View Full Version : any tips on cleaning A frames

07-17-2006, 10:37 PM

recently the area i live in got hit with heavy rain and where i sotre my a frame water got in to the tote and i wasnt aware of it and not i got a terriable mess with mildew. i was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to clean the tent with out harming it

07-17-2006, 11:36 PM
Sunlight and a little bleach water I've heard works good.

07-18-2006, 12:11 AM
Heavy on the sunlight and light on the bleach. Too much bleach or strong cleaner and you can lose your water proofing and weaken the fabric especially around the bottom.

07-18-2006, 12:30 AM
What Tom Said...
Sunlight will KILL future mold, mildew, and Bleach will deffinately kill off any deep mold imbedded within the fabric.
But, add water to bleech.. to much will destroy the fabric, and it will become fragile like an old cotton shirt washed and worn to may times...
Bleach will take off the water proofing... spray heavily with scotch guard and let dry...
set up the a frame in the sun, for a few days..and take down if rain threatens...

bill watson
07-18-2006, 08:05 AM
Vinegar works, also, to kill the mildew. It used to be used a lot as a cleaning fluid.

It apparently doesn't directly attack the mold and mildew. It change the conditions so they can't live. pH and all that. And it has some residual effect, so it's good to hit the tent with vinegar sprayed from a converted spray bottle of some sort before you put it away for storage. Won't hurt the waterproofing or flame retardant.

Jim Mayo
07-18-2006, 08:18 AM
I wouldn't worry about it too much. Sunlight and a little light cleaning will kill the mold. Looking at original pictures shows tents were often varying shades of white indicating they experienced the same effect.

Mark Wadsworth
07-18-2006, 02:22 PM
Then what I would do is lay it out on a deck or driveway and hose it down then take some laundry soap in a buck and then take a long handled scrub brush and get at some of the bad spots. a little bit of bleach will do wonders to it also. You can lay it out in the open to try but a tent that is set up will dry a whole lot faster.
I waterproof my tent with Enterprise waterseal. It does not leave that oily feel to the tent. Plus It's a few bucker cheaper then Thompson's.

07-18-2006, 08:15 PM
thanks for the help i ll give them a try and see how it turns out

07-19-2006, 08:20 AM
I've never heard about the vinegar - that may work! However - I put my "A" up in the back yard - got the deck sprayer (pump sprayer), mixed 1 cup bleach with 1.5 gallons of water and sprayed it both inside and out. Then I let it sit for about 3 hours and then rinsed it thoroughly. I wouldn't have done that - but when I put it up - it just SMELLED! BAD! (like mold/mildew). However - the bleach killed the bad stuff and dulled down the stains. Tent actually looks quite a bit better now.

The key to WATERPROOFING your tent is to apply some kind of sealer to the fabric when it's standing.

As one person said - a deck water repellent is an excellent idea - HOWEVER - do NOT USE A FLAMMABLE one! Believe it or not - this will leave your tent flammable to a large degree. A burning death is not fun at all!

I use a water-based sealent put out by a company called VALSPAR - it's in their "SEVERE WEATHER" collection of products. It's NOT an oil based product and is white in color.

You'll need 2-3 gallons with a deck sprayer on your "A" tent.
1. First Coat: Spray inside and out and let dry
2. Second Coat: Spray inside and out and let dry
3. Third coat: Spray outside only and let dry

then you take it down. You'll notice that the fabric has about doubled in weight and seems 'thicker' - but it's waterproof!

In any case - if you have questions - ask - "BEEN THERE DONE THAT!"

07-19-2006, 09:08 AM
Lysol spray kills mildew and comes in a variety of scents. This also works well on books that have a mildew/musty smell.


07-19-2006, 01:50 PM
Throw it away and sleep on the ground under the stars.

That is the fastest, cheapest solution!!


07-20-2006, 10:01 AM
Look here for some uses of vinegar (and other common household stuff) as cleaning agents. http://www.quolkids.com/information/earthcare/articles/friendly_cleaning_products.htm

The late Earl Proulx wrote a column in Yankee Magazine in which he frequently suggested vinegar to resolve some cleaning problem or another -- so much so that "try vinegar" has become a joke in my household.


I'm astounded at all the folks in this thread who feel they have to waterproof their tents. Mine is 10 years old now, has never been waterproofed, and has never leaked. It ain't stiff as a board or twice as heavy for having had some kind of waterproof stuff applied to it, either. Which raises the question "why are you waterproofing your tent?" When it gets wet, the fibers swell and water won't come through. The exception -- the nice light canvas that authentic shelter halves are made from. It leaks. But if you invested in such a shelter half you aren't going to ruin it with some modern preparation anyhow.

07-20-2006, 11:32 AM
I'm astounded at all the folks in this thread who feel they have to waterproof their tents. Mine is 10 years old now, has never been waterproofed, and has never leaked.

Unfortunately, sometimes when canvas gets moldy, the presence of the mold, whether actively growing or just dead organic materal, either prevent the canvas fibers from swelling properly or provide a wick for the water to penetrate through the fibers. Regardless of why it happens, I learned the hard way that my once waterproof canvas developed leaks after getting moldy after a serious of events where we had to tear down in the rain. I have also seen this occur with other peoples' canvas. In these cases, and only in these cases, the addition of waterproofing may be the only solution.

I do agree with you however that there is no need to waterproof new canvas. Just make sure that you do not lay next to it when you sleep.

Scottish Songbird
07-22-2006, 07:27 PM
I LOVE my dirty looking A-frame!!!...over 20 years old and still going!! It really stands out in the crowd.:p