How To Make A Tent Smell Better

Stinky Tent? 7 Tips on How to Clean a Tent That Smells

Do you have a stinky tent? It’s not a problem! Here are some pointers on how to clean a tent that is smelling bad and may even have mold growing on it, which I hope will be helpful for you. You’ll even learn how to avoid anything like this from happening in the future if it does. It has been my experience that the best approach to clean your tent if you notice that your tent stinks is to soak it in a container filled with a mixture of lemon juice, white vinegar, and water. This solution will completely eradicate any unpleasant odors and will even kill mold and mildew spores if present.

The last thing you want to do before going camping is clean a tent that smells like old gym socks that have been hanging in your locker all summer!

In addition, at the conclusion of the post, we’ve included a video that walks you through the whole process of cleaning your tent from beginning to end.

Tips for Cleaning a Tent That Smells

The tent smells like rotting garbage? It’s not a big deal. Here are some pointers on how to clean a tent that is smelling bad and may even have mold growing on it, which I hope will be helpful to you. And you’ll even discover what you can do to avoid this occurring again in the future. It has been my experience that the best approach to clean your tent if you notice that your tent stinks is to soak it in a container filled with a mixture of lemon juice, distilled white vinegar, and water. In addition to eliminating smells, this treatment will destroy mold and mildew spores in the environment.

Making your tent smell like old gym socks that have been hanging in your locker all summer is not the best way to start your camping vacation!

As an added bonus, we’ve included a video at the conclusion of this post that walks you through the whole process of cleaning your tent from beginning to end.

  1. Purchase a tent footprint to use as a guide. Using this method, you may avoid having your tent damaged or rainwater pooling beneath your tent. If it does rain, or if there is morning dew, try to give your tent a quick wipe down rather than waiting for it to dry or packing it up while it is still wet and damp. Alternatively, if you must transport it damp, unpack it and allow it to dry as soon as you reach your next location. Never forget to allow it to dry
  2. When entering your tent, enforce a no-food and no-shoes policy. This prevents crumbs and moisture from going inside the machine and being trapped within. Mold and mildew are attracted to moisture and food, which are both present in your tent and encourage their growth. Once you’ve returned home, don’t just throw your tent in the corner. After every lengthy vacation, make sure to thoroughly clean your tent. It is important to clean your vehicle at least once for each season that you take it out, especially if it is used largely for short journeys. As soon as you can, gently spot clean any unclean spots that have accumulated. Odors will be less likely to occur as a result of this. And, as usual, allow yourself plenty of time to dry once you’ve done a spot clean.

Never Wash Your Tent in a Washing Machine

This should go without saying, but I’m embarrassed to confess that I’ve done it in the past simply to see whether it worked. In my defense, it was only a test, and I did utilize an old tent for the sake of the experiment. I’ll simply say that it’s not something I’d recommend. Despite the fact that the tent I used was ancient and not of high quality, I am confident that the findings would have been the same regardless of how high the quality of the tent was. Tents are just not designed to withstand the tumbling and spinning that occurs in washing machines.

Should You Use Soap or Go All Natural

Cleaning a tent may be accomplished in two ways. When I first started looking into how to clean my tent, I discovered that all you need to do is wash it with a mild detergent soap and air it dry. Dish soap was highly recommended by a large number of individuals. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy products; the brand from the Dollar Store will suffice. If at all possible, choose a product with a light fragrance or even one that is fragrance-free altogether. In addition, it is widely recognized that fragrances can attract unwanted bugs, such as mosquitoes, which is something you definitely want to avoid at all costs.

After repeated attempts at cleaning my tent, this has become my favored approach. It just works better in my opinion, not to mention that you save a little time because you don’t have to clean up any suds afterwards.

Handwashing Your Tent

The cleaning process could take a bit longer if your tent is really filthy. In order to clean the unclean spots, you’ll need to put in a little elbow grease and scrape the regions using a soft, nonabrasive sponge. I prefer to use a spray bottle for this purpose. If possible, hand wash the outer textiles and avoid cleaning the underside of the tent flap, as this may result in damage to the waterproof coating. Never scrub too hard, and always be careful with it, since if you are too harsh with it, you might wind up harming your tent and ruining your trip.

Despite the fact that chemical solutions are available for spot cleaning stubborn stains on tents, I still prefer to use soap and water or a mix of lemon juice and vinegar to clear tough stains.

What if My Tent Has Mold or Mildew

If your tent was stowed away and it was still somewhat moist, there’s a strong probability that mildew, or even worse, mold, had grown on it during the storage period. It’s not an issue! You may use the same vinegar that you used to soak your tent in for this purpose. The only difference is that you’ll want to pour the vinegar into a spray bottle (without diluting it) and add some lemon juice to it before spraying the problem regions with the solution. Allow it to rest for around an hour before wiping it down with a gentle sponge.

Other options include using a mildew and mold stain remover such as Starbrite to get rid of the stains.

How to Store Your Tent Properly

Smelly tents are a camper’s worst nightmare, especially if mold is developing on the inside of them. The most effective method I’ve found for preventing this from happening is to ensure that your tent is entirely dry before putting it away. My method of storing my tent for the winter does not include of packing it up and loading it into my car while camping. As soon as I come home, I wash it thoroughly and hang it outside to dry in the sun, if the weather is cooperative. If the weather isn’t cooperating, I’ll set up the tent in my garage and let it dry for at least 24 hours, if not more, before packing it up for the season.

A couple of ArmHammer baking soda bags are also a smart option if you’re planning on keeping it in a location that’s prone to moisture, such as an attic, basement, or outside shed.

When your tent is not in use, this will not only keep it from smelling, but it will also assist to keep mold from forming on the surface of the tent.


I’m fairly confident that all of the recommendations in this post are safe for use with 99.9 percent of all tents currently on the market. However, before cleaning your tent, make sure to follow the cleaning recommendations provided by the manufacturer, especially if you plan on using any form of chemicals! Cleaning a stinky tent is not a pleasant experience, especially if you have to do it just before a much-anticipated camping vacation with your family.

You already have plenty to accomplish in preparations for the trip without adding another task to the list. With a little more effort at the end of each trip, you can avoid the inconvenience of cleaning a stinky tent every time you take it out of storage.

