A Guide On How To Clean A Tent With Mold & Mildew

A Guide On How To Clean A Tent With Mold & Mildew

Key Takeaways
● Mold and mildew can cause serious damage to your tent, but they can be removed through regular cleaning and maintenance.
● Always inspect your tent before and after use to identify mold growth.
● Clean and treat your tent with mild detergent and warm water, and dry it thoroughly before storage.

Are you a camper that has dealt with the unpleasant experience of returning from a camping trip to find your tent covered in mold and mildew? Now that you’re back, it’s time to clean and restore your tent so you can use it again.

Mold and mildew can occur when tents are exposed to moisture, particularly in humid or wet climates. They can cling to tent fabric and cause the material to break down. Luckily, you’ll be able to clean your tent thoroughly so it’s ready for your next camping trip.

This blog post will provide more information on how to clean a canvas tent with mold and mildew. Additionally, we’ll share a few tips that can help prevent it from happening in the future. Let’s dive into the details!

Why Is There Mold On My Tent?

Why Is There Mold On My Tent

Most commonly, mold and mildew occur when tents are exposed to MOISTURE or left in damp climates for extended periods of time. If the tent fabric absorbs enough moisture, bacteria build up, leading to discolouration or even deterioration of the material.

In addition to humidity and dampness, mold can form due to INADEQUATE ventilation, leaving moist air trapped inside the tent.

Also, storing a WET tent improperly after your camping trips can cause mold issues if it’s not properly dried before being put away.

Pro Tip: Ensure your tent is adequately ventilated and dried before storing it to prevent mold and mildew.

How To Know If Your Tent Has Mold & Mildew

How To Know If Your Tent Has Mold & Mildew

Mold and mildew can sometimes be challenging to spot on your tent’s fabric. However, it would be best if you looked out for discolourations and spots that are DIFFERENT from the material’s original colour. These visually tell-tale signs could indicate a mold issue.

Additionally, if you smell an UNPLEASANT musty smell coming from your tent, this, too, could be a sign of mold growth inside the tent. If you notice any visual or olfactory indicators, it’s time to take action to clean the mold.

To make sure you’ve correctly diagnosed the problem and that no further damage is caused by improper cleaning, take PHOTOS of the affected areas before beginning any cleaning process.

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If there is any further deterioration after treatment, you can REFER back to the photos to see if the damage was caused by mold or other factors.

Pro Tip: Mold grows quickly on wet fabrics, so make sure to inspect your tent often and take measures immediately to avoid further damage.

Preparing To Clean The Tent

Preparing To Clean The Tent

Now that you know you have a mold problem, it’s time to take action. Before you start the cleaning process, it’s essential to prepare properly. Here are some of the things you should do to get ready:

Gather All Necessary Supplies

Gather all the supplies you’ll need to complete the CLEANING process, such as a soft-bristled brush, mild detergent, white vinegar, and a clean cloth. You may also want to include some baking soda in your supply list, as it can help neutralise any odours from the mold or mildew.

You can also grab SPECIALISED products to combat mold and mildew, such as bleach- and ammonia-free solutions. Be sure to read the product labels carefully before using any of these products.

Take Time To Disinfect Your Tools

Once you have your supplies ready, it’s important to disinfect them before use. This will help PREVENT the spreading of bacteria during the cleaning process.

A simple water and white vinegar solution can wipe down your tools with a cloth or paper towel. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes BEFORE continuing to the next step in the cleaning process.

Remove Everything From Inside The Tent

Once your supplies are disinfected, remove everything from the inside of the tent. This includes any furniture, sleeping bags, and other items in the tent.

Ensure you also VACUUM out any loose dirt or debris from the tent floor area. This will help ensure that all mold and mildew are visible before cleaning it.

Wear Protective Gear

It is also important to WEAR protective gear before you start cleaning the mold or mildew. This includes gloves, safety glasses, and a face mask [1].

These items will help protect your skin from any harsh chemicals used in the cleaning process and prevent you from BREATHING in any harmful fumes or particles.

Prepare Cleaning Solutions

Once you’ve gathered your supplies and put on protective gear, it’s time to PREPARE the cleaning solutions.

For a mild solution, mix one-part water with one part white vinegar in a bucket or spray bottle. This concoction can be used to CLEAN any surface areas affected by mold or mildew.

For more stubborn stains, use a stronger detergent mixed with warm water in another container. Please read the instructions carefully before using any commercial products and follow them accordingly.

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Finally, if desired, you can mix baking soda with either solution to help NEUTRALISE any odours from the mold or mildew.

Different Ways Of Cleaning Mold & Mildew

Different Ways Of Cleaning Mold & Mildew

When cleaning mold and mildew from a tent, there are a few different ways you can go about it. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may opt for one of these:

Manual Scrubbing

For MINOR cases of mold and mildew, you can scrub the affected area with a soft brush and your prepared solutions. Make sure to start from the top of the tent and work your way down to eliminate all traces of mold or mildew.

Spray Bottle

You can use a spray bottle to target specific areas for more stubborn stains. Aim the nozzle at the affected area and SPRAY the solution until it is completely saturated.

Let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a soft brush to remove any residual mold or mildew.

Brush & Soak

For LARGE areas, you can also brush the affected area with a soft-bristled brush and soak it in your cleaning solution. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing away any remaining mold or mildew.

Baking Soda Paste

You can also make a paste using baking soda and water to help remove any DEEPLY rooted mold or mildew stains. Mix the ingredients and APPLY them to the affected area with a brush or paper towel [2].

