Removing Mould from Canvas

🦠 Removing Mould from Canvas (step-by-step)

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An all-too-common part of caravanning and camping is the dreaded mould that can pop up on the canvas sections.

Whether it’s a swag, a tent, a pop top caravan or even the caravan annex or awning, there are plenty of opportunities for mould to take hold.

Mould spores are in our environment and move around in the air. Although it’s not something we can ever get rid of, knowing how to deal with it means protecting your canvas and increasing the longevity of your tent, camper or caravan.

Removing mould from canvas is a simple process that only requires vinegar, fresh air and a hard bristle brush.

Here’s how to remove mould from canvas as well as prevent it from multiplying, which is neither good for your health or your camping gear.

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What Causes Mould?

Rainy day, tent camping
Wet canvas is the number one cause of mould

Once you know what the ideal breeding ground is for mould, you can actively work to prevent it from taking over your canvas.

The perfect breeding conditions for mould include areas that are:

  • Damp
  • Dark
  • Still
  • Undisturbed

While mould spores are regularly floating around in the air, they actually need a host in order for them to multiply and thrive.

In other words, if your canvas provides a good breeding ground for mould by being damp and dark, mould spores will move in and call that section of your canvas ‘home.’

The most common cause of mould on canvas is packing it up or rolling it away while there is still some moisture left in the fabric.

The best way to prevent mould on canvas is to allow it to completely dry before packing it away.

Mould Prevention in a Caravan

Tips for Preventing Mould on Canvas:

  • Allow canvas to fully dry before packing up
  • For tents & pop tops – keep windows/ vents open while sleeping to reduce condensation
  • For tents & pop tops – keep windows open & fans on when cooking/ showering inside
  • Keep all surfaces clean & dry to reduce mould spores
  • Keep canvas clean & free of leaves, dust & dirt

If you do have to pack up camp and roll the canvas away while it’s still damp, make sure you pull it out as soon as you get home (or to the next camp) to air out and dry as soon as possible.

When it comes to dealing with mould in other areas of your caravan or camper, the article below goes into depth with how to deal with it.

Dealing with Mould Inside an RV →
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Removing Mould from Canvas

DO NOT Use Bleach to Remove Mould from Canvas

While it’s a common belief that bleach is the go-to mould killer, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

While bleach will kill some surface mould, it will not penetrate the membrane underneath.

Initially, bleach will seem to have worked because the surface mould will be stripped of its colour (i.e. “bleached”). However, within a few weeks, the mould will return even stronger as a response to viewing the bleach as a threat.

When bleach is used on a porous surface, such as canvas, the mould will move further into the fabric to avoid that “threat,” causing a much larger problem than what it was in the beginning.

Cleaning mould with bleach or vinegar

Using BLEACH vs. VINEGAR to clean mould off canvas:

• Only attacks surface mould• Mild acid
• Temporarily bleaches mould so it appears to be gone• Kills 82% of mould types
• Encourages further mould growth• Cheap & easily accessible
• Toxic to use• Safe around pets & children

DO Use Vinegar to Remove Mould from Canvas

When it comes to removing mould from canvas, distilled or white vinegar is the most effective and safest product to use.

The mild acid found in regular white or distilled vinegar is effective in killing approximately 82% of moulds.

Vinegar is completely safe to use around kids and pets, as well as being safe for use in small spaces like caravans, campers and tents.

White vinegar is easily accessible in any local supermarket and will only set you back a few dollars.

Which vinegar should you use?

There are three vinegars to choose from:

  • White Vinegar
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • Double Strength Vinegar

The only difference between the three vinegars is the acetic acid level, which is what does the cleaning.

  • White Vinegar: 4 – 5% acetic acid
  • Distilled Vinegar: 5 – 8% acetic acid
  • Double Strength Vinegar: 8 – 10% acetic acid

While all of them will do a job good, some canvas professionals say to steer clear of anything too acidic, so you may prefer to opt for regular white vinegar.

Cleaning Mould off Canvas with Vinegar

Vinegar already contains 90 – 95% water, so it doesn’t need to be diluted for cleaning mould off canvas since it’s beneficial for it to be as strong as possible.

Removing Mould from Canvas:

  1. SET UP canvas in the sun & allow to completely dry
  2. OPEN windows, vents & flaps (if mould is inside) to allow full ventilation
  3. BRUSH mould spores off the canvas once dry – using a hard bristle brush
  4. VACUUM canvas to remove any remaining mould spores
  5. FILL a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar
  6. SPRAY the mould-affected area
  7. LET the vinegar sit for 1 hour
  8. SCRUB the canvas with a brush (to break up the mould)
  9. CLEAN the canvas with warm water to rinse all vinegar & mould off
  10. SPRAY with more vinegar
  11. ALLOW the canvas to dry completely before packing away

Re-waterproof Your Canvas

If you’ve damaged your canvas and removed the waterproofing in the process, you’ll need to apply a fresh coat of canvas waterproofing product.

Oztrail Aqua Proof (canvas waterproofing)
Canvas Waterproofing (eBay) →

Steps for Re-waterproofing Canvas:

  1. Ensure canvas is clean & dry
  2. Apply waterproofing product with a sponge, brush, roller or spray can
  3. Allow to dry completely for about 2 days before packing away

Caravan Maintenance & Service Log

Caravan Maintenance & Service Log

Log and track all of your caravan maintenance and servicing requirements.

  • 7-page Planner (digital & printable)
  • Caravan Service History Log
  • TICK OFF checklists
  • COMPLETE maintenance tasks
  • ADD in extra tasks
  • RECORD maintenance & service dates
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Mould & Condensation in Caravans, Campers & Tents

Mouldy Caravan Curtain
Mould on the back of the caravan curtain

Quite often, the creation of mould begins with wet and rainy weather outside, mixed with condensation forming inside the camper or tent.

Given that mould thrives in moist, dark conditions and particularly loves still, undisturbed air, there are few things you can do to combat mould and condensation while camping.

Mould & Condensation Prevention:

  • Open vents, hatches & windows
  • Dry the inside air with a heater
  • Circulate the air with fans
  • Store wet clothes & towels outside
  • Cook outside (if possible)
  • Use campground showers (if possible)
  • Use exhaust fans when cooking & showering inside
  • Use moisture absorbers in corners & cupboards
  • Keep all surfaces clean of dust, dirt & moisture

For more on dealing with condensation in caravans, campers and tents, check out the article below.

Condensation Prevention in Campers & RVs →
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