How to Remove Mold, Mildew and Tent Odors

When dusting off and unpacking tents that have been kept all winter, it is possible that a bad odor or mildew smell will escape from the tent. Mold and mildew develop fast on damp textiles, and it’s possible that you put the item away before it was totally dry to prevent this. Don’t give up hope. You have the ability to correct this. Our Revivex cleansers, together with a little elbow work, will have your dependable outdoor shelter looking fresh and clean once more. Check out the rest of this article to learn how to get rid of tent odors, including the dreaded vomit smell that may sometimes emanate from older tents.


According to how deeply the mold has been established into the nylon or canvas tent fabric, you may be able to remove the mold with merely hot, soapy water and a sponge. First and foremost, we recommend that you wash your tent with water and a specialist cleaner. This will have no effect on the performance or water repellency of your tent.

  • Sponge, Bathtub / Large Container, Mild Dish Soap, Revivex Pro Cleaner

Cleaning Time: 30 minutes|Air Drying Time: 6-8 hours Estimated Time:

  1. Sponge and soap and water are used to clean filthy spots on the spot
  2. Fill the tub halfway with warm water and add 2 fl oz (59 mL) of Revivex Pro Cleaner
  3. Let soak for 10 minutes. Tent and outside textiles should be submerged in water and hand washed. Don’t clean the underside of the tent fly since doing so may cause it to lose its waterproof coating, which might result in damage or removal. To remove the soapy residue, rinse with water until the water runs clear. Allow for full drying by air

PRO HINT: If you have sap on your tent, use isopropyl alcohol to carefully remove it from the fabric.


Even after the tent has been thoroughly cleaned, persistent mold and mildew odors may still be present. You can deodorize your tent using a product that is gentle on the environment while yet being effective. When our Revivex deodorizing product is combined with water, the microorganisms in it become “activated,” allowing them to eat odor-causing germs in textiles.

  • Bathroom / Large Container with Revivex Odor Eliminator

Time Estimation: Washing takes 30 minutes.

  1. Fill a tub halfway with water, just enough to immerse the tent. Every gallon of water should be treated with 1 fl oz of Revivex Odor Eliminator. Make a thorough mix. Remove all zippers and tent flaps from their positions. After that, immerse the tent in the Odor Eliminator mixture for a maximum of 5 minutes to ensure that the tent is completely saturated with bacteria. Do not wash the tent
  2. Instead, dry it. Allow for thorough drying by airing out and keeping it out of direct sunshine or heat.

RECOMMENDED USAGE: You may also use the combination to deodorize sleeping bags, backpacks, sandals, athletic clothing, and other goods that have a bad stench. There are a couple of more pointers worth mentioning as well:

  • Make certain that you soak the tent/gear in the Revivex Odor Eliminator and water combination as soon as you get it home. As time goes on, the microorganisms devour themselves, and the solution becomes less effective as a result. Because the bacteria can only function for as long as an item is allowed to air dry, the longer the item is allowed to air dry. The Odor Eliminator microorganisms will be killed by the heat, and the germs will be washed away by the rinse. Odor Eliminator does not contain any harmful or harsh components, and the odor is decreased once the tent has been allowed to air dry entirely.


Polyurethane (PU) coatings on the bottom of tentflies and the tent floor are used in tents to provide weatherproof protection against rain and snow. This coating is not intended to be permanent. After years of usage, the polyurethane covering may begin to degrade and delaminate. A tent is more prone to collapse if it has been exposed to moisture or has been submerged in water for more than five minutes. It is common for an unpleasant smell, comparable to that of vomit or urine, to be present when the PU coating is breaking down.

Visit our site to discover how to completely waterproof a tent and how to waterproof a tent from top to bottom.

  • Polyurethane (PU) coatings on the underside of tentflies and the tent floor are used in tents to provide weatherproof protection against rain and other elements. This coating is not intended to be long-term use. It is possible for the PU coating to break down and delaminate after many years of usage and exposure to the elements. A tent is more prone to collapse if it has been exposed to water for more than five minutes or if it is moist. In most cases, while the PU coating is degrading, there is a terrible stench that smells similar to vomit or pee. This is a chemical reaction that may be resolved with the use of certain common home products and a fabric sealant designed specifically for the purpose. Please visit our site to learn more about how to waterproof a tent and how to treat the entire tent completely.

Time Estimated: 3 hours for treatment|24 hours for air drying

  1. Fill a tub or container halfway with warm water, enough to completely immerse the tent. Add five drops of liquid soap to the mixture. Submerge the tent and let it to soak for 2 to 3 hours before removing it. The tent should be removed from the bath. The failing or delaminating PU coating should be removed by gently brushing it off with a brush using a solution of isopropyl alcohol, water and two drops of soap
  2. Dish towels should be used to soak up any residual residue. Once the previous coating has been removed, apply a new PU coating using Seam Grip TF. Apply a thin layer to the tent floor (on the inside) or tentfly (on the bottom) and allow it to dry completely. Allow for 24 hours of air drying.

PRO TIP: After the tent has been allowed to dry fully, sprinkle the new PU coating with baby or talcum powder to help ease any early tackiness.


Now that your tent has been cleaned and disinfected, it’s critical to keep it correctly to avoid the odors from returning. Here are a few straightforward suggestions that can put an end to stinky tents once and for all.

  • As soon as you get home after your trip, air dry your tent completely. Tents that are moist or wet should not be stored. Tents should be stored in a dry area.

ADVICE FROM THE PROS: To provide additional protection, sprayRevivex UV Protectanton tents and other outdoor gear to restore their color and prevent future sun damage.

4 Simple Steps to Clean Your Stinky Tent

ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS: To provide additional protection, sprayRevivex UV Protectanton tents and other outdoor gear to restore their color and help prevent future sun damage.

How to Clean a Stinky Tent After Camping

There are a variety of procedures available for disinfecting and deodorizing your shelter. I’ve compiled a list of some of the more popular ones, arranged in descending order of effectiveness. Typically, only one or two approaches are required, but if you want your tent to smell very fresh, feel free to follow the instructions to the letter.

1. Let Your Tent Dry and Air Out The Odors

Prepare the tent for cleaning by hanging it in a well-ventilated place for a few minutes before you start using sponges and soap. While I use a clothesline, you may use the backs of four chairs, or something similar, if you don’t have one available. This enables for unrestricted circulation of air throughout the shelter. Okay, Andrew, that was simple enough, but how long should you let a tent air out before using it? Make sure that all of the forest debris has been removed from the tent and allow it to set for 2-3 days.

