How to Wash Tarp

Maria Tussing

A tarp can have many uses, from keeping things dry to keeping them clean and making them easier to carry. Over time these uses make a tarp dirty, and dirt shortens the lifespan of a tarp. Cleaning the tarp extends its life and can make it easier to use for another purpose.

Vinyl, polyethylene and canvas are the three main types of tarps. All three can have different functions, but are cleaned essentially the same way.

Canvas Tarps

  1. Create a large, flat, clean space by hosing off a driveway or other non-dirt-based area.

  2. Shake the tarp to remove any loose dirt and debris.

  3. Spread the tarp out flat.

  4. Use a push broom or scrub brush to brush off any dirt that is left on the tarp.

  5. Mix two gallons of water with a few squirts of dish soap or other gentle soap in a bucket. Add one cup of vinegar for each gallon of water if you are trying to remove tough stains.

  6. Use a stiff-bristled scrub brush or long-handled push broom dipped in the soap solution to scrub the tarp.

  7. Rinse the soap off immediately with a garden hose, making sure no soapy residue is left.

  8. Leave the tarp flat and let it dry completely before folding it.

  9. Tip

    Polyethylene tarps won't need to be cleaned as often as vinyl tarps because the chemical makeup of polyethylene doesn't attract dirt as easily. You can buy soaps that are specially formulated for cleaning canvas tarps.


    Never put your tarp in a washer or dryer.