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One good way to increase the lifespan of your vehicle's canopy tent is by giving it a thorough wash after every use. Over time, mold, mildew, dirt, grime, and stains can accumulate on every nook and cranny of your tent. When left untreated, it'll be harder for you to remove the stains or grime buildup. And once mold and mildew get ahold of your tent, the structural integrity of the fabric is compromised. So before those moldy spots result in serious damage, here's what you need to do to give the tent a thorough wash:

Tools needed:

  • Nylon broom
  • Detergent
  • Bleach
  • Hose
  • Bucket

Step 1: Find a wide and well-ventilated working area.

To properly give your canopy a good wash, find a wide surface where you can layout the tent. It could be your backyard or a spacious garage. To prevent tracking in more dirt onto the tent, remove your shoes.

Step 2: Apply detergent and water.

Grab a bottle of detergent and drizzle just the right amount over the entire surface of the tent. Hose some water on the same areas, allowing a bit of detergent and water to soak into the fabric.

Step 3: Scrub, scrub, and scrub.

Using a nylon broom or brush and with a bit of elbow grease, scrub away traces of dirt and grime. Focus on hard-to-reach areas. When dealing with mold or mildew, apply a mixture of three-parts water and one-part bleach onto the soiled surfaces. Make sure to wash off the bleach as soon as possible to prevent damaging the tent's fabric. Repeat this step on all the sides of the tent.

Step 4: Rinse the canopy.

Once you're sure that you've scrubbed out every surface, hose the canopy down until the soap residue is removed.

Step 5: Let the tent dry off completely.

Leave the tent outside to let it dry off. Depending on the size and type of tent you have, this might take a few days. Make sure to let all areas air dry. Once the tent is completely dry, store it away for future use.

Cleaning and maintenance tips:

  • Never store a slightly damp tent. Any moisture on the surface can lead to mold or mildew buildup and a stuffy smell.
  • Since it might take days to completely dry off every surface of the canopy, it's best to schedule the wash on a hot, rain-free weekend.
  • Try to spot clean dirt and sap stains to prevent accumulation and to make washing them off easier.
  • Apply a bit of waterproofing product on the tent once it completely dries off. This way, the fabric won't easily give in to wear and tear.
  • If you're dealing with an extra huge tent, get help from a friend so that scrubbing every surface won't be a tedious or time-consuming task. You can have a huge tent professionally cleaned, but you'll have to shell out cash for that. So if you want to save money, find a couple of buddies who can help you out.