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How to: Canvas Tent Cleaning

I am the proud owner of a 16' ShelterCo Canvas Tent that my wife and I bought three seasons ago.  We love it and it has become a perminant fixture on our property in the Austin Hill Country.  It's time to clean and re-treat the canvas for waterproofing.  I already tried the home remedy of vinegar and a scrub brush - no progress whatsoever.  The canvas is structurally perfect but it needs some help to get back to it's original clean-looking self.  Note - this is a rather large canvas and the floor is not removeable.   I am looking for the best product(s) for removing stains from the canvas exterior and then re-waterproofing.   Thank you for the help!



4 Replies


I have a canvas car-top tent that I have had to spot wash a couple of times to get that 'musty' smell that canvas can get sometimes. I have found really good success with Gear Aid ReviveX Odor Eliminator (formerly known as MiraZyme). I am unsure as to how it would work with stains, however, as my canvas tent is a pretty dark pattern that doesn't show stains very well. I would try a non-detergent based cleaner to start. Spot wash and scrub to see if that helps. A lot of it is going to depend on the nature of the stain and what might be needed to remove it. Nikwax, Grangers, Rockin' Green, and Nathan all have great products. Good luck!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

JohnJ - many thanks for your reply!

The stains on my tent are well-settled and havent moved with the home remedy solutions like vinegar and warm water.  I read an article about using powder OxiClean (dissolved in warm water) to treat canvas stains.  What are your thoughts on how this could damage the canvas over the longhaul?

SUB QUESTION: I'm assuming no matter what aid I use to remove the stains, I will need to re-waterproof the canvas.  Do you have a recomended product for this?  NikWax has several products, but I can't seem to determine which one is specifically purposed for canvas...

Thanks again for the support!


Here are the three waterproofing products I am looking at.  LMK if you have any experience with these or have another product you like better..

Star Brite:


303 Fabrick Guard:


I think you should be okay with OxiClean, I would just double check the warnings on the detergent to make sure it won't affect the fabric. Give the stain a good soaking and maybe use a gentle scrub brush to help work the cleaner in. 

As far as waterproofing the fabric afterwards I have always had success with Nikwax ( The only concern I would have there is the amount that you will need if it is a large tent. The products you linked seem like they would work as well, I just have not heard of them before. Thanks!

Best of luck!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.