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If you’ve just washed your tent, you may use this procedure to fully dry it out.

Mildew might develop in the tent as a result of moisture accumulation, and you’ll have to start the process over from the beginning.

2. Quick Scrub to Clean Dirt and Grime

Pitch the tent – believe me when I say that it is much easier to clean this way. Scrub any filthy surfaces with a non-abrasive sponge while using cold water and a mild, unscented dish soap to remove any stains. After you have cleaned the fabric, disassemble the shelter and put any pole supports, stakes, and other accessories to the side for later use or disposal. Allow your tent to dry completely before storing it! (See number one on this list.)

3. Warm Wash to Get Rid of Mold

Don’t get discouraged if your tent has mold. Make use of the following approach to clean your moldy tent: Fill a bathtub or kiddie pool with warm water and unscented soap (I like the latter to keep the odor outside my house).Unzip all of the tent’s doors, pockets, and other openings and soak it in the pool for ten minutes. Allow your tent to dry completely before storing it. Fill the tub back up with clean water and drain it once more.Repeat the process until all soap residue is gone. Allow your tent to dry completely before storing it!

4. Use Mirazyme Tent Cleaner

Don’t be discouraged if you see mold in your camping tent. Make advantage of the following approach to clean your moldy tent: Fill a bathtub or kiddie pool with warm water and unscented soap (I like the latter to keep the odor outside my house).Unzip all of the tent’s doors, pockets, and other openings and soak it for ten minutes in the pool.

Allow your tent to dry completely before storing it. Fill the tub back up with clean water and drain it again.Repeat the process until all soap residue has been removed. Allow your tent to dry completely before storing it! In this list, the first item is number one.

Post-Clean Treatments

Once you’ve done cleaning the nasty tent musk from your clothes, you’ll most likely put them in a closet until the next time you go camping. Instead of calling it quits, think about including a few extra procedures into your post-cleaning routine to extend the life of your shelter and improve its overall quality.

Seam Sealing

In order to learn more about tent seam sealing, please refer to our dedicated article on the subject, which can be found at this link. The basic procedure is to apply sealant to every sewing stitch in the tent using a spray can or a brush, depending on the type of sealant you are using.

Waterproof/UV Protection

Along with waterproofing the seams, you may wish to waterproof the entire tent as well as the rainfly. Nikwax Tent and Gear Solar Proof is the product I choose to use because it is affordable and simple to obtain. Not only will it coat the tent in a water-resistant coating, but it will also protect the fabric from being damaged by ultraviolet rays.

Rare Bug Treatment: Permethrin

This chemical, when applied to any type of tent fabric or clothes (although it is not suggested for underwear or socks), will repel any and all bug pests. Although the application is only valid for six weeks, it might be quite useful if you are planning another vacation in the near future. If you decide to bug bomb your bunker, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and always wear protective clothing.

What’s Causing the Stink?

Now that we’ve learned how to properly clean a tent, let’s have a look at what may be creating the problem in the first place.

Dirt and Grime

The majority of the time, filth and grime may be seen. Despite the fact that these impurities are not the major source of your tent’s odor, it is necessary to remove them in order to prevent the material from wearing out.

Mold and Mildew

If these two fungi are not addressed with in a fair amount of time, they can become a significant problem. Tents with these pollutants have a musty and stale scent about them by default.

WrappingCleaning It Up…

Maintaining the cleanliness of your smelly tent might be time-consuming, but it is necessary if you want to extend the life of your shelter. Should this procedure fail, try the hand wash method and possibly a good soak in an enzyme bath to see if it helps. Make use of the chance to seam seal, waterproof, and bug bomb your tent after it’s all finished drying. As opposed to raising hell, simply remove the object! Andrew’s fascination with the outdoors began at a young age while growing up on a farm in the Midwest and going on family holidays to the West.

He hasn’t come across a phony summit that he doesn’t enjoy yet!

How To Clean a Tent That Smells

You were under the impression that yourtent had been properly stashed away.

If you take it out for the first time for a long camping trip, it stinks to high heaven! Do not be discouraged; you will be astonished at how quickly and simply the problem may be resolved, even if there is obvious mold or mildew. First and foremost, here are the supplies you’ll require:

  • A gallon of white wine vinegar
  • Dish soap or detergent that is mild and fragrance-free
  • Bottle with spray
  • A 5-gallon bucket or big plastic tub large enough to bathe your tent in
  • Sodium bicarbonate or borax
  • A soft brush or sponge is recommended.

The cleaning procedure

The procedure is basic, and it will not take a significant amount of time. It is all dependent on how horrible the tent smells at the time. For this reason, the simple and the difficult routes will be demonstrated to you.

For tents that are not that dirty

Now that you have gathered all of the necessary supplies, follow these procedures to thoroughly clean a stinky tent:

  1. You should use white vinegar to your advantage– An entire gallon of the stuff costs less than three dollars at almost any cheap shop or grocery store chain. To begin washing the tent, fill the spray bottle halfway with water and vinegar and shake it up vigorously. If you wish to counteract the vinegar scent, you may also add around a quarter cup of lemon juice, although this is not required. If you want, you may use a disinfectant spray such as Lysol instead, but the vinegar solution is far more dependable and considerably more cost-effective overall. Sprays that are intended to disinfect can also have strong odors that may not be pleasant for all of the tent’s inhabitants. Alternatively, you may set up the tent outside on your patio, yard, or driveway. Remove any debris from the tent and look for any signs of mold or mildew on the inside. If your tent is free of stains but still has a musty odor, you may be able to spray it with your vinegar solution and allow it to dry in the sun for a few hours. If there is mildew or mold on the tent, you will still pitch it, but you will spray plain vinegar on the mildew and allow it to set for an hour before combining the vinegar solution with the water. Spray the entire tent with a 50/50 vinegar solution to keep it from being soiled. After an hour or two, scrub the stain away with a soft brush or sponge that has been soaked in the soap solution. Be delicate so that you do not remove the waterproof coating from the surface. Never use bleach on a tent because it can damage the fibers and cause the tent’s waterproofing to fail. Due to the fact that fragrances attract undesirable animals, it is best to avoid using them in your products
  2. Time required for drying– Once the tent has dried, you will no longer be able to smell the vinegar. If your tent continues to smell, a second application should be applied. Hopefully, the foul odor will have dissipated by this time

Cleaning badly smelling tents

If the tent is really filthy, I recommend carrying out this task on a concrete surface such as a patio or driveway. Approximately half a cup of mild detergent and half a gallon of vinegar should be added to your bucket or tub after filling it approximately a third of the way with water. You may use one cup of detergent and the remaining vinegar to clean a big tent. After you’ve stirred everything together, pack your tent into the container. You may stir the cloth with your hands or feet, but be careful with your movements.

