The Best $1 You Can Spend to Save Your Parked Car’s Interior Is This Cheap Moisture Remover

If your car’s been parked a lot this year, you might need this. Badly.

bySteve Cole Smith|
The Best $1 You Can Spend to Save Your Parked Car’s Interior Is This Cheap Moisture Remover


New Orleans, we’re talking to you. Houston, listen up. And San Francisco, Tampa, Baton Rouge, Orlando, Miami, even Indianapolis. Denver, not so much. Las Vegas, Phoenix, Albuquerque, you can probably move on.

This is a PSA to the most humid cities in the United States. Those mentioned above, as well as others like Milwaukee and Portland, all have an average humidity level of 70 or above, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Humidity, of course, is the measure of the moisture in the air, which is not a big problem in the desert. Personally, I live in Florida, which is very much not a desert.

So, have you ever walked out in the morning and noticed condensation inside your car, on the glass? You probably just lowered the windows or turned on the defroster and it disappeared. But in cars that aren’t driven much and stored outside in moist places, where do you think that water goes? The answer, of course, is everywhere. Inside your instrument panel to the wiring and switches. Down the side windows where the power switches live. All over the upholstery. Sooner or later, mold will appear

Steve Cole Smith

Mold is nasty, but you can usually clean it off. When interior moisture issues lead to rust and additional corrosion, though—that’s an even bigger problem. In the accompanying photograph, you can see what it did to the door, and the metal speaker grille, of a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban that was parked too long this year. My 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, unfortunately.

And with the pandemic, especially as winter approaches, we’re driving fewer cars fewer miles. Normal routines being completely upended means excess condensation is likely a problem a lot of folks haven't dealt with before. You’re probably familiar with Damp-Rid, the moisture absorber; little white pellets that absorb moisture, turning the pellets into water, and then you dispose of the whole container. But Damp-Rid can be pricey, especially if you have multiple seldom-driven vehicles. Or more than multiple.

A year ago, haunting the “dollar” aisle in a Dollar General store, I found the product in the top picture: Homebright Moisture Eliminator, a little rectangle box with nearly 10 ounces of white pellets, mixed with some chunks of charcoal. It is what you would expect, a cheap knockoff off Damp-Rid. But it works.

Steve Cole Smith

I've started keeping a few in my 2004 Dodge Ram shortbed, 2006 Mini, and 1989 Ram 50 4x4 that, between press cars and the present circumstances, have done a whole lot of sitting this year. I'm changing it out about every three weeks, at $1 apiece, and all summer, never saw a hint of mold despite living in one of the country's moistest states. You can put them anywhere in the car—under the seat, on the console, most anyplace. In the photo, you can see how much moisture was sucked out of a compact pickup truck in three weeks.

I assume there are similar products at comparable prices, but with 16,000 stores in 48 states, I haven’t had to look past Dollar General. They aren’t in every store, every time, but when I do find them on the $1 aisle, I always pick up a handful.

Because dry is good.

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