Outsiders often look at camping as something that doesn’t need much effort and gives back a lot of freedom. That’s true in a way, but people who practice this activity know that it requires devotion. Spending a few days in nature is fun, but camping needs preparation and care on the way back, too. For example, what happens when you store a damp tent in your garage and leave it there for months? Well, if you did, open it up – it’s full of mold, isn’t it? Don’t worry, soon you’ll discover how to remove mold from a tent.
And you will do it at no cost. All you have to do, in fact, is to read our article. First, we’ll go through soft methods that may help you out if you spotted pepper-like dots on your tent. At the end of this post, instead, you’ll find a more drastic solution for desperate cases. A note before we start: please remember that mold is very aggressive and that it may completely destroy fabrics. If your tent presents big holes, the best thing is to buy a new one.
Which Camping Tents Does Mold Damage?
Tents come in all materials: canvas, nylon, hard plastic, etc. As you can guess, each kind presents different characteristics. The canvas ones, in particular, are the most breathable and are very durable. However, they have a weak point – canvas tents absorb moisture. Thus, if you put one on wet grass, it will become damp, and they are useless on rainy days.
We met nylon before. We bet you are thinking: “since this is a synthetic material, tents made with nylon will stay dry.” Unfortunately, this is not the case. Sure, nylon tents may be a better solution for wet campsites, but they are not waterproof.
In a few words, mold can grow in both canvas and nylon tents if they are stored the wrong way. Hard plastic products, instead, will never be damaged by mold. Since these tents are made of petroleum-based materials, mold fibers can’t stick to their floors. Although hard plastic products do not need much maintenance, they tend to keep moisture in. Plus, they are not breathable at all. This means hard plastic tents get very hot in summer, so we don’t recommend them for the warm season.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a natural element that can be found in the air and contributes to decomposing organic materials. You can spot it in all things that are rot, like food, plants, etc. It can grow in no time, and it proliferates in dimly lit and damp places. So, if you store a wet tent in a garage, rest assured mold will grow out of it.
Generally speaking, people consider this fungus as a non-toxic element. Even though this is true for healthy people, mold can be dangerous for those allergic to it. Moreover, sleeping in a place where this fungus is found for prolonged periods is not a healthy option. Mold can grow in 24 hours, so we recommend you always inspect your tent when you come back home. Remember that this fungus does not need much. A spot of tree resin, in fact, is enough to grow little by little.
If you did not clean your tent after the last holiday, it could be hard to notice mold spores. At an early stage, mold could be pale blue, light green, black or grey, in blurry dots. And dirt might be a similar color. So how could you check whether this is dust or something else? The first element that can help you is the smell. Mold smell is stingy and easy to recognize. Besides, when you clean your tent with a cloth, dirt immediately falls off, while mold adheres to the textile fibers.
How to Clean Mold Off a Tent
Actually, the answer is: it depends on the overall situation. If you found out mold spores are localized to a small portion of your tent, you can still win. However, there is a step that you can’t skip, and that is brushing the fungus away. You don’t need much, just your tent, a brush and some spare time.
Mold spores are subtle, so we recommend doing it outside. Remember, this fungus can get anywhere, even in the walls of your house. What brush should you use? It depends on the fabric of your tent. For example, canvas tents require a stiff-bristle one, while nylon needs a soft-bristle else. The kind of brush, however, must not compromise your work. You have to brush off the dirt gently, or the damaged fabric will tear. Let’s move on and look at the methods you can adopt to get rid of the mold.
Wash Tent Mold With Detergent
When tent mold is at its early stage, you can just wash it away with warm water and soap. Of course, you’ll have to use a specific one (put down the dish soap!). In particular, you must choose non-detergent soaps, which are the ones without fragrances. This is due to the fact that scents attract insects, bugs, and other unwanted guests in your tent. Moreover, if the mold is restricted to a single area, you can just wash that part. If this is a general problem, instead, you will need to wash your tent in a bathtub.
All you have to do is dip the tent in, brush softly, rinse with clean water and let your tent dry. Make sure your tent is not exposed to direct sunlight because UV rays may damage the fabrics.
Use Vinegar to Clean Mold on Tent
A classic homemade method. In this case, you need warm water and some white vinegar. Pour ¼ cup vinegar into a cup of water, mix it, and put everything in a spray bottle. Then spray the lotion in the damaged areas, let it rest for some minutes, and scrub gently with a brush. This will ensure the vinegar permeated the fabric fibers thoroughly. Let it sit for one hour (at least), then use the spray bottle to rinse the tent with clean water. Done! Now you can dry it in a ventilated place.
If you do not have a spray bottle, you can substitute it with a wet cloth. Actually, you can use other ingredients too. In particular, you can substitute vinegar with lemon juice and salt. The dosage is a cup of salt, a cup of lemon juice, and a gallon of water.
Use Specific Products
Or you can use the products brands created to deal with this kind of problem. One of the most popular nowadays is Concrobium Mold Control. According to the company, you just have to spray the product on the tent and let it dry. Then, you should apply some more product with a cloth to prevent future mold damages.
Remove Mold with Tent Deep Cleaning
The most drastic method is deep cleaning. Besides brushing mold away, you have to sweep the floor of your tent with a broom and get rid of all the dirt. If you prefer, you can help yourself with a vacuum cleaner. Then, separate the floor from the rest of your tent. As you can guess, this process is longer, and you’ll wash this part separately. In this case, we’ll use some enzyme-added products. Since the enzymes have to eat the mold away, it will take several hours to complete this process.
Never Do This to Remove Mold From a Tent
• Bleach? No Thank You
Some websites report that you can remove tent mold using bleach. This is actually wrong. If you do, you could damage the fabric and destroy the water repellent layer.
• Never Use the Washing Machine
The washing machine can damage zippers and tear fabrics. Cleaning your tend by hand may be a long process, but it’s the only way.
• Don’t Put it to Dry on the Grass
The grass is moist in every season. Thus, it would transfer moisture to the tent. If you don’t want to wash it all over again, put your tent to dry in a ventilated place.
• The Tent Smells Like Mold
Do not spray products with fragrance. Never. Unless you want to spend your next camping holiday with mosquitoes and bugs. To solve the problem, instead, you can use odor eliminator products. Since they are among the most popular, we should mention Revivex Odor Eliminator and Mirazyme. Odor eliminators contain enzymes which “eat” mold. Typically, you have to prepare a bathtub with warm water, add some product, and dip your tent in. Don’t forget to turn your tent inside out before washing it. And remember, the longer you let it dry, the more the musty smell will vanish.
How to Make Your Tent Mold Proof
Well, if your tent never had any protection against water, it could be the right time to correct it. In a few words, you should buy a silicon-based product and create a water repellant layer yourself. This way, mold will have a hard time attaching to your tent.
How to Keep Your Tent Safe from Mold
Here are some basic rules to keep your tent safe from mold.
- Dry it Completely Before Storing it
If you are caught in the rain, pack your tent loose. Once you are home, open it and dry it completely.
- Clean it up
Bird poop, leaves, resin stains create moisture. Clean your tent as soon as possible, or you’ll give mold an opportunity!
- Keep it in a Ventilated Place;
- Do Not Camp in the Sun-drenched Places
You may think the sun prevents moisture, but UV rays can seriously damage the tent fabric.
We hope this guide will help you to remove mold from a tent properly and moreover to avoid getting mold on a tent. Keep reading our articles to learn more about outdoor life!