  1. This stage should not be completed with a washboard; although the tent material appears to be strong, the waterproofing is not.
  2. Allow for at least an hour of soak time in the tent.
  3. It is also the longest.
  4. If you have a large tent, recruit some people to assist you.
  5. Then, laying the tent out on the pavement, wash out all of the soapy water that has accumulated.
  6. Remove the rinse water by wringing it out.
  7. One further method of wringing out the water is to lay down the tent and use an empty 5 gallon bucket or circular garbage can as a rolling pin to roll the water out.

Avoid folding, squeezing, ringing, twisting, or smashing the tent excessively.

Using a clothesline, patio furniture, metal fence, or even the bed of a truck, dry the tent once it has been thoroughly soaked.

In order to complete the drying process, take the somewhat moist tent and set it up.

It also gives you the opportunity to check for any stains that may require extra treatment with vinegar and soap.

After all, the tent appears to be in excellent condition, so you could assume you’ve solved the problem.

Nothing degrades a tent’s waterproofing more quickly than running it through the washing machine.

The washing machine will weaken the tent, and the expense of a laundry mat and waterproofing is far greater than the cost of a few drops of vinegar, some soap, and some elbow effort.

If you care for your tent properly, you may prevent this major cleaning task in the future. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Immediately after returning home from a camping trip, shake out the tent and spray it down with Lysol. Before storing it, allow it to air out and ensure that it is totally dry. Check to see that there is no dampness remaining within. Make a loose fold and put it in a suitcase, laundry bag, or other container with enough of airflow to prevent mildew. It is not suggested to use plastic tubs with sealed lids. To keep your tent dry and deodorized, place an open box of baking soda or borax inside it. It is also possible to use a de-humidifyingsilica gel product in the container or storage location if your environment has seasons of wetness or if your storage space has a tendency to become moist over time. Typically, you can get them in the laundry aisle of your neighborhood bargain shop.

A clean, fresh tent that is simple to maintain and operate is vital for your vacation camping adventure in the great outdoors. Make sure to bring your spray disinfectant with you as a precaution so that you may appreciate nature without the musty odor. Making a small investment of time to clean and air out your tent will not be in vain. While daydreaming about your upcoming weekend getaway, have fun with it.

4 Ways to Deodorize a Funky Tent

Having a clean, fresh tent that is simple to maintain and operate is crucial for your camping holiday. Bring your spray disinfectant along as a preventative measure and enjoy nature without the musty stench of rotting vegetation. No amount of time spent cleaning and airing out your tent will be considered a waste of time. While daydreaming about your upcoming weekend getaway, remember to have fun.

  1. If your tent has a minor weird stench, try airing it out and spraying it with a basic fabric deodorizer first before attempting to clean it. Open the tent from the inside out and hang it from a pole or a low tree limb. Alternatively, set up a few tall chairs on which you can drape the tent over the top of them. If at all possible, use a moist towel to wipe down the whole floor. Allow it to dry completely before spraying it with Febreeze (or something similar) and allowing it to air out from morning to evening. It is possible that you may need to secure it so that it does not fly away. Keep it off the ground because you want to allow for plenty of air circulation
  2. Hand wash and clean your tent while it’s completely set in the backyard. Apply soft, non-perfumed soapy water to the area and scrub with a scrubber. Bugs are attracted to the scent of perfumed soap. My favorite scrubber is one with a long handle and soft bristles, similar to the sort you would use to wash a car with, in my opinion. For best results, use Nikwax Tech Wash, otherwise any mild, non-perfumed soap or gentle dish cleaner will suffice
  3. If permitted by your product manufacturer based on the tag inside the tent, wash your tent on a gentle cycle in a washing machine to extend the life of the water resistant coating on your tent. This should only be done once or twice over the lifespan of the tent. Especially if the tent is old and worn out, even a moderate cycle can shred it apart at the seams. In that situation, it is preferable to wash it by hand. If this is the case, flip the tent inside out and zip up all of the zips. To clean it, run it through a moderate cycle in warm-cold water with ReviveX Synthetic Fabric Cleaner. Do not use fabric softener on your clothes! After that, spray it with Grnger’s tent waterproofer to seal it in. Both of these items will keep your tent completely watertight. You may also use this method to wash and spray your rainfly. It is recommended by Big Agnes staff that you use MiraZymeenzyme-based odor eliminator to get rid of foul odors, mold, and mildew from a tent without causing damage to the waterproof covering. Fill a bathtub or large container halfway with cool water, enough to completely submerge your tent. Add 1 to 2 ounces of Mirazyme to the water, depending on the degree of the odor, and swirl well to dissolve the enzyme. Unzip all of the zippers and lift all of the flaps. Put your tent in the water until it’s completely soaked, then let it soak for 10 minutes. Remove the tent from the ground, but do not rinse it. Do not use a machine to dry the tent
  4. Instead, let it air dry.

How To Clean A Tent That Smells (Proven Methods)

Is the stink emanating from your tent becoming unbearable? Take back control with these tried-and-true ways for cleaning a stinky tent! In addition, you’ll learn how to determine what’s producing the foul odor and how to avoid it from happening again. Let’s get this party started!

Why Does My Tent Smell?

The most effective method of keeping your tent smelling fresh is to identify the cause of the aromas in the first place. You will be able to completely avoid the unpleasant odors in this manner. The following are examples of common causes:


Most of the time, dirt and filth are not the actual cause of a stinky tent. Filth created by spilt food, on the other hand, might result in mold and mildew, which can cause a tent to smell! Furthermore, excessive grime and filth is just unpleasant and gives the impression that your tent is neglected. If you enter your tent with your shoes on or if you bring snacks and food into the tent, you will most likely bring dirt and other filth with you.


