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How to Get Rid of Mould from a Canvas Tent

Canvas tents are great and authentic, but they have one key disadvantage over plastic tents. It’s not availability, cost, weight or bulk;? it’s that they are prone to mould.

So, how can you avoid the scourge of tent mould, and what should you do if it does occur?

About Mould

Mould is a type of fungi that grows in moist, dark environments. If your tent stays damp and dark for long enough, mould will flourish and spread by spores. The mould?can consume the fabric of your tent and if you try to camp in a mouldy tent, the spores can trigger asthma and allergies.

Mould Likes:
Neutral PH

Mould Hates:
Acid or basic PH

Avoiding Mould – Dry, Air and Store

Ideally, you’d like to not get mould in the first place. Whenever possible, the tent needs to dry completely before being put away. Check the seams and where the tent touches the ground – these are often the places that take the longest to dry.?If you do have to pack the tent up damp or wet, air the tent as soon as possible.

Air the tent by opening it right up in a spot with good ventilation. You can put the tent up, or just spread it out to dry. Ideally, air the tent in direct sunlight for extra UV treatment.

Store the tent in a dry place between events. Ideally, pack the tent loosely in a bag that breathes, rather than in plastic. Plastic helps keep water out, but if the tent goes away with any moisture at all, plastic will keep it in and foster mould.

Check your storage spot regularly. Leaky sheds, flooded garages and damp basements will ruin your next camping trip.

Dealing with Mould – Kill, Clean and Waterproof

So, you’ve unpacked your tent and found mould?- there’s discolouration, it stinks and the fabric is permanently weakened. The first step is to kill the mould and prevent further damage. Mould hates sunlight, so get that mouldy canvas into direct, burning sunlight.

Next, brush or vacuum as much of the dead mould off the fabric as possible.

Mix a solution of one part white vinegar to ten parts warm water. Using a cloth, scrub the vinegar solution over the mouldy areas. This kills any remaining mould and cleans it off the fibres. Allow the vinegar to dry completely, and then use a firm brush or a scrubbing brush again to remove the mould spots.

Check all ropes. Medieval tents have natural fibre ropes that can be easily weakened by rot. If the rope has rotted, it will need to be replaced.

Air the tent again to completely dry the cleaned area and store.

Some tents may require re-waterproofing after cleaning. In period, tent canvas swelled up when wet and became waterproof. Many modern reproductions use thin canvas with a waterproofing agent though. If you find water coming through the newly cleaned spot, head to the camping store for some canvas waterproofing agent and re-proof the cleaned area.

Prevention is Better than Cure

So, that’s how to deal with a mouldy tent. The science is simple, but the task is gross. Keep your tent dry and aired, and tent mould will be something that only happens to other people.

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Cleaning your linens

Taking care of your beautiful household linens – Table cloths:

With the best will in the world ? stuff gets spilled, and some things are more difficult to remove than others.

For a general wash;

  • Treat any normal stains with an oxygen-based or colour safe bleach, following the directions regards pre-soaking etc. We advise not using chlorine bleach as this can damage the textile.
  • A hot wash with a regular detergent on the delicate cycle should wash clean the table cloth, and help to keep the fringe from getting tangled.
  • To minimize or avoid ironing, lay the table cloth out wet from the wash on a counter or table, smooth out the wrinkles, and then hang so it falls straight. Otherwise, a short tumble dry – again, this is to keep the fringe maintenance down to a minimum.
  • Once dry, fold carefully and store under other linens so that the folds will set as seen in period art.
  • Alternatively, you can iron the patterns in as desired with a hot iron and steam.


To remove candle wax

There are a number of ways to achieve this but our preferred method (and one used in period) is as follows;

  • simply scrape off the excess candle wax;
  • lay several sheets of CLEAN (non-waxed) paper underneath the candlewax spill and another sheet of paper on top of the area;
  • with the iron on a low heat, gently iron over the spot to allow the brown paper to draw out the oily residue left behind (yes, they did have irons ? though it took considerably more technique and experience to use them);
  • IMPORTANT!! Keep the Iron moving so that you don?t burn the fabric!
  • Move the affected area onto fresh sections of the paper so that they can draw the oils more efficiently.


To aid with the removal of Red wine stains;

  • Mop as much as you can but do NOT rub at the red wine ? it will just grind into the fibers;
  • If you can (depending on the state of the diners), dilute the stain with water ( or soda water) and mop with a clean towel;
  • Then (and this would have been an expensive fix in period), pour a generous amount of salt onto the freshly mopped red wine spill and allow it to dry;

Wash as usual, but before drying, check to see if the stain is still there ? some stain may require stronger solutions to deal with any residual stain.


Don’t have linens yet? Why not buy some of the beautiful ones at Mainly Medieval? The featured image on this post is our?

Household Linens – Napkins, towels and tablecloths