Mold and mildew

1:10 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Is there any way to save a nylon tent that is really covered in mold and mildew? My wife works at the salvation army and they get decent tents all the time but most of them are like this.

3:29 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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If you mean "return to a durable, reliable condition," I think that's a long shot.  The urethane that many tents are coated with is (grudgingly) water soluble.  Storing wet for long periods of time, creating the conditions that are conducisive to mildew, might also damage the urethane coating.  You could try a soak in warm soapy water, followed by a dunk in something like McNett MiraZyme, followed by a reapplication of a urethane coating.  The tent you'd be left with would be better suited to feeling good about saving a few bucks and doing some car camping than doing anything that might cause you to rely on it.  I don't mean to discourage you though, this sounds like an interesting project, and I'd love to see pictures and a report!

3:49 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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It is a lot of work and hit and miss at that, rehabilitation a mildewed tent.  If I already owned it I might attempt this project, but why start a relationship with obviously damaged goods?  Better off waiting for one that doesn't have this issue.


5:14 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Waiting for a test sample of Neverwet. The early lab results show it might be just the thing for re-waterproofing an old tent once you get it cleaned up. 

I'll let you all know how it comes out.

7:43 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Im really just bored, I keep seein these old tents goin in the dumpster and it kinda bugs me. Ive got two of them, im gonna try some suggestions and see what works. Ill keep everybody posted on how it turns out.

9:54 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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get a new one

1:27 a.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

It is a lot of work and hit and miss at that, rehabilitation a mildewed tent.  If I already owned it I might attempt this project, but why start a relationship with obviously damaged goods?  Better off waiting for one that doesn't have this issue.


I would definitely have to agree with Ed. Unless you are really, and I mean really attached to what ever particular tent your about to embark upon I would not do this unless you have lots of time and extra money and more time. In the end you might have a tent that works and you might not. The tent will be heavier than it was before you embarked upon this journey due to the fact that you will not be able to get the nice light coating that the manufacture of the tent material was able to apply at the factory. Also remember that if the tent fabric is really moldy/mildewey then the thread will be to. Many types of threads do not do well when they get moldy. To start you will have to dunk the entire tent and fly in as solution such as liquid Lysol soaking every square inch (or millimeter if you live in the rest of the world) to ensure that none, and I mean none, of the offending mold is still alive. You will want to set the tent up and let the Lysol dry on the tent. Otherwise all will be for naught as the mold could very well start to grow back. Next will come the fun process of removing all of the waterproof coating. You can soak it in vinegar, which works............sometimes and or you can wash it in a front load washer using a detergent. Then you will have to run it thru a very large front load dryer on the very lightest setting of heat so as to not melt your tent. Air drying will not work as you need the dryer to remove all the tiny pieces of waterproofing. You will need to repeat both process until all the waterproofing is gone. During this process the laundry mat will most likely ban you for life and or you wife will most likely divorce you as this really, and I mean really, makes a mess. Then if you still have a tent that is being held together by it's threads and it has incurred no damage from all that you have done to it, you then get to start the process of waterproofing it. You will need a open area that is out of the sun as you do not want to apply any of the waterproofing in an enclsoed area. Remember when applying water proofing, that this is not the time to lite one up. You will need to waterproof the fly and the floor. It's best to do both sides of the floor and fly. You may or may not need to seam seal it as when you as when you seal the entire fly/floor it may seal the seams as well. I also do the tent body one foot up from the floor.  When recoating the fly you will first want to put a waterproof tarp or thick plastic with no holes over the tent body and then put the fly on as the waterproofing will permeate the fly material. You don't want to make the top of the tent body waterproof. You will need to pull the fly up so that it does not dry on and stick to the plastic or tarp.   You will want to do the floor of the tent body on a tarp of some kind as if you do this on the ground the sealer will permeate the material and everything that the material is touching will stick to the bottom of the tent. You will need to lift the tent floor of off the tarp or plastic so that it does not stick to the tarp/plastic. This is much eaiser to do with a free standing (dome) tent. There are a number of waterproofing materials on the market like Kenyon K Kote Recoat or you can try some of the homemade recipes as well. Just out of curiosity what are the tent(s) you are considering resurrecting? I myself only do this on and to very special tents.

2:11 a.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I think the thread Rick started is probably the best advice EVER on how to care for your tents!

7:07 a.m. on May 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Its possible, though alot of work. Assuming that the PU coating is not damaged you could probably clean it off with regular household white vinegar. It is important to use something such as vinegar that will kill the mildew so i wont come back. Warm soapy water also works well.

If the coating is damaged you can strip the coating in a washing machine. Look at different tent manufacturer websites , TNF has pretty good instructions on how to do this. Then you can recoat the tent, this is a time consuming and challenging process but it can be done.

8:37 p.m. on May 10, 2012 (EDT)
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I use a vinegar and water solution (1/2 and 1/2) to remove mildew and mold, then hang outside in the shade to dry. Not direct sun as this can ruin the water proofness! Be sure its comeplete b dry before repacking.

1:36 p.m. on May 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Ive gotten three tents in similar condition. No damage to any of them but pretty good coverage of mold and mildew. Im gonna set them up take some pics and rinse them well. I have a small electric power washer I got to wash my motorhome. I will use a very soft touch and wide spray tip. Works well, ive used it on my other tents before. I live in the country and need this for water pressure. Then im gonna pick three methods listed here. I will take pics along the way and keep everybody posted. One of them looks interesting. The others appear to be seventies models of mainstream tents. Metal poles and fishline looking mesh, im guessing on the age. The other one came into the salvation army in one of three large army duffel bags. They contained one mans army career in the 10th mountain division. The tent is kinda big in a army bag with 10th all over it. The tent is orange and nylon. Im gonna pull it out this weekend hopefully. Thanks for the advice once again, top shelf stuff as always.

June 22, 2018
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