When dusting off and unpacking tents that have been stored away all winter, a foul odor or mildew smell may emanate from it. Mold and mildew grow quickly on wet fabrics, and you may have put it away before it was completely dry. Don’t despair. You can fix this. With a little elbow grease and our Revivex cleaners, your trusty outdoor shelter will be fresh and clean once again.  

Read on to find out how to remove tent odors as well as the infamous vomit smell that can sometimes come from older tents.

CLEAN

Depending on how much the mold is ingrained into the nylon or canvas tent fabric, you may be able to remove mold with just hot and soapy water. Our recommendation is to start by washing it with water and a specialized cleaner, which will not impact the performance or water repellency of your tent.

Estimated Time: Cleaning: 30 minutes  |  Air Dry: 6-8 hours

  1. Spot clean dirty areas with a sponge and soap and water.
  2. Fill the tub with warm water and add 2 fl oz (59 ml) of Revivex Pro Cleaner.
  3. Submerge the tent and hand wash the outer fabrics.
  4. Do not scrub the underside of the tent fly as you may damage or remove the polyurethane (PU) waterproof coating.
  5. Rinse with water until the soapy residue is gone.
  6. Allow to air dry completely.

PRO TIP: If you have sap on your tent, gently remove it with isopropyl alcohol.

DEODORIZE

Once the tent is clean, stubborn mold and mildew odors may still remain. You can deodorize your tent with a gentle, yet effective odor eliminator. When mixed with water, the microbes in our Revivex deodorizing formula are "activated" and consume odor-causing bacteria in fabrics.

Estimated Time: Washing: 30 minutes

  1. Fill a tub with just enough water to submerge the tent.
  2. Add 1 fl oz of Revivex Odor Eliminator for every gallon of water. Mix well.
  3. Unzip all zippers and open tent flaps.
  4. Next, soak the tent in the Odor Eliminator mixture for a maximum of 5 minutes to saturate the tent with microbes
  5. Do not rinse the tent.
  6. Allow to air dry completely and away from sunlight/heat.

PRO TIP: You can also use the mixture to deodorize sleeping bags, backpacks, sandals, active wear or other foul-smelling items.

There are some additional tips worth noting as well:

  • Make sure that you soak the tent/gear immediately into the Revivex Odor Eliminator and water mixture. As time progresses, the microbes consume themselves and the solution becomes less effective.
  • The longer the item is able to air dry, the longer the microbes are able to do their job.
  • Heat will kill the Odor Eliminator microbes and rinsing will wash them away. Odor is reduced once the tent has air dried completely.
  • Odor Eliminator does not utilize any hazardous or harsh ingredients.

REMOVE PU ODORS FROM TENTS

Many tents are treated with a polyurethane (PU) coating on the underside of the tentfly and on the tent floor to provide waterproof protection. This coating is not permanent. After years of use, the PU coating can break down and delaminate. This is more likely if a tent is damp or has been soaking in water for longer than five minutes. There is typically a foul odor similar to vomit or urine present when the PU coating is breaking down. This is a chemical reaction that can be fixed with some basic household items and a tent fabric sealant

To fully treat the whole tent, visit our blog and learn how to waterproof a tent.

  • Seam Grip TF
  • Mild Dish Soap
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Brush
  • Dish Towel
  • Bathtub/Large Container

Estimated Time: Treatment: 3 hours  |  Air Dry: 24 hours

  1. Fill tub or container with enough warm water to submerge the tent. Add five drops of liquid soap.
  2. Submerge the tent and soak for 2-3 hours. Remove the tent from the bath.
  3. Remove the failing/delaminating PU coating by gently scrubbing the PU coating off with a brush using a mixture of isopropyl alcohol, water and two drops of soap.
  4. Soak up excessive residue with a dish towel.
  5. Once the old coating is removed, apply a new PU coating using Seam Grip TF. Apply a thin film onto the tent floor (inside) or tentfly (underside).
  6. Allow 24 hours to air dry.

PRO TIP: When tent is completely dry, sprinkle new PU coating with baby/talcum powder to alleviate any initial tackiness.

STORAGE

Now that your tent is smelling fresh, it’s important to store it properly to prevent odors from returning. Here are some simple tips that will put an end to smelly tents, once and for all. 

  • Air dry your tent as soon as you get home from your trip.
  • Do not store tents that are damp or wet.
  • Store tents in a dry environment. 

PRO TIP: For added protection, apply Revivex UV Protectant on tents and other outdoor gear to restore its color and help prevent further sun damage.

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