Outdoor gear is designed to put up with a lot. However, while the gear we rely upon and beat up on is designed to withstand a decent amount of wear and tear, it’s still important to take care of it. Boots can crack when they dry improperly, knives and other tools can become dull if not sharpened regularly, and if your tent is stored while it’s wet, it can collect mildew. Gross. Keep reading to learn how to get rid of this problem if it ever arises.

If you make a habit of storing your tent while it’s wet, then you’re asking for mildew to form and build up. This is a problem not only because it looks and smells horrible, but because it can also cause damage to your tent’s waterproof lining. The best way to prevent this from happening is to lay your tent flat after a trip to allow it to air out and dry out before storing it.

If you have a mildew problem, though, don’t worry; you can fix it. First, I’d try to some light scrubbing with a soft sponge to wipe away the beginnings of any mildew. For small spots or early signs of mildew, this will usually do the trick.

If that doesn’t do the job and the mildew still persists, then it’s time to roll up the sleeves. Depending on how much mildew you’re dealing with, there are a few ways to treat it. For large amounts, mix one ounce of an enzyme-based odor eliminator (MiraZyme is a good option) with 20 gallons of water in your bathtub and dip the entire tent in the mixture. For smaller spots, you can mix half an ounce of the odor eliminator with one gallon of water and scrub the mildew spots with a sponge.

After soaking/applying the odor eliminator, hang the tent in a shaded location and let it dry. For an extra kick, you can also mix once up of salt and one cup of lemon juice in a gallon of hot water and rub the mixture into the mildew. Then, let it dry once more.

The procedure outlined above will help get rid of the mildew, but there isn’t really anything you can do to get rid of a mildew stain once it sets in, unfortunately. It will do a great job of removing the mildew, as well as the odor it emits, and is also a lot cheaper than buying a new tent. As I said, the best thing you can do to get rid of mildew is not let it accumulate by letting your tent dry after a trip before storing it. Like many things that have to do with the outdoors, a little extra time now can save a lot of time, frustration, and money later on.