How To Clean a Smelly Tent

  • By: Anthony Paton
  • Date: June 23, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

The first thing you notice when pulling out your tent is how much it smells. It must have been sitting in that garage for months without being opened.

Sometimes you may have a problem that seems impossible to fix, but don’t despair there are ways of solving these issues even if they seem like mold or mildew problems.

Cleaning A Tent That Smells Procedure

We all know how bad that smelly tent can get. It might take a few hours or it could require days of work, but we’re going to give both options an honest try.

Ways To Clean tents that are not that dirty

There are many ways to clean your tent, but if you want it smell fresh and new again then check out these tips.

White vinegar – The vinegar solution is a guaranteed way to get rid of any mold or mildew that might be growing on your tent, and it only costs about 3 dollars per gallon. Most discount stores sell them for less than this. Mix 50/50 water with lemon juice in order not have an overwhelming smell when spraying away at night time.

Brush away any debris – Start by brushing away any debris and inspecting the interior for stains, molds or mildew spots that may have accumulated over time due to wet weather conditions in which you were not able use it as often because now there are more pressing concerns such as making sure everything stays dry before storing away again during off season. If nothing else works then try this 50/50 solution made up primarily from vinegar with water added at ratio’s desired smell strength.

Dry Tent – When the tent is finally dry, it will not smell of vinegar anymore. If you still sense an unpleasant odor in your home after applying this solution to help get rid of any mold or mildew stains on fabrics applying another coat should do the trick.

How To Clean badly smelling tents

If you really want to get the dirt off of your tent, I recommend doing this chore on a concrete surface. It will take more time and be harder work but it’ll ensure that no stains or residue remains from whatever has been spilled inside.

The best way to keep your tent clean is by filling it with water, adding about a half cup of mild detergent and half gallon vinegar. For larger tents you will need one cup for every two people who are going inside so make sure there’s enough.

Immerse your tent in the bath, then use gentle strokes with either hands or feet to agitate it. Rubber gloves may come handy if you have sensitive skin.

The tent is made of material that can seem tough, but it’s not waterproof. Don’t use a washboard for this step; you might damage the surface and ruin your camping experience. Just gently scrub away with soap or water (or both) until all dirt has been removed

When you get a chance, soak the tent in whatever tub or lake for at least an hour. The most challenging part of this task will be getting it out once we’re done make sure to turn on some music while everyone helps with pulling.

By holding each end of the tent, slowly and gently wring out any water. Spread it on concrete to dry then hose off all soapy residue before rolling up for storage or use.

To get all the moisture out of your tent, lay it down on a flat surface and use an empty 5 gallon bucket or round trash can as rolling pin. This works well if you are doing this task by yourself because then only one person needs to take care of everything.

The tent is designed to get wet, so don’t treat it like a drying rack. You should also be gentle with the material and avoid excessive folding or squeezing of your shelter if possible.

The best way to finish drying your tent is by spreading it out over a clothesline, patio furniture or metal fencing. Make sure not let the fabric completely dry on an uneven surface because this can lead towards molding in some spots and cracking at other parts if left unchecked for too long.

Make sure to inspect the tent after pitching it in order not only spot any stains but also keep an eye on how much water is left. If there’s too much, simply re dampen the surface before continuing with drying process.

However, you might want to think twice before taking your tent into the laundry mat. It may seem like a good idea at first because of how spotless and clean it looks when we pile all our dirty clothes in there after campouts or hiking trips but what happens then?

The delicate fabrics will most likely get stained from detergent residue if left on top for too long. So don’t forget always hang dry (or carefully vent) any damp items so they’re not damaged by heat during drying time either.


Your tent is like your home on the road, so why not make sure it’s clean and fresh? Bring along some soap or spray disinfectant to keep away those pesky odors. You’ll have time for fun while planning future getaways in this beautifully rejuvenated space.

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