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Similar to this question, but mildew tends to be very resistant to removal. I sadly failed to keep my tent dry enough, and now it has a couple of mildew spots. They're not bad, but I would rather not replace my entire tent.

What's the best way to remove mildew from a tent?

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Great question - you imply you've tried something already and it hasn't worked though. If this is the case, what have you tried? –  berry120 May 8 '12 at 16:24
    
@berry120 -- I haven't tried, I'm scared of ruining the tent. –  Russell Steen May 8 '12 at 18:35
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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The best I've found for this sort of thing is normal household bleach - you can dilute it to start with and try it on a small area if you're scared of wrecking the tent. In many cases, working diluted bleach into the fabric is enough and I've personally never had any issues with it removing the waterproof coating.

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and the more nervous you are, the more you can dilute :) –  Ryley May 11 '12 at 18:20
    
A weak solution of bleach to water, such as 2 oz bleach per gallon of water may be ok to apply sparingly. However bleach damages and weakens the synthetic materials that make up modern tents. But if you're tent is badly mildewed, then what's worse: The damage from the mildew or the damage from the bleach? –  manoftheson Dec 10 '12 at 2:45
    
bleach will weaken and eat holes in fabric so I would say damage from bleach. –  Charlie Brown Oct 1 '13 at 7:04
    
@CharlieBrown - It was a bit of a rhetorical question but I'm glad you agree! –  manoftheson 2 days ago
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The famous mildew cleaner:

  1. Add 1 quart of liquid chlorine bleach to 3 quarts of warm water.
  2. Add 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent.
  3. Mix thoroughly and place in a spray bottle.
  4. Spray the mixture onto the mildewed area. Let it sit until the black mildew turns white. Rinse and scrub with fresh water, then let it dry in the sun.

Good luck!

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I have used a similar solution, I also apply a waterproof coating after it's dry, mostly because I water proof my tents once a year anyway. –  MaskedPlant May 24 '12 at 20:13
    
This is quite a strong bleach solution to use on a tent. I personally wouldn't recommend it unless maybe it was an old canvas-type tent, but to each his own. –  manoftheson Dec 10 '12 at 2:36
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I just couldn't bring myself to bleach my tent. I was too worried it would damage the material. In the end I used Mirazyme and a bathtub. The Mirazyme removed the mildew and airing it out removed the smell. We just mixed it in the ratios listed on the bottle.

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This is the best solution in my opinion. Most good tents are expensive pieces of technology. Bleach, while great for disinfecting hard surfaces or your white laundry, isn't really good for the fabrics that comprise modern tents. (Neither is mildew for that matter.) But Mirazyme is great stuff and it's quite effective, albeit more expensive. I've used my fair share of it on smelly gear. –  manoftheson Dec 10 '12 at 2:32
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I have found I had a similar issues with a couple backpacks this past damp winter. I was told Chlorine bleach but did not like the idea of a white or discolored backpack.

Someone also told me vinegar although I never got around to trying it.

What worked for me was just leaving my backpacks outside in the sun on hot DRY summer days. I did very little cleaning, it was as if the sun burned it away. I hope you have some hot dry sunny areas and this works for you. I'd be interested to know!

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