Smell Stinks Bad

Oct 7, 2015
Hi folks, recently bought a pop up with no bathroom. Its a 1988, in really good shape, but has a bad odor. So far I have tried baking soda, febreze, and odor killing air freshener. Nothing seems to have worked at this point. Any suggestions would appreciated. This is my first go around with a pop up camper.


Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
Albuquerque, NM
Where is the odor coming from? If the canvas, has it been cleaned (and re-waterproofed)? If not coming from the canvas, you need to check for the source elsewhere. What does it smell like - mildew, mild, just plain funky or ???

Our first pup had a distinctive odor, especially when it had been closed up for a while. Since we were the third owners, we though it was just the older fabrics - it was a 1984 and this was probably about the turn of the century. When we renovated it, we discovered that the odor was actually from mildew and mold that had developed in the wall near one tail light, which had evidently had a leak at some point. We also discovered it had leaked under the dinette bench on that side and a hole had developed in the floor (this end of the space wasn't really visible until we dismantled the bench. Once we got all of that removed, cleaned and repainted it all, it was fine.

Read through the "IN the Garage" and "At the Campsite"sections, and you'll find hints on cleaning canvas and the pup in general, tracing mysteries, and all sorts of good stuff.


Super Active Member
Jun 5, 2014
You gotta give us something to work with.

Where do you smell this odor?

What does it smell like?

A rotten egg (sulfur) smell could be an LPG (propane) leak or a boiling battery, both of which present a dangerous situation.

A musty moldy smell might be remedied by a good cleaning.
Oct 7, 2015
Sorry it is hard to describe. The smell does not come from a specific source. Is just smells like "old" Not rotten eggs or anything like that. It may be coming from the canvas as we have not cleaned it yet. I did take the cushions out last night and it seems to be better, but there is still a smell.

Was just wondering if there were any specific methods I was not aware of. I have heard using charcoal?

Thanks for the suggestions and were to follow up with reading!

Grn Mtn

Super Active Member
Jul 3, 2012
Having owned several old campers, I would first remove all of the "soft goods" - cushions, curtains, anything fabric or foam. Put those in your house and close the camper for a few days. Open it up- does it still smell? If the answer is no - it's your foam or fabric. If still yes, wipe down every hard surface inside with vinegar and water, be sure to get inside every nook and cranny. Wash the outside thoroughly too, let everything dry completely, and close it again for a few days. Open it up again - does it still smell? It might be your canvas.

BTW - it's usually the foam in the cushions, unless there is a leak that's rotting your camper. You can usually remove the covers and wash them (carefully), along with the curtains. Stinky foam is replaceable.


A bad day camping beats a good day at the office
As a 1988, I'm guessing it actually has "canvas" instead of vinyl-coated cloth or something on that order. Canvas can smell really bad if it ever gets put away wet. I don't know what the remedy is but I bet Google does.