One of the things you can run into when camping in Michigan is a high humidity situation and this can bring on mildew. If you pack your camping gear away while even slightly damp you may find it quite damaged when you unpack it in the spring. Mildew loves moisture and warm temps. Many of our cupboards and closets are the perfect place for it to grow and flourish in our camping gear.
To avoid this you must make double sure that everything is completely dry before putting it in storage. If you’re tenting you can drape the tent over lawn furniture in the backyard during a nice, sunny afternoon. The sun will help to dry the fabric and kill any mildew spores that have started. Do this for your sleeping bags, backpacks, and any other camping gear that is made of an absorbent fabric.
Once everything is completely dry, store it in a well ventilated area. Lots of air circulation will help to keep mildew at bay. If you find you already have mildew which has taken hold you can clean the area with lemon juice and water or every day bleach. Be sure to test in an unseen area to ensure colorfastness. Scrub the mildewed area and let it dry well in an open area with good circulation.
Some people pack their gear within layers of cotton towels or paper towels to make sure no moisture settles on the fabric of their gear. When folding it away, don’t pack it too tightly and try to leave space for air movement around the pieces stored.
Your camping gear is a big investment and we’d like to see you get many years of use out of it. If you take care of these maintenance and recovery tips you should be all set to get out and get camping right away next year.