In the event that you roll up and pack away your tent while it is still wet, or if you keep your tent in a damp and moist environment, you will almost certainly be met by mold and mildew the following time you go camping. Mold and mildew give your tent a stale and musty smell, which makes it uncomfortable to sleep in during the daytime. In addition, mold and mildew can create a variety of health concerns if left unattended.

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Polyurethane Break Down

The majority of tents are polymer-coated to ensure that they are waterproof. It’s possible that UV light from the sun will degrade polyurethane, leaving your tent with an unpleasant odor similar to that of pee.

Preventing Tent Odors From Building Up

The first step to having an odor-free tent is to prevent it from happening! Having determined the source of the scents in your tent, let us work to prevent them from occurring in the first place. What if I told you. It is moisture that is the primary source of tent scents. Moisture, whether it comes from rain, humidity, or storage in a wet environment such as a basement, encourages the formation of mold and mildew, which results in a musty odor in your tent. Storage in a clean, dry environment will help to keep your tent clean and fresh-smelling.

  1. It’s important to clean off your tent if it rains while you’re camping and allow it to completely dry before packing it up.
  2. What about dining inside your tent?
  3. Aside from that, mold and mildew — not to mention pests – might find their way inside your tent through the opening.
  4. This will assist in removing any little food crumbs from your tent, which can serve as a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

The bottom line is that keeping your tent dry and clean considerably decreases the likelihood of it becoming stinky. As an extra advantage, it minimizes the amount of time it takes to prepare for your next camping excursion!

How To Clean A Smelly Tent

There are a few various approaches that may be used to properly eliminate unpleasant odors from your tent. Depending on what’s causing your odor problem, you’ll need to pick a method (or many ways). Let’s figure out what the most effective odor-fighting strategy is for your situation.

Air Drying

Straightforward and effective, When air-drying your tent, all you have to do is set it up outdoors on a clothesline or other suitable structure, and let the breeze and sun take care of the smell. First and foremost, you’ll want to sweep away any dirt. In two to three days, your tent will have a pleasant scent about it. Good for: Tent smells that have developed as a result of being stored in a musty basement or having filthy garments left in them, as well as stale meals. If you observe any signs of mold or mildew, this remedy will not be effective.

Wash Your Tent

Has dirt or other filth accumulated on the outside of your tent, which might be adding to the awful smell? It may be removed in a short period of time by cleaning it away with clean water and soap. The most efficient way to wash your tent is either to do it while the tent is still pitched or to soak it in water and scrub it with your hands afterwards (do NOT attempt towash your tent in a washing machine). Regardless of the method you pick, the procedure is the same:

  1. To begin, spot clean any sections of the tent that are particularly discolored or difficult, using a soft-bristle toothbrush or other mild cleaning equipment
  2. Then proceed to the next step. Cleaning the tent: Wring out the tent well with a soft sponge and dish soap, paying particular attention to the seams and zippers, where dirt and mold may easily accumulate. Finally, you’ll want to carefully rinse away any soap residue from the tent and allow it to dry before continuing. You may either hang it to dry or leave it in a pitch to dry. Just make sure that your tent is out of the sun throughout the drying process and that you do not place your tent in the dryer to try to speed up the drying process

How to Clean a Tent (with Pictures) || REI Check out our full tutorial on how to clean a tent the proper way for a step-by-step procedure. Notably, if you intend to waterproof your tent, you should do so before allowing your tent to dry out completely. Suitable for: a wide range of odors. Cleaning is an important first step, whether your tent has a musty odor due to mold or mildew, requires a fresh layer of waterproofing, or is just dirty and in need of repair or replacement.

DIY Mold Removers

In the event that your tent has mold on it, warm water and soap may be sufficient to remove it. However, you may use certain common home products to destroy the mold, which will help to reduce the likelihood of it resurfacing.

Lemon JuiceSalt Method

  1. 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 cup of salt, and 1 gallon of hot water
  2. Mix well
  3. Serve immediately. Apply this solution to the mold spots on your nylon/polyester tent and scrub them with a towel or a bristle brush until they are completely gone. An alternate cleaning method for canvas tents is to use a stiff bristle brush. Follow the above-mentioned methods to clean your tent.

Vinegar Method

  1. 1 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon of water is a good starting point. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and use it to spray the moldy portions of your tent
  2. Remove mold by scrubbing it with a sponge or, if you’re using a canvas tent, a bristle brush. Please do not rinse the tent so that the vinegar may do its magic on the inside of it. Allow the tent to dry completely outside in direct sunshine.

1 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon of water is a good starting point for a recipe. Using a spray bottle, treat the moldy sections of your tent with the mixture. Remove mold by scrubbing it with a sponge or a bristle brush if you are using a canvas tent. If you don’t want the vinegar to work its magic, don’t rinse the tent. Keep it out in the sunshine until it has completely dried;

Enzyme Cleaners

It is possible that warm water and soap will not completely eliminate all of the mold and mildew. And even if they do so visually, the odor may still be there in the room. Depending on the severity of the contamination, you may require an enzyme cleaner to completely remove all of the mildew and mold, along with the musty stench. Revex is one of the most widely used enzyme cleaning solutions on the market. After you’ve washed your tent according to the directions above, you can do the following:

  1. Fill a big tub halfway with water (about 20 gallons)
  2. Combine with 1/2 ounce of Revivex to get a diluted solution. Open any tent flaps and unzip any zippers that may be present
  3. For a maximum of 5 minutes, soak the tent in the tub. Make certain that the tent is totally submerged and soaked. After the tent has been completely submerged, remove it and allow it to dry naturally. It is not necessary to rinse. Eventually, the stink will dissipate as the tent dries.

To begin, fill a big tub halfway with water (about 20 gallons). Add 1/2 ounce of Revivex to make a diluted solution. Tent flaps and zippers should be opened and unzipped if applicable. For a maximum of 5 minutes, soak the tent in the bathtub. Inspect and thoroughly soak the tent to ensure that it is totally submerged. The tent should be removed and allowed to air dry when it has been thoroughly saturated.

Don’t rinse after using this product. As the tent dries, the stink will fade away.


