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Why Do Camping Tents Smell And How To Clean A Smelly Tent?

Why Do Camping Tents Smell

When unpacking your favorite tent that was stored away all winter can make you feel disgusted about the unpleasant odor that may come out of it. Would you throw it off? Or, would you skip the plan for camping this holiday? Don’t despair! We have got your back with some of the most effective ways to clean a tent that smells bad but first, you need to find out the reason why they smell.

Why Do Tents Smell Bad?

Accumulation Of Dirt and Filth

Dirt and filth aren’t the literal reason behind producing a bad smell in your tent. But filth resulting from spills of food and other impurities can surely make your tent stink. That is because people often walk into the tent with food and snacks. Also, you or your pet may unconsciously bring dirt while getting in the tent. All these can eventually cause the tent to smell.

Growth Of Mold and Mildew

Sometimes when we are in a hurry, we tend to roll up the tent and pack it away even when it was a bit wet. Often we also don’t bother about keeping the tent in a damp and moist location. But these are the particular reasons that make the tent smell bad. That is because the existence of a little bit of moisture leads to the formation of mold and mildew, which causes the tent to have a stale and musty smell. Hence, it is very crucial to know how to keep your tent clean from mold and mildew. Moreover, staying around it can make you sick. The CDC website explains the danger associated with exposure to mold and mildew.

Wearing Out Of Tent

After proper maintenance, if the tent still has a powerful pungent smell, it’s perhaps because of the deterioration of the polymer coating that is applied to make the tent waterproof. This polymer coating wears off with frequent exposure to sunlight, making your tent stenchy. 

How To Clean A Smelly Tent?

Why Do Camping Tents Smell

Warm Wash To Remove Mold

Fill up a large tub with warm water. Mix unscented soap or some mild detergent in it. Then unzip all the tent flaps, doors, pockets, and other closed compartments. Soak the tent in soapy water for about ten minutes. Drain the dirty water afterward. Finally, rinse the tent off with clean water. Repeat the process until you wash off all the soap residues. Then let the tent dry completely before you store it for your next use.

Use Enzyme Cleaners

Washing your tent off with warm water may not always properly eliminate mold and mildew. You may even find the tent clean with your naked eyes but the smell still exists. This is when you require enzyme cleaners. It can help you remove all the remaining fungus as well as break down the molecules on which a mold thrives. It even prevents the mold from growing back on that spot besides eliminating the moldy odor from your tent. One of the most widely used enzyme cleaners is Revivex, which is quite efficient in removing odor-causing bacteria in a tent. To do so you need to;

Fill a 20-gallon tub with water. Pour ½ ounce of Revivex into the water for dilution. Before soaking the tent in the tub, unzip all the tent zippers and also make sure to keep the tent flaps open. So the diluted solution can enter every corner of the tent. Also, make sure the tent is fully immersed in the solution. Dip the tent for about 5 minutes. After the tent has thoroughly soaked the solution, let it dry in the air. Don’t rinse it off as the stenchy smell will fade away as soon as the tent dries up.

Dry Out The Tent Properly

The most simple and effective way to clean is to dry out the tent under sunlight. But first, brush off the dirt and grime after you get back from camping. Then keep it outside and place it on a clothesline or a clean place. So that the tent gets enough sunlight and breeze. Within a few days, your tent will smell fresh. But if your tent has been set aside in musty basemen for long then this solution might not work.

Tips To Keep Your Tent Smelling Fresh

  • Let the Air In: Drying out a tent in an open place under sunlight can help. But an amazing trick to keep your tent smelling fresh is to let air in.
  • Apply Waterproofing: As we mentioned earlier that breaking down the polyurethane coating can make a tent smell bad and it is bound to occur over the passage of time. But it can accelerate if your tent is frequently exposed to sunlight. In that case, a good trick to protect your tent from UV rays, as well as from water splashes, is to apply Nikwax Tent and Gear solar roof spray. It also works as a waterproof coating for the tent. 

  • Use a Tent-Air Freshener: For removing the bad smell one can use a tent-air freshener. It can help to eliminate the odor for a certain amount of time.

  • Always Hand Washes Your Smelly Tent: One should never wash their tent in a washing machine. That is because, spinning off a washing machine can damage the tent fabric, leaving it for no use. So it is better to wash the tent off with your hands through soft scrubbing.

  • Saving a Tent That Smells Like Rotten Eggs and Vomit: A tent smelling like rotten eggs and vomit is basically the telltale of degradation of the polyurethane coating on your tent. To slow down that process, set your camping tent under tree shades or places where sunlight isn’t that harsh.

  • Use a Tarp Underneath: A rain tarp can help your tent from accumulating water underneath. You can also use a tent footprint instead.

  • Makes rules: Precaution can help to keep your tent clean. Well, how? Start making rules for the people staying in your tent. Tell them not to enter with food, snacks, or any beverage. Also, make sure everyone enters your tent with their shoes and socks off.

  • Store it Properly: Now that you have successfully gotten rid of the bad smell, you should know how to store the tent. So you can avoid it from happening once again.

Camping is the best time to experience the tranquility of nature and stargaze under the stars. But before a smelly tent could possibly ruin your next camping trip, you have got to the end of this article. And, now you know the reasons why a camping tent smells bad and how to clean it. So that a stinky tent does not come your way to create new memories the outdoors.

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