Mildew is a thin, black, or sometimes white, growth produced by mold. Molds are simple plants belonging to the group known as fungi. Though mold spores are always present in the air, those that cause mildew need moisture and certain temperatures to grow. They commonly develop in humid summer weather, especially in closed areas with poor ventilation. Molds that cause mildew flourish wherever it is damp, warm, poorly lighted and/or where air is not circulated. As the molds grow, they cause considerable damage. They leave a musty odor; they discolor fabrics; and sometimes they eat into them until the fabrics rot and fall to pieces.
Q: What can I do if my tent has mildew?
A: Make a solution of 5 quarts water, 1 quart vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Use a rag or sponge to wash the affected area. If needed use a gentle brush. Don’t scrub too hard. After washing, rinse with water and then allow the tent to dry completely. Mold and soap can effect the canvas water repellent treatment. You should retreat the affected area with a silicone based water repellent such as Kiwi Camp Dry. Be sure to get the silicone based. Other treatments could clog the tiny pores in the canvas and cause it to loose its breathability.
Q: How can I prevent mildew?
A: To prevent mold or mildew remember to always allow the tent to dry and air out (inside and out) before you store it. Even if there has not been rain there could be humidity and moisture from dew, and or condensation.
If you have to break camp when it’s wet, when you get back set your tent up ASAP and let it dry out. If leaving a tent set up in a humid area prone to mildew, leave it in sunlight, and let the tent air out inside and out as often as possible.