Being Nomadic is a reader-supported blog. When you purchase anything via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission without costing you anything extra.

How to Clean a Tent That Smells in 5 Easy Steps

Have you ever faced such a situation where you go on a camp and end up with a stinky tent? But you don’t know how to clean a tent that smells. That’s a pretty bad scenario indeed. Do you know why we need to clean our tents regularly? This is because the tents are something which we use once or twice in a whole year. Having been wrapped and kept in the storeroom for a long time, your tent starts to get stinky. The mold and mildew start growing all over it, if you store it in a wet condition.  

Beside it, there are some other reasons for a smelling tent. That’s why it’s important to learn how to clean a tent that smells, but before that let’s find out the reasons.

how to clean a tent that smells
Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Why a Tent Smells (All the Reasons)

    1. Decaying PU– the polyurethane made tent can smell due to the decaying material. Since it is a chemical compound, you need to check frequently whether the PU is damaged or not.
    2. Unlearned Food and Dirt– before wrapping the tent check whether some leftover food is there in the tent or not.
    3. Lack of Sunlight and Air– the tent needs to get adequate sunlight and air at an interval in order to deodorize.

    How to Clean a Tent that Smells (Step-By-Step Guide)

    Cleaning a tent involves two separate processes. One is to clean it first and the other one is to deodorize it. Both these processes are equally important to get a smell free tent. Let us look into these two processes in detail to find out how to clean a tent that smells.

    • Soft sponge
    • Mild soap
    • Large tub or container
    • Warm water
    • Cold water
    • Vinegar or chemical cleaner

    Cleaning the Tent First : This is the most important process as the tidiness of the tent depends on it. This process will be helpful in removing the molds, and mildews.

    Required time : 30 minutes

    Step 1

    Take a large tub filled with warm water. Soak the tent in the warm water with some mild soap first. Let it get a bit warm, so that the dirt is soft and easy to remove. Large tub or container can be helpful in this context, as it will dip the entire tent.

    Step 2

    Now make a mixture of vinegar/ chemical cleaner and water in 50-50 ratio. Pour this mixture on the areas that have any mark of dirt. Vinegar is a strong chemical compound that is capable of removing any deep spot.

    Step 3

    Take the soft sponge and rub those areas gently. Do not rub the underside and do not rub it roughly. The PU material can be damaged due to rough strokes. Take an adequate amount of this mixture. After the rubbing, you can let the mixture for 2 minutes on those spots.

    Step 4

    This is the last step of cleaning. Now pull the tent out of the warm water container and dip it into another large container of cold water. Make sure that the cold water wipes the soapy residue completely from the tent. You can give it a mild rinse to wipe away the soap and vinegar. Now let it air dry. Do not use any blower to dry it. Drying it in the sunlight and open air is the ideal one.

    This warm wash of the tent will remove the dirt and spots from the polyurethane cover.

    cleaning a tent
    How to Clean a Tent that Smells (Detailed Guide)

    How to Deodorize a Tent After Cleaning

    Some may perceive this process as optional. After the cleaning process, if you think that your tent is still stinking, you need to deodorize it. The odor can be generated from the molds, and mildews.

    • Strong odor eliminator
    • Large tub
    • Warm water

    Required time : 20 minutes

    Step 1

    Take warm water in the tub. Make a mixture of odor eliminator and the water in 50-50 ratio. Make sure that the water is lukewarm.

    Step 2

    Unzip all the zippers of the tent. Then dip it into the mixture. Unzipping of the tent is really important as it allows the mixture to run through all the parts, and pockets of the tent. Most of the time the odor is generated in such zipped pockets.

    Step 3

    Now let this tent soak in the mixture for nearly 5 minutes. Do not rinse the tent; just keep is as it is.

    Step 4

    Pull the tent out of the tub and let it dry in the air. Like previously, do not use any blower, air dry it.

    Some Additional Tips

    • Always use a mild cleaner to clean your tent. Strong cleaners may have some chemical reactions with polyurethane cover of the tent.
    • Dilute the cleaner and the odor eliminator with water before applying it.
    • Avoid using extremely hot or extremely cold water. Go for the lukewarm water.
    • After applying the odor eliminator, do not keep the tent in sunlight. The odor eliminator will become ineffectual in heat.
    • Every time you come back from a trip, try to clean your tent immediately. Store your tent in a dry place to keep it away from damp.

    This article is an overall guide on how to clean a tent that smells. It also helps you to learn about deodorizing a tent properly. Go through all the steps, and follow them properly. Keep your tent ready, and odor free for the next camp.

    Leave a Comment