How to Remove Mold from a Canvas Tent? [7 Step Guide]

Canvas tents are a great option for camping enthusiasts. They are not that expensive but are very durable and easy to maintain. Moreover, they often come with a waterproof layer that will perform well for years after you get the tent.

While there are a ton of reasons why I would recommend that you get a canvas tent, there is one reason why I would not recommend it. That is because the canvas can often grow mold on it, so you will have to work to make it clean.

Dealing with mold is never pleasant, but the good news is that you can remove it with a few simple steps. If you do not know how to remove mold from a canvas tent, you have come to the right place. Stick around for this guide, and you will learn everything you need on the topic!


What is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungi that can grow on various things. The interesting thing about it is that it is everywhere! The spores of the mold can travel through air and water and attach themselves to anything. The same goes for the clothes people wear or the things they use.

You are most likely to find mold on clothing or things that stay in moist areas, as mold grows thanks to the moisture. The bad thing is that mold and mildew can grow fast – but the good thing is that you can remove them without too much work.

The best thing is to protect your things from mold and not allow them to grow on them. If you are not successful at preventing the mold, you will have to get rid of it after it develops. So, keep that in mind when you get a canvas tent and start using it on your camping trips.

Where Does Mold Come From?

As mentioned, mold can grow anywhere where it finds moisture. Whether it is a tent, house, or cupboard – it does not discriminate. It can attach itself to anything moist or near moisture and start thriving.

The bad thing about this is that mold can negatively affect a person’s health. It is not that bad, but it can cause respiratory issues if you sit in a place with mold. At the same time, it can cause digestive problems if you eat or drink something with mold on it.

This is why you need to be careful not to ingest anything with mold on it or sit near it. If you think there is mold on your clothing or your tent, it is better to clean it than leave it to chance. I will tell you how to clean anything that you suspect has to mold on it, so make sure that you stay tuned for that as well!

setting up canvas tent with family

Is My Tent Mold Resistant?

No matter what tent you have, it will not be mold resistant. Mold does not only grow on specifically designed canvas material for tents. It can grow on all materials, including wood, plastic, paper, and even glass. While the materials needed to make a tent might not be mold-resistant, they can always be protected from mold.

I recommend you try to protect the tent from moisture at all times. Sometimes, even by sitting and breathing in the tent, you can cause moisture. That moisture will lead to mold; if you do not take care of it, you will have to stay close to it on all your trips.

The best way to avoid mold is to keep your things away from dark and damp environments. Otherwise, you will have to learn how to clean the mold and what to use for that purpose. Keep that in mind when deciding where you want to set camp.

How to Clean Mold From A Canvas Tent? - Step By Step

You need to do a few things to clean mold from your tent. The step-by-step guide I will share now is not that time-consuming or difficult to follow. You do not even need some special cleaning solutions; you can do everything with ingredients you could have in your home. So, to clean mold from your tent, this is what you need to do:

Step 1 – Inspect the tent

Let’s say you were on a camping trip and just arrived home. You are not sure about it, but you suspect that there could be mold on your tent. To make your tent clean again, I recommend that you inspect the tent right away!

The good news is that you can catch mold early and clean it before it spreads and compromises the entire tent. You will not even need to think about throwing the tent away, as there is a good chance you can save it. So, do the inspection immediately and ensure you cover every inch of the tent as you do that.

Step 2 – Remove large debris

After inspecting the tent, you have found some mold growing on it. What should you do now?

Well, the first thing is not cleaning the mold but cleaning the tent from all loose dirt. You should remove excess dirt and debris from the tent by shaking the tent out. You must do this before you start with the deep cleaning because the dirt can make a complete mess in the tent if you mix it with water.

So, make sure that you remove the dirt and debris. Consider using a vacuum cleaner if the tent is too big and you cannot shake it. But remember to be very gentle as you clean the tent canvas because even a bit of force can damage the material. If that happens, you will have to throw out the tent and get a new one.

Step 3 – Give it a quick brushing over

Some people like to brush the tent with a bristle brush. A soft brush will not do as the bristles will not be as firm as you want them to be. Keep the soft brush for other things, and get a brush with stiff bristles for your canvas tent.

What you will do with the brush is remove any remaining dirt and mold attached to your tent. Some stubborn mold will be left in the material, but you can remove that in other ways. For now, focus on the surface layer only and remove the mold formation from it.

Step 4 – Air out the tent

Another essential step in cleaning mold from the tent is to air the tent out. This will allow you to remove the smells from the tent and let it dry. If there is no moisture in the tent, it is less likely to be affected by mold or mildew.

So, I recommend that you clean the debris out and leave the tent for at least a few hours to air out. If you have a yard or balcony on which you can set the tent, that would be great. If not, leave it somewhere where you have constant airflow.

