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How To Clean Canvas Tents

How To Clean Canvas Tents

How to clean canvas tent

So you are wondering how to clean your canvas tent? The answer is simple: wash, dry and store away. Sometimes you will need to season it or add a waterproofing spray to retain it's performance over time. So, let's dig into how to do all of this and handle any issues that you may be worried about.

Canvas Tent Maintenance

All good canvas tents need a bit of a touch-up every now and then. You can add waterproofing sprays if you think the waterproofing is wearing off. Mold and mildew will need to be removed before storing them away. Never pack a tent that is not cleaned well enough. Furthermore, always pack the tent when it is completely dry, you do not want a wet tent to be folded only to get build-up mold, bacteria, creases and eventually a loss of elasticity.

Now that the basic warnings are out of the way, let's dig deeper.

Tent Storage

You will need to pack your tent once it is clean. Do not pack your tent wet, folded poorly, or dirty and riled with leaves and mud. Or worse, packed with insecticides that are sprayed directly on the canvas. Not only will these things eat away at your canvas, but they will also discolor, make it weaker and be very difficult to clean up the next time you want to use them.

Leaves, grass and mud contain natural microbes. If left on top of your canvas tent they will cause overgrowth and potentially damage the tent. Wet tents also create an environment for microbial overgrowth, creating a funky smell and damaging the structure itself.

So, clean, dry and then store the tent. Letting it sit out in the sun can help a great deal as well in the prevention of these issues.

tent, nature, sea

How to Clean a Canvas Tent: A step by step guide

  1. Canvas Tent Cleaning Process


You can use a garden hose to clean it as well. Just remember cleaning and then wiping it with a clean dry cloth is better than using several cleaning solutions that you may think to make your job easier. If you do want to use soap then go for a mild detergent.

  1. Treating


You should ideally do this on a hot sunny day. Clean your tent, and wash the bits that need to be washed. Wipe off the gunk, you can also use a soft bristle brush to remove anything stuck on the cotton fibers but be gentle. Dry completely with a cloth and then let it air dry. Next, grab your waterproofing spray. You will need to apply a thin coat on the tent canvas. Buying a waterproofing spray bottle with built-in UV protection is recommended. Next up, let it dry away in the sun so it is infused with canvas material.


Do not spray insecticides or bug repellants directly on the canvas. This may damage the water-repellent treatment. You should always remember to spray in the tent, not on the tent. It will wear off the color, waterproofing treatment, and reduce the tensile strength of the tent by breaking the close-knit fibers.

Removing Mold from a Canvas Tent

You can remove mold from the tent using warm water and mold treatment made for canvas materials. Soapy water or hot water will work just fine. This will also remove any bird droppings easier and quicker. Remember to apply the waterproofing treatment or sun protection to prevent damage from UV rays after the mold cleaning process is complete.

  1. Storage

Let the tent dry in the sun before trying to pack it. Keep the tent up when cleaning. Let it dry while remaining up. You should only fold it when there is no moisture left and the waterproofing products have dried as well. Get rid of any tree sap, dirt, stains, dust and debris as well. A little care goes a long way.

Use a sponge and some clean water to clean any parts that you may have missed before. Usually, after drying you can notice some other parts that still need a bit of cleaning. Don't freak out if that happens, the solution is to simply spot clean and then let air dry completely.

Once done, you can pack it by folding and securing a neat tuck.

night, aurora, snow

What is the best way to clean canvas tents?

You can pressure wash a canvas tent to clean it. But, always steer away from heavy soaps or detergents. Common household materials are too abrasive to clean canvas and they can ruin your canvas tent waterproofing treatment.

Perform a quick “dry cleaning” of the canvas

Using a sponge and some clean water to spot-clean the canvas is a good idea if it is not super dirty. Especially if there is no dirt from mud, bird droppings, or elements of mold you can give it a dry clean. Once spot cleaning is complete, let it dry. After it, air dries or dun dries, inspect for further cleaning needs and then follow with a waterproofing spray. 

tent, camp, night

Australian Canvas – why is it the best in the world?

Australian Canvas is known for its high UV protection and color quality. The pigment does not lose its brightness as long as you care for it. Other reasons why it is so popular across the world include the use of high-quality rot-proofing agents, mildew inhibitors, acrylic binders and water proofing waxes that keep it tidy all the time with little help from its owners.

How to season Australian Canvas?

You just need to set up the tent and soak it in fresh clean water. Wash or scrub as you find fit, once done you can dry it and pack it up. Soaking the tent will cause shrinkage, which means that the tent is good for use once again.

How often should you season canvas?

You should season your canvas tent once or twice every year. This will refresh the fibers and cause it to take their original shape by closing needle holes that may have been stretched during use. It will also make it smell clean and fresh. Seasoning the canvas once a year is recommended even if you are not using it too frequently.

Seasoning a new canvas tent

You should weather a new canvas tent because this way by soaking it you are shrinking the seams making it fit for use. The holes will tighten and give you a good grip if you season it. Don't sweat it, just soak, dry and then pack it to get it ready for your first adventure together.

Waterproof canvas tent

Remember that canvas as a material is not 100% waterproof. It will need a little help from you if you do not want to stay in the tent wet.

How often should you waterproof tents canvas?

Once a year is enough. However, if you are using it too frequently and washing it too frequently then you will need to waterproof it each time you clean and wash it.

(Re) Waterproofing

You can re-waterproof your canvas tent at any point you feel like the previous layer has worn off. It does after long periods of rainfall or snow. You can add in a layer of UV protection as well. This will keep it protected from the sun as well. Additionally, a seam sealer can help in keeping it better proofed from wind and water.

Follow your gut and remember haste makes waste. Keep it simple and be patient while you are at it. Happy camping! 

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