Removal of mildew from tents

Discovering mildew stains on your tent is an unpleasant way to start your camping trip. Mildew is a fungus that thrives in warm, dark and damp places. If, after your last camping trip, you packed up your tent when it was wet or even slightly damp, then you are likely to find mildew spores growing and spreading on the tent canvas or material. Removing mildew from your tent is simple but it must be done thoroughly so the mildew doesn't return and spread again.

Allow your tent to dry outside in the sunlight if there is any dampness. Sunlight is very effective for killing mildew.

Pour 500 ml (2 cups) of chlorine bleach into the large bucket. Fill the remainder of the bucket with cold water.

Brush the mildew spores off your tent using a stiff bristle scrubbing brush. Do this away from other camping supplies so the mildew spores don't spread elsewhere.

Saturate a scrubbing brush with the bleach solution. Scrub only the areas of your tent that have mildew stains. Refresh the bleach solution on your brush and continue to scrub until the stains from the mildew spores are removed.

Wipe the site of the mildew stains on your tent with tap water and a clean cloth. Rinse thoroughly to ensure you remove the bleach solution entirely, as bleach solution left on the tent material can weaken the fibres of your tent.

Mix three scoops of washing powder with 4.5 litres (1 gallon) of cold water in a bucket. Wash the tent fabric with the solution and a clean cloth, then rinse with cool water.

Lay your tent in a sunny location and allow it to dry completely.


Set up your tent at home and allow it to finish drying if you had to pack it up wet.


Bleach odour can be overpowering -- place a bowl of baking soda inside your tent to remove the bleach smell.

Things You'll Need

  • Household bleach
  • Water
  • 22 litre (5 gallon) bucket
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Clean cloths
  • Washing powder
  • Baking soda (optional)
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About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.