How to Clean Your Tent and Get Rid of Mold or Nasty Bad Odors


The one thing about sleeping in a tent is that you will be dealing with some not-so-nice odors. Think about old gym socks, as that is the best way to describe a smelly tent. These nasty smells will accumulate from body odor, and there is also mold and mildew growing in it. Mold and mildew thrive in small dark and damp areas, and even during the day, you have areas of the tent that stay dark and moist. Therefore, the mold and mildew will add to the accumulating odors. Fortunately, there are ways to clean the tent and let’s go over those methods now.

Clean Your Tent With Dish Soap

You do not need any expensive cleaners when cleaning the tent. All you need is some dish soap, and you would want to get the one with no fragrance. That is because scents will attract insects, which is the last thing you want. You could wake up the following day with 100 mosquito bites, and there is also that risk of the West Nile virus. So, therefore, go with the dish soap that has no fragrance at all.

Take a paper towel and warm water by heating some bottled water. Dip the paper towel into the water, put some dish soap on it. Then begin to scrub your tent well. Ensure that you dry it with a clean sheet of paper towel or several sheets as you will need them. The last thing you will want is more mold and mildew to grow in your tent. However, if you’re going to clean your tent with a better solution, that will also be more powerful in killing mold spores. There is another solution to try. Let’s talk about that now.

Clean Your Tent With Vinegar, Lemon Juice, And Water

Here is a better solution you can use to clean your tent than dish soap because it is more potent at killing mold and mildew spores, and it will also be better at keeping bugs at bay. Take equal water, distilled white vinegar, and lemon juice, and mix them. Start cleaning the tent with this solution, and then you will see how quickly it cleans up. If there are stains on your tent, you will have to put more time into scrubbing them out because this is not soap.

That is the advantage of soap, as you do not need to make as much effort to scrub stains out. However, the vinegar, water, and lemon juice solution will keep odors and mold and mildew spores at bay, too, mainly if you scrub your tent daily. You can use a paper towel to dip into the solution to clean the tent and use a dry paper towel to wipe it off.

However, even though you can clean your tent with dish soap or the solution noted above, you may want to become proactive before your tent begins to smell like old gym socks. So let’s talk about how you can do that right now.

Wipe Your Tent First Thing In The Morning

If it rains, or there is morning dew or condensation building up from you and others in the tent breathing, you can wipe down the tent with a paper towel before getting out of it. Therefore, wipe it down first thing in the morning. That will help keep odors at bay, and it will help slow down the growth of mold or mildew. It is easy to forget to do that because of wanting to get up and go for the day. However, if you make it a habit to clean your tent before leaving it, you won’t likely deal with a smelly tent quickly after using it. You still may have to scrub it up with soap or water, vinegar, and lemon juice solution at some point, however. Keeping the tent clean in other ways can help you delay doing that.

Don’t Bring Shoes Or Food In The Tent

You may want to institute a rule that no food or shoes are allowed in your tent. That is because food crumbs or spillage will not only make the tent smell, but it will become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Additionally, before going into the tent, pack your shoes up in a bag, so you don’t walk in with shoes that have dirt, moisture, and other pollutants and chemicals. That will also help keep the tent clean. However, you also need to wipe down the tent each morning, and you still will at some point need to give your tent a thorough cleaning. Again, however, the no food and shoes rule will help keep that to a minimum.

Clean Your Tent Before Storing It When You Get Home

Have you put your tent away when you get home without cleaning it first? You need to wash it first with dish soap or water, vinegar, and lemon juice solution before putting it away. Dry it well, and then store it somewhere dry where moisture cannot collect. Sometimes your tent may smell before using it again is because you did not clean it before putting it away, and you did not clean it when taking it out. If you put your tent away after washing it and drying it well, you should not have to clean it again before using it.

However, the one thing you never want to do is put your tent in a washing machine. The tumbling and spinning from the washing machine will ruin the tent. So you will need to put in some washing effort instead, unfortunately, when it comes to cleaning your tent. It is worth it, though, because staying in a clean tent makes your camping experience that much better!


When you are camping‘, you don’t want to dread going back to your tent when it is time to sleep or rest because it smells like old gym socks. The moisture build-up in the tent is the reason behind the odors. Additionally, moisture will help breed mold and mildew, and bacteria. That is why it is essential to clean your tent often enough, so you don’t have to dread bad smells. All you need is some dish soap to clean it, or you can use a solution consisting of water, vinegar, and lemon juice which will also help deter insects. And there are tips you can utilize, like wiping down your tent each morning, keeping food and shoes out of it, and ensuring that you clean it well before storing it at home. Therefore, your tent does not have to smell.