Easy Steps On How To Clean Mould Off Canvas Swag

Imagine yourself on a camping trip to the beach. You have set up your tent on a white crystal sandy coast and enjoy the summer times with your family and friends. But the sad time of the departure has come. You start packing the sleeping bags and stuff your tent in the sack. Back home, you store it in the garage till your next holiday.

A canvas swag set up on the sea

But when the time comes to set up your tent again, you come across a few stubborn dark stains of mould. And you keep asking yourself why that has happened since there’s no leakage in your garage to promote mould. We have the answer! It’s all because you didn’t clean your canvas swag the right way. No need for worries, though! We can walk you through some easy steps on how to clean mould off canvas swag and a few more cleaning tips to get rid of mould once and for all!

What is mould, and how it develops

Mould is a fungus that needs certain conditions to grow and develop. It needs moisture and organic matter to act as its food source. Mould excretes enzymes that cause organic matter to rot, which then eats and gets the energy to thrive.

Mould is all around us; on our clothes, skin, leaves, and the list goes on and on. It can grow in all dark, damp places. It spreads and reproduces by releasing spores – a lot of them. These spores spread through air and water and colonise. If mildew finds a breeding ground, it grows in at least 24 hours.

How to clean mould

Unfortunately, mould doesn’t only love dark basements and damp bathroom tiles. It’s a headache you need to deal with if you love camping trips. You can find it on your camping equipment, as well, like your camping tent. The good news is that there are a couple of ways to clean it off ; vinegar and lemon. Let’s see details for both of them:

White vinegar

Vinegar is an inexpensive, powerful ingredient we use in many cleaning tasks around the house. You can use it to clean your washing machine and shower glass, to kill the weeds in your garden or bleach your white clothes. It also has amazing results when it comes to cleaning your canvas tent from mould.

White vinegar on wooden table

Needed materials:

  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A sponge or soft brush
  • A kiddie pool
  • A spray bottle
  • Paper towels
  • Warm water
  • Mild soap detergent
  • White vinegar

Steps to follow:

1. Remove the debris

Start the cleaning process by shaking off the swag to get rid of any large pieces of debris. Then, using a vacuum cleaner, remove all the dust and debris from the entire surface, including the corners and storage pockets. While vacuuming, you need to pay attention to notice any stains and mildew signs.

2. Wash

After vacuuming the tent, fill a kiddie pool with clean water and soak your tent. Add a few drops of mild detergent and scrub the canvas with a soft brush or a sponge. Rinse then the soapy water and proceed to the next step to get rid of the mildew stains.

3. Clean mould spores

Mould spores are the most stubborn stains.  If you aren’t sure about mildew growth, you should check for green or bluish specks. The best way to get rid of mould is to use vinegar. It’s very easy to use.

  • Add five parts of hot water and one part vinegar in a spray bottle, and spray the affected areas.
  • Then, using a soft-bristle brush, scrub the surface.
  • Finally, rinse it with cold water and let it dry.

Lemon juice

Another effective way to deep clean your canvas tent is to use lemon. The steps are the same as the vinegar method. You need to wash your tent first with soapy water and then clean it with the lemon mixture.

A bowl of lemon juice next to some lemons

Needed materials:

  • A cup of lemon juice
  • Hot water
  • A cup of salt
  • A brush

Steps to follow:

1. Vacuum the debris

Shake it off to remove any debris and then vacuum it to clean it off the dust. Don’t forget to vacuum the corners and any storage pockets. 

2. Wash 

After vacuuming, soak it into a kiddie pool filled with water. Add a few drops of mild detergent and scrub the fabric with a soft brush. Then rinse it.

3. Clean it with lemon

Then, create a mixture using lemon, salt and boiling water. Mix in a bowl a cup of juice, a cup of salt and 4.5l boiling water. Stir very well to dissolve the ingredients and then lightly scrub the stains using a stiff brush. Then, hose it and let it dry completely before storing it.

IMPORTANT: You can leave your tent to dry in the direct sunlight for a while. Sun acts the same way as bleach. It kills mould. However, you need to be really careful. Direct sunlight can damage the waterproof coating. Therefore, you can have the tent under the sun for a few hours to dry and then hang it in a shady, well-ventilated area.

Is mould dangerous?

Mould, in all cases, is dangerous. The same applies to swag made from canvas. If you don’t get rid of it, it will damage it. If you leave your tent untreated, mould will destroy the fabric dyes, the canvas and the waterproof coating, leaving it with holes and tears. You need to understand that mould and mildew aren’t just dark stains on the fabric. They actually feed on camping equipment, eating the fibres of the canvas. If any damages occur, then you need to purchase a new one. Hence, if you don’t want to waste your money, you must treat mould as soon as you notice the first signs.

A canvas swag set up in an area surrounded by oaks

How to prevent mould from developing

Campers should do some things to keep mould away from their tent. 

  1. Never pack your tent while it is damp. Let it first dry in the sun and then store it.
  2. Before cleaning your canvas tent, check the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning and maintenance of your swag.
  3. Avoid harsh chemicals, bleach and solvent as they are likely to damage the fabric dyes, the canvas and waterproofing.
  4. Don’t use a pressure washer. It will also damage your canvas awning.
  5. You may have heard about the effectiveness of the oil of cloves. It isn’t proofed; however, it seems it works well.
  6. If you aren’t sure about a cleaning product, test it first in an inconspicuous area.
  7. Before setting up your tent, clean the ground from leaves, weeds and grass and ensure that the ground is well dried.

Two canvas swags set up on a protective sheet.

Tents are prone to dirt and mould due to storage and use in outdoor spaces. You need to make sure that you keep it clean off the mould to help expand its life. Remove all the dust and debris first, and then treat the mould stains with vinegar or lemon. Follow our step-by-step instructions, and we assure you that your tent will be in good condition for the years to come.

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