How To Clean A Tent With Mold: The Best 5 Step Instruction

How to clean a tent with mold: best Products and a Step by Step Manual

Active campers should know how to clean a tent with mold. Mold and fungus are the most common problems that can occur in tents, because mold is something that every experienced camper has encountered at least once. You think your tent is completely dry when you put it down, but the next time you take it out, it smells moldy.

how to clean a tent with mold

Although disappointing, mold detection is not a disaster. With a little ingenuity and knowledge of how to clean mold from your tent, the dirt can be removed quickly and effectively. This will not only save the trip, but also the health of travelers.


The worst thing that can happen to a camper is to open a tent and find mold growing on it, but this problem can be solved. Before taking out a bottle of Clorox, be aware that harsh chemicals can damage the fabric of the tent.

It is very important to know how to clean a tent with mold in order to prolong the life of your tent. Here are some steps to remove mold stains from nylon and canvas tents. We will also show you the best mold cleaners for your tent.

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The best products for cleaning a camping tent

A variety of different products can be used to easily and deep cleaning of mold stains. However, most tents are not recommended to use bleach-based disinfectants. Chlorine bleach is not only harmful to the fabric and seams of tent, but also can degrade its protective coat.

For safe and effective cleaning of the tent, just choose one of the presented tools:

1.      Soapy water

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In mild cases, where mold is only visible in a few places and the musty smell a bit bad, wiping with water with mild soap and a sponge will solve the problem. Deep cleaning is not required in this case.

2.      Vinegar, lemon juice and salt

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For tents with a small to moderate amount of mold, natural remedies such as vinegar and lemon juice can be used to remove mold. The vinegar method and lemon juice are acids that kill mold and its spores.

3.      Disinfectant

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For fighting moderate to severe mold in tents, disinfectants such as Lysol are good for combating the presence of bleach and a little more than that. If you need to soak the tent material, then dilute it with concentrate or use this product in an air-aerosol can.

4.      Specialist in the disinfection of street equipment

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The main mold stain remover for canvas tent is Concrobium Mold Stain Remover. It’s the most effective and best. For removing deep-seated mold and fungal stains, it is great for removing deep-seated mold. Concrobium is used on canvas and nylon tents.

5.      Mold and mildew cleaner

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If your tent material has serious mold exposure, consider using a specialized tent and gear cleaner – Gear Aid Revivex Odor Eliminator or Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarwash are great options and are readily available online. Gear Aid Revivex Pro Cleaner is a particularly good mold remover for tents.
The degree of mold growth in the tent will help determine the exact method to use for deep cleaning. If the problem is severe, go directly to chemical-based cleaners or cleaners designed for gears. If there is only a small amount of mold in the tent, try using a natural cleaner or soap solution first.

Step by step instructions

To deal with mold, follow these steps:

1. Set up the tent

Cleaning a moldy tent is not as easy as washing it in the washing machine. However, you should be careful with washing the tent. Washing machines damage the fabric and seams of tents, so moldy tents are best cleaned by hand.

If the tent is already set up, cleaning the fabric is much easier. Before cleaning, make sure the tent is well secured as the fabric needs to be well taut.

To clean a moldy tent, you must first inactivate the mold spores. To do this, place the tent in a sunny place; drying in the sun for a day will kill mold but will not remove stains or mildew odors.

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2. Apply cleaner

How to use the mold cleaner depends on the product used to clean the tent. Please note that some tent cleaners may require rinsing with water before drying.

Soapy water

To hand wash the tent in soapy water, fill the tub with warm water and add liquid soap. If mold is visible in the tent, then you need to wash it with an absorbent substance gently. To ensure no soap is left on the tent fabric, you need to clean the outer fabrics well.

Vinegar, lemon juice and salt

While the awning can be wiped with vinegar using a sponge while it is in place, a more effective method is to remove the awning and soak the fabric in a bath of pure distilled vinegar; leave it for 20 minutes.

Next, you need to take the tent out of the vinegar and hang it for a while in a sunny place until it is air dry completely for assembly, rinsing it before drying is not necessary. Hang the tent in the sun to dry and air out (leave the tent doors and flaps open). If you let the camping gear dry for a few days, the foul odor of vinegar will disappear.

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For canvas tents, you can also use vinegar, lemon juice, and salt to naturally eliminate mold. Fill a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar and spray the entire tent. Let the vinegar dry on the tent, no need to rinse.

To remove unsightly mold stains, mix 1 cup lemon juice, and 1 cup of salt, and add to 1 gallon of hot water. Using a soft brush, scrub the tent fabric with a solution of lemon and salt, paying special attention to areas with mildew stains.

