How To Remove Mold On Canvas Tents?

The presence of mold on a tent signals high humidity and improper cleaning routines. Canvas tents are known for their breathability but they can also absorb more moisture than nylon tents.

Mildew on tents and mold on tents can be removed by using specialized cleaners or homemade cleaners. Scrubbing it off is the first step to completely removing it from the canvas while soaking might be necessary for a canvas that’s deeply affected by mold or by canvas that remains stained after cleaning mold or mildew off.

What is mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that is present in the air, specifically in areas with high humidity. It spreads quicker in shaded locations that aren’t exposed to sunlight as they tend to maintain higher humidity levels for longer.

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. For canvas, these need to be cotton-friendly cleaners as the canvas is mostly made from cotton.

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. Most of the materials needed to scrub it off-canvas tents are already found around the house.

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

All of these materials can be used together for the ultimate clean canvas tent or separately for canvas tents that only partially show signs of mold and mildew.

Get the right specialized cleaners

Specialized cleaners are recommended for considerable mold or mildew buildup on the tent.

  • 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-based cleaners – a natural solution that doesn’t stain or impact canvas is found in mold cleaners made with essential oils.

Consider all DIY cleaners

Mildew on the tent can be removed with lemon and vinegar mixed with water. Some types of mold might also be removed with these.

  • Lemon and salt – lemon, salt, and water are ideal DIY solutions for cleaning mold off a tent.
  • Vinegar – vinegar and water can be mixed for an all-natural cleaner, ideal for removing mold and mildew off 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. Make sure to pitch the tent first to allow through scrubbing and to efficiently assess if mold has been completely removed from the canvas.

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. Spraying is recommended for mild mold and mildew while overnight soaking is the better alternative for heavy mold formation.

3. Scrub it out with a soft brush

You can then proceed to scrub out the mold with a soft brush. Circular motions are recommended. Rinsing with clear cold water is recommended after scrubbing the mold off.

4. Let the tent air-dry

Canvas takes a long time to dry. It needs to be properly dried before the tent is packed down. A clean tent that isn’t properly dried is going to favor new mold formation on the canvas.

When to soak a canvas tent?

Soaking a canvas tent is recommended as a method to clear considerable mold expansion. Any mold that’s expanded on a full tent wall requires soaking as scrubbing 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. It’s recommended to soak each part of the tent for at least 4 hours before scrubbing it off when extensive mildew has formed on it. This process is repeated multiple times for each affected area of the canvas.

Scrubbing and soaking canvas might only come with limited results if mold and mildew have been growing for a long time. It’s recommended to deep clean a canvas tent after every extended stay out in nature.

Keeping mold away is easier than cleaning it off. This is why it’s recommended to ventilate the tent frequently and to pitch it in direct sunlight to stay away from high humidity locations.

To explore new tent options, see this article.


How to remove mildew stains from the tent?

Mildew stains can be removed by scrubbing the tent with a fine brush and a mold remover or a mix 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?

Mildew can be removed from the tent by mixing 50% vinegar and 50% water and spraying the affected area. Scrubbing it off with a brush is recommended to eliminate it from the tent.

How to remove mold from nylon tent?

Mold can be removed from nylon tents with a mold remover solution that isn’t petroleum-based. Spraying and scrubbing the affected area are recommended. Nylon tents tend to dry quicker than canvas tents which means they can be packed in the tent bag sooner after mold has been removed and the tent is dry.

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