Mold is a natural growth but there’s nothing natural about having it in your car.
As well as being disgusting, there are many other reasons why you’d want to remove it from your car.
The most common symptoms of exposure to mold are flu-like symptoms such as sinus congestion or a runny nose, but, it can be much more serious.
Infants that are exposed to mold for prolonged periods may develop respiratory symptoms. Mold with mycotoxins can also lead to neurological problems and even death.
Having mold in your car is no joke. Continue reading this article to learn the best ways to clean mold out of your car interior.
Table of Contents
What Causes Mold In Cars
Mold, sometimes referred to as Mildew is a fungal growth that grows in wet, damp and moist conditions. It can grow on absolute anything, as long as moisture is present.
In a car, mold is most likely to grow as a result of condensation and dampness.
The biggest contributors to condensation are leaving damp & wet clothes in your car, blocked pollen filters, human breathing, and hot food or beverages.
Now, I’m not asking you to stop breathing, but there are steps you can take to prevent condensation from occurring.
We want to remove every possible source of moisture. Make sure to remove anything that is damp and check for leaks that may be making your car interior damp too.
Secondly on hot and sunny days if your car fills up with condensation, leave the windows open slightly. Doing this will allow air to circulate through your car preventing moisture from occurring.
Finally, on cold and rainy days, close your windows and resort to using the air conditioning.
The air conditioning in your car will remove moisture and guarantee your vehicle to be at the exact temperature you want.
All of these are steps that you can take before having to perform actual servicing & maintenance such as removing the pollen filter.
Depending on your level of competency, you may want to pay for a mechanic to do this, but you can do it yourself if you want.
I personally have a Volvo C30. I’ve learned that changing the pollen filters on second-generation Volvos requires a lot of effort so I don’t mind paying on the odd occasion.
Research the steps and amount of effort required to change your pollen filter before deciding to do it yourself.
What You’ll Need:
Because removing mold is essentially just cleaning your car upholstery with a little bit extra prep, you don’t need any special equipment.
Here’s a list of the equipment I recommend using:
If you own a steam cleaner, wet & dry vac or any other detailing equipment that’s safe to be used on the interior, feel free. It’s perfectly safe to do so.
You could also use cleaning products from around the house, but whenever possible, it’s best to use the products and equipment designed for the task.
Preparing To Remove Mold From The Car Interior
Before you start to remove the mold it’s important that you take the correct steps to protect yourself and prepare the car for cleaning.
Whenever you’re working on a car with mold, you should always park it in direct sunlight and then open the doors and windows. Doing this will allow the car to dry out, releasing any nauseous odors that the mold is creating.
In terms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), you will want to have a dust mask or respirator and a pair of rubber gloves to protect from mold spores.
Ideally, in a professional environment you’d use an N-95, but at home a paper mask will be better than nothing.
Once you’ve gathered all of your PPE and cleaning products it’s time to start assessing the mold in your vehicle.
The mold may be many different colors, black mold is regarded to be one of the more dangerous molds but a lot of molds will appear white in the early stages, before changing color later on.
If you want to learn more about the types of harmful mold click here.
Make sure to check every inch of your car, mold gets absolutely everywhere. Check your carpet, your seats, underneath the seats, door cards, and even your seat belts.
Once you’ve located all of the mold, it’s time to start cleaning.
How To Remove Mold From Car Seats, Carpets and Car Interior
Whenever you’re cleaning the interior of your car, the methods used are always similar.
Normally you would vacuum the area, apply product, agitate the area and then wipe any residue away. Removing mold is a little different, however, cleaning the area afterward is the exact same.
Follow the steps below to safely remove mold from your car seats, carpet and general car upholstery:
- Scrub The Mold – When removing mold from your car, you should scrub the areas that are filled with mold first. Use a firm scrub brush and don’t forget to wear your gloves!
scrubbing the contaminated areas will lift the mold from the carpet, making it much easier for the vacuum to pick up.
- Vacuum The Area – Now that you’ve scrubbed every piece of mold from the interior of your car, it’s time to vacuum it up along with any other loose dirt and debris.
It’s important to get rid of the dirt before applying any product otherwise you’ll just create a soupy, contaminated mess.
- Apply Product – Once you’ve vacuumed the area and every loose contaminant is now gone, it’s time to apply the product and agitate the area with a second scrub brush.
Don’t re-use the scrub brush that you used to get rid of the mold, that will only recontaminate the area, unless you thoroughly cleaned it between steps.
- Wipe Away Residue – Whenever you’re satisfied that you’ve scrubbed hard enough and your interior is now free of mold, wipe away any residue left behind.
This is very important, otherwise, mold may be encouraged to grow back. Whatever you do, make sure it’s dry before you move on!
- Add Protection – Depending on whether you believe in it or not, I would recommend adding Scotchgard fabric protector. It’s safe to use on any cloth or fabric and helps to repel water and stains from your car upholstery.
How To Get The Mold Smell Out Of A Car
Most of the time, cleaning your car and completely removing the mold is enough to remove the mildew smell from your vehicle.
Providing you use leading interior cleaning products, whether they are dashboard cleaners or fabric cleaners, most of them have odor neutralizing properties.
The chemical guys honeydew fabric cleaner not only neutralizes the smell, but replaces it with a hint of honeydew.
If your car continues to smell, it means you’ve probably missed a patch of mold or you forgot to dry your upholstery after cleaning it.
Make sure to look everywhere, lifting up mats and even removing car seats if possible.
If after searching the vehicle like a police dog sniffing out narcotics, you can’t find the source, there’s a good chance that your car needs to air out.
As long as it’s not raining, you’ll be ok to leave the windows open for a little while to let the fresh air circulate around your car.
You can speed up the process by buying an air freshener that will both neutralize and replace the mildew smell.