14 Simple steps to reduce condensation in tents overnight

Condensation in your tent

Updated 19 Jan 23

Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning when you are camping, and the inside of your tent feels wet.  Everything feels damp, but there are no leaks. 

The sense of dread as you realise that you will be dressing yourself and your children in damp clothes. Which is not ideal if you are camping in spring, autumn or early winter.

The dampness in your tent is a build-up of condensation due to the warmer temperature inside compared to outsiIt’sf your tent. 

It’s impossible to stop condensation in your tent. How can you reduce condensation in your tent?

How can table salt collect moisture?

Table salt in a cup will reduce condensation..

Table salt is sodium chloride, and it has a natural ability to absorb moisture in the air. Simply fill a cup about 1/4 and leave it in your sleeping area. Ideally, place several cups in different areas of your tent. The salt will attract and hold moisture from the air and help keep your clothes and tent walls dry and not feeling damp.

You will need to empty the salt the following day, as it will become solid inside the cup.

I used table salt several years ago when I lived in my old property. My house was over 100 years old and had solid brick walls, with significant issues with damp build-up. It worked well inside a house, so I used this traditional method during our camping trips. There is still some dampness inside the tent. However, I have found that placing the cup in the sleeping areas works best as it collects moisture from your breath during the night.

Allow the flow of air by keeping tent vents open

Vents must be kept open to allow sufficient airflow through your tent, especially at night time. Doing this will reduce the build-up of condensation. Air needs to circulate inside, and if the vents are closed, the air becomes stagnant, and moisture is released when you breathe; sweat will increase the humidity inside of your tent, causing condensation.

It is very tempting to close the vents, especially if your head is near the vent in the sleeping areas.

It is also essential to ensure that vents are not blocked, as this will decrease air movement through your tent.

When we first started camping during late autumn, it was cold, windy and wet. To keep the heat inside our tent, we closed our vents so we could remain cosy inside.

The vent is in the main sleeping area. So in the morning, with the two of us sleeping there, you can imagine how damp everything felt. The inside wall of our tent was soaking wet, with damp clothes, pillows and sleeping bags.

At first, I could not understand why or how our tent walls were wet. I soon realised the importance of keeping air vents open, wearing warmer clothes and taking additional blankets with us.

Allow air to circulate during the day

During the day, especially if there has been a build-up of condensation during the night, open your tent doors and allow the air to flow through your tent. Allowing air to circulate during the day will lower the humidity inside your tent. Plus, it will provide the chance to remove stale and humid air.

Opening the door will align the inner temperature of your tent to the outside temperature. Opening your doors will aid in drying your tent inside. Plus, as the sun heats your tent during the day, it can help remove any moisture.

Why should you not breathe on tent walls?

Whilst you are sleeping, move your bed away from the tent walls. This will stop you from breathing directly onto your tent walls. When we breathe, we create a moisture which increases condensation. This is worse if you breathe directly onto a cold surface like a tent wall. As your breath cools on the tent walls, it creases moisture droplets.

This will also be worse if there is no air circulation inside the tent due to closed vents.

How removing damps clothes will help stop condensation

Damping items or clothes will increase the condensation inside of a tent. They release moisture into the air, increasing the humidity inside your tent. Which then raises the chance of condensation. Another contribution to condensation is allowing damp clothing or furniture items to touch the walls of your tent or the floor.

It is impossible to avoid furniture touching the floor, but you can prevent clothes contacting the tent structure or walls. Dry clothes or furniture during the daytime; if they are still damp, place them inside your car or an additional shelter, not in your tent.

On our first night of camping, I did not consider how the effect of damp clothes would increase condensation. Plus, I would always bring my furniture inside my tent.

Choose a tent with a waterproof and breathable

Double-walled tents are ideal for reducing condensation, although not completely stopping. These are waterproof tents with a breathable rainfly. The main inner body is a breathable material that allows moisture to escape. The rainfly stands alone over the inner tent and is waterproof.

The rainfly helps to create an air pocket to reduce condensation by creating a warm barrier stopping the warm air and moisture from touching the cool walls of the tent.

The only negative is that double-walled tents are smaller and often not ideal for long-stay holidays. We use our double-walled tent for several nights of camping, and our single-walled tent is for longer camping trips. If you are not sure what is the best type of tent you have, please read our article explaining the difference between single and double-walled tents.

Check your footprint – is it a moisture-wicking material

A moisture-wicking footprint is a groundsheet that is either nylon or polyester. It is a waterproof breathable material that allows moisture to pass through but keeps it away from the tent. This will help with reducing condensation forming inside the tent.

Because of the cost of groundsheets, many people purchase polyethene plastic sheets. It is a durable plastic, inexpensive way to protect the underneath of your tent; however, it will not help to reduce condensation.

Nylon and polyester groundsheets are also resistant to mildew, UV resistant,tentent’stweight. If you do not have additional groundsheet and rely on your tent’s sewn-in groundsheet, please read our article on why it is important to have a groundsheet. Over time it will save you money and offer additional protection to your tent.

