Mold and mildew is a frequent problem that we encounter here at Rainy Pass Repair, especially on gear that has been in storage for some time. This problem affects all types of gear but is most common on gear used on the lake, river, or other wet environments. Mildew on fabric can be hard to eliminate. It smells bad and causes the fabric to weaken over time, and black molds often leave an ugly stain. By taking preventative measures and dealing with mold quickly and effectively, it is sometimes possible to salvage moldy gear.

Always store your gear in a cool dry place with sufficient airflow. Avoid damp basements or garage floors if you can, and invest in some decent shelving, plastic bins, and desiccant packs for storing gear between seasons. Sleeping bags should be stored uncompressed in a large cotton sack so the material can breathe and there are no tight folds to trap moisture and allow mold to grow. Pinterest is full of inspiration for building a great gear storage area in any sized space, and REI has some great tips as well.

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Wet items should be allowed to dry completely before being put away, even if this means a extra trip to the park to set up your tent on a sunny day or a trip to the laundromat to give your sleeping bag a spin in the dryer. Check closets and storage areas for leaks and condensation, especially during wet winter and spring months. Mold needs darkness and moisture to grow and can develop into a big problem if it spreads from your gear to other parts of your home.

Mold and mildew are apparent as black or white spots on fabric, often accompanied by an unpleasant smell. The key to salvaging moldy gear is to kill the mold so it does not spread and to make sure you do not damage the waterproof layer on coated fabrics. Use caution when washing a tent or backpack in a washing machine- there are often straps and tie downs that could get caught or tangled and cause the item to rip. We recommend hang washing tents, packs, and any gear with hard metal or plastic components. Use an enzyme odor eliminator such as Gear Aid ReviveX Odor Eliminator or  If the mold leaves a stain, you can try to gently scrub with an old toothbrush or another soft bristled brush.

There is another DIY method for removing mold using household items. This will prevent mold and mildew from spreading, plus it will get rid of the moldy smell, but it will not remove stains. Mix 1/2 cup of Lysol with one gallon HOT water. Wash the tent or other gear with a sponge and let it air dry.  Next, mix 1 cup salt and 1 cup of concentrated lemon juice in one gallon of HOT water. Wash it with this solution and let it air dry.

If you have mold or mildew on your outdoor garments or sleeping bags, you can send these to Rainy Pass Repair to be cleaned and treated with Gear Aid ReviveX Odor Eliminator. This will kill the mold and neutralize the smell, but certain types of black mold and mildew will leave a permanent stain. Give us a call for a quote on treating your item and shipping instructions.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you have learned from dealing with moldy gear? Leave us a note in the comments below!