Have you ever noticed a musty or damp odor in your car that just wouldn’t go away? This unpleasant smell is likely caused by mildew growth, which can thrive in the moisture-rich environment of your vehicle. Not only does this odor make it difficult to drive comfortably and enjoyably, but it can also be harmful to your health if left untreated.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of mildew smell in car, we’ve got you covered. With our simple tips and tricks, you can finally say goodbye to those stubborn odors for good and enjoy a fresh and clean driving experience once again.
From using natural remedies like vinegar and baking soda to utilizing commercial products specifically designed for eliminating mildew smells, there are multiple solutions available depending on your preference and budget. We’ll walk you through each method step by step, outlining their effectiveness and providing helpful tips along the way.
“Freshening up your car and ensuring it smells nice and clean not only enhances comfort levels and motivation while driving, it also contributes to a better sense of well being.” -Driving Hub
Whether you’re dealing with a funky smell due to spilled drinks, wet clothing, or just general dampness, our guide will help you tackle the issue head-on and leave your car smelling as fresh as a daisy. Say goodbye to unwanted odors and hello to a more enjoyable driving experience!
Identify the Source of the Mildew Smell
A car is an enclosed space that can trap moisture and promote mildew growth. A musty odor in your car can be unpleasant and potentially harmful to your health. If you are wondering how to get rid of mildew smell in a car, first identify the source of the problem. Below are some possible sources of the mildew smell.
Check for Water Leaks
If your car smells like mildew, it may indicate that there is water leaking into your vehicle. Check the carpeting for damp spots or stains. You should also examine the floor mats for any signs of wetness. If you find water leaks, address them promptly to prevent future mold or mildew growth.
You can dry out any damp areas by running a dehumidifier inside the car with all of the windows closed. This will help remove moisture from the air and prevent further growth of mold and mildew. Once everything has dried, make sure to replace any damaged carpets or padding to prevent future problems.
Inspect the Air Conditioning System
Your car’s air conditioning system not only cools the interior but also helps regulate humidity levels. If you notice a musky smell when you turn on the AC, this could be a sign that there is mildew growing in the system’s vents. Regularly changing your car’s cabin filter can prevent debris and moisture from entering the system.
If the issue persists, schedule an appointment with your mechanic. They can check the evaporator coil for mold and mildew growth and recommend specific cleaning solutions to eliminate the smell.
Look for Wet or Damp Items
Mildew thrives in moist environments, so it’s important to remove wet or damp items from your car. Wet towels, gym bags, and even shoes can contribute to the musty smell in your vehicle. Make sure you remove any damp things as soon as possible and let them air dry outside of the car.
When it comes to wet clothes or sports gear, consider investing in a waterproof container for transport. This is especially important during rainy seasons when there are more opportunities for water exposure.
Examine the Carpet and Upholstery
The porous nature of carpets absorbs moisture quickly. If your car smells like mildew, check the carpeting for damp spots or stains. Use an odor eliminator made specifically for cars to get rid of the moldy scent.
You should vacuum the interior of your car regularly to prevent dust, dirt, and other particles from being deposited on the upholstery. You can also use a steam cleaner to get deep set stains or stubborn odors out of seats and carpets.
Taking steps to prevent future occurrences of mold or mildew growth involves keeping the interior of your car clean and removing wet items before they cause foul odors.
“Mildew grows where there is moisture and nutrition, such as bathroom walls and ceilings, while mold grows mainly on organic materials with high cellulose content, such as wood, cardboard, wallpaper, textiles, and food.” -National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Remove All Moisture from Your Car
If you’ve ever left your car windows open during a rainstorm or have spilled water inside, then you know how tricky it is to get rid of that musty mildew smell. That said, there are several steps you can take to eliminate the odor for good.
Open the Windows and Doors
The first step in removing moisture from your car is to let fresh air circulate within the vehicle. Open all windows and doors and allow the breeze to sweep away any dampness in the upholstery, carpets, and floor mats. Make sure to park your car in a spacious area where its doors and windows can remain open for a long time if possible.
Use a Dehumidifier
A dehumidifier pulls out excess moisture in the air which is important in keeping mold spores at bay. Purchase a portable dehumidifier designed explicitly for cars, plug it into the cigarette lighter port, set your preferences and let it run overnight. The next day, check to see if there’s still moisture present because you may need to run the machine the following night as well until the air is adequately dry.
