How Do You Get Rid of Mold on a Tent?

Natural solutions are the best ones to get rid of mold!
Natural solutions are the best ones to get rid of mold!

We know: finding your canvas tent marred by mold can quickly kill your outdoor spirits. Don’t worry though, because getting rid of mold on a tent is not mission impossible. With some elbow grease and the proper guidance, you can have your tent sparkling clean in no time.

While we’ve written in the past about sleeping in a moldy tent, this post is devoted to actually removing it entirely from your tent, so you don’t have to take any chances by sleeping in it.

Let’s dive right into the simple steps you can take to remove those stubborn mold stains and prevent them from returning to your tent.

Understanding the Tent Fabric and Floor

Before we get our hands dirty, it’s crucial to understand the different materials that our tents are made of.

The tent fabric, often made of resilient materials, is designed to withstand harsh natural elements. Similarly, the tent floor forms a barrier between your body and the ground, keeping you dry and comfortable.

Canvas tents are top-rated due to their robust and durable nature. Knowing how to care for the canvas material can significantly extend your tent’s lifespan.

All of this is true but sometimes, despite our best efforts, mold growth finds its way onto our camping gear – what should you do then?

Spotting Mold Growth and Taking Initial Steps

Mold grows fast if you're not paying attention
Mold grows fast if you’re not paying attention

In most cases, mold growth starts in hidden corners or on the tent floor where moisture accumulates.

Wet tents are a breeding ground for mold spores, which can spread quickly if not addressed promptly, so pay attention to see if you spot them and always waterproof your tents! Remember that mold exposure isn’t just bad for your tent; it can also have adverse health effects.

But how do you spot a moldy tent? By using your eyes and nose. How come? Well, mold often manifests as dark spots or patches on the tent material, so you should be on the lookout for these. Secondly, and thanks to the odor-causing bacteria accompanying mold growth, you might also notice a bad smell inside your tent.

Before we talk about the cleaning process, always ensure that your tent is dry to prevent mold growth.

Removing Mold Safely: Tools and Preparations

You don't need fancy solutions to remove the mold - go back to basics!
You don’t need fancy solutions to remove the mold – go back to basics!

Before we jump into the cleaning process, gather the following items:

  1. Warm water

  2. Mild soap or liquid soap (non-detergent soap)

  3. A spray bottle

  4. Lemon juice

  5. Distilled white vinegar

  6. A soft brush

  7. Waterproofing spray

After you have these, you’re good to go.

Cleaning Your Canvas Tent Step-by-Step

Step 1: Setting up Your Tent

The first step is to set up your tent in a well-ventilated area, preferably under direct sunlight. This will help you spot mold stains better and prevent mold spores from spreading indoors. Extend all the flaps to ensure a thorough cleaning.

Step 2: Dry Brushing the Tent

After you’ve finished setting up the tent, the action starts.

Gently remove loose dirt and debris from the tent canvas and floor using a soft brush. We know you may feel tempted to skip this but don’t: this is crucial to prepare your tent for a deep cleaning session.

Step 3: Preparing the Cleaning Solution

Mix warm water and mild soap in a bucket to create a cleaning solution. Consider also adding a bit of lemon juice to the mixture – this has proved to be very effective against mold stains. If your tent has extensive mold growth, include some distilled white vinegar.

Step 4: Applying the Cleaning Solution

Now, it’s time to get down to the actual cleaning.

Pour the prepared solution into a spray bottle, ensuring you have enough liquid to cover all areas of your tent. Start spraying the solution onto the affected areas and don’t hesitate to use a little elbow grease to scrub the rooms with a soft brush for stubborn mold stains.

Always remember: be gentle to prevent any damage to the tent fabric.

Step 5: Focusing on the Tent Floor

The tent floor requires special attention because it often has hidden mold spores and stains.

You should clean the floor vigorously using a mixture of hot water and liquid soap, with the classic lemon juice for stubborn stains. Make sure to reach every nook and cranny to prevent mold growth in the future.

