Cleaning Up My Act (It’s No Act!)
Well, the hike is over ! Sad, I know. But it’s time to clean up and store my gear as I have no long hikes planned in the immediate future. That backpack I hauled 2,192 miles plus, sweated profusely on, muddied up, and god knows what else it’s been through, came home sealed in a contractors bag and off-loaded to the garage. It’s normal mid-90s weather in Florida, so I guess the garage is over 100 degrees. So I don’t hesitate to let it ferment and get even grosser!
I’m generally over the top with all of my gear and vehicles, so I get right down to caring for them so they are well maintained! I am fully aware that there are products specifically made for cleaning, but I often research and concoct my own combinations. My first order was to make a solution to neutralize the odor and clean the following items—backpack, pack rain cover, dry bags, tent/sleeping mat footprint, insoles and trail runners. This solution is mixed in a 20-gallon bucket; I use a half-gallon of white wine vinegar and eight ounces of delicate Woolite. I let them soak separately for a half an hour or so, I turn the backpack periodically so it stays submerged. Then with a gentle soft brush I scrub soiled areas that need extra attention. I’ll rinse with cold water and hang to dry. I do the least soiled items first and save the worst for last. If the water gets too dirty, I will change it and remake the same concoction.
In a smaller pail, I make a weaker solution; 3 gallons of water, 4 ounces of white wine vinegar and a cap full of delicate woolite.In this solution, I will wash; pillow, mattress and rain gear. I’ll submerge uninflated, both my pillow and air mattress for a half an hour. I’ll inflate and with a soft cloth wipe any soiled areas. Rinse off with cold water and leave inflated to dry and turn often so they dry evenly. If this solution is still clean, I will use with a soft cloth to clean any soiled spots on my tent. My tent fared very well and just needed airing out and any liter was just shook out. I feel it is important to always air dry our tents and rain flys throughout our hike. Being vigilant with the care of your tent will prevent the dreaded moldy smell and will insure the longevity of your tent.
My sleeping bags ( Kelty – dri down) and puffy down (Rei) articles I wash in a bath tub with delicate woolite. I used two full caps for each sleeping bag and 1 cap for my puffy. I wash each item separately and change the water and rinse each item. I use the squishing grape method of agitation with my feet and turn the items inside out and outside in to thoroughly wash. I then hand squeeze as much water out as I can, then I put them into the washing machine for a gentle drain/spin cycle. From there they go into the dryer on delicate dry ( low heat) with a sleeve or two of tennis balls and after one or two cycles they are dry and refluffed.
It’s important to take care of your equipment and make any repairs so when we need it, it’s ready to go. The only down side is, I love the essence of camp fire, so it does get washed out, so it’s important to not go to long before your next overnight camping trip!
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