How to Get a Smell out of a Tent

The warm summer months mean an increase of outdoor activities and vacations. For those who prefer to rough it in the great outdoors, this involves getting the tent ready for use. When not in use, tents can develop an unpleasant odor typically caused by mold and mildew growth. This unpleasant musty or sour odor will quickly turn your tent into a stinky mess. Fortunately, you can clean your tent and remove the smell with a few inexpensive household items.

Keep your tent in tiptop shape by wiping clean after each use.
  1. Set the tent up in a dry location as you normally would. Pull the tent entrance flaps back and unzip the tent opening.

  2. Remove the surface dirt, dust and other debris from the inside of the tent floor with a broom.

  3. Fill a bucket with 1 gallon of cool water. Add 1 cup of oxygen bleach and several drops of liquid dish soap to the water. Mix with a long-handled spoon. The oxygen bleach will kill any lingering fungus -- such as mold and mildew -- and help remove odors.

  4. Dampen a clean sponge in the mixture and begin scrubbing the inside of the tent. Start at the ceiling and scrub it clean. Rinse the mixture off the ceiling with a cloth dampened in water. Begin scrubbing the walls and floors in the same manner as the ceiling.

  5. Scrub the outside of the tent with the sponge dampened in the mixture. Start at the top of the tent and work your way downward. Rinse the exterior of the tent with a water hose.

  6. Let the tent air-dry for several hours before packing it away. Never store a tent when it is wet. Doing so will encourage fungus growth which can stain and damage the tent.

  7. Fill a spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar. Mist the inside and outside of the tent with the vinegar to remove any lingering odors. As the vinegar dries, it will eliminate unpleasant smells from the tent's fabric.

About the Author

Amanda Flanigan began writing professionally in 2007. Flanigan has written for various publications, including WV Living and American Craft Council, and has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. Flanigan completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.