How to Get Mold Out of Your Car [8 Steps]

By Jed Lehman •  Updated: 01/04/24 •  6 min read

Wondering how to get mold out of your car? Here at Gearshift, we feature a lot of “how-to’s” in our maintenance section, and this is one of the most important in terms of not only your car’scleanliness, but also your personal health.

In this article, we will talk about:

How Does Mold Get In Your Car?

Mold can build up in various places within a vehicle, particularly in areas where moisture accumulates. Common places for mold growth in cars include:

  1. Carpeting: Carpets can trap moisture, especially if the car has been exposed to rain or if passengers bring in wet shoes.
  2. Air Conditioning System: The moist environment of the air conditioning system can be a breeding ground for mold if not properly maintained.
  3. Trunk: Leaks or spills in the trunk area can create a conducive environment for mold growth.
  4. Headliner: Water leaks from a damaged roof or windows can lead to mold forming on the headliner.
  5. Seats: Spills or dampness from wet clothing can contribute to mold growth on fabric or leather seats.
  6. HVAC System: The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system can harbor mold if the air filters and vents are not cleaned regularly.
Cleaning the moldiest vehicle ever!

How to Tell if Your Car Has Mold in It?

Detecting mold in your car may involve using your senses and observing certain signs. Here are ways to tell if your car has mold:

  1. Musty Odor: One of the most common signs of mold is a musty or earthy smell. If you notice an unpleasant odor when you enter your car, it could indicate the presence of mold.
  2. Visible Mold Growth: Inspect your car’s interior, paying close attention to areas where moisture is likely to accumulate, such as carpets, seats, and the headliner. Look for visible signs of mold growth, which may appear as black or greenish spots.
  3. Discoloration: Mold can cause discoloration on surfaces. Check for any unusual stains or patches on the interior materials, including fabric, leather, or the headliner.
  4. Water Leaks: Persistent water leaks, especially after rain, can create conditions favorable for mold growth. Check for dampness in the trunk, under carpets, or around windows.
  5. Allergic Reactions: If you or passengers experience allergy-like symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, or itchy eyes while inside the car, it may be an indication of mold presence. Mold spores can trigger allergic reactions in some individuals.
  6. Respiratory Issues: Prolonged exposure to mold can lead to respiratory problems. If you or passengers develop respiratory issues such as difficulty breathing or exacerbated asthma symptoms after spending time in the car, mold could be a potential cause.
  7. Condensation on Windows: Excessive condensation on the interior windows, especially during periods of high humidity, may suggest elevated moisture levels that could contribute to mold growth.
  8. Humid, Damp Smell: Even if you don’t see visible mold, a persistent humid or damp smell inside the car may indicate an environment conducive to mold development.

Is Mold In Your Car Dangerous?

Mold in your vehicle can pose health risks and affect the car’s interior and functionality. Mold exposure can cause allergic reactions, respiratory issues, and other health problems. Additionally, mold can lead to unpleasant odors and compromise the structural integrity of certain materials within the vehicle.

Can Mold in a Car Make You Sick?

Yes, mold in a car can potentially make you sick. Mold produces spores and mycotoxins that can become airborne, leading to respiratory issues, allergic reactions, and other health problems when inhaled. Individuals with asthma, allergies, or compromised immune systems may be more susceptible to the health effects of mold exposure. It is important to address mold in a timely manner and take preventive measures to ensure a healthy environment inside the vehicle. Regular cleaning, proper ventilation, and addressing any water leaks promptly can help minimize the risk of mold-related health issues in your car.

How to Get Mold Out of Your Car

To remove mold from your car, you will need the following tools:

  1. Vacuum Cleaner with HEPA Filter: To remove loose mold spores and debris.
  2. Cleaning Solution: A mold-specific cleaner or a mixture of water and white vinegar can be effective.
  3. Soft Bristle Brush: To scrub away mold from surfaces without damaging them.
  4. Microfiber Cloths: For wiping down surfaces after cleaning.
  5. Protective Gear: Gloves and a mask to protect yourself from mold exposure.
  6. Dehumidifier: To reduce moisture levels inside the car and prevent future mold growth.

Here’s a step-by-step process to remove mold from your car:

  1. Ventilate: Open the windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate through the car.
  2. Vacuum: Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove loose mold spores and debris from carpets, seats, and other surfaces.
  3. Brushing: Gently scrub the affected areas with a soft bristle brush to loosen and remove the mold. Be cautious not to damage the surfaces.
  4. Cleaning Solution: Mix water and white vinegar (or use a mold-specific cleaner) and apply it to the affected areas. Allow it to sit for some time to break down the mold.
  5. Wipe Down: Use microfiber cloths to wipe away the mold and cleaning solution from surfaces.
  6. Repeat if Necessary: Stubborn mold may require repeated cleaning. Ensure that the affected areas are completely dry before moving on.
  7. Dehumidify: Place a dehumidifier inside the car to reduce humidity and prevent future mold growth.
  8. Regular Maintenance: Keep your car clean and dry, addressing spills and leaks promptly. Regularly clean and replace air filters in the HVAC system to prevent mold buildup.

By following these steps and incorporating regular maintenance practices, you can effectively remove and prevent mold growth in your vehicle.

Can Mold be Completely Removed From a Car?

Yes, it is possible to remove mold from a car, but complete removal depends on various factors such as the extent of the mold infestation, the type of surfaces affected, and how well the cleaning process is executed. Mold spores can be resilient, and if the conditions for growth persist, there’s a risk of recurrence. It’s crucial to address the root cause of the mold, such as leaks or excessive moisture, to prevent future growth.

What Kills Mold Instantly in a Car?

There isn’t a single product that can instantly kill mold in a car, but there are effective solutions. A mixture of white vinegar and water or commercial mold and mildew cleaners can be applied to affected areas. Vinegar has antifungal properties and can help break down and kill mold. However, thorough cleaning and scrubbing with the appropriate solutions are essential for effective mold removal. It’s important to follow the instructions on the cleaning products and allow sufficient contact time for them to work.

Jed Lehman

Jed Lehman is a born gearhead who has been working on cars since he could crawl. He inherited his love for auto from his grandfather who owned a maintenance shop in Carlsbad, California. Jed is the driver behind Gearshift, and started this site to provide straightforward, helpful automobile information. From maintenance tips to product reviews, you can find it all here.