How to Clean Canvas Tent: Step-by-Step Guide

Published August 4th, 2022 by Allen Campbell

how to clean canvas tent

When you’re out camping, there’s nothing better than lounging in a comfortable and clean canvas tent. However, like any piece of equipment, a canvas tent requires regular cleaning to keep it in good condition. Not only will this help it to remove dirt, but it will also avoid any unpleasant smells.

If you don’t clean it properly after returning from your trip, the dirt and dust can quickly build up. That can lead to mildew, mold, and other problems. In this guide, I will show you how to properly clean your canvas tent so that it stays in good condition. I personally used these tips on my own canvas tent and they worked perfectly!

How to Clean Canvas Tent: Step-by-Step Guide: Summary

Step by Step Guide for Cleaning the Canvas Tent

To maintain your canvas tent in top condition, it’s necessary to clean it routinely. This informational guide will definitely help you to clean your canvas tent.

1. Inspect from inside

First and foremost, be sure to clear away any and all debris that may have gathered on the inside of your tent. This includes things like leaves, sticks, and dirt.

2. Create a Mixture

Now, make a DIY solution by mixing dish soap with warm water in a vessel. You can also purchase camping soap for this purpose, but dish soap is an easy and inexpensive way to clean.

3. Dipping process

Next, dip your entire tent in the DIY solution, making sure that nothing is left dry. All sides and seams should be soaked to remove any dirt that may be unseen.

4. Leave it for a while

To maintain your canvas tent in top condition, it’s necessary to clean it routinely. This informational guide will definitely help you to clean your canvas tent.

5. Wash

Rinse the canvas tent thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.

6. Air Dry

Finally, take advantage of sunny weather conditions while you have sunlight available by hanging the tent up outside during daylight hours. This will confirm that tent has the best possible chance of staying dry. If there are windy conditions, make sure to use the safety clips on each corner.

You can easily clean and restore your canvas tent to like-new condition with just a little effort. Remember to pack soap when you’re planning to go camping this summer or winter season.

Two Other Alternatives to Cleaning Your Canvas Tent

While soap and water can do the trick in most cases, there are two other alternatives to consider if you want to get your canvas tent clean.

DIY Vinegar Remedy

One such item that I’ve found to be incredibly useful in my cleaning adventures is white vinegar. It works well for scrubbing stubborn stains like dirt or anything else, but its strong smell takes little time to fade.

Vinegar is a perfect solution for any number of camping disasters, like moldy tents. I will show you how to remove all types of mold from a canvas tent using only two ingredients: distilled white vinegar and water. Just make sure to add a spray bottle to your list in order to apply the mixture easily to the affected areas.

-Mix it with water

To create your DIY canvas tent cleaner, mix a cup of lukewarm water with a 1/4 cup of white vinegar in a sprayer. This is an environmentally friendly alternative to using harsh chemicals, and it will leave your tent looking clean and new.

-Apply To the Affected Are

It is important to spray the moldy areas with the mixture and be sure to get into all of the nooks and crannies. Make sure to let the mixture sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing your canvas tent.

-Time To Scrub

After the mixture had time to sit, it is time to scrub those dirty areas of the tents. Take any brush or sponge and gently scrub the affected areas. Be sure to wear gloves because vinegar can irritate skin and cause allergies in some people.

-Let It Air Dry

Usually, vinegar doesn’t need to be rinsed off after use. However, if the smell is too strong for you, or if there are still some dirt stains present, you can rinse the area with clean water. Let the tent dry completely before entering again.

Lemon And Salt Alternative

If you can’t bear the smell of vinegar, don’t worry–there’s another cleaning solution that will work just as well. Combine salt and water with lemon juice that will eliminate any mold or dirt on your canvas tent. 

There is more to lemons than just making lemonade; they can also be used for cleaning. This cleaning solution is powerful and will get the job done quickly and easily.

-Create A Mixture

To use the mixture, just add one gallon of lukewarm water to the bucket. Afterward, fill a cup with lemon juice and another with salt before stirring well. The acidic lemon juice will provide enough power to break down dirt and grime, while the salt will act as an abrasive material to scrub away any stubborn stains.

-Spot Clean

To clean the spots on your tent, dip your canvas tent into the mixture and remove the spots with a brush or synthetic fabric. Also, using bristles will give you better results.

-Rinse Off

Applying the lemon on a canvas tent is a great idea to remove the spots and stains but it is important not to leave it on the tent for too long. It can make the canvas tent weak and damage it permanently. So, it is better to rinse it off just after scrubbing and brush it well under cold running water.

-Air Dry

Let your canvas shelter dry out in the sun and breeze before you attempt to pitch it.

General Tent Cleaning Tips

You should always clean your tent carefully to avoid dirt buildup. If you don’t take care of yourself while using the tent, then dirt and other problems can occur. 

