When tents are smelly, it can make for an uncomfortable camping experience. These shelters are meant to provide comfort and protection from the elements. However, when they possess odorous fumes, you may choose to sleep under the stars.
Fortunately, there remain several things that can be done to remove odors from tents, and prevent them from developing within the future. By following the the below suggestions, you can be assure that you tent will be smelling fresh and offer a pleasurable camping experience.
The musty smell within a tent usually results from packing the tent within the bag while it is still moist from morning dew or rain. This results in mildew when the moisture is trapped and is unable to evaporate from within the confines of the tent's bag. Once you get home, some of the musty odor can be eliminated by unpacking the tent, setting it up, and placing it within direct sunlight. In most cases involving minor mildew odors, an entire day within the sun will be enough to freshen the tent.
Take precaution in using harsh chemicals that can strip the waterproof sealant from the tent canvas. Often, using hot water in combination with open air and direct sunlight will be sufficient to remove the odor. Draw a bucket of warm water and apply a damp sponge to the interior and exterior surface of the tent. Provide sufficient time for the entire interior and exterior of the tent to dry before repacking the tent within it's bag.
This household compound is effective at cutting through mildew and rendering a tent odorless. Additionally, unlike harsher compounds like bleach and soap detergent, it will inflict a lesser impact on the waterproof sealant within the tent's canvas. Mix a formula of one part white vinegar with six waters warm water and sponge down the interior and exterior of the pitched tent canvas. Leave tent setup until all moisture has evaporated before packing away within the tent's bag.
Similar to white vinegar, enzyme cleaning solution works well at killing mold spores without harming the waterproof sealant within the tent's canvas. Pitch the tent, and mix a formula of enzyme cleaning solution and warm water in equal parts. Using a sponge wipe down the interior and exterior of the tent and leave tent setup until all of the moisture has air dried from the canvas.
Once you return from your trip, remove your tent from it's bag and setup within direct sunlight on a clear day. As an added step you can use warm water to scrub down the inside and outside of the tent as outline above. Allow moisture to air dry from canvas before repacking tent and storing within a cold and dry location.
The use of detergent soaps and bleach will have the effect of leaving residues within the fabric that will not go away. It has the additional effect of the weakening the waterproof sealant within the canvas, and can lead to the tent's inability to provide shelter from rain.