How to Clean a Tent That Smells Due to Various Reasons?

Dealing with a tent that smells bad is definitely pretty irritating and bothering. This bad odor can take place due to many reasons. No matter what’s the story behind, you need an effective formula to get rid of this awful stink. Since tents come with waterproofing, you can’t go with just any regular cleaning agent or washing method. It’s important to give some thoughts on knowing how to clean a tent that smells the right way. And today, we are planning to tell you more than just a few ways on it.

How to Clean a Tent That Smells Bad with Effective  Solutions

Before you jump into any of this process, finding out main reason behind the smell can be helpful. Is it simply because of regular dirt or grime build-up? Or is it due to mold or mildew attack inside? Or perhaps a more serious PU coating degradation is the actual cause? Figure that out and the process of getting rid of smell will feel more result-proof.

How to Clean a Tent That Smells

1. Using Vinegar Solution.

The whole concept of clean tent mildew vinegar will need you very few resources that are usually available inside your house. Along with a gallon of vinegar, you need a spray bottle, detergent or soap, baking soda or borax, and a soft brush. You can use a sponge instead of the brush also.

The process of cleaning is pretty straightforward and requires less time as well. It will work for a tent that is not really too dirty but there’s mildew causing a bad odor. You need to mix white vinegar with an equal portion of water. Next, pour this solution into a spray bottle. You can also add a quarter cup of lemon juice with it. So that the smell of vinegar is less bothering.

Next, you need to pitch your tent. Do this on the driveway, yard, or patio. Then using the brush or sponge, get rid of any debris. Look for the mildew or mold spots on it. Then apply vinegar directly over the spots of mildew. Keep it for at least an hour like this.

Then you can spray the vinegar-water solution on all areas of tent. Then use the soft sponge or brush to apply soap and scrub all stain away. You need to be very gentle while doing so. Make sure you are not messing up the waterproof coating by chance.

In the process, you should never use anything that includes bleach. Also, avoid any sort of fragranced detergent or soap. Because these are going to attract unwanted sitters to your tent. Let your tent dry properly after cleaning so that there’s no vinegar smell left. If you think the problematic smell is still present, then go for one more session of this vinegar cleaning.

2. The Cupboard Smell Due to Too Long Storing

Sometimes due to storing the tent for too long during winter, it starts to get a distinctive cupboard smell. In that case, you just need to put it under some sunshine and air. Make sure to unpack the tent first. Then simply hang it on a clothesline outside under the sun. You can use a general fabric deodorant for spraying it as well.

You should wipe down the floor of tent before hanging it. Let it stay hanged for at least during the daytime when sun is visible. You should also avoid laying the tent on ground. This can result in impair airflow plus accrue moisture.

3. In Case of Awfully Bad Smell

Sometimes the tent is too stinky. And usually, it’s because of neglected mold build-up. So, here’s an easy method on how to clean a tent with mold that is causing the bad smell. First of all, decide a place in your yard or somewhere secure for standing the tent overnight without a problem. Then start by using a warm soapy water solution to clean the tent. You need to wipe away any residue of detergent after that. And then dry it with a soft sponge or cloth that will not ruin the waterproof coating.

Then use a solution of lemon juice, salt, and water. You need to mix one cup of lemon juice and salt with a gallon of warm water. Use this time-tried mixture to wipe down the areas of your tent generously. Don’t miss out on any areas that have serious mold growth. Finally, clean it with plain water and let things dry completely.

If this still does not work with the mold and mildew, use hydrogen peroxide. You need to spray it lightly and this will kill those mildew and mold. It’s a harsh cleaning treatment, so make sure you do this when the smell is severe. You should use the solution on areas that have visible mold.

4. Getting Rid of The Polyurethane Coating Odor

Tents often come with a PU or polyurethane coating treatment. This is for underside of the tent-fly as well as floor area. So that it can enjoy waterproof benefits. However, this coating is not permanent and after a few years, there’s a chance of it breaking down.

This happens even quickly to tents that are left damp for too long. If you by mistake leave the tent for soaking in water for too long, then also there’s a chance of PU coat delaminating. The odor is quite similar to smell of vomit and urine. And so, this one is definitely going to bother you a lot.

To get rid of this disgusting smell, you’ll need a bathtub or huge container. Also, you’ll need a mild soap, some isopropyl alcohol, dish towel, and a brush. Start by filling the tub or container with clean warm water. Then you need to submerge the tent inside.

Add around five drops of mild soap. Let the tent soak into it for two to three hours. You can then remove it from the tub or container. Now give the tent a gentle scrub. So that the failing PU coating can come off. You can use a brush to scrub. The mixture of isopropyl alcohol, water, and 2 drops of mild soap will help you as scrubbing solution.

Use a dishtowel to get rid of the excessive residue by soaking up. You can use a seam grip TF for applying a thin film onto the floor of tent as well as underside of tent-fly. Let the tent air dry for at least 24 hours. And the bad smell should be gone plus a new PU coating will give your tent water protection.

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And that were some quick ways on how to clean a tent that smells. Pretty much all of these methods are safe for most tents out there. But still, to not take any chances, you should check the manufacturer’s guideline prior to using any of these. This is even more important if you decide to use a chemical-based cleaner for dealing with a severely stinky tent. 

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