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How to Remove Mildew From Tent?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 20 Jun 2014 | comments*Discuss
Mould Mildew Tent Bleach Lemon Juice


We've just bought a tent second hand and although the exterior is in good condition the interior seals have mould/mildew - not sure if still growing. It looks so unsightly is there anyway we can remove or clean up the spores without damaging the tent?

(A.S, 3 July 2009)


Oh boy, you’ve got a tricky one here. Not so much for getting rid of the mould and mildew itself, but because it could have already broken down the seals, which will effectively mean your tent will probably no longer be waterproof. The chances are that the previous owners packed the tent away when it was wet, which gave the spores a chance to grow.

So what can you do? You can get rid of the mildew with some work, although to try – the emphasis is on try - and get the tent back to its original state will be a three-step process, and there’s really nothing that can eliminate the stains left by the mildew.

First of all, put the tent up, either in the garden (or the garage if it’s raining) and let it air out thoroughly. After that you can scrub the seals, although that’s unlikely to get rid of everything. So you’ll need a very dilute solution of bleach in hot water – no more than a capful or two of bleach to a gallon of water. Ideally you’d use a pressure washer, but since the vast majority of people don’t own those, it’s good old elbow grease and scrubbing, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies; be as thorough as possible.

After that, let the tent air dry thoroughly again. Then you’ll need to mix salt and lemon juice – quite a bit, about a cupful of each – with another gallon of hot water and go over everything again with that.

Those two things will get rid of the mildew and all the spores, and additionally take care of that lingering musty aroma associated with mildew, so the tent will smell good and fresh.

There are a number of good waterproofing products on the market that you can use on the interior seals (indeed, after washing, you might want to go ahead and waterproof the entire tent); if you’re not sure, ask in a camping shop, explaining the problem and they should be able to offer recommendations. If the mildew hasn’t caused too much damage, this will do the trick. But there’s obviously no guarantee of that.

Just as a reminder for the future – never pack your tent away for long periods when wet. Set it up and let it air dry first.

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Does this cleaning method also apply to nylon type tents or just canvas types
Big d - 14-Aug-12 @ 7:01 PM
I had mould all over my tent until I used Dettol mould & mildew remover sprayed it on used a cloth to smooth it over the area left for 5 mins and rinsed off, tent is now as good as new and still waterproof.
Mayo - 16-May-12 @ 2:09 PM
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