How To Clean a Tent with Mold: Complete Guide (2022)

Read this detailed step-by-step guide for tips on how to clean your moldy tent for your next trip.
How To Clean a Tent with Mold

Guides, Tents

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Nothing can ruin a camping trip like the moment you open up your tent bag, catch a whiff of a musky smell, and realize your tent has mold growing on it. Fortunately, there are some things you can do before leaving on your trip to remove the mold and mildew.

Keep reading to learn how to clean your tent with mold, in addition to a few tips for preventing mold from growing in the future.

Table of Contents

Things You’ll Need for Cleaning Your Tent

  • Rubber gloves: Be sure to have these available to keep your skin safe from potential rashes from the mold as well as any harmful ingredients in the soap or solutions you’re using to clean your tent.
  • Dish soap: This will be useful for spot cleaning dirty areas as well as moldy spots on your tent.
  • Soft brush: This will help remove the mold from the material.
  • Sponge: As a crucial tool for cleaning your tent, your sponge will have you remove the leftover bits of mold after using a brush. It’s also useful for the general cleaning of your tent.
  • Bathtub or large bucket: You’ll need something to hold the clean water before you start cleaning your tent.
  • MiraZyme: You can purchase MiraZyme Odor Eliminator online, and it will help easily remove mold and treat your tent for any strong odors from mildew or anything else.
  • DIY solution: You can build your own do-it-yourself solution to clean the mold or mildew from your tent. You can fill a bucket with one cup of lemon juice and one cup of salt to every one gallon of hot water.
  • Rubbing alcohol: You may need this to help scrub off dirty spots and kill anything growing on your tent. It can also help remove tree sap on your tent.

7 Steps for How To Clean Your Tent with Mold

  1. Brush off the mold with a soft brush or toothbrush. Do this until you get most of it off, but it’s okay if there is a little bit left on the fabric, since it’ll be removed as you continue to clean it.
  2. Use your MiraZyme Odor Eliminator or other specialized cleaner according to its directions. Or, you can use your DIY mold removal solution if you choose against purchasing one.
  3. Use a sponge to clean the rest of the tent, dabbing it with rubbing alcohol to clean the spots with tree sap and scrubbing other spots with dish soap and water.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water.
  5. Leave out in a shady spot to dry. Although it may seem like a good idea to put it in the sun for fast drying, it’s actually better not to, since the sun can have a negative impact on the fabric when it’s soaked.
  6. Once the tent is completely dry, examine all spots to ensure the mold has been successfully removed. If not, repeat the process.
  7. Store your tent properly to prevent any mold from returning in the future.

Preventing Your Tent from Getting Moldy

Keeping your tent clean throughout the year is just as important as keeping your tent warm during cold winter camps. Below are a few tips to maintain a clean tent and prevent any mold or mildew from infecting it.

  • Keep good ventilation in your tent while camping to prevent moisture from building up while you’re out in the wild
  • Air dry your tent in a shady spot as soon as you return from a camping or backpacking trip
  • Never store your tent when it’s wet or damp, since this is the biggest reason for mold, mildew, and unwanted odors
  • Store your tent in a dry, controlled environment—this could mean moving your tent storage from your garage to your closet
  • Clean your tent regularly (at least once per season)

The Dangers of Mold in Your Tent

Whether you’re worried about your camping shower tent, a large cabin tent, or a one-person sleeping tent, mold can be detrimental to your health. If you have mold in your tent, we don’t recommend taking it on your trip until you clean it, since the spores can have a serious impact on your health while spending time near them.

Here are some dangers to your safety that can be caused by mold, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) mold information page:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Asthma
  • Skin rash
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • General lung irritation

If you have any of these symptoms and have spent a night in a moldy tent, you should consider contacting your doctor for tips on how to treat them.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Your Tent

Can you remove mold from a canvas tent?

Yes, you can remove mold from canvas tents with a DIY solution of lemon juice, salt, and hot water. However, don’t use bleach solutions or detergent soaps, since they can harm the integrity of the canvas fabric.

Can my tent get mold during winter camping?

No matter what time of year it is, your tent can get moldy if not property stored and maintained. While camping in the winter, you’ll want to make sure it gets proper ventilation to ensure excessive moisture doesn’t build up and eventually cause mold. You may also need to store the tent in a weather-controlled environment in your home.

Related: How To Winterize Your Tent

Can I put my tent in the washing machine?

No, we don’t recommend putting your tent in the washing machine, since they can rip or tear the fabric. Additionally, clothes detergents can be harmful on your tent’s fabric, whether it’s made of canvas or polyurethane (PU).

What is the difference between mold and mildew?

Mold and mildew are often used interchangeably, but there are differences in their definitions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines mold: “Molds include all species of microscopic fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments, called hyphae. Molds can thrive on any organic matter, including clothing, leather, paper, and the ceilings, walls and floors of homes with moisture management problems.” Whereas, mildew refers to specific types of molds, typically used to describe mold growth.

Will vinegar remove my tent’s waterproofing?

One of the most important things to consider when cleaning your tent is to protect its waterproof coating. Fortunately, diluted vinegar and lemon juice are both safe to use on your tent without damaging the tent’s waterproofing, not to mention they’re especially effective.

How do I know if my tent has mold?

Mold has a musky smell when it grows on tents, so if you begin to smell it, you should begin examining for small dark spots in the fabric. If you see moisture stains and black spots, you likely have mold on your tent.

Is it safe to sleep in a moldy tent?

We don’t recommend sleeping in your tent if it currently has mold. You should always do a dry run of setting up your tent before your first camping trip of the season to ensure that it’s clean and hasn’t grown any mold while sitting in storage.

If you do spot mold, you should fully clean it and let it dry before taking it on your camping or backpacking trip outside.


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