Mildew spots on a rain fly

6:42 a.m. on October 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Hello all. I'm the new oner of a REI Half Dome 2 tent I found on craigslist that is immaculate with exception of numerous small (all are smaller than a dime) dark mildew stains. The next time I buy a tent -- presumably as soon as I destroy this one trying to wash it -- I'll avoid craigslist altogether. There's no good way that I know of to remove the stains without destroying the fabric integrity.

The tent and the fly smell a bit musty, and I'd like to ensure that the mildew is neutralized. I've read the Mountain Hardware and ALPS Mountaineering tent care tips, but neither mention anything about dealing with mildew after the fact. Does anyone see a problem washing the tent and fly in my bath tub starting with a weak vinegar and water -- aka: acetic acid -- rinse, and finishing with a thorough handwashing with Tech Wash™?

I should mention here that I live in a very small apartment. Setting up the tent to air out for a period of time is not an attractive option due to constraints in floorspace. Drying out the tent and fly is a managed affair involving the shower rod, as it is.

Thank you so much for reading this far,


11:08 a.m. on October 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Yes the weak vinegar and water solution is the best way to handle the mildew problem. This is the method I always use to combat mildew. Afterwards if you can place the infected area that have been washed in direct sunlight for an hour or so will evaporate the wash and kill any remaining mildew.

1:41 p.m. on October 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Hi Andrew, welcome to the forum. As you realize that you won't eliminate the existing mildew, and are attempting to neutralize it, do yourself a favor and research MiraZyme. I've found it does an excellent job neutralizing mildew, in addition to eliminating the odor associated with mildew.

2:14 a.m. on October 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Hey there. Thanks for the replies.

@GaryPalmer: I soaked the fly and the tent in weak vinegar and water in the bathtub, then hand-washed them both with Tech Wash.

@abman47: I went down to my local alpine shop, and the person gave me a blank stare when I asked about the MiraZyme. I will likely have to get them to order it, or buy it online.

I'd forgotten how frustrating it can be when people don't take care of their gear. I suppose I should have just spent the money and bought the new version of the Half Dome, and passed on this tent. Still, its primary purpose is to reaclimate me to outdoor living, so if it lasts until summer, I'll count it as a win, I suppose.

I know we've all seen mildew stains, but for what it's worth here's a post-treatment picture: mildew_stains_01.jpg

They're still quite visible, but hopefully dead. Bah...

Thank you again,


9:26 a.m. on October 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace, Andrew!

I completely relate to your frustration with those who don't care for gear; I recently lent some gear, including a Thermarest Prolite3, to a friend. Upon return it had a pinhole in it. Come to find out, they had carried it on their hike fully inflated!   >:^(

Anyway, welcome and Good luck with the "new" tent! 

11:37 a.m. on October 25, 2010 (EDT)
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gonzan, what's did you say about common sense? I'm sorry for the damage to your Thermarest, but video footage of "the hike" would be fun to watch. Another fine example of the "no good deed goes unpunished" rule.

4:12 a.m. on October 26, 2010 (EDT)
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Hi gonzan, and thanks!

Indeed, prudence would suggest that lending gears is best treated in the same manner as lending tools. Only if I am present, and then only maybe. Not the best way to build community perhaps, but gear is expensive. I am definitely with abman47, the pad hole is a drag.

I don't suppose there is any video of the excursion, though. If I'd seen someone hiking along carrying that pad under their arm fully inflated, or somehow lashed to a bike, I think I'd have laughed so hard I'd have hurt myself.

I should be going out week after next to the Olympic Peninsula. I still need to pick up a Primus Omnifuel some time in the next week, or sooner if possible. I want to work on treating it like the "barely contained explosion that it is", before attempting to learn it in the field. Why the Omnifuel? It just seems to have all the features I find compelling for a first real pack stove.


11:22 a.m. on October 28, 2010 (EDT)
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I once got a old Kelty geodesic tent from a second hand store that must have been packed up wet and forgotten. When I took it out of its sack it smelled like sour milk. And the pole sleeves were stuck together. I laid it out in the sun for a few days and finally was able to get the sleeves opened. Then after putting the poles in it I washed it down with a fine vinegar solution and left it up again for a day in the air and sun. It took away 75% of the smell and I sold it to someone else.

I don't lend my gear to anyone else since I loaned a Minolta camera to a friend in the late 70s and he returned it with a light leak. Turns out after I asked him about it, he had dropped the camera which pinched the back. I shot a whole roll of film in it and every picture had a yellow streak across it. The camera as ruined and unusable.

I am glad you got the tent cleaned and re-waterproofed, Andrew!

8:01 p.m. on October 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Out of curiosity, did the sellers allow you to setup the tent before purchase? no need to avoid Craigslist altogether. I use CL all the time for gear. Just never trust anyone you meet on there 100%, even if they seem honest. And inspection of any gear you may buy is a must. If a seller won't let me thoroughly investigate an item prior to purchase, I say they must not want to sell it that bad or they're trying to pull a "fast one." Good luck in your future purchases!

8:24 p.m. on October 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Nope, no video, but I might just be able to find some photos of their "expedition."  Unfortunately, the offender was one of my younger brothers, which presents a quandry: I actively want to encourage and help my siblings become avid outdoors enthusiasts, but I can't have what I lend come back broken.

10:46 p.m. on October 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Gonzan's Gear Rental maybe?

I have had several pieces of my own gear damaged by unintentional misuse by newbies. It just happens.

I had the bug netting on my hammock torn away from its zipper when the guy I loaned it too accidentally flipped the hammock while trying to get his sleeping bag up under him. He was inside the hammock, bug net zipped up, and he just flipped the hammock and was trapped with his feet caught in the gathered end of the hammock fabric.

It has however provided many chuckles over the years.




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