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Reviews > Do It Yourself > Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarwash > Test Report by Marina Batzke

August 07, 2018



NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) yahoo (dot) com
AGE: 58
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 132 lb (60.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in 2013. My backpacking trips are one or two weekend excursions per month in Southern California. The locations range from Joshua Tree National Park desert areas in the cooler months to mountainous elevations in the summer months. I always hike with a group and like the gear talk in camp. While I am looking for ways to lighten my pack, I am not an ultra-lighter: I like sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag on a comfortable pad. In January 2017, I added snowshoeing to my winter activities.



Manufacturer: Nikwax North America
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Made in Great Britain
Manufacturer's Website:
Measured Weight: 1 lb 4.5 oz (581 g)
17 fl oz (500 ml) Bottle details:
2.64 in (67 mm) diameter
9.5 in (24 cm) height


Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarwash liquid is a spray-on cleaner intended to extend the life of synthetic and canvas tents. It revitalizes water repellency and increases the useful life of a fabric by protecting against UV deterioration. This liquid is filled into a white plastic bottle with a green spray head. There is a close-up photo of a tent on the bottle front and a big sticker NEW!

The environmental features listed on the bottle include:
no propellant gases (so it is a pump spray)
non-persistent (decomposed rapidly by environmental action)
free of fluorocarbon
environmentally safe
not tested on animals

Inside the shipping carton that the bottle came in, I found a promotional postcard introducing the Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarwash with the statement it makes my tent, backpack and more gear last 50% longer - just by cleaning these items! Supposedly two weeks of exposure to the sun can cause fabrics to lose half their strength and reduce the fabric's water repellent finish.

Another card inside the shipping carton promotes additional Nikwax products that help me clean and protect my backpacking gear, sleeping bag and clothing. And I got a cute little heart shaped Nikwax sticker.
Front View
A lot of small font text


The bottle label has a ton of important text in English and French but it is rather small font, making it hard for me to read the English version.

I shall shake this cleaner bottle well before use. I shall not use conventional cleaners and I shall follow the care label instructions of my gear. This liquid may irritate eyes. It contains biodegradable nonionic surfactants (a substance that tends to reduce the surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved). If accidentally swallowed, I shall call the Poison Control Center or a doctor immediately.

While applying, I shall use gloves. First I shall set up my tent, shake the bottle, then spray the liquid evenly to the outside of the fabric. I shall rub the liquid in well with a damp cloth or sponge, while paying extra attention to particularly dirty areas. I may even use a soft nylon brush if necessary to remove stubborn stains. Finally I shall rinse my tent with clean water using cloth or a sponge. I shall then allow my tent to air dry thoroughly before I pack it up.

This Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarwash is not intended for use on clothing. Nikwax also recommends a different item of their extensive product line for waterproofing synthetic tents and equipment.


Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarwash is a pump spray-on technical cleaner and UV-blocker for all weatherproof textiles (such as tents and backpacks but not clothing). This is not a waterproofing product.

environmentally friendly Cleaner
convenient, handy spray can
seems to be easy to use

rather small font, making it hard for me to read all the English text on the back of their bottle



Joshua Tree National Park, Southern California, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack: 14 mi/ 22.5 km
Temperature: 70 - 35 F (21 - 2 C)

Eagle Mountain, Joshua Tree National Park, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack: 12 miles/ 19 km
Temperature: 75 - 45 F (24 - 7 C)

Mission Creek Preserve, Southern California, USA
2 day/ 1 night car camp with Navigation Dayhikes: 8 mi/ 13 km
Temperature: 76 - 48 F (24 - 9 C)

Scodie Peak, Southern California, USA
2 days/ 1 night car camp with Dayhike: 7 mi/ 11 km
Temperature: 85 - 60 F (29 - 16 C)

Mt. Pinos, Southern California, USA
2 days/ 1 night car camp with Navigation Dayhikes: 8 mi/ 13 km
Temperature: 58 - 39 F (14 - 4 C)

Scodie Peak, California, USA
2 days/ 1 night car camp with Dayhike: 7 mi/ 11 km
Temperature: 100 - 66 F (38 - 19 C)

Yosemite National Park, California, USA
5 days/ 4 nights backpacking: 17 mi/ 27 km
Temperature: 75 - 44 F (24 - 7 C)


The first backpacking item that came to mind needing a thorough cleaning was my Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 1, a tent I purchased back in 2013 which has been my camping shelter since. During my one-hour lunch break I set up the 5-year old tent on a patch of grass at work, grabbed the Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarwash, a bucket with fresh water and a sponge. I sprayed the soapy liquid onto the tent rainfly, made of coated ripstop nylon. I squirted with my right hand, my stronger hand, and the pumping motion was easy to do. The Nikwax liquid comes out in white foamy blotches; not as a fine mist that applies evenly but as thick white foam splashes. While the instructions say to spray on evenly, you see the splashes in below image. It took quite some pumping to squirt the soapy liquid on. I applied the cleaning solution to all tent sides.
Cleaning liquid sprayed on

Using the soft sponge side, I rubbed the soapy liquid into the rainfly fabric. I paid extra attention to dirt spots, carefully rubbing in circling motion over those stains. After I had worked my way all-around the four tent sides, I started cleaning the soapy liquid off using a clean sponge and plenty of fresh water. After this sponge cleaning, I poured two buckets of clean water over the tent as a final clean-off. I let the tent dry thoroughly before I took it down.
My wet cleaned tent

To my disappointment, the original stains were still the same. Of course, I do not know what kinds of stains these are and how old. I do try to keep my tent clean and have washed it on rare occasion with fresh water (no soap; no cleaning solutions) over the years, for example when I noticed the rainfly being sticky after having been under a sapping tree. But the rainfly itself seems to have a lighter color, so it seems there was some overall cleaning effect. My tent did not once encounter rain during the test period. All my camping was in dry and sunny conditions.
Tent stains before the wash
Tent stains after the wash
Yosemite National Park

The next item I Nikwax washed is my Red Fox Sandhill 65 L backpack. It has a pleasant golden-yellow color with contrasting grey which the manufacturer describes as lemon curry/ grey. The pack had accumulated a few dirt stains on the top lid plus near the pack bottom where I always put it down. I cleaned the pack at home in the shower. After shaking the Nikwax bottle well, I sprayed on the thick white blotches of Nikwax foam and wiped the cleaner into the fabric using a microfiber cloth. I focussed specifically on the dark streaks on the top lid, wiping over those repeatedly in a circling motion. Afterwards I rinsed the pack off with plenty of fresh water, while wiping it with another microfiber cloth. It almost got the top lid stain removed. There are minimal remnants of dark streaks left.
Top lid of my Red Fox Sandhill 65 L backpack
Top lid with Nikwax sprayed on
After the cleaning


Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarwash liquid is a pump spray-on thick white foam cleaner intended to extend the life of my synthetic backpacking gear. Its true benefit is difficult to judge for me after just 4 months, as this cleaner may extend the life of my backpacking gear over time.

Sprays on easily
Easy to distribute using a sponge or microfiber cloth
Did not get heavy tent stains out
Seems to have lightened = cleaned the tent fabric color a bit
Got the backpack stain almost out

Thank you to Nikwax North America and for the opportunity to test this foamy spray-on cleaner on my backpacking gear.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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