How to Remove Mildew Smell From a Tent

Warm, moist conditions encourage mildew growth.

When your tent is folded up and stored away for the season with any amount of dampness in the material, mildew will develop and spread, leaving an unpleasant musty, damp smell. The only way to remove the odor is to remove all the mildew.

Set your tent up in a sunny location, if possible.

Combine 1 cup of disinfectant cleaner with 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket. Using a scrub brush, wash all inside and outside surfaces of your tent, even the floor.

Allow the disinfectant cleaning solution to dry on your tent without rinsing it. The disinfectant will help kill mildew and remove odor.

Remove stubborn mildew stains and accompanying musty odor with a solution made with 1 cup table salt, 1 cup lemon juice and one gallon of water. Scrub persistent mildewed areas with the lemon and salt mixture.

Rinse the lemon and salt solution off your tent with a hose. Leave your tent set up until the material is completely dry.

Things You Will Need

  • 1 cup disinfectant cleaner
  • Bucket
  • Scrub brush
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • Hose


  • A bleach solution of one part bleach and 10 parts water will remove mildew and odor from your tent but must be rinsed from the fabric immediately afterward.
  • Store your tent in a dry place where it's protected from moisture and humidity.
  • If it's raining when you break down your campsite, put your tent up again once you get home so it has a chance to air-dry.

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.