View Full Version : Mildew on gear

06-29-2015, 09:36
what is the best way to get rid of Mildew/Mold on gear, Tent/ tent Poles, Backpack,:banana etc

06-29-2015, 10:20
Unfortunately, the best way to avoid mildew damage is to prevent it in the first place.

After the fact, you can mix up a 10:1 solution of water:bleach and soak the gear in that. I would leave it soak overnight, then wash the gear in mild soap and water in your bathtub (you may need to gently scrub the affected areas), rinse well, then allow it to air dry, preferably hanging on a sunny clothesline.

In the future, when you return from a trip, make sure to air all your gear very well in dry conditions to avoid a repeat. I try to store my gear lightly packed in a cotton bag, the same way I do my down gear. While on your trips, it is ok to pack up a wet tent for the day, but do not leave it packed up without drying it for several days - most trips that is not an issue, but on the AT, with the abundance of shelters, it is a real possibility - avoid doing it.

06-29-2015, 10:26
I've taken my pack to the car wash and hit it with a pressure washer. I wouldn't do that to a tent though...I've set up my tent in the back yard without the rainfly and thrown some laundry detergent on it and lightly sprayed it and rinsed it and let it dry in the sun. But the truth is you're probably never going to completely get the smell out. If you do a thruhike all of your stuff will stink by the time you are done...its just the nature of the beast...you're hiking in weather where it rains a lot and by the time all of your stuff completely dries out it rains again...it only takes a couple of weeks for it all to smell like mildew.

06-29-2015, 10:43
I had heard that mildew would foul the water proofing on a tent.

You might have ruined your tent.
Hope someone else knows different.

06-29-2015, 10:52
Yep, I fear the only way to get rid of mildew on fabric is to get new fabric. I don't think there's a magic bullet for this one, sorry to say.

06-29-2015, 13:05
It depends on the material. For regular nylon like on a pack you should be able to get it cleaned up some (you probably won't get all the odor out of it) with warm water and a mild detergent (something like odorless dish soap). I wash my packs periodically using this method and soaking them in a bath tub for a while. Other materials like sil-nylon I'd probably be more careful with. I learned the hard way by doing something really stupid...I washed a sil-nylon poncho in a washing machine. It smelled nice and clean afterwards, but water went right through it so I must have actually washed some of the silicone right out of the fabric. I was able to "re-condition" it though by taking some silicone sealant, mixing it with low odor paint thinner, and painting that on the poncho. It works great now...lot of work though. If I had to do it again I'd probably just buy a new one.

06-29-2015, 15:23
what i am talking about is a "Marmot EOS 1 Person Tent". and what if i left it alone and used it like it is it's not bad their just a few spots but the poles are covered in it.

06-29-2015, 15:40
Try Tile cleaner from Lowes I use tile X

Water Rat
06-29-2015, 15:41
At this point, you have nothing to lose by trying a little vinegar and baking soda....I would spot treat the mildew spots.

Just Bill
06-29-2015, 16:04
Looks like it's just PU/Sil nylon- nothing special.
Used to deal with this quite a bit as a youngster, like most have said, once it's there it's there. But no need to toss the baby with the bathwater first, scout troops can't exactly toss gear every season so I had to try a few tricks that help.

Simply getting a decent soft bristly scrub brush and some elbow grease goes a long way. I set the tents up on a nice sunny day and used warm (NO SOAP) water. Get as much as you can off, that's really your only goal.

With the poles- you probably want to take them apart. Pull one tip off and likely you'll find a knot in the shock-cord you can undo. If any of the poles are different lengths make note of it before you take it apart or your tent will pitch funny if you put it together again in the wrong order.

Once as clean as you can get it- UV light (especially in the mile high city) will kill a decent amount of it. So give it a good long day in the sun. Some tents can also be pitched inside out if you get creative.

Next up- I used to use a platic drum so I didn't piss off my mommy- but bath tub or sink works fine.
Fill it up with warm water and put in a generous amount of vinegar. (some say lemon juice) It should be noticeably smelly. Put the poles in there too, and give it a good stir. Let it sit overnight.

Dump it out and set the tent aside. Put a full box of baking soda into about 20 gallons of warm water. Dump the vinegar soaked tent right in without a rinse, you may see a bit of the expected reaction. Know idea if the chemistry lesson matters or not- but it worked better this way for me and never had any problems. If you're worried you can rinse the tent. Again, let it sit overnight.

Don't pull it unless it's a good sunny day and you can set the tent up to fully dry in the sun for a day. Don't let it soak for more than two days though. Give it a good sunny day.

As others have mentioned- there is a chance you will wash out some of the waterproof treatment.
Marmot lists your tent as a Sil/PU. So you may wear some of the Sil coating off which may allow the fabric to wet out a bit, but the PU part should still help. (prety much like a failed/worn DWR coating) At only 1800 MM of HH this isn't a bomber full PU fabric anyway, but in line with typical UL tents.

As far as I know; ReviveX from McNett is one of the more popular treatments to restore DWR type coating if you need it.

I always used Nikwak, mainly because that was all we had to use. It seemed to last a season or so, but the above process was pretty much once a season with 30-50 scouts in our troop and a tow behind trailer that sat in the weather it was pretty unavoidable to run into mildew problems even getting out once a month.

I'm a bit behind on that stuff, haven't used any of it since my scouting days so maybe there's a better wash in treatment available.