How To Clean A Canvas Tent

Maintaining your tent by treating and cleaning it regularly will extend its useful life. Sun exposure, mold spores, humidity, and airborne pollutants caused by vegetation, are just a few environmental elements that can vary greatly from one site to the next. So how do you clean a canvas tent?

How To Clean A Canvas Tent:

  1. Unroll, Pitch & Secure Your Canvas Tent To The Ground
  2. Remove All The Dirt & Debris
  3. Inspect Your Canvas Tent For Mold
  4. Kill The Mold
  5. Remove The Mold
  6. Apply Mold Treatment
  7. Prepare Your Cleaning Solution
  8. Rinse The Tent & Let It Dry

Suppose you have a canvas tent and want to clean it after your camping trip but aren’t sure how; you’ve come to the right place! This article will discuss the step-by-step instructions on properly cleaning a canvas tent. Additionally, we will teach you how to retreat/waterproof your tent to protect it from the elements.

Related: Check out our list of the best canvas tents for camping.

1. Unroll, Pitch & Secure Your Canvas Tent To The Ground

Bringing a dirty, moldy tent to a campsite is the worst. Cleaning your canvas tent correctly will extend its life and keep it in use for many camping seasons to come!

So, firstly, unroll the tent and secure your groundsheet firmly to the ground. Sweep and vacuum all debris using your vacuum cleaner’s brush attachment. Retreating and cleaning your canvas tent every three to six months is very important.

However, this recommendation can vary widely based on the tent’s conditions and how often you use it. Whenever necessary, look for and retreat any problem areas in sections.

2. Remove All The Dirt & Debris

Stopping the spread of mold spores requires prompt attention. Mold stains on a canvas tent are notoriously difficult to remove. Scrubbing the tent before a getaway is a good idea.

Before you start, remove any dried mud or debris from the tent with a soft-bristle brush. After you have removed all the debris, hose down the entire tent, make sure you get into all the corners to remove any tough debris that didn’t come off during vacuuming.

3. Inspect Your Canvas Tent For Mold

While preventing mold growth is the best approach to keeping your canvas tent in good, mold-free condition, your tent will inevitably get stained with mold growth in humid, biodiverse climates.  

However, there’s hope for revival after mother nature has overtaken your ruthless, disciplined tent cleaning routine, and you’re stuck with a filthy, moldy tent.

Although preventative methods are essential, mold is pervasive and can affect any tent. Although mold can appear in a wide range of hues, the most common types of molds on canvas tents look like very small blue, green, or black spots.

4. Kill The Mold

To end this moldy nightmare, spray the spots with white, distilled vinegar and let them dry completely. You can spray as much of the solution as possible as it won’t damage the canvas.

5. Remove The Mold

After the vinegar has dried, clean the mold using a solution of lemon juice, hot water, and salt and gently scrub the moldy area with a soft-bristle brush. Canvas can get damaged by aggressive cleaning agents like bleach or soapy detergents. Set aside some time for drying.

6. Apply Mold Treatment

When finished, retreat it by spraying a canvas treatment onto the dried, clean canvas. Allow everything to dry out properly, and when you are done, you can pack up and store your clean, mold-free canvas tent.

7. Prepare Your Cleaning Solution

You’ll also require cleaning and retreatment solutions in addition to a watering hose, a sponge, and a large bucket. To make a solution that kills mold, combine 1 part vinegar with 4 parts water. If you do not want to make your own cleaning solution, you can use a solution designed especially for canvas tents.

8. Clean The Tent

After you have prepared your cleaning solution, gently scrub the material with the soft-bristle brush and sponge, and keep rinsing while you’re cleaning. The best way is to set up your tent first and then start cleaning from the top of the tent and gradually work our way down the sides, all the way to the groundsheet.

9. Rinse The Tent & Let It Dry

When you are done cleaning, give the whole tent a thorough rinse, ensuring that any remaining cleaning agent is eliminated. Once you are happy with your cleaning efforts and you’ve checked all the nooks and crannies for hidden dirt or mold, allow the tent to dry out completely.

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you are an inexperienced or experienced camper, when it comes to cleaning a canvas tent, many questions need answering, such as;

How Do You Waterproof/Retreat A Canvas Tent

After each cleaning, the canvas must be “retreated” to keep it mold, UV, and water resistant. So how do you waterproof a canvas tent? Many products advertise themselves as “waterproofing treatments.” 

However, in reality, they only shield the material from the sun, rain, and dust, which could actually accelerate material degradation and reduce the canvas’s inherent watertight capacity. Treatment options are flexible and can be tailored to the individual.

If you use Atsko Silicone Water-Guard to waterproof your canvas tent, you can be assured that the material will still be breathable afterward. Furthermore, it takes only 24 hours for the spray to dry after application, which is much faster than competing products. Any canvas tent would benefit from this spray.

When the tent is completely dry and free of any dirt or dust, use a spray bottle to evenly distribute the retreatment solution over the entire exterior of the tent. Following the product manufacturer’s application directions would be best to get the greatest results.

Should You Shrink Your Canvas Tent?

Cleaning a canvas tent has the same effect as washing jeans as it causes a slight shrinkage. New tents benefit from shrinking because the tighter the fabric becomes once the cotton shrinks, the better it can resist moisture.

New canvas tents often mist in heavy rain; therefore, before you set off on your camping trip with your brand-new tent, you should pre-shrink it by pitching it in your backyard when you know that rain is coming, or you could hose it down with a garden hose and then leave it in the sun to dry.

Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

James has been escaping to the outdoors for as long as he can remember. This first started in family camping trips but soon turned into adventure camps and hiking through the Scottish Hebrides. Now he has turned towards trying to make camping more comfortable and accessible.