How To Clean A Tent With Mold (Step-By-Step)

Tents spend a good part of their lives being packed away after short stints outdoors.

And even if you did everything possible to keep your tent clean while camping, they can still get moldy while in storage.

Musty, stale smells are indications of mold growth in your tent. So, you need to act fast to prevent it from spreading.

Essential Tips When Cleaning A Tent

Before we start cleaning the mold off our tent, here are a few important tips to keep in mind whenever you clean a tent (mold or not).

  • Avoid using a cleaner that is too abrasive, as it could hurt your tent’s fabric and shorten its lifespan.
  • Never wash your tent in a washing machine. It can destroy the tent fabrics, seam tape, special coating, and any waterproofing it may contain.
  • Only hand-wash the outer material. Scrubbing the underside of the tent may damage or remove the polyurethane waterproofing coating applied inside most tent flies.

Check out our step-by-step guide on how to clean a tent for more important general cleaning guidelines.

How To Clean A Tent With Mold While Camping

Mold typically grows on your tent as it’s stored away, and unless you check your tent before leaving for your trip, you might not realize there’s a mold issue until after you’ve arrived at the campsite.

Don’t worry, this is a common issue, and one we can quickly take care of using the following steps.

What you’ll need

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Sponge or a rag
  • The sun

Step 1: Set up the tent

Before you start cleaning your tent, set it up completely and remove the rain fly.

Step 2: Prepare some warm soapy water

Add your mild soap to warm water and stir to mix well.

Step 3: Scrub using a rag or a sponge

Scrub any parts of the tent that have mold growth to remove it.

Step 4: Rinse thoroughly

Once clean, thoroughly rinse the areas you cleaned to remove the soap.

Step 5: Leave it to dry completely

Typically, when you wash your tent you should allow it dry in the shade. However, if you just cleaned mold off your tent, the sun acts as a natural bleaching agent and will help kill any remaining bacteria that you may not have washed off. Just do not put a tent in a dryer as that can create more problems.

DIY Remedies For Removing Mold On A Tent

If you discover mold or mildew on your tent before leaving for a camping trip, you have more options to clean it using common household ingredients.

Although the following DIY methods effectively clean and kill the mold in your tent, they may also affect your tent’s lifespan. While they both entail cleaning with natural products, you should use them with discretion.

Method 1: Lemon juice and salt

You will need:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of salt
  • Sponge or bristle brush

Mix 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 cup of salt, and 1 gallon of hot water. Using this solution, briskly scrub the mold patches on your nylon/polyester tent using a cloth or a bristle brush. Wash your tent using a sponge. Always use the non-abrasive side of the sponge.

If you are cleaning a canvas tent, use a bristle brush instead. Scrub the areas on your tent canvas that have mold to remove it as best as you can. Rinse the tent with clean water and leave it to dry in direct sunlight.

Method 2: White vinegar diluted with water

Vinegar is referred to as a cleaning powerhouse, and for a good reason. For this method, you will need:

  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft-bristled brush

Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 gallon of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray over the affected areas in your tent. Scrub the moldy area with a bristle brush or sponge, depending on the tent material as described above.

To let the vinegar do its magic, do not rinse the tent. Let the tent air-dry completely in bright sunlight.

How To Remove Mold & Odors From Tents Using Revivex

Even after cleaning your tent, whether you simply use soap and water, or one of the DIY mold eliminating methods above, you may still notice a foul, moldy odor coming from your tent.

Revivex eliminates odor-causing bacteria like mold, mildew, etc, with water-activated enzymes that penetrate the pores of your tent fabric.

After thoroughly washing your tent, here’s how to use Revivex to further eliminate mold and any odors.

  1. Fill a large washbasin with 20 gallons of water.
  2. Mix in 0.5 ounces of Revivex.
  3. Open tent flaps and unzip the zippers.
  4. Soak the tent in the solution for up to 5 minutes. Your goal is to drench the tent with as many microbes as possible so that they can consume the odor-causing mold present.
  5. Don’t rinse the tent. Doing this will wash away the bacteria. Also, do not apply any heat as it can kill the microbes.
  6. After soaking for 5 minutes, remove the tent and allow it to air dry. The odor will diminish as the tent dries.
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Revivex is most effective right after mixing the solution with water, when most of the bacteria are still alive. As time goes on, these microbes consume themselves, making the solution less effective. Therefore, make sure that you soak your tent immediately after mixing Revivex with water.

The longer you leave your tent out to air dry, the more the microbes can do their job. Try your best to air dry the tent in a cool environment away from direct sunlight.

While Revivex specifically will NOT damage the tent’s polyurethane coating that provides waterproofing, prolonged soaking in water can. To prevent this from happening, do not soak your tent for more than 5 minutes.

Revivex Odor & Mold Eliminator

Revivex Odor & Mold Eliminator

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

After all that if your tent still smells, it could likely be caused by another issue. Check out our guide on how to clean a tent that smells to quickly diagnose the issue and get it smelling fresh again.

How To Prevent Mold On Your Tent

When it comes to dealing with mold, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Cleaning and drying your tent after returning from a camping trip takes a bit of effort, but it’s well worth it to avoid mold and mildew growing on your tent.

There are multiple ways to prevent mold from growing on your tent, and the one you choose will depend on the type of camper you are.

For a weekend or casual campers, making sure your tent is clean and dry before packing is a great way to prevent mold. Once you get home, do these things:

  • Shake or sweep as much dirt and debris as possible out of your tent.
  • If the tent is wet, air-dry it outside away from direct sunlight to dry completely before packing it away.
  • Always store your tent in a cool, dry area, away from sunlight. Also, make sure to store it in a large breathable bag.

If you live in your tent long-term, such as months at a time, there a few things you can do to prevent mold growth in your tent.

  • Regularly check for mold growth on your tent.
  • Clean off dead bugs and bird poop.
  • Cut back any grass or trees growing too close to your tent.
  • Keep your tent well ventilated.
  • During rainy seasons, spray the tent with a waterproofing spray.

Is Mold In A Tent Dangerous?

Although the mold in your tent isn’t explicitly harmful, you do not want to inhale the free-floating spores it produces.

Mold exposure can trigger allergies and worsen conditions such as asthma. To avoid these reactions, give your tent a thorough cleaning if you notice any mold and try to prevent future mold growth.

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