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Of course, the best way is to prevent mold on a tent from occurring by airing, cleaning and storing it appropriately. When doing this I've never had any issues.

However, there may well be cases where perhaps tents haven't been treated as well and mold has built up on a tent and it needs to be cleaned off, what's the best way of doing this?

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3 Answers 3

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Tilex or bleach will get rid of mold. It might also affect the water resistance of the tent fabric or change its color, so you might want to test it on a small area first.

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Mold can be harmful to your health and damage the waterproof fabric of your tent. Mildew stains shouldn't necessarily be removed as it can damage fabrics. However, growth of mold should be stopped. It is best to consult your tent manufacturer documentation to know what's the best treatment for your specific product.

According to MSR's How do I prevent mildew?,

Mildew can permanently damage the waterproof coatings by causing them to separate from the fabric, but mild to severe staining is more common. Mildew stains are permanent. They cannot be removed without potential harm to the fabric coatings

These suggested steps may very depending on the amount of mildew and type of product:

  1. Apply a treatment such as McNett MiraZyme or similar product.
  2. Mix 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of concentrated lemon juice with 1 gallon of hot water.
  3. Dry the tent in an area facing the sun
  4. Apply water resistant treatment

According to REI,

Lysol® also works, but its scent is attractive to bugs and critters and is thus not recommended

This procedure is explained in more details in REI's Removing Mildew and Sierra Designs 5. What is mildew and how do I clean it off my tent? tent care sections of their respective websites.

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I've used MiraZyme and it definitely works (+1) –  Russell Steen May 13 '13 at 16:38

Using Tilex or bleach to eradicate mold is the wrong thing to do. Bleach does nothing to eradicate mold, it simply bleaches the the fabric. If you want to kill mold, then you need to use a product designed specifically for that purpose. I would recommend Concrobium which will do nothing to remove the mold stain, but will kill the mold on contact.

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When I first read this I thought, "That's ridiculous, of course it kills mold." A little reading around seems to indicate that it does kill and deodorize mold, but only on non-porous surfaces, since it can't get deep into the pores of wood. Tent fabric isn't that deep, though, so it might effectively kill mold in tent fabric. It will leave behind the dead mold which can still cause allergic reactions in some cases, but at least the smell will be gone. Having said that, though, I'd be worried about whether it causes damage to the fibers themselves. –  Don Branson May 8 '13 at 12:18

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