Always be sure to take proper precautions before leaving on camping trips, and remember to clean your tent often. This will help avoid any unwanted surprises while you’re away.

  • Shaking the tent in order to remove dirt and other particles before storing your tent will help to ensure that it retains its top shape.
  • It is important to ensure your tent can air dry after every use in order to avoid the risk of mold. Don’t pack it until and unless it is completely dry. If you find your tent to be wet, set up camp immediately and let it dry in an open area.
  • You will find it much easier to clean your tents if you pitch them and make sure they are tight.
  • Clean the zipper sliders with a toothbrush to prevent the buildup of any dirt or residue. This will help maintain the zipper’s quality and prolong its life.
  • I highly suggest you hand wash your tents, as putting them in the washing machine can cause damage to them. The heating elements can cause more harm to your canvas tent.

Storing Your Canvas Tent

Your all tough grind will go waste if you store your tent in a dirty or moist place. You will have to clean it one more time and it will also shorten its lifespan. To use it for a longer time, reserve it in a pristine and dry area. It will ensure that your tent is always in spotless condition.

Firstly, if you are available with large storage space, such as a garage or any storing room, then it is easy enough to just fold up your tent and keep it in a dry place. 

However, if you are not so lucky with an available room for storing things away properly, you can just simply use plastic bins with lids. In that way, your belongings will stay clean and mildew-free at all times.

Cleaning a Canvas Tent: Bottom Line

Now that you know how to clean your canvas tent, it will be like new again and ready for your next outdoor excursion. Make sure you have everything you need before getting started and follow these steps each time after a trip so your tent stays in good condition.

I hope you enjoy using this guide and that it helps keep your tent looking and smelling great for many camping trips to come.


Is a canvas tent worth it?

Yes, a canvas tent is definitely worth it if you need a more durable option that can withstand bad weather conditions. It is also a great option if you need extra storage space inside the tent, as most canvas tents come with pockets or gear loops. 

You don’t even have to worry about the tent getting wet, as the canvas is water resistant. Additionally, the tough material construction makes it difficult for sharp objects to damage the tent. All of these factors make canvas tents a great option for anyone in need of a reliable and sturdy tent.

Do canvas tents keep you warm?

The canvas tents are built to withstand cold weather and provide warmth, making them perfect for winter camping trips. The thick fabric blocks out cold air and retains heat, while the sturdy frame keeps the tent stable in high winds. 

Add on some extra blankets for extra warmth, and you’ll be cozy all night long. I would highly suggest you choose a canvas tent over a lighter-weight fabric tent if your next camping trip takes place in cold weather.

Do canvas tents breathe?

Yes, most canvas tents are made with breathable fabric that allows for air circulation. If you are camping in hot weather, make sure your tent has breathable fabric to keep you cool and refreshed so that you don’t get too uncomfortable inside. 

But beware, some cheaper models may use non-breathable materials like polyester or nylon instead of more beneficial options like cotton twill.

These fabrics cannot allow moisture vapor transmission rates improvement due to their construction style and will not be as effective in keeping you cool. Remember, the breathable canvas tent is constructed with cotton material and is designed for better ventilation.

Are canvas waterproof?

Canvas is a sturdy cotton fabric that has been used for centuries to make tents, sails, and other items that need to withstand the elements. But did you know that canvas can also be made from a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers? 

This blend helps to make the canvas more waterproof, while also adding strength and durability. So if you’re looking for a versatile fabric that can withstand the elements, the canvas is an excellent option.

Are canvas tents dark?

Yes, canvas tents are often quite dark inside because the thick canvas fabric blocks out a lot of light. 

It can be nice if you’re trying to get some sleep during the day and need complete darkness so your body clock adjusts properly without being disturbed by outside lights or sunlight streaming through windows onto sleeping bags on summer afternoons. 

At night, you may need to bring along an outdoor lantern for activities inside the canvas tent. Some people find this creates a cozy ambiance while others feel cramped up. If you are unsure how things will play themselves out before going off into nature, you can try setting up test runs back home first.

Do canvas tents shrink?

Yes, canvas tents do shrink over time, and this is due to the fact that they are made out of cotton. When cotton gets wet, the fibers in the fabric contract, causing the fabric to shrink. This process is irreversible, so once your canvas tent has shrunk, it cannot be returned to its original size. 

Does a canvas tent need a rain-fly?

Yes, it would be a plus if you have a fly for your canvas tent, in case of bad weather conditions. It keeps the tent dry and more comfortable on rainy and windy days. But you can also get by without a fly if you are camping in a mild climate.

Allen Campbell with Master Canopies

Allen Campbell

Allen is a full time writer at and enjoys traveling around the United States and exploring nature. He enjoys writing about canopies as he believes they are extremely crucial in having a successful camping trip whether it be a trip to the beach, mountains, or the open plains.

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