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How to Remove Mold and Mildew from a Car

By John Funk, February 21, 2023

Finding mold and mildew in your car will not only look and feel disgusting, but it will also smell disgusting. Usually, car owners go to great lengths to keep their cars clean and shiny on the outside; however, they do not realize that the inside of the car also needs as much, if not more attention.

Mold may provide an excellent environment for fungus growth; however, unless you’re a fungus farmer or making blue cheese, this is rarely desirable. Mold can lead to health issues and can be deadly to humans when breathed in or ingested, especially for those who suffer from asthma. Mold and mildew can cause respiratory allergies, foul odors, and general discomfort for the passengers and driver of any vehicle alike.

A vehicle may be one of the least likely places you’d expect to see mold and mildew growth; however, if the vehicle is stored in a cool location, pesky mold spores will flourish if not taken care of immediately.

There can be several factors contributing to mold and mildew growth in different nooks and crannies of your beloved vehicle; however, the most common cause is moisture formation.

There are several ways you can get mold and mildew in your car. Here are some of them:

  • When you park your car in a damp garage.
  • When you leave damp clothes on the seats.
  • When the humidity levels are high.
  • When windows are opened during rainy weather.

Since mold and mildew are airborne, they spread quickly. Therefore, you should resolve the issue quickly, otherwise, it will get messier. Fortunately, you don’t have to shell out a fortune to get rid of mold and mildew from your vehicle. By implementing some simple steps, you can remove mold and mildew yourself, and have your vehicle smelling like new.

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Cleaning

Before you begin the mold and mildew removal process, you have to ensure that the interior of your vehicle is at least partially cleaned.

  • You should either remove things like seat covers, floor mats, and other possible sources of mold from your vehicle or thoroughly vacuum them and other soft finishes.
  • Inspect your vehicle for leaks and damaged seals and if there are any, you should repair them immediately, otherwise, moisture will enter your car through the leak and will cause the mold to continue to grow and you may have to clean mold out of your car again in the future.

Wearing proper protective gear like rubber gloves, a face mask, goggles, and so on is highly advised before you begin the mold and mildew removal process as these growths may contain hazardous substances and harmful chemicals which can damage your health.

How to Remove Mold and Mildew from a Car

Some common concerns of car owners are as follows:

  • How to remove mold and mildew from car paint
  • How to remove mold and mildew from car carpet
  • How to remove mold and mildew from the car interior.

There are various methods to get rid of mold and mildew from your vehicle. The following pointers will enlighten you about some effective ones that you can implement to clean your vehicle.

Distilled White Vinegar

  • Distilled white vinegar can be a powerful weapon against mold because its acidic nature can be instrumental in destroying mold spores, reducing the chances of their return. Another advantage is that white vinegar can be used on different surfaces such as leather and vinyl.
  • Ideally, you should use straight white vinegar only for exceptionally moldy spots; otherwise, it is advisable to mix it with water in a bottle or a vessel.
  • You can spray the solution using a spray bottle over the affected area and let it get soaked. If you do not have a spray bottle, you can make use of a cloth to apply the mixture to mold spots.
  • After about 20 minutes, you can clean the area by using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner and dispose of the collected spores. If there is a pungent vinegar odor, you can use an air freshener later to clear the smell. You can also leave the doors open for some time for the smell to dissipate naturally.

Baking Soda

  • Sprinkling baking soda over fabric is an excellent way to get rid of mold and mildew.
  • A huge advantage of using baking soda is that you don’t need to use an air freshener separately to get rid of any smell, as baking soda itself acts as an excellent air freshener.
  • Sprinkle baking soda over the affected area to get the mold and mildew smell out of the car. It may take some time for the baking soda to absorb any moisture and mold, so make sure to wait for at least 20 minutes before you vacuum up the powdery residue.

Non-Iodized Salt

  • Initially, you should vacuum the affected area of your vehicle to take off the surface mold. After that, take a standard bucket and fill it with water and mix the non-iodized salt in it. You should make sure that the solution is concentrated enough.
  • Use a spray bottle or sponge to apply the saltwater to the affected area and about one to two feet around it, as the surrounding areas may have a few rogue mold spores.
  • Leave the car exposed to direct sunlight to allow the surface to dry out. Finally, you can use a vacuum cleaner to scrub off the mold remains and remove salt crust formation.
  • Since salt is corrosive, it can eat away at leather. This is one drawback of this method, and the formation of salt stains is another issue you need to deal with. This may not be the most effective method to remove mold and mildew; however, you can use it if you have nothing else on hand.

Clove Oil

  • Since clove oil is a potent antiseptic, it can effectively attack mold spores and minimize further growth.
  • The process is similar to that of non-iodized salt; however, it is advisable to keep the solution on the affected area for a longer period of time to see the desired result.
  • An advantage of using this method is that it is an inexpensive process and you can easily purchase the clove oil from most pharmacies. However, it can cause skin allergies, so you should be careful while diluting the concentration.

Apart from these, there are a few other methods that you can try to get rid of mold and mildew.

  • You can use the froth from dish soap to clean car seats and other areas. This is a simple process as you only need to create a lather by mixing water and soap and applying the mixture over the affected area. Scrub the area well to remove mold and dry it using a towel.
  • You can also use special cleaning agents that are usually made of organic ingredients. However, you should check if the product is safe to use as some of these cleaning agents may contain toxic elements.

Why Use Seal Skin’s Smartly Designed Car Covers?

“Prevention is better than cure”. It is true that the above-mentioned steps are effective to get rid of mold and mildew from your vehicle; however, it is better to be proactive and use a car cover to ensure that your vehicle does not get affected by mold and mildew in the first place.

At Seal Skin, we offer an extensive range of car covers that can provide superior protection to your beloved vehicle from hazardous elements. Our car covers are smartly designed as they leave breathable space for moisture to escape, thereby preventing mold and mildew build-up.

You can call us at 800-915-0038 during our office hours (Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST) and we will help you find the right car cover that fits your needs and budget. We will also help you if you have any questions about our products, shipping policies, and exchange/refund policies.

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