Let the paste sit for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing it off with your soft brush. This will help lift away any remaining traces of mold or mildew.

Steam Cleaning

If your tent is HEAVILY infected with mold and mildew, you may consider steam cleaning it. This method uses a powerful combination of heat and pressure to effectively remove mold or mildew traces.

This is the most effective way to clean out an infested tent, but it also requires SPECIALISED equipment and knowledge to do so safely.

Removing Mold Stains From The Tent Material 

Removing Mold Stains From The Tent Material

To remove stains from the tent material, use a soft-bristled brush and gently scrub away any visible mold or mildew. It may take several passes to get rid of all traces of the stain.

You can also spot treat with a cleaning solution to target specific areas. Let the solution sit for 10-15 minutes before wiping it off with a damp cloth.

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If necessary, repeat this process until all traces of mold and mildew are gone. Once cleaned, let the tent air dry completely before storing it away.

Pro Tip: Use a fan or dehumidifier to help speed up drying.

Cleaning And Treating The Tent Poles

Cleaning And Treating The Tent Poles

To clean the tent poles, use a soft-bristled brush and damp cloth to WIPE away any visible mold or mildew. You may also want to spray the poles with your cleaning solution and let them sit for 10 minutes before wiping them off.

Once cleaned, treat the poles with a WATERPROOFING product designed specifically for canvas tents. This will help keep them from rusting while also preventing mold and mildew from growing in the future.

Apply the product according to the instructions on the package and let it dry completely before storing away your tent.

What To Do After Cleaning Your Tent

What To Do After Cleaning Your Tent

Once you have successfully cleaned your tent of mold and mildew, a few additional steps will ensure the problem will not come back.

Follow these tips to keep your tent in top condition:

Using Mild Solution

After cleaning your tent, use a mild solution of hot water and vinegar to wipe the inside and outside. This will help kill any REMAINING mold spores and prevent them from growing again.

Using Deodorizers & Disinfectants

Consider using deodorisers and disinfectants inside your tent after cleaning to keep it smelling fresh and clean for longer. You can also spray the tent outside for EXTRA protection against mold and mildew growth.

Adding Baking Soda To Solutions

When cleaning your tent, consider adding baking soda to any solutions. This will help NEUTRALISE the solution’s acidity and make it more effective at killing mold spores.

Using Specialised Products

There are various specialised products on the market designed to help prevent mold and mildew growth in tents. Look for products that CONTAIN mildewcide or fungicide-active ingredients to help keep your tent clean.

Drying Tent After Cleaning

Drying Tent After Cleaning

Once you’ve finished cleaning your tent, it’s essential to let it AIR DRY entirely before storing it away. The best way to do this is by laying the tent out in a dry, ventilated space with GOOD airflow.

Be sure to check for any REMAINING spots of mold or mildew and spot treat them as necessary. Once dry, store your tent in a cool, dry place where it won’t be exposed to excess moisture or humidity.

Storing The Tent After Cleaning

Storing The Tent After Cleaning

Once your tent has been thoroughly cleaned and dried, it’s essential to store it in a cool, dry place. This will help REDUCE the chance of mold or mildew forming again.

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Make sure to keep your tent away from DIRECT sunlight and store it with all flaps open to ensure good air circulation. If possible, use a storage bag designed specifically for tents to keep them adequately protected.

Preventative Measures Against Future Mold & Mildew Growth

Preventative Measures Against Future Mold & Mildew Growth

To help prevent mold and mildew from forming in the future, here are a few simple steps you can take:

  • Use a rainfly when camping in wet weather.
  • Do not store wet tents or equipment inside the tent.
  • Store the tent and poles in a dry, ventilated space with good airflow.
  • Spray down your tent with a waterproofing product after each use.
  • Air out the tent thoroughly to help reduce humidity levels.
  • Check for any signs of mold or mildew regularly and clean as soon as possible if found.

Pro Tip: Avoid setting up your tent near bodies of water or areas with a lot of moisture in the air.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use A Pressure Washer To Clean A Tent With Mold & Mildew?

No, pressure washers are not recommended for cleaning tents with mold and mildew. The high-pressure water can damage the tent’s fabric and cause seams to break.

Is It Safe To Sleep In A Tent With Mold & Mildew?

No, it is unsafe to sleep in a tent with mold and mildew. The spores from the mold and mildew can cause serious health issues if inhaled. It is essential to clean your tent before use to prevent any potential health risks.

Can I Use Only Bleach To Clean A Tent With Mold & Mildew?

No, bleach should not be used as the only cleaning agent for a tent with mold and mildew. You should use a combination of water and hygiene products such as detergent, borax, or hydrogen peroxide to help remove any mold or mildew growth.



Mold and mildew growth can be a serious problem in tents and other outdoor gear if left unchecked.

Be sure to take the necessary steps to prevent mold and mildew from forming in the first place, such as using a rainfly when camping in wet weather, storing the tent in a dry, ventilated space with good airflow, and spraying down your tent with a waterproofing product after each use.

With proper prevention and maintenance, your tent should remain in good condition for years.

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Miranda Sharp

Miranda Sharp

I'm an Editorial Assistant based in South East Asia having travelled all over the world. I mostly cover the LATAM timezones managing the content side of things here. On weekends, you will find me watching Grey's Anatomy and plethora of Netflix soppy dramas or munching on dishes I would have doled out from MasterChef

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