How to remove mold on canvas tents?

Mold on canvas tents

The presence of mold on a tent signals high humidity and improper cleaning routines.

Canvas tents absorb more moisture than nylon tents, but it is also more breathable.

To completely remove mildew or mold from the canvas, you can use specialized cleaners or homemade cleaners and scrub it off as the first step. For deeply affected canvas or stained canvas, soaking might be necessary.

What is mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that is present in the air, specifically in areas with high humidity. Molds spread quicker in shades that aren’t exposed to sunlight. These areas tend to maintain higher humidity levels for longer, which creates an environment for it to thrive and spread more rapidly.

Mold feeds on organic matter and it doesn’t need sunlight to grow. It uses organic materials to grow and it eventually spreads out the more it finds these favorable conditions such as organic materials and high humidity.

How to remove mold from a canvas tent?

You can remove mold from a tent by using specialized mold cleaners. As someone who owns a canvas tent, I know that it’s important to use cotton-friendly cleaners when cleaning it. Harsh chemicals or cleaners that aren’t designed for cotton can damage the fabric of a canvas tent, which is mostly made from cotton. To avoid causing any damage to the fabric, it’s important to be mindful of the type of cleaner you use.

Most canvas tents have UV and waterproofing coating. However, this coating wears off or it might be insufficient when there’s high humidity, dirt, and grime to serve as organic matter for mold formation.

What materials do I need to clean mold from a canvas tent?

Cleaning mold from a canvas tent is cheap. In my experience, I’ve found that you can find most of the materials needed to scrub off mold or mildew from canvas tents around the house. For example, a soft-bristled brush, some white vinegar, and a bucket of warm water can do wonders for cleaning and maintaining the canvas fabric.

  • A bucket
  • Water
  • Soap
  • Lemon
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • A mold remover
  • 1 soft brush

You can use all of these materials together for the ultimate clean canvas tent or separately for canvas tents that only partially show signs of mold and mildew.

Obtain the appropriate specialized cleaners

If there is significant mold or mildew buildup on the tent, I recommend using specialized cleaners.

  • Soap – soap might be one of the simplest cleaners to use to remove mold and mildew from a canvas tent.
  • Sodium Hypochlorite cleaners – these are potent no-scrub cleaners, ideal for heavily impacted canvas.
  • Essential oils-base cleaners – a natural solution for cleaning mold on canvas tents by using mold cleaners made with essential oils. These cleaners won’t stain or damage the canvas fabric.

Consider all DIY cleaners

You can remove mildew from the tent by mixing lemon and vinegar with water. It’s also possible to remove some types of mold using this method.

  • Lemon and salt – lemon, salt, and water are ideal DIY solutions for cleaning mold off a tent.
  • Vinegar – Mixing vinegar and water creates an all-natural cleaner that’s ideal for removing mold and mildew from a tent.

What are the steps in cleaning mold and mildew?

1. Pitch the tent and inspect mold and mildew

A tent is easy to clean when pitched. Cleaning a tent is easy when it’s pitched. Before scrubbing the canvas, pitch the tent to ensure an efficient assessment of mold removal.

2. Spray the affected areas with a mold cleaner

The second step is to spray the mold on the tent and let it soak before scrubbing. If you’re dealing with mild mold and mildew, spraying is recommended. However, if the mold formation is heavy, overnight soaking is the better alternative.

3. Scrub it out with a soft brush

You can then proceed to scrub out the mold with a soft brush. When scrubbing the mold off, it’s recommended to use circular motions. After scrubbing, make sure to rinse the canvas with clear cold water.

You can then proceed to scrub out the mold with a soft brush.

4. Let the tent air-dry

Canvas takes a long time to dry. Properly drying the tent is necessary before packing it down. If a clean tent isn’t dried adequately, it can promote new mold formation on the canvas.

When to soak a canvas tent?

To clear considerable mold expansion, it is recommended to soak a canvas tent. Soaking is necessary for any mold that has expanded on a full tent wall, as scrubbing alone can take a long time.

  • When mold doesn’t come off by scrubbing

Mold might not come off by scrubbing, even when scrubbing for a long time. It’s best to have realistic expectations of the final results, to begin with. Alternatively, you can take the tent off and soak it in water (with a mold remover solution) overnight to clear all the mold off properly.

  • When mildew formation has extended more than a few inches

Extensive mildew formation might take hours to scrub off without prior soaking. When extensive mildew has formed on the tent, it’s recommended to soak each part of the canvas for at least 4 hours before scrubbing it off. It’s necessary to repeat this process multiple times for each affected area of the tent.

Scrubbing and soaking canvas might only come with limited results if mold and mildew have been growing for a long time. I recommend deep cleaning a canvas tent after every extended stay out in nature.

Keeping mold away is easier than cleaning it off. That’s why experts recommend frequently ventilating the tent and pitching it in direct sunlight to avoid high-humidity locations.

To explore new tent options, read our article on article on stand-up tents.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to remove mildew stains from the tent?

You can remove mildew stains from the tent by scrubbing it with a fine brush and using a mold remover or a mixture of lemon and salt. If mildew doesn’t come off completely it’s wise to soak the tent overnight in a mixture of water, salt, and lemon. Alternatively, water and vinegar can have the same effect.

How to clean the tent with mildew vinegar?

To remove mildew from the tent, you can mix equal parts vinegar and water and spray the affected area. We recommend scrubbing the area with a brush to completely eliminate the mildew from the tent.

How to remove mold from nylon tent?

You can remove mold from nylon tents by using a mold remover solution that isn’t petroleum-based. We recommend spraying and scrubbing the affected area. Nylon tents tend to dry faster than canvas tents, so you can pack them in the tent bag sooner after removing the mold and ensuring the tent is dry.