Another factor that contributes to a stinky tent is the breakdown of the polyurethane waterproofing, as previously noted. If your tent is exposed to sunlight on a regular basis, it will eventually succumb to the effects of ultraviolet radiation. We recommendNikwax TentGear Solarproof as the best tent waterproofing spray because it not only waterproofs your tent, but it also provides UV protection to keep you safe from the elements. To apply Nikwax TentGear Solarproof, follow these steps:

  1. After carefully cleaning your tent, set it up (if it hasn’t previously been set up) and drape the rain fly over the top of it. Nikwax should be applied evenly to the exterior of the tent and rain fly. Once the cream has been applied for several minutes, wipe away any excess with a wet towel. Allow for full drying of the tent and rain fly before storing them

For additional information, please see our comprehensive tutorial on how to waterproof a tent. Good for: Tents that have a strong odor of urine or vomit. Tent Hacker is made possible by donations from readers. It is possible that purchasing through links on our site will result in us receiving an affiliate commission. Because I am an Amazon Associate, I receive money when people make eligible purchases.

Smell Fresh in the Wilderness: How to Clean a Tent that Smells

Many outdoor enthusiasts look forward to spending their evenings under the stars as they prepare for the next summer season. There aren’t many things that are more upsetting than bringing out your tent and discovering that it has a foul stench that permeates the entire room. It’s possible that you don’t want to accept that it’s coming from the place where you should be safe from the weather. You begin to visualize what it will be like to attempt to sleep while being surrounded by unpleasant odors that will swirl about you all night, and you begin to consider quitting the entire project.

It is not difficult to get rid of nasty odors that have developed in some of your camping equipment.

What Causes the Smell?

First and foremost, it is beneficial to understand where the odor is coming from within your tent. We have to pack up our tent before it is entirely dry after a heavy storm or a morning dew, so we have to be quick. At other instances, it might simply be that your tent is beginning to show signs of wear.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and tent mildew growth are two of the most common causes for a tent to smell bad, and they can be difficult to detect. A fungal growth, they spread and reproduce by releasing spores into the environment. The result is that you never see them approaching until they suddenly appear everywhere and become quite noticeable. You can usually tell whether your tent is infected with mold or mildew by the unpleasant, musty stench that it emits when it is wet. It has an odor that is stale and ancient, as though the fungus are aging the substance.

It has the potential to have severe health consequences for anyone, regardless of whether they are technically allergic or more sensitive to them.

Polyurethane Breakdown

Another cause that can make your home smell even worse while not being as harmful to your health is the degradation of polyurethane, sometimes known as PU. There was no irony intended. Tents and a wide range of other waterproofed outdoor equipment are treated with PU before going on sale. This coat will persist for years, but it will ultimately begin to break down. UV light accelerates the degradation process and encourages the use of UV light in general. This implies that the PU coating on the rainfly will normally degrade more quickly and may necessitate further cleaning or waterproofing treatment in order to maintain its effectiveness.

Because it smells like a horrible blend of vomit and pee, this odor is easily noticed and diagnosed. Getting in touch with your manufacturer is one option for resolving this issue. Otherwise, continue reading for additional information on how to clean a stinky tent.

Time and Grime

Using it outside, on the other hand, usually does not cause it to smell too terrible and may not be as visible as the other factors. As you continue to use your tent, it is possible that it may become soiled or that dirt and dust will be packed into it. If you don’t frequently clean out your tent after your outings, it might develop a foul odor as a result of being packed in for an extended period of time.

Tent-Washing Tips

Using it outside, on the other hand, usually does not cause it to smell too unpleasant and may not be as visible as the other two. Your tent may get soiled or clogged with dirt and dust as a result of your continued use. After being packed up for an extended period of time, if you don’t frequently clean out your tent after your outings, it may begin to smell foul due to the buildup of bacteria.

Consult the Manufacturer’s Warranty

Some people live and breathe according to the manufacturer’s instructions and the terms of the warranty they have purchased. However, if we’re being completely honest, that’s one of the first things we toss away after making a buy. In order to ensure that your purchase is protected, it is recommended that you first read the manufacturer’s guarantee before doing any of the procedures listed above. If they void your warranty and you are still inside the warranty’s protection period, refrain from using them.

Never Use a Washing Machine

Do not assume that tossing your tent in the washing machine with your delicates would solve your cleaning problem. The mesh panels that are included with the construction of most tents do not hold up well in a machine wash. At worst, it may rip them to bits, while at best, it can render them less effective while also widening the openings for insects to get in.

White Vinegar is Your Friend

White vinegar is one of the most powerful cleaning agents available for use at home. It is capable of removing practically any stain and odor from virtually any cloth. Fortunately, this covers tent-related goods. The second outstanding attribute of white vinegar is that it is extremely cost-effective. Most retailers sell a gallon of milk for less than $3, which is an excellent deal. Due to the fact that it must be combined with water in order to be diluted, this is frequently sufficient.

Never Use Bleach

Before we get started, we’d like to point out that you should avoid using bleach. When it comes to cleaning, many people believe that bleach is the be-all and end-all solution. When it comes to your outdoor gear, you need to get rid of this mentality. bleach weakens the fibers of your outdoor material, and for the most part, this results in a significant reduction in the material’s use. The waterproofing of your tent is also destroyed, and the PU coating on your tent may begin to disintegrate more quickly.

a href=” style=”width:100 percent ;”>a href=” style=”width:100 percent ;”>a href=” style=”width:100 percent ;”>a href=” How To Clean A Tent That Smells” src=” Outforia created an infographic, which you can see below.

Disinfecting: Chasing Away Mold and Mildew

  • Ingredients: biodegradable soap, sponge, tub, warm water and white vinegar (optional).

It is usually preferable to begin with the most simple solutions. If you suspect that your tent is smelling due to an infestation of tent mildew, fill a bucket halfway with warm water and a biodegradable detergent and soak it overnight. It should have the least amount of an impact on the amount of water repellency that your tent loses. If you already know that you’ll need a more powerful solution, you may make a 50/50 solution by mixing a tub of water and white vinegar together. Pour in a cup of lemon juice to make it smell fresher without overpowering the flavor of the dish.

Spot clean any visible spots with water and soap, using a sponge to get rid of any remaining residue.

Step 2: Use a specialized cleaner

  • Sponge
  • Tub
  • Warm water
  • Revivex Pro Cleanser (specialty cleaner)

When it comes to cleaning a moldy tent, soap and water just aren’t cutting it anymore. When this occurs, it is time to bring out the big guns and use a specialized cleaner, such asRevivex Pro Cleaner, to clean the area. Follow the directions on the package to determine how much to put into a tub of warm water. The underside of the tent fly should be avoided if at all possible. The PU coating is very delicate in this area, and you don’t want to cause any harm to it. Finish the procedure by washing the tent well until all of the soap has been removed.