Keep the inside of your tent cool with a fan

If the inside of your tent is cool, there is less moisture in the air to create condensation. Using a fan to cool the air will help to reduce the temperature inside and dissipate moisture as you breathe and sweat.

An additional benefit of using a fan inside your tent is that it can reduce the rate at which moisture is released into the air. If you do not have an EHU connection, you can use a portable camping generator to power or a battery-operated fan. However, how hot your tent is will depend on how long the fan will last.

Portable generators are expensive, and prices range from £250 plus, depending on the power you require. They are either fuel powered or solar-powered. Our generator is a Jackery and ideal for charging items, powering fans, and cooking. However, you must consider the items you want to power before buying. Please read our article on portable generators for camping and the different power levels. To avoid problems with electrical devices, you need a generator that produces pure power.

Wipe off any excIt’It’ssture from tent walls

If you have condensation on your inner tent walls. It’s vital to wipe your walls down carefully. Either use a small towel or a sponge. If condensation is left, it will make your tent feel damp and uncomfortable and cause mould or mildew especially if the tent is stored and not dried inside thoroughly.

Mildew or mould will not only cause issues with your health, but it will reduce the effectiveness of keeping you dry,

Restrict fan heaters and reduce condensation

If you have EHU, it is very tempting to have a fan heater during the colder camping season. Although these are great and a quick way to warm your tent, they increase the condensation build-up very quickly. After about half an hour of using a fan heater, you will be wiping your tent walls down as water will be dripping on you.

Gently heat your tent using your fan heater but not full-on heat. Make sure thatdondon’tnts are open. Although it does defeat the object of using a fan heater, don’t lock down your tent but try to keep part of your door open.

Ideally, do not use fan heaters. Wear additional layers and prevent your tent and gear from getting wet.

Wear extra layers of clothes and insulate the floor

If you can avoid using a fan heater, add warmth to your tent with floor insulation, clothes,tent’sarm blankets. These will naturally warm you and not increase your tent’s inside temperature. This will increase body warmth and sweat, increasing moisture in the air.

There are other ways you can keep warm without using electricity. Not only wearing additional clothing but heating rocks around a campfire and wrapping them in a tea towel or blanket will warm you quickly—closed cell mats underneath your tent carpet, and many more ideas. Find out more in our article about keeping warm without EHU.

Why should you avoid cooking a tent?

Cook in your tent porch no inside the main tent

It is not recommended to cook inside of your tent. Tents are not designed to be used as cooking areas. Tents are flammable material, any open flames not only are a fire hazard but the risk of carbon monoide poisoning. You may feel that it is safe to cook using electricity, however not only is it still a fire risk, it does increase condensation and the smell of cooking will linger, ingraining itself in your tent material.

If you do not have a extension you can use a tarp to create shelter for cooking. However, a majority of tents have a built in porch which is open and can be used as a cooking area. If you are using a gas stove, keep it away from the sides and the open flame protected to avoid contact with your tent porch., I do recommend you cook with a open flame unless it is a safe distance away from your tent.

When it is wet outside, I do cook in the shelter of my tent extention. I leave the doors fully open, and my electric stove away from the sides. The main tent is shut to avoid any unwanted smells from entering. If you do need to cook inside your tent keep all of your doors open and move as close to the entrance as you can.

if you do not have an extension to your tent, there are universal extensions available that are cheaper than your tents specified one. I often use a Colemans universal extension, especially in the summer and I always keep a tarp with me for additional shelter if needed. Read our article and we will explain other ways to save money creating a ideal cooking area without spending a fortune.

Boil your kettle for your coffee outside your tent

Boiling a kettle is simple and takes only a few minutes but it is one of the largest factors of condensation. Also another negative is that the heat can damage your tent, although to date this has not happened to me.

Boiling a kettle using an EHU is my downfall, and if I am honest, unless it is a warm morning, I will always boil it inside my tent, which is often late evening or early morning. The steam does cause a lot of condensation, even with opening the tent doors.

Reusable dehumidifers can help remove some condensation

Using salt is a cheap and easy solution to removing condensation, however I also use reusable dehumified cushions. They are compact, and can be refreshed by placing inside a microwave. Although if you are camping and there is no microwave on site they can be redundant. Using the microwaveable dehumified are also safe especially if you have young children or camping with pets.

You do not need to worry about them being knocked over or you dog putting his snout in the cup. Hoever the only drawback of the nicrowabel backs is you children may think they are bean bags to throw around or you dog may chew them. So consider before you buy.

Key takeaway

By thinking in advance of the weather conditions, and what small adjustment you can make to reduce condensation in your tent will make your trip more comfortable.

Think ahead, about where you can dry damp items or store so they are not kept inside of your tent. Also using traditional methods to absorb condensation, is a ideal way to save money. You don’t need to spend a fortune on different devices.

Remember you will never elimate condesnation but you can reduce.

We love camping and we camp during different seasons. Dealing with condensation daily is a campers nightmare. We follow these simple 10 steps to reduce the build-up of condensation side of our tent overnight.


I'm a single parent who loves pitching a tent and exploring the countryside at any opportunity. I am working with a glamping pod company and helping them to set up a family campsite in East Riding Yorkshire.

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