How to Get Rid of Mold Growing Inside Your Car

August 08 2021

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Car ownership can be a mixed emotion experience as you get to enjoy the benefits that come with it; freedom of destination, time choice, and self-reliance. At the same time, you will soon start feeling burdened by the expenses of maintaining a car, for example, gas, insurance, maintenance, and so on.

What makes this worse is the unexpected costs and occurrences that things like mold in a car create. Don’t panic as you can handle it easily at home using inexpensive methods, and this is what we will be discussing in this article.

However, if you have the resources to turn the car over to a professional and let them take care of the mold situation, then do it.

What causes mold in the car?

The first step to solving a problem is understanding the root cause. In this case, it’s moisture getting into the car either through liquid spills that get stuck in the upholstery, leaving car windows or sunroof open when it's left open while raining.

It should be noted though that we are addressing vehicles with relatively mild mold problems and not abandoned ones that are constantly exposed to mold. There are different types of molds with some being harmful to your health.

Mold spreads even faster when the car is placed somewhere warm. Time taken to clean will vary but cleaning and prep take an average of four hours with the exception of solutions that take days to soak and take effect.

What supplies you need to get rid of mold

We will start with the supplies needed:

  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Vacuum
  • Spray bottle
  • Scrubbing brush
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Towels or rags
  •  Automotive cleaning wipes
  • Vehicle interior cleaner or spray carpet
  • Eye protection

Before any work begins it’s essential to wear eye, skin, and breathing protection. As we have learned earlier, some mold may be harmful and without testing one cannot be sure. Mold is dangerous, and that coupled with chemicals creates a health hazard. Make sure you are working in a well-ventilated room.

Prior to scrubbing the mold, you will want to make sure that the car is partially cleaned and this is through several steps.

  1. Remove trash and any personal effects inside the car. Throw away anything that has mold on it.
  2. Vacuum the carpets, seats, and other soft finishes.
  3. Inspect the car for leaks and any other damaged seal. Moisture that is left or enters the car will help the mold grow. It will be a wasted effort as the mold will grow again.
  4. Once done with the clearing, the next step is the removal of the mold. Fill your spray bottle with the white distilled vinegar (use a new spray bottle to avoid further harm to the car as a result of previous chemical residue). 
  5. For those against vinegar, you can use bleach diluted in water, however, you will need to test it on a hidden spot to test its effect on the color.
  6. Spray the mixture into the carpeting, seats, and other moldy surfaces and ensure to properly saturate that area.
  7. Use a scrubbing brush to ensure absorption of the vinegar solution into the area and add where necessary.
  8. Leave the surfaces out to dry. If you have a garage where the car can be parked indoors, it is even better. With a garage, it's best to leave the windows open for proper air circulation in the car.

Having put the time and effort into the removal of the mold, it is important to take proper care to avoid a repeat of the situation as they may trigger any allergies you may have. Have a medicine ready and don’t get discouraged easily when removing mold from your car.


Kinda off/on topic....How do I prevent mold from growing on the bottom of a shower curtain liner?And if I got it, how do I get rid of it? Reluctant to put in washing machine b/c liner may not stand up to washing and don’t want to risk getting any mold in the washer.Tired of buying new ones.
sanfransam54 / 2021-08-06 19:48:00

I put it in the washing machine with an old towel or two. These things are two for a dollar at Family Dollar Stores, so sometimes I question the value of washing instead of disposing - I still have to go through the nuisance of putting in the rings.
kasley42 / 2021-09-15 19:12:00

While this is OK for visible surfaces you can reach to clean, there is a far mor thorough method. After cleaning visible grunge, mold in the above method, borrow/rent or buy an Ozone Generator. This can get into crevasses, under seats, and most importantly, into the vents & ducts of the heat/AC system. Put the unit inside, close windows, set heat/AC on recirculate and turn on the OG. Let it run 30-60 mins. Unplug OG and open doors avoiding inhaling. Let car air out and in 5mins it is cleaned. This also gets rid of other odors (dog, old forgotten sandwiches, BO, etc.)
bulky4 / 2021-10-06 06:36:00

Also, change, or have someone change, your cabin air filter. Almost any car built after 1990 has one, and it’s separate from the engine air filter. Second, pop the hood, and remove leaves and other vegetable debris from under the edges. If your cabin air intake isn’t by the windshield, it’s by the front grill, and feeding mold with leaf litter is a recipe for aspergillium, at least! Lysol also works for mold and mildew, and giving a good spritz down each of your air vents, (While the vents are off...or run them immediately after while you are not in the car!) and letting it dry should kill any spores that have gotten inboard of the cabin air filter.
reowwl / 2021-10-23 19:48:00