See also:  The Maidens Who Guarded The Tent Of Meetings

This procedure should take between 6 and 8 hours.

Step 3: Remove sap

Spray or wipe off the portions of your tent that have sap on them with isopropyl alcohol to remove the sap. Over time, sap can develop a strong odor because to the presence of ammonia. It also serves as an excellent breeding ground for fungal development, which might result in a moldy tent. Wipe them down carefully to remove dirt and grime without damaging the protective coating on the outside.

Get Rid of Polyurethane Odors

It is the same process that is used to get rid of mildew and mold that is used to get rid of PU smells. Warm water should be poured into a tub large enough to accommodate your tent. Add approximately five drops of the soap to the mixture. Then, throw your tent into the mixture and allow it to soak for two or three hours, depending on how large it is.

Step 2: Remove the PU coating

  • It is the same process used to get rid of mildew and mold that is used to get rid of PU scents. Warm water should be placed in a tub large enough to accommodate your tent. Five drops of the soap should be added to the container. Afterwards, submerge your tent in the mixture for two or three hours to absorb up the excess water.

After allowing your mixture to soak for a period of time, you should be able to completely remove the PU coating that is failing. Warm water, a few of drops of your biodegradable soap, and a few drops of isopropyl alcohol are mixed together. Make use of the soft bristle scrub brush to remove all of the old layer of paint. Use gentle pressure when scrubbing since excessive friction might create additional wear and tear on the tent’s fabric.

Step 3: Dry it off

To begin the drying process, use a dish towel to soak up any remaining debris and water that has accumulated outside the tent.

It should be completely dry before proceeding to the next stage.

Step 4: Re-waterproof

Following your satisfaction that the previous PU coating has been entirely removed and the tent has dried, it is time to reapply the waterproof layer. The seams on your gear are the most susceptible areas, and they should be maintained with a great deal of care and attention. Waterproofing your seams is more of an art than a science, and it takes practice. In order to ensure that your tent is completely waterproof, you must carefully apply the waterproof coating to each of its seams both inside and outside.

Use a waterproofing spray to give a thinner covering to the remainder of your tent once you have completed working along the seams of your tent.

GEAR AID Seam Grip WP (Women’s Protective Gear)

  • Waterproof sealant and glue in one convenient package
  • Repairing holes in tents and other gear on a permanent basis
  • It adheres to all sorts of cloth.

Deodorizing: Making it Smell Fresh

Despite the fact that your tent may be clear of dirt, mildew, and other filthy items, there is sometimes a lingering odor that persists. Using an enzyme cleanser to eliminate a mildew odor from a tent is the most efficient method of doing so. These are sometimes referred to as “odor eliminators” since they act to break down the residual components that are creating the stench without introducing any additional aroma to the environment. When you smell anything that you like, such as lemon or a flowery aroma, it is not a good idea to utilize it in your tent since it will attract insects.

Step 1: Make your mixture

Fill a bathtub halfway with warm water. It ought to be large enough to completely immerse your tent. Add the proper amount of odor eliminator to the mixture, according to the product’s directions. Due to the fact that it is designed exclusively for these sorts of materials, you may useRevivex odor eliminator. Gear Aid Odor Eliminator is a product that eliminates odors from your gear.

  • Naturally remove smells and other undesirable scents from the environment
  • It is gentle on all sorts of apparel and equipment. Works with a wide range of textiles

Step 2: Soak the tent

All of the tent flaps should be opened, and all of the zippers should be unzipped. Immerse the tent in the water for approximately 5 minutes, then remove it from the water. Make sure to submerge your tent as soon as you can in the combination you’ve produced. Microbes are frequently responsible for a product’s ineffectiveness. After being exposed to air, they begin to devour themselves, causing them to gradually lose their effectiveness. Remove your tent from the water, but do not rinse it. Instead, allow it to air dry and keep it out of direct sunlight as much as possible.

Prevention is Key: Storage and Future Use

It is all about prevention when it comes to keeping your tent smelling fresh for as long as possible. Follow these preventative strategies and methods if you have already dealt with a stinky shelter and don’t want to deal with it again, or if you are seeking for choices that restrict your exposure to smelly shelters.

Tip 1: Always air dry

When you are traveling, it is not always practical to let your tent to dry completely by allowing it to air dry.

However, this does not prevent you from pulling it out as soon as you get at your destination and opening it up. Allow it to dry completely before putting it away until the next time you need it.

Tip 2: Store it properly

Ensure that your tent is stored in a dry atmosphere. It is best to place it in a location where there are no significant temperature swings as well as other factors.

Tip 3: Use a tent footprint

Although it is not advisable for a traveler to carry along more materials, most campers may get away with a few of extra ounces of gear. Bring a tent footprint with you and make sure it is correctly set up below the tent. It prevents the bottom seams from being exposed to dampness and precipitation for an extended period of time.

Tip 4: Have a “no shoes” policy

Reduce the amount of dirt and grime that accumulates on the interior of your tent. No one should be allowed to enter the tent with shoes on. You may also consider instituting a no-food policy in order to prevent crumbs from falling. Keeping the amount of both of these to a bare minimum helps to avoid future mold and mildew growth after your tent has been taken down and stored. If you do decide to allow these items within the tent, make sure to thoroughly clean it after each use.


When you store a damp tent, it is common for it to develop a musty odor due to fungal development, which can be unpleasant. Mold and mildew thrive in moist environments, such as those found within enclosed buildings.

Why does my tent get wet inside?

There are three possibilities for why your tent is becoming damp inside. The first factor to consider is the general level of humidity in the air. The second source of moisture comes from the extra moisture produced by bodies breathing in and out. The third possibility is that your tent is not sufficiently waterproof and that it will require more attention.

Can you use bleach to clean a tent?

No. When it comes to cleaning a tent, bleach is never recommended. In addition to weakening the strands of your tent’s fabric, it is a caustic chemical that swiftly tears away the waterproof coating on your tent.

Does sunlight kill mold?

Mold is killed by sunlight in its natural state because it cannot photosynthesize in the light. Heat is also effective in killing it. Mold can be killed by sunshine, but it takes significantly longer to do so than it does by conventional cleaning methods.

