How To Clean A Tent With Mold With These 6 Simple Methods

Rain and Dew on Tent which creates mold

Camping is a fun and exciting activity, but it can get dirty and messy. You must make sure your tent is clean and dry when you put it away because mold growth is a common issue when it comes to tents.

Why Should You Remove Mold From Your Tent?

Mold and mildew most commonly occur on wet tents, when you pack away your camping tent while still damp from the dew of the ground or wet from getting rained on. Throwing your tent in its bag after your camping trip can seem like a simple thing to do, but it can quickly cause a mold problem.

You should get rid of any mold stains you find on your tent as soon as you detect it because it spreads quickly. If you keep mold on your tent fabric and don’t apply deep cleaning to it timely and properly, it can lead to potential health hazards.

Rain and Dew on Tent which creates mold

How to identify mold on your camping gear and tent

I highly recommend for you to inspect your tent for mold and mildew after each time you use it. This will allow you to detect and promptly take care of any mold. This is extra important if you are a frequent camper and use your tent a lot.

When you inspect your tent fabric, if you notice any spots that look funny and suspicious, you can check and make sure it is not dirty before determining that it is mold or mildew.

If you try to wipe the spot and it doesn’t come off, you could be dealing with mold or mildew. Mold stains will usually be black, green, or blue and can also be fuzzy. Mildew spots will be white, gray, or yellow.

Mold and mildew are caused by moisture and humidity, so you will also notice a musty smell if mold is the issue—mold and mildew smell very similar.

Light orange mold on canvas outer tent white

How To Clean A Tent With Mold–6 Methods That Work

If you determine that you do indeed have a mold problem in your favorite camping tent, don’t worry! There are several methods you can try to get rid of the mold.

If you have a mild mold issue, you might be able to clean the tent material with soap and water or vinegar and lemon juice. If the mold issue is more significant, you will want to try a deep cleaning method.

You should never do to your tent using bleach, scrub the underside of the tent fly, or put it in the washing machine.

Soap and Water

Soap and Water Method

Items required

  • Warm water
  • Non-detergent soaps
  • Stiff or soft brush


The first step is to set up your tent. It will be easier to clean if it is pitched up. It would be best if you kept the tent fly open when you clean a tent. Mix up some warm soapy water and use a soft bristle brush to get rid of any dirt around the affected area. If your tent material is canvas, you will want to use a stiff bristle brush. Take the warm water mixed with soap and scrub your tent gently. Rinse and allow the tent dry completely before you put it away.

Vinegar or White Vinegar

Vinegar Spray Bottles method

Items required

  • 1/4 cup vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Soft sponge or brush
  • Spray bottle


Mix the vinegar and the water in your spray bottle. Spray the mixture on the affected area and allow it to sit for a minute or two. For canvas tents, use a stiff bristle brush to scrub the mixture. Do not rinse, keep your tent pitched, and allow the tent to dry completely before putting it away.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice sponge method

Items required

  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 gallon of boiling water
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge or brush


This method is very similar to the vinegar method. Mix the lemon juice and salt in a gallon of hot water. Take some mixture and put it in your bottle. Spray the affected area and let the mixture sit before you scrub the mixture into the material. Allow the tent to air dry and keep your tent pitched while it dries.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil method
This method of cleaning mold exposure can be used with cold water and mild soap. Where mildew thrive on moldy tent and canvas tents. Tea tree with a cup of salt and cup of lemon juice can mask smell and prevent mold and mold growth.

Items required

  • 2 teaspoons 100% Pure Tea Tree Essential oil
  • 2 cups of water


Mix the tea tree oil and the water in a bowl. Apply the mixture to the mold spot to kill the mold. You do not need to rinse this solution. Make sure you allow your tent to air dry completely before putting it away.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide brush method
Remember to brush tent poles, tent flies and edges of dirty tent and moldy tents when using homemade cleaning solutions that kill mold.

Items required

  • 3% concentration hydrogen peroxide
  • Bottle
  • Scrub brush


Pour the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle you are going to use. Spray the moldy tent with the peroxide and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes, giving it time to kill the mold effectively. Scrub the area by hand, making sure there are no remaining mold spores. Make sure your tent is completely dry before putting it away.

Baking Soda

Baking soda method

Items required

  • 1/4 tablespoon baking soda
  • Bottle
  • Scrub brush
  • Hot water


Mix the baking soda and the hot water. Shake to dissolve and spray the mold with the solution. Scrub with a brush to get rid of any tent mold spores. Make sure you are thorough but gentle. Rise the surface with water, then spray the mixture once more. You won’t rinse this time; let the tent dry.

How to Prevent Mold and Mildew

There are ways that you can make sure your tent stays mold and mildew-free. One of the easiest things you can do is make sure there is no dirt on your tent when you put it away after your camping trips.

It is also crucial to make sure your tent is dry and is not holding any wet fabrics at all when you put it away. The tent floor is most likely to be damp in the morning, so lay your tent out to dry in the direct sunlight before packing it up.

It would be best if you store your tent in a large, breathable bag somewhere out of the direct sunlight. This will allow airflow and oxygen to reach your tent when packed away and prevent mold or mildew odors.


Is it safe to sleep in a tent with mold?

In most cases, you will be able to sleep in a tent that has mold for a brief period. Say you have a day or two left of your camping trips and didn’t bring any cleaning supplies. You will be fine, but make sure you get the tent clean as soon as you get back home.

Can a tent be washed in a washing machine?

Tents are not meant to go through a washing machine, and it is one thing that you should not do. Washing your tent will stretch it out and tear the fabric, as well as rip any mesh materials.

How To Store A Canvas Tent Once Mold Has Been Removed

After you kill all the mold on your canvas tent, you will need to store it in a way that will prevent future mold growth. You should invest in a breathable bag for tents to increase the airflow when your tent is packed away.

How To Remove Mold From Canvas Material

You can clean a tent made of canvas using the same methods listed above, minus the vinegar method. You should always test out a piece of the canvas with the mixture to be sure the fabric won’t be altered.

What About Mold and Mildew Odors?

Mold and mildew both have an awful odor that is incredibly difficult to get out of your tent. Don’t worry, though; you may be able to lose the smell with an odor eliminator. You can purchase an odor eliminator at your grocery store.

Can I Damage the Waterproof Coating?

After you have tried these processes to kill the mold on your tent, there is a possibility that you could have damaged the waterproof coating. You will be able to bring back the waterproofing with some help of the right products.

Wrapping Up

Bright clean orange tent with no mold erected in backcountry

If your favorite hobby is camping, chances are you have been in a situation where you are wondering how to clean a tent with mold. If you are camping in an area with damp ground, you are more likely to deal with a moldy situation.

When it comes to cleaning mold, there are several methods you can choose from. One of the most popular ways to clean a small mold infestation is vinegar or white vinegar. This method is one of the easiest, takes the least amount of time, and only requires a few items to mix.