleaning process, it’s important to eliminate any dust, leaves, twigs, or dirt from your hammock. Follow these steps to remove dust and debris effectively:

  1. Shake out the hammock: Give your hammock a good shake to dislodge loose debris.
  2. Use a soft brush or vacuum: Use a soft or medium-bristle brush to brush off any remaining debris. Alternatively, you can use a vacuum cleaner to suction up as much debris as possible.

Pay attention to both sides of the hammock, especially areas with visible dirt or stains. Check inside folds and creases for trapped debris as well.

3. Washing Methods

Different hammock fabrics require different cleaning approaches. Depending on the material and the availability of resources, choose one of the following washing methods:


Handwashing is suitable for most types of hammocks, especially those made of delicate fabrics or with intricate designs. Here’s how to handwash your hammock:

  1. Fill a bucket or basin with water: Fill a bucket or basin with lukewarm water. Avoid using hot water, as it may damage the fabric.
  2. Add mild detergent or outdoor gear cleaner: Add a small amount of mild detergent or outdoor gear cleaner to the water. Read the product instructions for the recommended amount.
  3. Submerge the hammock: Submerge the hammock in the soapy water and agitate it gently. Use your hands to work the cleaning solution into the fabric.
  4. Spot treat stains: If there are any stains on the hammock, apply a small amount of stain remover directly to the affected area. Gently rub the stain remover into the fabric with a soft brush or sponge.
  5. Rinse thoroughly: Drain the soapy water and refill the bucket or basin with clean water. Rinse the hammock thoroughly to remove all traces of detergent.
  6. Squeeze out excess water: Once rinsed, carefully lift the hammock out of the water and squeeze out the excess water. Avoid twisting or wringing the hammock, as this can damage the fabric.
  7. Hang to dry: Hang the hammock on a sturdy clothesline, hammock stand, or between two trees in a shaded area. Ensure that the hammock is evenly spread out to allow for proper drying. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can fade the fabric.
  8. Allow sufficient drying time: Let the hammock air dry completely. This may take several hours or even overnight, depending on the weather conditions.

Machine Wash (if applicable)

washing a hammock in a washing machine

Some hammocks, particularly those made of synthetic materials, may be machine washable. However, it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s instructions or care label to determine if machine washing is suitable for your specific hammock. If machine washing is recommended, follow these steps:

  1. Remove hardware and detachable parts: Before washing, remove any removable hardware, such as carabiners or spreader bars, from the hammock. Check if the hammock is designed to be taken apart for washing, and if so, follow the instructions to detach any components.
  2. Place the hammock in a laundry bag: To protect the hammock during the wash cycle, place it inside a large laundry bag or pillowcase. This helps prevent tangling or damage from the agitator.
  3. Select a gentle cycle and cold water: Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using bleach or harsh detergents, as they can damage the fabric.
  4. Add mild detergent: Add a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics or outdoor gear to the washing machine. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate amount.
  5. Start the wash cycle: Start the washing machine and allow it to complete the cycle.
  6. Hang to dry: After the wash cycle is complete, remove the hammock from the laundry bag and hang it to dry. Follow the same drying instructions as mentioned in the handwashing method.

Remember, not all hammocks are suitable for machine washing, so it’s crucial to check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.

4. Dealing with Stains and Mildew

Stains and mildew can be common issues with hammocks, especially if they’re exposed to outdoor elements for extended periods. Here’s how to address these concerns:

Spot Treating Stains

If your hammock has stains, follow these steps to spot treat them:

  1. Identify the stain: Determine the type of stain you’re dealing with, such as food, grease, or grass.
  2. Use a stain remover: Apply a small amount of stain remover or a mixture of mild detergent and water directly to the stained area.
  3. Gently scrub the stain: Use a soft brush or sponge to gently scrub the stain in a circular motion. Avoid using abrasive materials that may damage the fabric.
  4. Rinse thoroughly: After scrubbing, rinse the area with clean water to remove the stain remover or detergent residue.
  5. Dry completely: Allow the spot-treated area to dry completely before using or storing the hammock.

Removing Mildew

Mildew on a hammock

If your hammock develops mildew due to damp conditions or improper storage, follow these steps to remove it:

  1. Brush off loose mildew: Use a soft brush or cloth to brush off any loose mildew from the surface of the hammock.
  2. Create a cleaning solution: Mix equal parts water and white vinegar to create a cleaning solution. Alternatively, you can use a mildew cleaner specifically designed for fabrics.
  3. Apply the cleaning solution: Dip a sponge or cloth into the cleaning solution and gently dab it onto the affected areas. Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes to penetrate the mildew.
  4. Scrub the mildew: After the cleaning solution has soaked, use a soft brush or sponge to scrub the mildew gently. Continue until the mildew is removed.
  5. Rinse thoroughly: Rinse the hammock with clean water to remove any traces of the cleaning solution or vinegar.
  6. Dry completely: Hang the hammock to dry thoroughly, following the drying instructions mentioned earlier.

5. Maintenance Tips for Longevity

To keep your hammock in top-notch condition, here are some maintenance tips to consider:

  1. Regularly inspect for signs of wear and tear, such as frayed ropes or fabric thinning.
  2. Avoid storing the hammock damp or dirty for prolonged periods to prevent mold or mildew growth.
  3. When not in use, consider storing the hammock indoors to protect it from harsh weather conditions.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to ensure you maintain the warranty and uphold the fabric’s integrity.
  5. Spot clean any spills or stains as soon as they occur to prevent them from setting in.

6. FAQs

Can I use bleach or harsh chemicals to clean my hammock?

It is not recommended to use bleach or harsh chemicals on your hammock, as they can cause damage to the fabric, ropes, or straps. Bleach can weaken the fibers and alter the color of the material. Instead, opt for gentle and environmentally friendly cleaning solutions. Mild soap or detergent mixed with water should suffice for most cleaning needs. Always spot-test any cleaning agent on a small, inconspicuous area of the hammock before applying it more broadly. Prioritize the use of natural and biodegradable cleaners to maintain the health of the environment and your hammock.

How often should I clean my hammock?

The frequency of cleaning your hammock depends on how frequently it is used and the conditions it is exposed to. As a general guideline, it is recommended to clean your hammock at least once or twice a season, or more frequently if it accumulates visible dirt, stains, or odors. Regular maintenance, such as shaking out debris and spot cleaning, can help extend the time between deep cleanings. Trust your judgment and assess the cleanliness of your hammock to determine when it requires attention.

How do I store my hammock during the off-season?

Proper storage of your hammock during the off-season is essential for its longevity. We recommend storing it in a dry and well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and moisture. You can fold or roll the hammock and store it in a breathable storage bag or container to protect it from dust and pests. Avoid storing it in a compressed or crumpled state for extended periods, as it may cause creases or damage to the fabric.

By adhering to these invaluable tips, you shall safeguard the cleanliness, freshness, and longevity of your beloved haven for countless years to come. However, do bear in mind that while our guidance serves as a beacon of knowledge, it is prudent to consult the manufacturer’s instructions for tailored care recommendations, as the distinct nature of various materials may warrant nuanced approaches. Embrace these guidelines and embark on a journey towards hammock nirvana, where cleanliness and pristine conditions shall forever reign supreme.

Why not check out guide to buying hammocks


Tom Miller

Tom Miller

Tom is a seasoned camper and outdoor adventurer, with decades of experience exploring the wilderness. He's a retired park warden and has spent his life studying the flora and fauna of the natural world. Tom is a skilled outdoorsman, with a particular interest in backcountry camping, mountaineering, and wilderness survival. He's also an accomplished writer and has published several books on outdoor recreation.

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