Place Desiccants Inside the Car
You can use desiccants like silica gel packets to remove even more moisture from the air inside the car. Silica gel absorbs the humidity so purchase enough packets according to the car size and place them beneath the seats, glove compartment box, and trunk spaces. You can reuse these packs by drying them under sunlight whenever their color turns pink meaning they’re full of moisture again.
Use a Wet-Dry Vacuum
If mildew has entered your carpeting or upholstery, vacuum with a powerful wet-dry vacuum cleaner to get rid of dampness. Ironically, more water can help eliminate mildew smells when used correctly with a vacuum cleaner’s wet function mode. Soak up excess moisture from the carpets before cleaning using an absorbent cloth or towel. Once dry, deep clean your carpets and upholstery with odor-absorbing agents like baking soda until you’re satisfied.
“You have no idea how much air is saturated with dust, allergens, and odors until you start running a dehumidifier.” – Stefan Molyneux
The longer you wait after smelling mildew in your car following any incident that could cause humidity inside it, the harder it will be to remove the smell entirely. Damp space leads to mildew which if left unchecked can eventually affect upholstered fabrics and become a health hazard. Using these four methods for removing all moisture from your vehicle should do the job nicely.
Clean Your Car Thoroughly
Getting rid of mildew smell in your car requires thorough cleaning. By doing so, you can eliminate the source of the odor and keep it from coming back. Here are some steps to follow:
Remove All Trash and Debris
The first step in eliminating mildew smell is to remove all trash and debris that may have accumulated in your car. Look for any food wrappers, bottles or cans, discarded papers, cigarette butts, and other items that could contribute to the foul odor.
It’s also important to wipe down any surfaces that may have come into contact with these items. Use a damp cloth and a mild cleaning solution to clean the dashboard, door panels, seats, and floor mats thoroughly.
“Cleaning up trash and debris is crucial when getting rid of bad odors in your car.” -The Spruce
Wash the Carpets and Upholstery
Mildew often grows in carpeting and upholstery where moisture has been trapped for an extended period. To remedy this situation, use a steam cleaner or shampooer to deep-clean carpets, seats, and other fabrics in your vehicle. This will help break down any mold spores that may be present, leaving behind a fresh scent.
It’s essential to let everything dry completely before using your car again. You may need to leave doors open or use fans to speed up the process. Once everything is dry, run the air conditioner to circulate fresh air throughout the interior.
“A steam cleaner is excellent at removing tough stains and odors from car carpets and upholstery.” -Cars.com
In addition to these steps, consider replacing your cabin air filter if you haven’t done so recently. A dirty air filter can contribute to foul odors and reduce the effectiveness of your vehicle’s heating and cooling system.
Finally, take steps to prevent future mold growth. Keep your car clean and dry at all times by wiping up spills as soon as they occur. You can also use a dehumidifier or silica gel packets in your car to absorb excess moisture and prevent mildew from forming.
“Prevention is key when it comes to getting rid of mildew smell in your car.” -The Drive
By following these simple steps, you can eliminate mildew smell from your car and keep it smelling fresh for months to come. Remember that prevention is key, so make sure to follow good cleaning practices regularly to keep your car odor-free.
Use Natural Deodorizers to Eliminate the Smell
Mildew smells terrible, and it’s challenging to get rid of. What is worse? It’s even harder to eliminate that smell from your car. Luckily, some natural deodorizers can help eradicate the smell effectively.
Use Baking Soda
Baking soda is a great natural neutralizer that eliminates odor particles in the air. When you sprinkle baking soda on surfaces, it absorbs odors due to its alkaline nature, which makes it an excellent choice for getting rid of mildew smell in the car.
All you have to do is, take a small bowl or open box filled with baking soda and put in your car. Place it somewhere in the car where you can leave it undisturbed for at least 24 hours—the longer you keep, the better it works.
“Baking soda is amphoteric, meaning it reacts with both acids and bases to control pH levels.” -David Suzuki
Place Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has amazing absorbing properties due to its porous structure, making it an excellent choice to absorb musty smells. You can also try activated carbon bags available commercially that come in handy for this situation – they are convenient to use too!
