We’ve all been there. You go to unpack your tent, excited for an upcoming adventure, only to find that while it’s been stored away in your closet, it has become a breeding ground for mold. It smells, it’s mildew-covered, and you’re slightly concerned just breathing anywhere near it. You know you can’t machine wash the tent, as the agitator will cause damage to the fabric, special coatings and seam tape.
Have no fear, you don’t need a new tent and your upcoming adventure is still safely within reach. But you are going to need to apply a bit of elbow grease to get rid of that mold and bring your tent back to life. Here’s how.
First, open your tent and allow it to dry out for as long as possible. If you are in a last-minute pinch to get out of town and into the woods, it’s okay to start cleaning it right away but the mold is easiest to remove once it has been dried and exposed to light for a bit. Next, fill your spray bottle with a ½ cup of vinegar. Use warm water to complete the mix.
Spray the mold-covered area of your tent with a healthy amount of the vinegar solution you put in the spray bottle. Now, using your sponge, gently scrub the area affected by mold or mildew.
Allow the tent to dry, and then think about applying some enzyme-based odor removers. If you can’t get your hands on vinegar, making a solution from one cup of salt and one cup of lemon juice will also suffice.
For the record, the best way to avoid mold on your tent is to store it properly in the first place. After using your tent, when you get home, pitch it in your yard or garage and allow it to air out. Often times the moisture that you carried back in from the camping trip is what causes mold to grow in the first place.
Note: Never clean your tent with chlorine bleach. It is corrosive and will damamge the fabric. It can also lead to respiratory problems.