Rain = Mould! Cleaning Your Canvas

Okay, in the interests of keeping it real, I have a confession to make – water has gotten into our camper trailer and what a mess it has made!  Unless you have been hiding under a rock (which may have been dryer in recent times) you will know that South East Queensland has been inundated with rain since the Australia Day Long Weekend – there has barely been a day go by where it hasn’t rained at least a little bit and for some of that time we had our camper trailer sitting outside as Mr CTT was doing some work on another trailer and there just wasn’t enough room for both trailers in our shed.  The other trailer went last weekend and our trailer came back into the shed.  We thought we should open it up to check that all was okay and of course it wasn’t!

The tent itself is fine so the canopy has done it’s job – there was just a tiny bit of damp and mold on the outside of the tent above the back door – the real shock was when we opened the tailgate and found the top of the kitchen covered in mold.  Even though there is a foam seal all around the tailgate water has still managed to seep in and the inside of the trailer had a lot of water in it.  Fortunately we only had two of our camp chairs inside, but these were very wet and moldy.

We pulled everything out straight away and began washing everything off – all my plates and cooking utensils went through the dishwasher, the chairs have been hosed and scrubbed and left in the intermittent sunshine to dry out.  The carpet in the bottom of the trailer came out and got a good scrub down and I have wiped the kitchen over with a weak bleach solution to kill the mold.

The small patch of mold on the tent itself, we let dry and then brushed off with a stiff bristled brush.  Had the mold on the tent been worse the cleaning process would have been a lot trickier as you cannot use any cleaning agents on the canvas as they can damage the water proofing. So I have referred to those with more knowledge than me – namely Customline Camper Trailers -to get some advice on how to clean mould from your tent.  Here’s what they recommend:-

When your camper tent and/or annex walls get wet, if not thoroughly dried out as soon as possible there is a reasonable chance that mould will take hold.

Mould can eventually rot your canvas and is also associated with respiratory infections, allergies and can worsen asthma.  It is therefore extremely important to remove any mould not only to avoid health problems but to avoid the huge cost of replacing your tent.

We do not recommend commercially available mould removers as they can be detrimental to the waterproofing, colouring and UV inhibitors which are impregnated into your canvas.  We also suggest you don’t use harsh detergents, bleach or pressure washers for the same reasons.

Our recommendations are as follows:

*   Open your camper, preferably in the sun.  Open the window flaps for maximum ventilation and completely dry the canvas.

*   When dry brush the mould spores off the canvas with a stiff bristle brush.

*   Vacuum the canvas to remove any remaining spores.

*   Kill the mould with a mixture of one part white vinegar to ten parts water.

*   Apply the above solution with a rag, soft broom or brush.

*   Allow the canvas to dry completely before packing up.

AGAIN DO NOT USE HARSH DETERGENTS, BLEACH OR PRESSURE WASHER TO CLEAN THE CANVAS.  If by chance you have damaged the waterproofing by using one of these methods, you can purchase the original “Dynaproofing” liquid (available from Customline for about $50 for 4 litres) to reproof your canvas.  This solution is water based and can be applied using a brush, roller or even sprayed on.

So, we are lucky that the damage has not been to bad and that all that has been required to set things to right has been a little bit of elbow grease!  But it could have been worse – I thought initially we may have been up for a new kitchen but it has dried out nicely and doesn’t smell at all.  We are hopefully in for a weekend of sunshine here on the Gold Coast which will give us an opportunity to let the trailer and tent sit outside for a few hours before we pack everything back into it.

The moral of the story is – if you have to leave your camper outside in very wet weather tarp it with a good quality tarp.  Even if it has not been outside it may pay to open it up and give it the once over after the wet has passed as high humidity can also cause mold to grow and remember never use commercial mold cleaners on canvas.

Happy Camping……Melissa.