Step 6: Tent Poles and Flies

Pay attention to the tent poles and tent flies during your cleaning journey.

Utilize warm, soapy water to cleanse the poles and remove mold spores clinging to them. A gentle hand is required for the flies to prevent damaging the fabric while ensuring a thorough cleaning.

Remember, keeping these parts clean is equally important to maintain the overall hygiene of your camping gear.

Step 7: Rinsing and Air Drying

After a meticulous cleaning, it’s time to rinse off the soap and cleaning agents.

Use a hose to wash off the cleaning solutions completely, ensuring no residue is left behind. Once done, allow your tent to air dry completely in open air. Ideally, you would not dry it in a closed room; but if you must, make sure the room has windows.

Step 8: Waterproofing and Final Touches

Once your tent is dry, it’s time to focus on the waterproof coating. Use a quality waterproofing spray to treat the outer fabrics of your tent. This ensures that your tent remains resilient against wet conditions, reducing the chances of mold growth in the future.

Tips to Prevent Mold Growth on Your Next Camping Trip

To ensure you don’t face the same issue on your next family camping trips, here are some tips to prevent mold growth:

  1. Never Pack a Wet Tent: always ensure your tent is dry before packing it up. Set it up at home to air dry completely before storing it

  2. Choose Your Campsite Wisely: avoid setting up your tent in damp areas or tall grass, which can increase the likelihood of mold growth

  3. Ventilation is Key: ensure your tent has proper ventilation to avoid any buildup of condensation. Keep all the flaps open to allow air circulation

  4. Canvas Treatment: treat your canvas tents with a protective coating to fight mold

Caring for Your Tent Between Trips

Storing Your Tent Properly

After all the effort put into cleaning, storing your tent correctly is essential to prevent mold and mildew from taking over again. Before storing it away, ensure the tent is clean and dry thoroughly to prevent the growth of mold spores. Always store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, which can weaken the fabric over time.

Addressing Tent Fabric Concerns

We’re focusing on more than just the canvas tents when discussing tent fabric.

These days, we also have tents made of synthetic materials, such as nylon or polyester. Each material type requires a different care, so make sure know your tent material well for maximum efficiency.

For instance, while canvas tents benefit from a canvas treatment, plastic tents might require other products to maintain their integrity and prevent mold growth.

Preparing for Your Next Outdoor Adventure

Packing the Right Tools

Remember to pack a few essential items for your next camping trip to keep your tent clean.

A small spray bottle filled with a cleaning solution (a mix of warm water and mild soap) can be a lifesaver to deal with small mold patches on the go. Throw in a soft brush and cleaning wipes, and you’re ready to tackle any unforeseen issues.

Choosing the Ideal Campsite

The place you choose to pitch your tent can significantly prevent mold growth.

Avoid damp areas and tall grass, which can retain moisture, creating a perfect breeding ground for mold. Instead, opt for a well-drained site and remember to lay a protective ground cover or tent floor to prevent moisture from seeping in.

Handling Wet Fabrics

Sometimes, despite all precautions, you might end up with wet tents. In such cases, handling wet fabrics with care is essential to prevent mold growth. Always air-dry your tent as soon as possible, even if it means setting it up in your backyard to let it dry completely.

Reviving and Maintaining Your Tent

Regular Checks and Cleaning

You should view your camping gear as your loyal companion in all outdoor adventures and deserving of regular care.

Keep a close eye on signs of mold stains or dampness and address them ASAP to prevent further issues. A cleaning process involving warm water and a gentle cleaning agent can do wonders in maintaining your tent’s freshness.


Although having mold in your tent will ruin your camping trip – you shouldn’t sleep in there – there are a lot of natural solutions to eliminate it. Lemon juice and vinegar are super effective against it.

However, even though it’s relatively easy to clean your tent and remove all the mold, you should be focused on cleaning your tent regularly so that mold is never formed in the first place!

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