How To Get Rid Of Mold In Your Car

Ahh mold, it’s gross, it smells, and it often ruins a perfectly good loaf of bread. However, if you find it in your vehicle, you should handle it with a bit more urgency than you would a month-old gallon of milk. Wondering how to get rid of mold in your car?

All-natural options include salt, clove oil, or white vinegar, all of which are effective at getting rid of mold. You can also invest in a specialty product designed to attack mildew and inhibit spore growth. Once you’ve chosen a method, you’ll need to isolate the affected areas and start scrubbing.

Thankfully, in this article, we’ll explain the process more in detail. But first, let’s look at what causes mold to form, and why it’s a good idea to get rid of it as soon as possible.

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What Causes Mold And Why Should I Get Rid Of It?

Car with mold

Got your barf bag handy? Mold is a type of fungus that can grow just about anywhere and spread quickly. Not only does it have a uniquely unpleasant odor, but it can also be hazardous to your health when inhaled.

There are several types of mold, some that are merely smelly, and some that are dangerous. The kind you want to avoid is black mold, which can cause issues like headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue, and severe allergic reactions.

Regardless of the type, mold tends to grow in moist, warm environments, which is reasonably common in a vehicle. A few possibilities include leaving wet gear in your car, spilling something on the seats or carpet, or if your window isn’t sealing correctly.

The longer you wait to rectify the issue, the worse it will be. Why? Because mold spreads via airborne spores, meaning it not only does so quickly – but easily.

Do you really need to spend hundreds of dollars for a professional detail shop to remove mold? If it’s only on the seating surfaces and hasn’t reached the foam inside, you should be able to remove it yourself.

Now that you know how mold forms, and a few of the dangers of neglecting it. Let’s look at a few methods for removing it.

Methods For Getting Rid Of Mold In Your Car

You should first prepare your vehicle by removing any possible causes of mold. Some of these may include sporting gear, floor mats, cargo trays, gym bags, and seat covers (all of which may also need to be dealt with).

You’ll then want to park your car in an open area (preferably in direct sunlight), open the doors, and roll the windows down. This will help air it out to lessen the chances you might inhale any spores. Let it sit for about 15-minutes.

Next, it’s time to suit up in some protective gear. Don’t worry about what the neighbors will think, put on some goggles, rubber gloves, and a face mask. You might also consider wearing coveralls and rubber boots.

Now that your driveway resembles a scene out of a post-apocalyptic movie, it’s time to choose a method for neutralizing the mold in your car.

Method 1 – Salt

Salt

What you’ll need:

  • Non-iodized salt
  • Bucket of water
  • Sponge/spray bottle
  • Vacuum

Start by vacuuming the affected area, this should remove most of the surface mold so that you don’t rub it in deeper. 

Mix the salt into the bucket of water, dip the sponge in (or add it to the spray bottle), and lightly scrub or spray the molded area. Be sure to apply to the surface around it as well in case any spores are present.

Salt is useful because it dehydrates mold, which effectively starves it. Afterward, let it dry out after (preferably in direct sunlight), which should leave a crusted area.

Finish by vacuuming it again or scrubbing it with regular water. You may have to repeat the process a time or two. Note that this method works best with smaller areas.

Method 2 – White Vinegar

white vinegar

What you’ll need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Bucket of water
  • Sponge/spray bottle
  • Vacuum

Similar to the last method, you’ll first want to vacuum the molded area. Then, add the distilled white vinegar in the bucket of water (8 parts vinegar and 2 parts water). Though, if it’s an especially moldy spot, you can also use straight vinegar.

Vinegar is acidic, meaning it literally burns mold, which effectively kills it. One of the great things about vinegar is that it’s useful on most surfaces, including leather, cloth, and vinyl. It also works well on larger areas when compared to using salt.

Apply the mixture to the affected area using either the sponge or spray bottle, and lightly scrub it for 15-20 seconds. 

Before vacuuming it, let it dry out in the sun for about 15-min with the windows down, which should allow the vinegar smell to exit the vehicle. If there’s still a strong vinegar smell, sprinkle some baking soda on it, let it sit for a few minutes, then vacuum it up.

Method 3 – Clove Oil

clove oil

What you’ll need:

  • Quarter teaspoon worth of clove oil
  • 1-liter bottle of water
  • Cloth/spray bottle
  • Vacuum

If you haven’t heard of oil of clove (or clove oil), don’t feel too bad, most haven’t. It’s derived from the clove plant and is most commonly used for easing digestion upset

However, it’s also an extremely potent antiseptic that’s effective at attacking mold and preventing further growth. 

You’ll only need a small amount, about a quarter teaspoon worth, which you’ll mix into your bottle of water. Be sure to vacuum first similar to the previous methods, then fill the spray bottle and apply a small amount to the affected area.  

For this method, be sure to use a cloth rather than a sponge, since you don’t want to use more than is needed. Simply blot the molded area scrub lightly. Let it dry for about 15-minutes and then vacuum the spot.

For especially severe mold, you can also take a few drops of clove oil and mix it into a paste with some baking soda. Using an old toothbrush, give the area good scrubbing, let it dry, and then vacuum it up.

This method is also great at preventing mold on vinyl or leather seating.

Method 4 – Specialty Product

Car mold interior remover

As with most cases, if there’s a natural way to do something, there’s also likely a specialty product designed for the same purpose. Many such products simply require you to spray them on, let them sit for a few minutes, and then wipe away. 

Keep in mind some of them might contain toxic ingredients, which is why it’s vital to be careful while using. You should also follow the product instructions to the letter.

Not all are specifically designed for “automotive” purposes. Instead, they’ll mention being safe for use on leather, fabric, or vinyl. 

Prevention Is The Best Solution

Instead of worrying about getting rid of mold in your car – prevent it in the first place.

How? A good start is to invest in some rubber or plastic all-season floor mats, which are easy to remove and simple to clean. You can also make it a habit to not bring liquids into your car, or to at least properly (and promptly) clean up any spills.

You can also invest in a mold-prevention product, which usually requires spraying the interior of your car once per month.

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Joshua Barrett

Josh Barrett is a writer hailing from the great state of Alaska. While describing himself in the third person is not his forte, writing about any and all things automotive – is. After 13+ years hustling in the exciting world of car sales, he took off to travel the world with his dog Teemo.