Chemical disinfectant product

Mix 1 cup of Lysol with 1 gallon of warm water in a bath (the amount of water needed depends on the size of the tent). Soak the tent in the Lysol solution for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain the tub and fill it with clean water. Soak the tent in clean hot water for 10 minutes and drain the water. Repeat several times to rinse the tent fabric well.

Outdoor Equipment Disinfection Specialist

Revivex Deodorant and Nikwax Tent & Gear Solar Wash are excellent products specially formulated to disinfect and clean nylon tents and outdoor gear. Both products are effective in removing mildew stains and odors from tents.

Revivex Deodorizer is a concentrated solution that can be diluted and soaked into a tent. Soak the tent for 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the extent of the mold. After soaking, rinse the tent cover thoroughly.

Nikwax Tent & Gear Solar Wash comes in a spray bottle for easy application. The tent can be placed on the ground or lifted up to spray. Using a cloth, rub the spray into the fabric of the tent; leave for 30 minutes, then wash off the spray.

Mold and fungus cleaner

Mold usually forms in clusters of small black or brown spots that stain the fabric of the tent and leave marks even after the spores have been killed. To remove mildew from nylon tents, it is best to use a tent cleaner such as Gear Aid Revivex Pro Cleaner. This product is designed to remove mold, mildew and odor stains from inside tents.

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Revivex Pro Cleaner can be used to clean small areas of mold. It can also be used to soak and hand wash a tent if the entire tent is damaged.

Concrobium Mold Stain Remover is a mold remover that provides powerful removal of deep-seated mold and mildew stains. The concentrate is diluted with a spray gun and applied to the fabric of the tent. Leave the spray to dry; this is enough to get rid of the mold.

3. Leave the tent dry completely in the sun

The main cause of mold and mildew on tents is packing them while they are still damp. To prevent mold recurrence after cleaning, tents should be dried well before packing.

Check the weather forecast. The best way to clean your tent is to let it dry for two to three days over a few sunny days. Be sure to bring wet tents indoors at night so they don’t get wet from the dew. It is recommended to open all zippers and flaps and leave the tent in direct sunlight with a slight breeze.

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4. Re-apply waterproofing mortar

After the tent has dried in the sun, it should become water repellent again. The Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield is a reliable product for use on both nylon and canvas tents. Spray the entire outer surface of the tent and let it dry for 12 hours. Pack the tent as soon as the water-repellent coating is completely dry.

Applying a product such as Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield will prevent water from entering the tent during use and will also prevent mold and mildew from growing while the tent is being stored. Seasonal (at least once a year) application of a water-repellent treatment will help preserve the tent during storage.

5. Ensure Proper Storage

Packaging in damp conditions increases the risk of mold and mildew during storage. After the hike, the tent should be set up at home, vacuumed, washed if necessary and dried properly.

The best way to prevent mold and mildew is to store your tent in a cool, dry and well-ventilated area, i.e. where she can’t get wet. Mold and fungus thrive in warm, damp areas such as attics and basements. Keeping the tent in the garage is a good idea.

Even if the tent is rarely used, it should be taken out of storage every six months to make sure it is free of mold.

Can you wash mold out of a tent?

When camping with a tent, if you find mold inside, there are a few things you can do to eliminate mold from the tent or prevent it from reappearing.

The first step should be wiping with wet fabrics. This is to make sure it’s not just ordinary dirt or marshmallows. However, do not scrub the surface too hard, because you can spread the mold spores even further.

In general, the mold has an elevated shape and either a slimy or fuzzy texture. Mold can be flat, powdery white, or grey.

Prevention of mold and fungus implies the same treatment, so the traveler does not have to work hard to find and identify these different misfortunes, in any case, you can get rid of them in the same way.

Can you sleep in a tent with mold?

Ordinary mold is generally not poisonous. Although some species, for example, black mold can release toxins during the breeding process. Some moldy tents can be used to sleep for a short period of time without harm to health. However, the traveler may experience unpleasant symptoms if they have allergies or sensitivities. And you don’t need it on your camping trips.

As you know, mold is a fungal disease that occurs throughout the world. Mold comes in many colours and can be in small amounts or spread all over the place. These microorganisms love moisture and it is the dampness that promotes their growth.

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They move around the planet, releasing spores that are carried through the air. If spores get into a wet place, they will develop. Outdoors this is not a problem. Mold does help to destroy dead and decaying animals as well as plants.

If there are mold spores in the tent, it can be very irritating to the human body. More spores means more problems, as mold spreads even faster. And if the spores are inhaled, it can lead to coughing, wheezing, and other respiratory problems.

In most cases, mold causes irritation, but for people who have a weakened immune system or a long-term illness, an excess of mold spores can be life-threatening. And in this regard, this is especially true for those who suffer from asthma.