How should a tent be stored?

Ensure that your tent is stored in a waterproof container that will prevent wet from getting inside the tent. Storage in a dry environment with moderate temperature fluctuations is recommended, as is keeping it out of direct sunlight. All of these measures will help to avoid further disintegration of the UV-resistant and water-resistant coatings on your vehicle.

How to Clean a Tent That Smells? [Full Guide]

Then, after months of not being able to use your tent, you try to unpack it and discover that it has a foul odor emanating from it. Do not be alarmed. I’m going to show you some quick and easy ways to clean a stinky tent, as well as some pointers on how to stop this from happening again in the near future.

How to Clean a Tent that’s Mouldy?

It is possible to clean a tent with tepid water and dish soap if mold or mildew is only present in a few areas of it. It is not required to utilize high-priced brands; generic products are just as effective. Avoid using scented soaps that include scents since they might attract mosquitoes and other insects to your home. 1.First and foremost, you will need to remove any mold and mildew from the area using a sponge or a soft-bristled toothbrush. 2.Try to brush carefully over the mold residue on the tent since nylon and polyester are both sensitive fabrics that may be easily harmed if not handled with caution.

It is possible to utilize certain disinfectants, such as Lysol, Reviver Pro Cleaner, and MiraZyme, and combine them to make a solution.

Mix a cup of the disinfectant in with a gallon of water to get a gallon of disinfection. 4.Finally, apply the solution to the afflicted areas of the tent and allow it to dry completely in the sunlight.

Easy Home Remedy:

Certain home treatments, such as lemon juice and vinegar, can be used to remove mold from a surface. If you’re going to utilize vinegar, you should put it in a spray bottle and spray it directly on the problem. Apply a lemon juice solution to the afflicted regions and then rinse with water to remove the solution (1 cup of salt and lemon water in a gallon of water). Allow the mixture to work for around an hour before wiping it down with a sponge. Fill a tub or basin halfway with hot water and disinfectant and totally saturate your tent if you have an excessive amount of mold on it.

Instead of rinsing it off, let it out in the sun to dry naturally.

How to Clean a Tent that Smells?

Okay, so you’ve gotten rid of the mold and mildew, but your tent still has a distinct odor about it. To fully clean your tent, it is necessary to stretch it out on a level area for the entire time. It’s also important to do this in a well-ventilated place in order to let air to flow and to speed up the drying procedure. Although you may be able to eradicate odors using a basic fabric deodorizer from time to time, this method is not very effective. It is preferable to submerge your tent in water and then use a deodorizing solution to ensure that your tent is properly deodorized.

  • 1.Dissolve approximately 1 ounce of the solution in the water and allow the tent to soak for around 10 to 20 minutes before removing it.
  • 2.Some people prefer to use bleach, however this might cause harm to your tent if done incorrectly.
  • Apply for 10 minutes and then leave it to dry in the sun for a few hours.
  • Using isopropyl alcohol and liquid soap, scrape away any leftover coating to get rid of this sort of stink completely.
  • Here’s a helpful video that demonstrates how to clean a tent that has accumulated dirt and sap.

What Makes a Tent Smell?

In most cases, the presence of fungus growing on the surface of a tent’s fibers is the primary cause of foul-smelling aromas produced or released by the tent. Mold and mildew are the most prevalent types of fungus that develop on tents, despite the fact that there are many different species across the world. Mold and mildew, in contrast to plants, which require sunlight to undergo photosynthesis in order to survive, merely require moisture, air exposure, and appropriate temperature conditions in order to thrive on any surface.

  1. When used for camping or other recreational activities, tents can provide a secure haven and a place to rest, but its primary role is to keep you dry and safe from the elements.
  2. In the event that it begins to rain while you are outside, these materials are engineered to hold and absorb the water, preventing leaks from occurring.
  3. In the event that it hasn’t rained, some campers may believe that it isn’t necessary to dry their tents.
  4. Despite the fact that water is constantly present in the environment, the high temperatures that fluctuate throughout the day lead it to evaporate faster.
  5. When the temperature drops throughout the night, the vapor is unable to maintain its state as vapor and condenses into liquid water, which persists on some surfaces until the next morning.

This is why you may see water droplets in the morning, which is referred to as morning dew. Your tent’s ability to absorb morning dew is increased if it is not allowed to dry in the sun.

Why Does My Tent Smell like Vomit?

Even if there are no visible symptoms of mold growing on the textiles of your tent, it may nonetheless emit a foul odor that is comparable to that of vomit or urine. As a result of the degradation of its polyester urethane covering, this has occurred. Despite the fact that tents are composed of textiles that absorb water, this does not imply that they are water-resistant. In order to water-proof the outer layers and increase their water-repelling characteristics, several manufacturers put a protective coating on the surface of their products.

However, as time passes and your tent is exposed to the sun’s continual UV radiation, the coating begins to deteriorate and the tent becomes unusable.

The stench from your tent is typically only noticeable after prolonged usage or when it has been improperly manufactured.

How to Properly Store a Tent

Additionally, the environment in which you store your tent might give favorable circumstances for mold and mildew to thrive as well. The most of the time, we keep our camping equipment in a huge plastic box in our bedroom. To be clear, we allow the tent to air out in the sun for at least 24 hours (or until it is completely dry) before placing it loosely in the box. Never leave your tent in its bag for an extended amount of time. Avoid keeping your tent in areas with inadequate ventilation if at all possible.

During the day, attics and certain garages are exposed to direct sunshine, resulting in warm and wet conditions.

Despite the fact that mold and mildew are both fungi, they are physically distinct and require different environmental conditions in order to flourish.

To describe some species of fungus that thrive in humid and poorly ventilated environments, such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys chartarum (black mold), mold is a wide word that encompasses many different types of fungi.

The other sort of mold is mildew, which is a specific type of mold that germinates in warm temperatures and is predominantly white in color.

It is very likely that mold and mildew may grow in your tent if it is stored in a warm and humid environment with little ventilation.

Black mold is the most deadly of any of them since it can cause pneumonia, recurrent sinus infections, and weariness in susceptible individuals.

As a result, you must always thoroughly clean your tent before putting it to use. Camping is an exhilarating and memorable experience. In order to fully appreciate nature’s bounty, you must ensure that your equipment is in peak operating condition.

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