canvas tents

Caring for Tents - A Guide to Longer Tent Life

The life and appearance of your canvas tent depend a great deal on how much care you give it.   Your tent is make of the best grade of cotton duck available, with the best available water repellent and mildew resistant treatments applied, and deserves to be taken care of.

Starting Out

Keep your tent clean.  There is no better protection against mildew than a clean tent. Even on mildew resistant canvas, mildew will grow on dirt that accumulates on the op of bottom surface of the canvas.  Mildew is canvasses "worst enemy".  It can eventually stain or damage the canvas and should be protected against vigorously.  Mildew in its early stages can be washed off by the method described below.  If you leave your canvas tent up for extended periods of time make sure you close it when the weather is wet and open it up to dry out when it's dry and sunny.  Mildew will grow in a tent that is wet and closed up in the sunshine.

Washing Your Tent

Wash your tent with Iosso Tent Cleaner, Woolite, or a mild dish washing liquid.  Harsh detergents will adversely affect the water repellency.  Use one capful to 2 gallons of lukewarm water.  Set your tent up or lay your tent down on the ground or driveway.  Use a soft brush or rag to scrub lightly.  Hard scrubbing or pressure sprayers can remove the water repellency from the canvas.  Do not scrub hard or use a pressure sprayer.  It is important to rinse very thoroughly and immediately.

 When should you wash your tent?  Of course, whenever you notice dirt you should clean it off.  But just as important is to clean it after a particularly dry and dusty outing.  If you've been somewhere that dust has been kicked up by passing vehicles it is important to wash the tent or at least hose it off when you get home.  A layer of dust on the surface of your tent is an open invitation for mildew.

After washing and rinsing, let your tent dry thoroughly by stretching it out in the sun.  Do not fold up your tent for storage while it is damp.  It is not a good idea to throw a tent over a hedge or group of bushes.  Many bushes contain an acid that can be harmful to your canvas.


Store your tent in a dry place.  Be careful to avoid rolling up twigs and leaves (especially wet ones) in the canvas before storage.  These often will leave permanent stains on the canvas.


From time to time it may be necessary to do a small repair on your wall tent.  If you are wanting to put together a repair kit, here is what you'll need:

Cotton Thread - Cotton thread swells to fill your needle holes when it gets wet, thus it helps shed water more effectively.

Needles - Use as small a needle as will go through the canvas.  A small needle hole closes more tightly around the thread and helps water repellency.

Canvas Glue - This is a great help.  It is waterproof and usually used in conjunction with sewing a patch on.  After the glue is spread liberally over the damaged area, the patch is put on and stitched around the edges.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

Some insect spray solutions, hair sprays, and other chemicals will dissolve water repellency and cause staining, so keep them away from your canvas.

- Avoid dragging your tent across abrasive surfaces such as cement.

- Do not allow large puddles of water to stand on the tent for any extended period of time.  It will stretch the canvas if it is left standing too long and cause pocketing.

- When setting up your canvas tent for the first couple times, do not attempt to pull wrinkles out by yanking or forcing the canvas.  A canvas shelter needs time to loosen up and conform to the shape of the frame.  A new tent may have small wrinkles in it until the sun hits it for a day or two to relax the canvas.