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How to Get Mold Out of Car Interior and Carpet

Updated: Nov 21

We all know how disgusting mold can be. It’s dusty, musty, smelly, and can ruin a perfectly good slice of pizza. As if we needed another reason to hate the fungus, a few mold species can be deadly to humans when breathed in or ingested.

Your car is probably the last place you’d expect to see mold – but it provides an excellent environment for fungus growth. Mold thrives in moist, warm spaces, and that often describes unkempt cars.

A few ways you can get mold in your car include:

  • Spilling liquid on the floor (water, juice, coffee).

  • Opening windows in rainy weather.

  • High humidity levels.

  • Parking in a damp garage.

  • Leaving damp clothes on the seats.

  • Flood damages.

The problem is that mold is airborne and therefore spreads like wildfire. The longer you wait to resolve the issue, the messier it will get.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get rid of the mold inside your car. Instead, with a little time and effort, you can do it yourself! Here’s how.

How to Remove Mold from Your Car

First things first: you should never tackle mold without wearing the proper protective gear. Be sure to suit up in overalls, rubber boots, rubber gloves, a face mask, and some goggles before beginning.

Now that you’re ready prepare your vehicle by taking out any possible sources of mold. We’re talking wet swimming trunks, gym bags, seat covers, and floor mats. Leave them aside to be dealt with later.

You’ll also want to place your car in an open, sunny area. Roll down the windows and air out the interiors for a while. This will lower your chances of inhaling mold spores.

Finally, you’re ready to annihilate the mold. To do this, pick any one of the following methods:

1) White Vinegar

As it turns out, distilled white vinegar can work wonders against mold. Because it’s mildly acidic, vinegar kills pesky mold spores and minimizes the chances of their return. Plus, it can be used on different surfaces, such as leather and vinyl.

  • Whip out your trusty bottle of white vinegar and dilute it with water. You can use straight white vinegar for exceptionally moldy spots.

  • Next, apply the mixture to the mold patches with a cloth or spray bottle.

  • Give it a light scrub and let it rest for about twenty minutes.

  • Lastly, use a wet-and-dry vacuum cleaner to mop up the dead mold.

The only downside to this method is that vinegar has an especially pungent odor. However, you can get rid of it by spraying some air freshener inside the car or leaving the doors open for the smell to dissipate naturally.

2) Non-Iodized Salt

Saltwater dehydrates mold spores by drawing water out of their membranes, thereby starving and killing them. However, you should note that you most likely won’t achieve anything by dusting raw salt on mold. The salt needs to be in a solution.

  • Start by vacuuming the area to take off the surface mold.

  • Mix salt in a bucket of water. Make sure the solution is concentrated enough.

  • Use a spray bottle or sponge to apply the saltwater to the mold spots. Don’t neglect the surrounding areas that may have a few rogue mold spores.

  • Leave the car in direct sunlight (if possible) and allow the surface to dry out. It should leave a crusty residue.

  • Scrub off the mold remains with water to finish things off. You can also use a vacuum cleaner.

Again, there’s a small disadvantage to this mold treatment. Salt is corrosive and can eat away at leather. Plus, you’ll also have to account for salt stains. This isn’t the best defense against mold, but you can use it if you have nothing else on hand.

3) Clove Oil

Traditionally speaking, clove oil is used to relieve toothaches and digestive troubles, but it’s also a potent antiseptic. Therefore, clove oil can attack mold spores and minimize further growth. You only need a quarter teaspoon of clove oil for a liter of water.

  • Vacuum the affected area first.

  • Mix the clove oil well to form a solution, then apply a limited amount to the mold spots.

  • Once it’s dry, clean the space, and you’re done.

In extremely severe cases of mold growth, you can mix a few drops of clove oil with some baking soda. Apply it with a toothbrush and give the area a good scrub. When the surface is dry, you can wipe it down.

4) Baking Soda

Speaking of baking soda, many swear by it because of its excellent cleaning properties. However, when it comes to mold and mildew, this kitchen staple is just as effective. Plus, it acts as a great air freshener.

All you have to do is sprinkle baking soda on the mold spots and leave it on for twenty minutes. The baking soda will soak up any excess moisture, leaving behind a powdery residue. You can either use the baking soda on its own or combine it with white vinegar for even stronger results.

5) Special Cleaning Agents

If you’re not worried about using organic ingredients, you can also invest in a specialty product to purge your car of mold.

Just remember that a few of these cleaning agents may contain toxic chemicals. Therefore, you must use them carefully and follow the instructions precisely. Most importantly, check if the product is safe to use on leather and vinyl.

When Should You Call a Professional for Car Mold?

In some instances, the mold may persist despite multiple cleaning sessions. This is when you should reach out to a reputable automobile detailing company or mold remediation expert for help.

If you’re confused about when to call a specialist, look out for these key warning signs.

  • Black, mold, green, or white stains splayed out in a splash-like pattern.

  • Recurring mold growth you can’t seem to prevent.

  • Lingering moldy smells, even after extensive scrubbing and vacuuming.

  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or breathlessness while inside the car or after exiting.

  • Brittle and flaking weather-stripping.

How to Prevent Mold Regrowth

Mold isn’t a welcome sight anywhere, whether it’s your home or your car. Ask anyone who’s lived through a mold outbreak, and they’ll tell you how daunting the remediation process is.

As you may have realized by now, cleaning the mold out of a vehicle is no easy feat. One wrong move and your entire car can fill up with mold spores, making it impossible for you to get behind the wheel.

Once you’ve handled a mold infestation, you won’t want it to return. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to discourage mold growth inside your vehicle. This includes learning to:

1) Minimize Moisture

Excess moisture is a primary suspect in nearly every mold growth case. So it’s best if you protect your car from damp weather as far as possible. Instead of parking it out in the open, place it inside your garage and use a waterproof cover to wrap it.

2) Roll-Up All the Windows

Unless you roll up your car windows all the way, you’ll leave tiny entry points for dust, debris, and mold spores. Ensure your windows are sealed shut to keep mold spores out.

3) Never Eat in The Car

This may be a little difficult to accomplish, but we strongly suggest that you stop eating inside the car. This is because food crumbs and juice spills serve as great substrates for mold growth. If you enjoy a meal inside the car, be sure to clean up any spills right away.

4) Clean and Disinfect Your Car’s Interiors

Car owners often forget to look after the inside of their vehicles. First, you must disinfect your car with a quality antimicrobial product to eliminate any lingering mold spores. Also, wipe down the door handles, lock buttons, steering wheel, and HVAC systems for maximum protection.

This is a lot of work, which is why you may want to hire a professional car detailing service. Besides cleaning and disinfecting your car, they can also tackle any worrying signs of mold growth before it escalates into a full infestation.

The Bottom Line

Removing mold from your car interior may seem difficult, but it’s not impossible. All you’ll need is the right cleaning method and the proper safety gear to get it cleaned up.

If the DIY tricks fail to do the job, you can always turn to a professional for assistance.

Here at ILLUSIONZ MOBILE AUTO SPA, we can help you with that. As a leading car detailing company in Montclair NJ, we use quality products and refined methods to spruce up your precious automobile. To schedule an appointment, reach out to us today!


These blogs are meant purely for education and demonstration purposes. It contains only general information and may not account for specific issues related to your particular vehicle or situation. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only.

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