To use this option, hang an activated charcoal bag over a hanger, seat, or any other place in the vehicle. Remember to check after regular periods once to twice every month and replaced when saturated to continue enjoying the product’s efficiency throughout their lifespan.
“Activated charcoal is created by heating charcoal using a gas that causes the charcoal to develop many internal spaces or “pores.” These pores help activated charcoal trap chemicals.” -NIH News in Health
Use White Vinegar
The acidic nature of white vinegar makes it the perfect candidate to fight bacteria growth. Not only does it kill off mold spores and mildew, but also prevents further bacterial accumulation.
Pour some undiluted distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle and mist the car’s interiors with it. Turn the air conditioner on high as you do so to ensure that the vinegar spreads through your entire vehicle. Let the solution sit for ten minutes before wiping down all surfaces carefully using a microfibre cloth; this option will eradicate any lingering mildew smells effectively.
“White vinegar kills seventy-eight percent of mold species.” -Organic Daily Post
Use Essential Oils
Essential oils such as Eucalyptus, Lemon, Peppermint or Tea Tree can get rid of mildew smell quite efficiently while having other health benefits – they purify the surroundings and help with respiration issues.
Add several drops of essential oil to a diffuser or potpourri and ensure it sits in your vehicle overnight with windows wound up. The oil vaporizes into the auto’s interior spaces, removing any odors present and leaving an enjoyable scent behind.
“Tea tree oil vapour reduces histamine-induced inflammation in human epithelial cells”. -Planta Medica: International Journal of Medicinal Plant Research
Natural methods are always the best when cleaning up mildew from our cars because they’re safe for use while still achieving great results! Utilize these tips above to safeguard your family’s safety by avoiding toxic chemical usage!
Try Professional Odor Elimination Services
If you can’t seem to get rid of the mildew smell in your car, don’t despair. There are professional odor elimination services available that utilize effective techniques for removing unpleasant odors from vehicles. Here are two popular methods:
One of the most effective tools for eradicating bad smells is steam cleaning. This method involves using a machine that produces high-pressure steam to clean various surfaces inside the vehicle, such as seats, carpets, and air ducts. Steam cleaning not only removes dirt and grime from these areas but also destroys bacteria and fungi that cause odors.
When it comes to getting rid of mildew smells, steam cleaning works particularly well because it penetrates deep into fabrics, where mold and mildew thrive. By applying high-temperature steam, even tough-to-reach areas can be sanitized and deodorized. Keep in mind, though, that this method may not work if the source of the odor is something other than mildew.
“Steam cleaning is an excellent way to get rid of unwanted odors in cars. The heat that the steam produces breaks down and dislodges smelly particles, and the pressure helps flush them away.” -The Family Handyman
Anothe r common technique used by professional odor elimination services is ozone treatment. This option uses a machine that generates ozone gas and pumps it into a sealed vehicle interior. Ozone is a natural oxidizer and powerful antimicrobial agent that reacts with odor-causing molecules and eliminates them entirely.
The advantage of ozone treatment is that it does not rely on fragrances or masking agents to cover up smells; rather, it neutralizes them completely. However, since ozone gas is hazardous to inhale, it’s essential to leave the car for a certain period while the treatment is taking effect. A typical ozone treatment can take several hours or even overnight.
“Ozone gas kills mold and mildew spores as well as bacteria and viruses, making it an ideal method for eliminating stubborn smells in cars.” -Autoweek
It’s important to note that both steam cleaning and ozone treatments should only be performed by trained professionals who have the proper equipment and experience. Attempting these methods yourself could result in damage to your car’s interior or personal injury.
If you’re dealing with a mildew smell inside your vehicle, don’t wait too long before seeking professional help. The longer you let odors linger, the harder they may be to eliminate. Contact a reputable odor elimination service today to get started on getting rid of unpleasant smells.
