How to Get Mold Out of Car Interior and Carpet: Everything You Should Know

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How to get mold out of car interior and carpet

If you have ever been around some food that has gone bad, you know firsthand how disgusting mold could be. On top of causing a mess wherever they grow, some mold species (like the toxic black mold) pose a safety hazard for humans. So, it can be concerning when you find this stuff growing in your car’s interior.

This may come as a surprise, but car interiors are a great habitat for mold to grow. The moist yet warm interior of a neglected car perfectly mimics the rainforests that mold and fungus call their home. But, what can you do to get mold out of your interior, and keep it out for good? That’s what we will be taking a look at in this article.

What Causes Mold To Grow In Your Interior?

Mold propagates through air, so once it starts spreading, it is really difficult to slow its spread. There are several ways in which mold can find its way to your car’s interior, such as:

  • Keeping the windows open during rainy weather
  • Parking your car in a damp garage
  • Spilling liquids and juices on the floor and seats
  • Flood damage
  • Leaving damp materials in the interior
  • Water leaks from the roof or windows
  • Bad ventilation in the passenger compartment

In all of these situations, your car interior is subjected to excessive moisture. Microscopic mold spores will form first, and they will quickly spread to all parts of your interior. This process will speed up if you blast the air conditioning system, as the circulating air helps spread any airborne mold spores throughout the cabin.

Areas of your interior that retain moisture such as the seats and carpets are the most susceptible to mold growth. There are several types of mold that can form inside the car. One of the most common variants is mildew, which is black in appearance. Mildew also produces a foul smell, making your interior a rather unpleasant place to be in. White-colored mold species like Acremonium, phialides, and fungal spores, as well as foamy molds like hyphae are some other types of mold that are commonly found in the interiors of vehicles.

Luckily, it doesn’t cost much to rid your interior of mold. If you have the know-how, it only takes a few household materials and some elbow grease to get rid of this troublesome fungus. And if you don’t want to remove the mold yourself, you can hire a professional for a couple of hundred bucks and have it thoroughly removed.

Precautions Before Removing Mold

When it comes to removing mold from car interiors, preparation is key. If you aren’t careful, mold can be the cause of some serious health issues. Mold-induced asthma, heart disease, chronic fatigue, skin rashes, and liver damage are just a few of the dozens of health implications that are linked to mold exposure.

Here are a few precautionary measures you should take before initiating the mold removal process.

  • Wear gloves – This is to prevent skin irritations that can be caused by touching the mold with bare hands
  • Cover your face with a high-quality mask or respirator – If the mold spores get into your respiratory system, they can cause breathing problems and asthma
  • Wear work goggles or work glasses for eye protection – Some mold species are known to cause eye irritations

How To Remove Car Interior Mold From Home

If you have some extra time on your hands, you can try and remove the mold by yourself. Start the mold removal process by giving the interior a good vacuum. Make sure that you cover all areas of the interior, including the seats, floor mats, doors, and the center console. Move the seats all the way backward and forward to remove all the debris beneath them. Don’t forget to vacuum inside the cup holders as well.

Once the vacuum process has been completed, you can move on to tackling each of the mold stains. As we mentioned earlier, there are several household products you can use for this. Some of the most effective ones include:

1. White vinegar

Car interior mold white vinegar cleanser

The mildly acidic nature of distilled white vinegar makes it one of the best products you can use for mold removal. Furthermore, the versatility of white vinegar makes it usable on a variety of materials found in car interiors, including leather and vinyl.

Here’s how to use white vinegar to get rid of mold growth from a car interior.

  1. Dilute the white vinegar solution with some clean water. (Only non-diluted vinegar on spots with exceptional mold growth)
  2. Apply the white vinegar & water solution to mold patches using a spray bottle or a piece of cloth
  3. Scrub lightly and let the mixture cure for about twenty minutes
  4. Vacuum up the dead mold using a wet-and-dry vacuum cleaner

However, there is one downside to using vinegar as a mold remover. It has a strong pungent odor, which can feel overpowering for some people. But, you can easily get rid of this either by spraying an air freshener of your choice or by leaving the doors open until the smell dissipates naturally.

2. Non-Iodized Salt

Salt car carpet mold cleaning

A solution of non-iodized salt is another great cure for mold growth. It draws water out of the mold spores, which starves them of water and eventually kills them through dehydration.

