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Take Care of Your Hammock and It’ll Take Care of You

June 28, 2018

White rope hammock hangs between two tropical trees next to a crystal blue ocean.

The Best Hammock Care, Storage, and Repair Tips to Keep Things Hanging For Years

Summer’s finally here, at least officially, but by now you’ve probably already gotten some good hang time in with your hammock.

And, in all likelihood, you’ve noticed your hammock needs a bit of TLC to keep looking and feeling great. You want many more summers of relaxation in it, after all.

As durable as the materials are, they still need that little bit of love and care every now and then.

This begs the question: how, exactly, do you care for a hammock?

Don’t worry – we’ve got the answers.

From safe hanging outside to proper cleaning and storage, here are the top hammock care tips to keep your hammock safe, secure, and clean for many summers to come.

Always Inspect for Damage

To avoid a sudden drop and a rough landing, always inspect your hammock for damage before hanging it. Keep an eye out for broken, worn, or otherwise damaged materials.

String, rope, and fabric are all prone to fraying over time. Chains, meanwhile, can stretch and eventually break when too much weight is applied.

Close-up of blue, turquoise, and green mayan hammock with spreader bars hung next to an ocean.

If you store your hammock outside over the summer months, watch out for unwanted visitors. Nothing’s worse than enjoying a good hang only to find out a few spiders have had the same idea, after all.

Mildew is a more serious risk and can be harder to spot. Watch for a film or algae on your hammock, as well as discolouration and fabric staining. These are easily addressed, but mildew can cause respiration problems if inhaled, and frustrating rashes on your skin after contact.

Thankfully, hammocks are easy to clean, and many repairs are easily done on your own over the course of an hour or so. Regular cleaning and proper storage can help prevent mildew growth and other forms of damage and help keep your hammock out of the elements.

How To Clean, Fold, And Store Hammocks

Hammocks need regular cleaning, especially if used regularly and left outside. If you keep your hammock clean, you can maintain its appearance, prevent dirt buildup, bug infestations, and mildew growth.

Whether you’re storing your hammock for a few nights or a full season, make sure to clean it up first using these handy tips:

Shake Dirt Off

This is the first step in your hammock cleaning efforts, intended to get rid of any particulate build-up that’s settled on the materials. What’s the best way to get it done? To quote Taylor Swift, shake it off.

Leave one end of your hammock suspended and shake the other vigorously.

You won’t get everything in one go, but this helps remove a ton of the obvious dirt, plus any pollen, dust, or tree leaves that might be hiding in the folds.

Washing Hammocks

Mixed-breed dog lying inside orange and yellow hammock.

Depending on the material your hammock uses, you might have to adapt your washing techniques. When in doubt, however, always follow the hammock manufacturer’s instructions for proper cleaning.

If your hammock has removable spreader bars, remove these before cleaning.

For hammocks with non-removable spreader bars:

  • Lay the hammock flat on a clean surface.
  • Spray it down with a hose.
  • Scrub the surface with a soft-bristled brush and a mild detergent or soap.
  • Spray stains with a remover to help treat stubborn spots.
  • Rinse the hammock off thoroughly with your hose.
  • Hang your hammock to dry outside, either hanging from a stand or a tree if possible.

Some hammocks are machine washable, so you can wash these on a gentle cycle in cold water and hang them out to dry just like your laundry.

To hand wash your hammock, fill up a bucket, tub, or kid’s pool with two gallons of warm water and two ounces of mild detergent. If you’re washing a Mayan, Nicaraguan, or Brazilian hammock by hand, tie each end off with rope to prevent strings from tangling. Gently scrub the fabric together with your hands and swish things around. Drain the bucket and refill it with clean water, and rinse thoroughly to remove any remaining soap. When the water runs clear, your hammock is clean.

To dry it out, gently squeeze out as much water as you can and hang it up outside. Place stick or broom crosswise in the hammock if it doesn’t have a spreader bar; this’ll help it dry faster.

