Don’t Let a Moldy Tent Ruin Your Next Camping Trip: Tips to Ensure Good, Clean Fun

Get out the sleeping bags and lanterns! Every summer, about 40 million people trade the hustle and bustle of everyday life for the peace and quiet of parks, forests, and campgrounds. Fun, affordable, and flexible, camping is the ideal family vacation.

Ideal – until you start packing up your gear. Last year, you shoved everything into the garage before taking a well-earned shower. Now, your tent is a smelly, moldy mess. What can you do to clean it – and how can you prevent this unpleasant surprise in the future?

From S’mores to Mold: How Do Tents Become Ruined?

Your tent was designed to stand up to rain, humidity, salt, rough terrain, and other harsh realities of outdoor life. But it’s not really the camping trip that’s the problem: it’s the storage. If you do not thoroughly clean and air your tent between uses, mold and mildew have the perfect environment in which to grow.

With proper care, though, your tent will last year after year. All it takes is a little work. And if you enjoy camping, you’re probably not averse to exerting a bit of extra effort in return for gear that’s always ready to go.

Cleaning a Dirty Tent

If you took the shove-it-in-a-corner method of storage after your last camping trip, all is not lost. You can still restore your tent to top condition. How? Mold and mildew are organic stains; choose an enzymatic cleaner with Ordenone that will break them down quickly. As the enzymes work to digest the stains, Ordenone encapsulates malodors, eliminating the musty scent. Your tent will look, feel, and smell clean.

Fill a tub (or a kiddie pool, whatever works) with cool water, and add an ounce or two of the enzymatic cleaner. Open all the zippers and flaps and fully submerge the tent. Grab some lemonade while it soaks, 10 minutes should do it, and then hang it to dry.

If you don’t have a tub, set up the tent at home (in a dry area, like your garage) and saturate the fabric with the enzymatic cleaner. Pay particular attention to visible mold and mildew, which tends to grow on and near the seams. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the stains, and allow the tent to dry thoroughly.

Stopping Mold and Mildew Before It Starts

Even better, why not prevent the problem and make sure your next adventure starts with a clean tent? Some tips:

  • Invest in a footprint. This is a custom-made cloth that protects your tent from abrasion, and it can help keep water from pooling under your tent.
  • Consider a no-footwear, no-eating rule inside the tent. This prevents debris from being tracked in – and forgotten about later. (Remember, mold and mildew thrive on moisture and organic material.)
  • If possible, wipe off your tent after a rain or after the morning dew.
  • When you’re packing up, sweep out the tent thoroughly.
  • When you get home, don’t put the tent away! Take it out and use a gentle enzymatic cleaner to remove any organic residue, dirt, crumbs, etc. Clean the stakes, poles, and zippers, as well, to prevent corrosion.
  • Set the tent up in a dry area. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a hot, dry day to let it sit out. If not, set it up in your garage. Make sure it is completely dry before you pack it up.

On this year’s camping list, right under marshmallows and citronella candles, make sure to put enzymatic cleaner. A little prevention ensures your tent lasts for years, offering the perfect setting for terrific family memories.