  1. Vacuum the area and get rid of the surface mold
  2. Make a concentrated solution of salt and water
  3. Thoroughly apply the prepared solution to all mold-infected areas
  4. Let the car sit in direct sunlight until the surface dries out and a crusty residue forms on the surface
  5. Remove the mold residue with water or a vacuum cleaner

You should be careful when using this method on leather surfaces, as the corrosive nature of salt can degrade the leather, plastic, or carpet material over time.

3. Clove oil

Cloves oil for car interior cleaning

Although it is mostly synonymous with being a toothache reliever, clove oil is a great mold remover as well. The antiseptic nature of clove oil destroys mold spores and minimizes the risk of further growth for good measure.

  1. Get rid of surface mold by vacuuming
  2. Mix a quarter of a teaspoon of clove oil with a liter of water and mix well to create the cleaning solution
  3. Apply a limited amount of the solution to all the mold spots
  4. Scrub the solution into the moldy areas until the mold has separated from the carpet
  5. Let the area dry and clean it out

4. Baking Soda

Baking soda car interior mold

You are bound to have some baking soda in your kitchen somewhere, and it is an effective mold remover. This is mainly due to the mild alkali nature of this material, which dissolves organic materials like mold.

  1. Vacuum the interior thoroughly
  2. Sprinkle some baking soda onto the mold spots
  3. Let it sit for about twenty minutes and then scrub the area
  4. Clean the powdery residue that remains

You can even pair baking soda with white vinegar or clove oil for even stronger results. If your interior is severely overgrown with mold, mix a few drops of baking soda with clove oil and scrub the solution on the moldy area using a toothbrush (or another small brush). You can wipe away the residue after it dries.

5. Special Cleaning Agents

Diy car mold cleaning

If all else fails, you can utilize one of many mold removal products on the market for some good results. Here’s a few options for different scenarios:

  1. For heavy-duty mold removal, try a product like this Mold and Mildew Stain Remover Spray. This fast-acting formula can break down even the toughest of mold stains in just 15 seconds.
  2. If you want a more comprehensive kit, use the mold removal kit from Chemical Guys. It contains everything you need to rid your interior of car mold, including the cleaning solution, an additional spray bottle, and a drill brush.
  3. If you are looking to prevent mold regrowth, use the Mold Armor Mold Blocker Spray. With a single application, the antibacterial properties of this spray can prevent mold growth in your interior for up to two months.

Make sure that you read the instructions carefully, and check whether the product is compatible with the material of your interior before use.

Tips To Prevent Mold Regrowth

After taking time and effort to rid your car interior of the mold, it would be very frustrating if it decides to come back, wouldn’t it? Here are some simple steps you can follow to prevent mold regrowth.

1. Get rid of moisture

As you may have noticed by now, moisture is the number 1 cause of mold growth. Going out of your way to prevent your vehicle from getting damp is the best way of preventing fungus growth on the interior. A good way to do this is to always park your vehicle in a covered area. If that’s not possible, you may want to consider investing in a waterproof car cover.

2. Disinfect your vehicle often

You spent a significant amount of your life inside your car interior, so it is important to keep it as sanitary as possible. On top of preventing mold growth, this will have a positive effect on your general health as well. Use an antimicrobial product to disinfect the interior, and make sure that you clean all nooks and crannies of the vehicle including the steering wheel, door handles, lock buttons, and the HVAC system.

3. Keep the windows rolled up

Mold thrives in damp conditions, and rolled-down windows are the number 1 cause of dampness in your interior. Keep the windows rolled up whenever possible to ensure that rain doesn’t find its way into the interior.

Vacuuming car interior

When To Call A Professional

As we alerted you in a previous section, there are several mold species that pose a threat to your safety, so it is important to have them removed quickly and thoroughly. In addition, removing mold from your car’s interior can be a frustrating and time-consuming process when done at home. For these reasons, calling a professional as soon as you spot the mold is often a wise idea. Some signs that you should call a professional include:

  • Brittleness and flaking of the weather-stripping that lines the vehicle’s doors due to mold
  • Moldy smell even after extensive cleaning
  • Recurring mold growth even after multiple removals
  • Nauseousness or lightheadedness when trying to clean the vehicle

If you decide to hire a professional, Big’s Mobile Detailing is always here to help! With years of experience and quality products at our hands, we can help you get rid of mold from your interior once and for all. So, if you are in the Seattle, WA area or the Los Angeles, CA area, you can always give us a call at 425-243-9155 or simply schedule an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon!


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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. Read full disclaimer.

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