Prevent Mildew Smell from Returning
If you have recently dealt with mildew smell inside your car, then you understand how unpleasant and stubborn it can be. However, removing the smell is just half of the solution; to keep your car smelling fresh, you need to prevent its return by following these tips:
Keep Your Car Clean and Dry
Mildew thrives in dampness and moisture, so keeping your car clean and dry is crucial in preventing a recurrence. Be diligent about wiping down any wet surfaces as soon as possible. Use clean towels or rags to dry up any spills, leaks, rainwater, or even sweat left behind on seats, flooring, mats, and windows.
Vacuuming your carpets and upholstery regularly goes a long way towards beating mildew growth too. Check underneath floor mats for hidden moisture, where mold spores could generate undetected over time. If there has been water damage, get it taken care of immediately before it causes further damage and costs more money later on.
Use a Car Cover
If you know that your car will be parked outside overnight, using a high-quality car cover can help prevent excess moisture and humidity buildup, which would otherwise cause mildew to form and grow. A good quality breathable cover will not trap moisture and allow adequate airflow, which helps keep moisture from condensing and settling on your interior surfaces like leather, vinyl, fabric, etc.
“Using a car cover is one of the best things you can do if you park your car outside,” says Eric Lyman, Chief Industry Analyst at TrueCar.com. “It keeps everything out and allows ventilation,” he advises.
Replace the Air Filters Regularly
A dirty and clogged air filter will not only affect your car’s performance but can also contribute to musty, mildew-like smells in the cabin. The air filter is responsible for cleaning the air that enters your vehicle through the air conditioning or heating systems, trapping unwanted particles like dust, pollen, and contaminants.
Over time, these impurities accumulate in the filter, restricting airflow, reducing efficiency, and allowing moisture to develop inside AC units. Therefore, it is essential to replace the filter regularly, especially if you drive often in humid conditions or have an allergy-prone passenger as a regular rider. Most manufacturers recommend changing the filter every 6-12 months or according to your owner’s manual instructions.
“A dirty air filter won’t just kill your fuel economy, it could be putting your health at risk,” warns Jake Fisher, Director of Auto Testing at Consumer Reports.
Preventing mildew smell from returning to your car involves keeping surfaces dry, using breathable covers, and replacing air filters regularly. Always clean up any spills quickly and vacuum frequently, especially during humid weather. Taking preventative measures is well worth the effort because prevention is always better than trying to remove stubborn odors later on.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes mildew smell in cars?
Mildew smell in cars is usually caused by excess moisture that gets trapped inside the car. This can be due to a variety of factors such as leaving the windows open during rain, spills that were not properly cleaned, or leaks in the car’s ventilation system. Once moisture is trapped, mold and mildew can grow and release an unpleasant smell.
How to detect mildew smell in a car?
The easiest way to detect mildew smell in a car is to use your sense of smell. If you detect a musty, damp smell, it’s likely that mold and mildew are present. You can also check for visible signs of mold or mildew growth in the car, such as black spots on the upholstery or carpeting. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action to address the issue.
What are the health risks of inhaling mildew smell?
Inhaling mildew smell can have a variety of health risks, particularly for individuals with allergies or asthma. It can cause respiratory problems, headaches, and other symptoms. Prolonged exposure to mold and mildew can also lead to more serious health complications. If you suspect that your car has a mildew smell, it’s important to take steps to address the issue to protect your health and well-being.
How to prevent mildew smell in a car?
The best way to prevent mildew smell in a car is to keep it clean and dry. Make sure to clean up any spills or moisture promptly, and use a dehumidifier or moisture absorber to remove excess humidity from the air inside the car. It’s also important to regularly clean the car’s upholstery and carpeting to prevent mold and mildew growth.
What are some home remedies to get rid of mildew smell in a car?
There are a variety of home remedies that can help get rid of mildew smell in a car. These include using baking soda, white vinegar, or activated charcoal to absorb the odor. You can also try using essential oils or natural air fresheners to mask the smell. It’s important to thoroughly clean the car before using any of these remedies to ensure that the odor is completely eliminated.
When should you take your car to a professional to get rid of mildew smell?
If you have tried to eliminate the mildew smell in your car using home remedies and the smell persists, it may be time to take your car to a professional. A professional can use specialized equipment and cleaning products to thoroughly clean and sanitize the car’s interior, eliminating the source of the smell. It’s also important to seek professional help if you suspect that mold or mildew growth has spread beyond the car’s interior and into other areas of your home or workplace.