Folding Hammocks

If you’ve just washed your hammock, make sure it’s completely dry before you try folding it. Just like damp laundry, folding a damp hammock puts it at risk of mold and mildew growth.

As with washing, the type of hammock you own determines your folding technique:

  • For non-spreader-bar hammocks, fold the hammock once end-to-end, and hang the loops on a hook in a closet or tuck in the cords and roll up your hammock.
  • Brazilian hammocks should simply be folded so that they fit securely in their pouch.
  • Lay spreader-bar hammocks on a clean surface, fold the ring and ropes into the hammock bed on one end, and roll the hammock toward the other end using the spreader bar.

How to Properly Store Your Hammock

Each type of hammock has it's own care, maintenance, and storage instructions. The general rule of thumb here is to store your hammock in a dry place to avoid mildew and damage. The best place to store a hammock is in a breathable bag indoors and away from direct sunlight and dampness. A dry, cool basement is perfect, just so long as the hammock avoids moisture.

If you must store your hammock in the garage or shed, make sure it’s stored in a weather-tight tote that is high up to avoid pests, specifically rodents. Rats, mice, squirrels, you name it – they love hammocks almost as much as we do, though for completely different reasons. Rodents will bite, chew, gnaw, scratch, and ultimately destroy your hammock, especially if left outside or hung up near a forest.

Hammocks should not be stored outside, but if you do plan to leave yours outdoors, make sure it’s in a weather-tight tote and away from direct sunlight.

General Hammock Safety

Little girl laying inside a colourful hammock in the backyard.

When things go wrong with a hammock, you’re at risk of a sudden and rapid change in altitude, followed by a rough impact. That’s why it’s so important to ensure your hammock is in good working order, and that it won’t slip, fall, or break.

Weight Limits and Sizing

To start with, always check weight limits and sizes on any hammock you hang. If you’re a 200-pound guy sitting in a hammock meant for kids, for example, you’re going to have a bad time.

It’s important that your hammock supports your weight adequately, and that it’s long and wide enough so you won’t be falling out of it.

How to Safely Hang A Hammock

Close-up image of rope and clips secured into a wooden beam.

We’ve discussed this before, but to summarize, whatever points you secure your hammock to should be an appropriate distance apart and sturdy enough to hold your weight.

Ideally, your suspension should be on a 30-degree angle. This provides enough slack so your weight won’t put too much force on the hammock, suspension equipment, and anchor points when you sit.

Too much force can lead to major damage and you falling to the ground.

Hammocks without spreader bars should not be taut when suspended, but should curve gently, just like a banana or a smile.

Finally, depending on your height, the average hammock should hang about 18 inches from the ground.

How to Repair A Hammock

Even if you’re careful, your hammock might still get a bit of damage at some point. Thankfully, repairs are very easy to do yourself, and you can even help prevent future damage once you know what you’re doing.

Patching

How are your sewing skills? If you’re handy with a needle and thread, you can quickly fix most holes on your own.

For small holes, use a darning needle and waterproof thread to cross-hatch the tear.

Larger holes may need polypropylene rope. Use a pair of large dowels to knit a patch and tie it in place, darning if needed.

Repairing Strings and Ropes

Tie loose strings immediately to prevent snagging and further damage, also tie broken strings or ropes back together whenever possible. If it’s not, tie strings to the closest knot of weave.

If your hammock’s end ropes are damaged or have rotted due to mold and mildew growth, you can easily replace them.

You should also consider using fabric protector to prevent mold and mildew growth on rope and polyester hammocks.

Broken Chain Attachments

Broken chain links require a lot more work to fix. By the time you find chain links and pliers the last thing you want to do is spend hours linking them back together, but more importantly, the structure of the chain could be damaged beyond repair. For the price, it’s a much better option to simply replace the chains. This will ensure your chains are secure and safe for you to use with your hammock.

Though hammocks are very durable, they still need proper care and maintenance efforts to ensure their quality and appearance aren’t altered. Do both, and you’ll be able to enjoy your hammock for many leisurely summers to come!


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