Matt Johnson

How to Make a Tent Smell Better

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Jul 9, 2022Updated: Dec 13, 2023

When you’re camping, a few things are bound to happen. You’re going to get dirty, you’re going to get sweaty, and your tent will start smelling a little bit rank. Don’t worry, though; there are a few things you can do to make your tent smell better. After all, you want to enjoy the outdoors, not be overwhelmed by the smell of your sweat.

Open up all the windows and doors to air out the tent.

After a long day of hiking, there’s nothing better than crawling into your tent and drifting off to sleep. However, if your tent smells musty or stale, getting a good night’s rest can be difficult.

You can take a few simple steps to make your tent smell fresher and more inviting.

Before you head out on your trip, set up your tent on your lawn. Be sure to open up all the windows and doors to air the tent. Keep in mind that you can only do this if it’s not raining or cold outside. We also don’t recommend doing this indoors, which we’ll dig into shortly.

This will allow fresh air to circulate and help get rid of any musty smells.

Sprinkle baking soda all over the inside of the tent.

Now that your tent is set up and airing out sprinkle baking soda all over the inside of the tent.

Baking soda is a natural odor absorber and will help eliminate unwanted smells. It works by trapping the odors inside the baking soda molecules.

Be sure to distribute the baking soda evenly, so it’s not just in one spot. The corners are especially bad as they typically retain moisture. Be sure to get the corners of the tent thoroughly. You can also put baking soda in a bowl and place it in the middle of the tent.

Leave the baking soda overnight or over a few days to work its magic.

Vacuum up the baking soda after a few days.

Now that your baking soda has sat for a while, it’s time to vacuum it. This step is essential as you don’t want your sleeping bag or clothing to get covered in baking soda.

If you have a small handheld vacuum, that will work perfectly. If not, gently brush the baking soda out with a broom. Once you get the bulk, you should shake out the tent to get any remaining baking soda. Just be sure to do this outside, so you don’t make a mess in your house.

If there is still a smell, try using Febreze or another odor-eliminating spray.

By now, there shouldn’t be much of a funk. However, if there is still a smell, try using Febreeze or another odor-eliminating spray.

These products work by bonding with the molecules that cause smells and eliminating them. This is similar to how baking soda works, in a different form.

Spray a light layer over the inside and outside of your tent and let it dry. Typically it takes just a couple of hours to be completely dry and ready to use.

How to avoid your tent from smelling?

When camping, the last thing you want is for your tent to start smelling. Not only is it incredibly unpleasant, but it can also signify that your tent isn’t clean.

Luckily, there are a few easy ways to avoid this problem.

  • Make sure to ventilate your tent regularly. This will help to prevent the build-up of moisture and reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth.
  • Invest in a good quality groundsheet. This will create a barrier between your sleeping bag and the ground, preventing moisture from seeping in and causing musty smells.
  • Don’t forget to clean your tent regularly. A simple wipe-down with a damp cloth can go a long way towards keeping your tent fresh and odor-free.

Following these simple tips, you can enjoy camping without worrying about your tent smelling bad.

Making a tent smell better can be challenging, but it is possible with some effort and the right supplies. This article outlines how to make your tent smell fresh again using a little baking soda and possibly a shot of Febreeze.

Get out and enjoy the great outdoors without worrying about your tent smelling bad!


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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