How do you get the musty smell out of a canvas tent?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: How do you get the musty smell out of a canvas tent? We will discuss the origins of the musty smells in a canvas tent and how to get rid of them once and for all. 

How do you get the musty smell out of a canvas tent?

To get the musty smell out of a canvas tent you can simply clean it with a mix of one cup white vinegar and one gallon of water. If the canvas of your trailer is not properly dried after rainfall and you fold it up again, the musty smell and mould can form quickly. 

Getting rid of mould inside a pop-up camper is not difficult, but it should be done as soon as the musty smell is discovered.

  1. Set up the camper. It will be easier to locate and remove the mould this way if you try to go through the folded-in-place canvas and components.
  1. Clean the canvas tent with hot water, a mild detergent and a brush or washing sponge to get rid of dirt, which often helps mould growth. Rinse the motorhome with a hose when you are finished.
  1. Spray any mould you are looking for a half and half solution of hot water and white vinegar. White vinegar is a very strong natural cleanser and it works effectively in removing mould. Use undiluted vinegar on stubborn mould stains.
  1. Allow the solution to sit on the mould for a minute and then wipe off with a microfiber cloth. The fibres in the fabric will remove the mould completely from the surface.
  1. Let the trailer dry completely before putting it away again.

During your camper trips, you may notice the formation of condensation on the ceiling or windshield of your canvas tent. Don’t panic, it can happen, but the problem must be dealt with as soon as possible to avoid more serious damage. Indeed, one of the biggest risks associated with condensation is water infiltration. 

Water is a motorhome, campervan or canvas tent’s worst enemy. Condensation is the result of thermal shock between the interior and exterior of the vehicle. So how do you avoid condensation in a camper? How to prevent water droplets from forming on the vehicle’s windshield? How to avoid humidity in recreational vehicles?

How to avoid the musty smell in a camper?

To know how to avoid a musty smell in a camper, you need to know where condensation is coming from so that you can prevent it.  Condensation is a change in the state of matter. When moist air meets a cold surface, that moisture turns to water. Condensation is characteristic of poor insulation. Condensation is the result of thermal shock between the exterior and interior of the vehicle.

Motorhomes, campervans and tent trailers are highly subject to condensation. Even if they are in good condition and new, it doesn’t take much for condensation to appear:

  • a drop in outdoor temperatures
  • too many people in the vehicle interior
  • wet laundry drying in the camper
  • a blocked ventilation grid preventing good air circulation
  • damaged seals
  • cracks in the body of the recreational vehicle
  • a hot shower
  • cooking inside.

Condensation can appear on the ceiling of the motorhome, on the bay window of the windshield, on the windows, etc.

Avoiding condensation in a motorhome, van or tent trailer is to avoid water infiltration. Water infiltration is the worst problem for an RV. The water that infiltrates will cause a lot of damage such as rotting of the walls of the vehicle, damp spots on the walls and on the ceiling, a wall hanging that curls… Not to mention the mould that will develop on the motorhome, which is very unhealthy.

By turning moisture into the water, the condensation will allow water drops to run off the walls and windows and seep into the walls through the joints. Drops of water can also trickle onto your mattress and benches, gradually creating mould.

To avoid condensation in a camper, and thus a musty smell, there are several points to check and several things to do.

  1. Let plenty of air circulate – To prevent condensation and a musty smell in the canvas tent, air must be circulated in the vehicle. Do not hesitate to open the windows and the door to ventilate the interior. Ideally, you should keep a window open or open when cooking or showering.
  1. Check that the camper vents are not blocked. The first thing to do to prevent a musty smell in a canvas tent is to check that the air is circulating properly in the vehicle. 

Depending on the surface area of ​​the vehicle’s airframe, manufacturers have provided suitable ventilation grilles that allow air to circulate in the passenger compartment. Usually, there is one ventilation at the bottom and one at the ceiling. Check that these vents are not blocked, clean them if necessary.

If there is already a musty smell in your canvas tent, ventilate the vehicle to remove all moisture.

  1. Check the camper gaskets and replace them if necessary. One of the reasons that may justify condensation in the camper is the presence of defective seals. The role of the seals is to preserve the water tightness of the motorhome. If they are damaged, too old or too dry, they no longer protect the vehicle against the infiltration of water and cold air.

If the seals are damaged, they must absolutely be redone. We explained in a previous article how to reseal a camper. 

  1. Take hot showers as little as possible. To avoid a musty smell in your camper, it is best to use your vehicle’s shower as little as possible. When you are parked in campsites or parking lots, use the toilets and showers in those places. The less you use the bathroom and the shower, the less humidity you will create.
  1. Choose to cook outside of the camper if possible. The kitchen is one of the elements that create the most condensation in a camper. When you heat water to cook your pasta, or when you cook vegetables on your gas stove, a lot of moisture evaporates in the cabin.

If you are travelling in the summer, try to cook as much as possible outside the vehicle. In winter, you will have no choice but to cook indoors, in which case leave a window open or ajar and turn on the hood if you have one.

  1. Turn the heating on to get rid of the musty smell and condensation. To avoid condensation it is necessary to know how to measure the heating. It shouldn’t be too cool nor too hot. Turning on the heating will remove moisture from your motorhome if it is in good condition.
  1. Do not dry laundry inside the camper. To avoid the musty smell, all sources of moisture should be avoided. You should avoid drying your laundry indoors as much as possible. In summer, install a drying system outside the camper. In winter, it is more difficult to dry the line outside. It is best to use a drying aid system.
  1. Install a dehumidifier. Another way to get rid of the musty smell of canvas tents is to reduce the humidity level. For this, you can install a special motorhome dehumidifier. The dehumidifier will suck in air, trap moisture, and release dry air. It is equipped with a small tank in which the water present in the air will deposit.
  1. Insulate your camper’s windows. To prevent condensation from forming on the windows of your motorhome, you can install an exterior insulation system on the windows of the vehicle. 

In fact, most of the condensation forms on the windshield or the windows of the recreational vehicle. You can buy external isothermal protections for motorhomes and vans to put on the vehicle to protect it from the cold.

The bottom line

To avoid high humidity, a musty smell, mould and condensation problems in your camper, it must be well insulated! To ensure good insulation of the camper, do not hesitate to invest in an isothermal outer cover and follow a few simple camping rules!

If you have any questions or comments on the content, do let us know. 

FAQ on How do you get the musty smell out of a canvas tent?

How to remove the musty smell in a camper?

To remove the musty smell in a camper, use a saucer filled with lemon juice and baking soda. Regularly refresh the air in your camper and clean it as often as possible. 

How to perfume your camper for a long time?

To perfume your camper for a long time, use a  natural sanitizing spray. In a spray bottle, mix 500 millilitres of water, the juice of one lemon and a tablespoon of baking soda. Shake and spray around the house. This natural product cleans the air, rids it of bad odours and perfumes your interior at the same time.

How do you get a bad smell out of a camper?

The simplest solution to get a bad smell out of a camper is to clean it thoroughly with vinegar.  Ideal for cleaning and eliminating odours on board motorhomes and caravans, the vinegar disinfects and removes limescale and is therefore ideal for cleaning sanitary facilities, the kitchen unit, but also the refrigerator. 


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