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Unless you’re intentionally fostering a mobile ecosystem, there’s almost nothing worse than finding mold in your car. It looks and feels disgusting, but there’s also a great chance that it smells disgusting and could lead to health issues.
Vehicles can mold inside for a variety of reasons, but the most common by far is a moisture leak. You don’t, however, have to kill it with fire or spend thousands of dollars to have someone clean it for you. With a little bit of elbow grease and time, you can remove the mold, scrub the area, and have it smelling like new.
The Drive doesn’t expect you to be an expert on mold removal and air purification, so we’ve put together a guide to help you get started on your bio-friendly journey. We’ll cover the basics to help you remove the mold and freshen the air inside your car. Stick with us and we’ll have you rolling clean in no time.
Mold isn't just gross, breathing in mold spores can cause a sore throat, coughing, skin rashes, and burning eyes. While cleaning mold in a confined space, such as a car interior, make sure to wear proper safety equipment:
- Mask (KN95 works perfectly)
- Nitrile or rubber gloves
- Eye protection
Everything You’ll Need To Remove Mold in Your Car
Thankfully, removing mold from your car is fairly simple and even the biggest mold jobs won’t require you to break the bank to buy supplies. Cleaning and prep will take two to three hours, but some solutions will take days to soak or take effect. Times will vary depending on the size of the car, if there's any garbage inside, and the amount of mold that needs removing.
While mold can be dangerous, cleaning it isn't much different than cleaning anything else. Here's everything you'll need to remove your car's mold and it's a pretty straightforward list of supplies. If you don't already have these at home, you can get them at pretty much any grocery or department store.
Tool and Parts
- Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Spray Bottle
- Towels or rags
- Scrub brush
- White distilled vinegar
- Automotive cleaning wipes
- Carpet spray or vehicle interior cleaner
- Steam cleaner (optional)
How To Remove Mold From Your Car, Step by Step
Here's how to get it clean.
1. Prepare the Car for Cleaning
Before you can start scrubbing or cleaning the mold, you’ll want to be sure that the interior of the car is at least partially cleaned. Remove trash, personal belongings, paperwork, and other items from the interior. Throw away anything that has mold growth on it. Thoroughly vacuum the carpets, seats, and other soft finishes.
2. Removing the Mold
Fill your spray bottle with white distilled vinegar. It’s essential to use a new spray bottle, if at all possible because any residue left inside the bottle from previous use can cause issues. If you don’t like vinegar, you can use bleach diluted in water, but you’ll need to test it out on a hidden spot of your car to make sure you’re not killing the colors
Spray the solution directly onto carpeting, seats, and any other surface where there is mold. Saturate the area thoroughly. Use a scrub brush to work the solution into the affected area, spraying more if needed.
3. Inspect the Cause of the Mold
Inspect the car for leaks and damaged seals. Moisture that enters the vehicle will help the mold continue to grow, negating all of your hard work. If there is a leak and you do not repair it, you’ll likely be cleaning mold out of your car again in the future.
One of The Drive’s editors recalled a time when a milk jug leaked after a trip to the grocery store without him realizing it. The milk leaked into the carpet and under the back seat, causing a disgusting odor and eventually mold to permeate the inside of his car. To remove that mold and smell, it took three rounds of vinegar, scrubbing, and airing out.
4. Dry the Car Out
Let the surfaces dry. If you have a garage where the car can be parked safely indoors, it’s best to leave the windows down to allow fresh air to circulate in and out.
This video shows just how moldy a car can get from sitting for a few months with moisture inside. It's a pretty extreme example, so you likely won't have an interior as bad as the car seen here. However, if this car can be cleaned at home in the driveway, then yours can be too. It also gives you a step-by-step visual of what to do, how to use each tool, and why you should do each step.