How to Clean a Canvas Tent With Bleach

Can you bleach canvas to clean mold off your tent? Learn how to clean a canvas tent with bleach that's commonly found in pop-up campers and camper trailers.

Question

I recently cleaned the inside of our tent trailer (the inside of the canvas) with bleach because I noticed some mildew or mold spots on the ceiling above the bed. It’s a rubber backed canvas on the ceiling. I simply put some Clorox in a bowl, along with some water – I’m guessing about 2/3 Clorox, and 1/3 water, and sponged it on.

I’m worried now that I did not dilute the solution enough, because I left the sponge in the bowl for a couple of days and it disintegrated. I’m sure the Clorox is dry in the trailer. Do you think I need to rinse it down even if it is dry? I’m worried about the Clorox damaging the fabric. Thank you.

Answer

You definitely used a stronger bleach and water solution than what we recommend for removing mold and mildew. We also recommend rinsing with water after treating fabrics with our recommended bleach and water solutions. If you are concerned with residual bleach remaining on the tent canvas now, you can spray the treated areas with 3% hydrogen peroxide, which can be found at some pharmacies already packaged in spray bottles. Hydrogen peroxide and sodium hypochlorite (the bleach active in Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach) neutralize each other when combined, so spraying the treated areas will neutralize any remaining bleach. Then you can wipe the treated areas with damp cloth.

This was a tricky situation that you had to deal with since you couldn’t just machine wash the canvas tent material as it’s part of the trailer. In the future, you can reduce the possibility of mildew developing by making sure the tent is clean and dry before you pack it away. If mildew does develop, wipe the canvas down with a bleach and water solution made with ¼ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach per gallon of water, allowing the bleach solution to contact the fabric for 5-10 minutes. Rinse with water before allowing the tent to completely air dry to eliminate mildew.

We also have information on using Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach to clean bleach-safe outdoor cushions with bleach that may also be useful to you in the future.