Step 5 – Start with the clean-up

If you finish everything I mentioned so far, you can start with the actual cleaning of the tent. For this first part, you will need a spray bottle, lukewarm water, and vinegar. Mix the water and the vinegar, add it to the bottle, and spray some of the mixtures over the mold.

This will help you get rid of the mold. Still, there is one more thing you can do as an extra step in cleaning the mold. You will again need a bottle to mix some common household ingredients.

I recommend mixing some lukewarm water with lemon and a bit of salt. You can add some of the mixtures all over the tent, which goes for both the outside and inside. Leave the mixture to sit on the material for a while before you rinse it out.

Some people like to use chemicals created to clean mold. But the chemicals can sometimes be too strong for the canvas tent, so they might damage the material. If that happens, you will have no choice but to throw the tent out. So, I do not recommend using chemicals to clean mold, especially not something with bleach.

Go with the natural mixtures of water, lemon, salt, or distilled white vinegar. If they do not remove all mold on the first try, you can always do a second cleaning round. You can repeat this clean-up process as often as needed to remove all mold from the material.

After you are certain there is no more mold on your tent, you can get to rinsing. You can use soapy water and clean cold water to rinse the tent. Do not let the water hit the canvas hard – make it drizzle like rain. That will help you protect that waterproof layer on the canvas and the canvas itself.

Step 6 – Dry the tent

After cleaning the tent and all the mold-affected areas, you need to leave the tent to dry. The tent must be completely dry before you put it away. If it is not, it will start growing mold and mildew.

You know how I mentioned that mold and mildew thrive in moist areas. If you want them to be gone from your tent, you must ensure that you dry the tent inside and out. You can leave it to air dry, dry in the sun, or use a hair dryer. If you go with the last option, set the dryer on cold air but on high power.

Leave the tent overnight and check if it is dry the following day. If it is, you can move on to the next step.

Step 7 – Store the tent

For mold and mildew prevention, your tent needs to be clean and dry when you store it. You need to find a place in your home where there is no moisture, and it is not too hot. That would be the perfect place to store your tent.

Keep the tent stored away until your next camping trip. If you follow the instructions well, your tent will be fantastic and have a great smell when you use it next. There should be no green specks on it – if there are, you did not clean it properly!

How to remove mold from a canvas material

You can remove mold from canvas material using the tips given above. They do not work well only on canvas tents but on everything made from canvas. The only recommendation I want to make is that you use natural ways to clean the canvas before going in with any harsh chemicals.

The chemicals can damage the canvas and even lower its water resistance. This is why you should try removing mold with household ingredients. After you deep clean the canvas, make sure you let the canvas dry before you store it. If you do everything as noted, the canvas will no longer have mold.

How To Prevent Mold Growing On Canvas Tent?

If you find any tiny black or green spots on your canvas tent, you should know that it has mold. Keep the tent clean and dry to prevent mold from forming. Also, your storage area should be cool and dry, so the tent can stay in great shape.

A general recommendation for all types of camping gear, not only canvas tents, is to air them out, wash them, and dry them after using them. That way, they will not grow any mold, and they will not adopt any faulty smells. The next time you need to use the gear, it will be all ready for you!

How To Store A Canvas Tent Once Mold Has Been Removed?

Always store the canvas tent after you clean and dry it. Make sure there is no moisture in your storage space, or you risk the tent growing mold on it again.

The place should be cool and dry. Since most canvas tents come in storage bags, use that bag to protect the tent from dust or things that can damage the material. Take the tent out only when you need to use it.

Canvas tents are known for being quite durable and lasting, so you can expect to use the tent for years if you clean and store it the right way. By following the tips in this guide, I have no doubt you will be able to do that!

Removing The Musty Smell From Canvas Tents

It is not enough to remove the mold from your canvas tent. Sometimes, not even deep cleaning will get the musty smell out of the material. To remove it, you will need to do a few extra steps after the actual cleaning.

I have found that a mixture of warm water and vinegar works very well for removing the musty smell. All you need to do is mix two parts vinegar with one part water, spray that all over the tent, and then let the tent sit for a while.

If you find that there is still a strong smell in the tent, you can always go in with some baking soda. The baking soda can do wonders for your tent if you want to kill mold and remove the funky smells, but it is somewhat difficult to clean from the tent. You will need to use a vacuum cleaner to remove all baking soda inside the tent.

After doing the cleaning, make sure that you rinse the tent and leave it to dry completely. In the end, you can always spray some essential oils like tea tree oil on the inside to make the tent smell fresh. Remember to store the tent and keep it safe until the next trip!


Thank you for sticking with me through this guide on canvas tents and the best way to remove mold from them. Remember that preventing mold from forming is always better than cleaning the mold once it is there. Still, if you follow the guide above, you should have no problem removing any dirt or fungi from your tent.

Do you know any other ways to clean or prevent mold from forming on your tent? I would love to hear all about it, so do not hesitate to share your tips and tricks in the comments below. I cannot wait to read all about your experiences!

Andrew Mullen

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