However, if the traveler’s health is at risk, he should probably avoid sleeping in a moldy tent. In good health, it is possible to spend a night or two in a tent, but many allergy symptoms can be expected.

Harmful health effects associated with mold include allergies, asthma attacks, and other respiratory illnesses. Skin irritations can occur if you come into direct contact with mold, touch materials contaminated with spores, or fold and otherwise handle them.

It happens that one of your relatives has a tendency to this type of allergen and they experience more severe symptoms: vomiting or diarrhea.

You may find mold or mildew on your tent; try not to touch this area of ​​the tent. Be especially careful that children do not touch the mold. As soon as you can do this, remove all molds immediately.

How do you get mold and mildew off the tent canvas?

After a long hike, which lasted several days, it is recommended to clean your tent from dirt and dust. Even if the tent is used for short trips, it is best to clean it every few months.

The biggest problem in keeping your tent in top shape is moisture, dirt and grime. Therefore, it is necessary to solve these problems when caring for the tent and cleaning it.


Before considering specific cases of tent cleaning, remember the following general points to keep your tent clean:

  • Any debris that gets inside the tent should be shaken out or vacuumed up. You can do this every time you use your tent, but at the very least, it’s worth taking care to remove debris before putting it away for the winter.
  • Do not pack or store wet or damp tents. If it is not possible to dry completely the tent at the campsite, set up the tent to dry when you return home.
  • Tents are usually easier to clean once they are up and running.
  • The surface should be washed by hand. Wipe down the tent with warm water and a non-irritating soap, such as liquid hand soap (avoids detergents or scented soaps that can attract insects). Then rinse thoroughly.
  • We recommend cleaning the poles of the tent with a soft, dry cloth. After a sea trip, this is an important step to remove salt spray and protect against corrosion.
  • No need to rub the underside of the tent screen. This can damage or remove the polyurethane waterproof coating on the underside of the tent fly. The tent fly must be protected from the negative impact and then it will last a long time.
  • If you are resting in a place where there is a lot of sand or dirt, quickly wet the zipper with hot water to clean it, and then dry it. Without cleaning, zipper sliders wear out and eventually, the teeth stop working.
  • Do not machine wash or dry the tent. The temperature of the agitator in the washer/dryer can damage fabrics, special coatings and stitched seams.

Processing of canvas tents

It is difficult to eliminate mold and mildew from canvas tent fabrics. The dense fibres make it almost impossible to eliminate mold spores if they get inside. Canvas tents can be treated with a product that protects the tarp after cleaning. Be sure to air dry it completely first.

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The best way to prevent mold is to not come into contact with it. This means avoiding contact with her in the first place. However, if the canvas tent has already got mold, let’s figure out how to remove the contamination and prevent it from happening again. It is best to deep-treat the tent to inactivate mold spores and prevent their spread.

Tarpaulin tents are water repellent, just like nylon tents. It is best to avoid using strong chemical detergents for canvas tents, as they reduce the water repellency of the tent.

After use, you must wipe the outside of the tent and vacuum or sweep the tent floor. If dirt or other debris needs to be washed off, make sure the tent is completely dry before storing it. Mold can form if the tent or fabric is damp. Don’t forget to dry the tent poles as well and clean them of the soil around the base.

It goes without saying that tents are best stored in a dry place. If the basement is damp, then the likelihood of mold in the tent will be higher. Garages tend to be a little drier, so it’s better for storage, and lofts are great for storing tents in the winter.

However, be careful with the temperature. Heat and humidity are favourable environments for mold to grow, so if possible, do not put the tent in a hot place.

Make sure the tent is clean and dry before folding or rolling it up and placing it in a well-ventilated area. Mesh bags or breathable bag are, of course, ideal for outdoor store tent storage. If your tent comes in an unventilated bag, you may not consider this option a good one. These bags are usually cheap and designed to be waterproof, but this is not a good idea as they encourage mold growth instead of ventilating the tent.

To avoid moisture as much as possible, store the tent on top of the ground. It is best to place them on shelves or racks. This way, they can be properly organized when they are needed next time.

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On your camping trips, there is always the possibility of mold in the tent. This is especially likely if the tent has been damp, so it’s important to dry it out as quickly as possible. Repairing holes in the tent floor and removing mold is a hassle, so take care of your tent in advance. To prevent mold, it is best to use floor pads and follow the rules for storing tents.

Mold can be a major problem on your camping trips, but mold on tents can be cleaned up. By following these tips, you can keep your trip fungus-free and make your trip as safe and enjoyable as possible. We hope these tips on how to clean a tent with mold help travellers have a great weekend. Share if the article was helpful to you.


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