A mold infestation is among the most annoying and disgusting things that can happen to your home or car. Yet, we often ignore it for a while because we view it as inconvenient but harmless.
Of course, this is wrong. Mold is not only disgusting, but it can often be very dangerous and hazardous to your health. Certain types of mold can cause fatigue, weakness, poor memory, headaches, shortness of breath, bloating, abdominal pain, and more. Black mold, in particular, otherwise known as the two Stachybotrys chartarum and chlorohalonata species of mold, is one that you need to look out for.
The other types of mold may be less hazardous to your physical health, but they too require immediate action – if left unchecked they can spread in a matter of days and completely destroy the seats, carpet and interior of your car. In that way one might say that mold in the car is even more of a problem than mold at home, since the damage to a car’s interior can be harder to deal with than the damage to a painted wall or ceiling. Plus, since the car has a smaller air volume than a room, the mold’s effects to the air are more significant.
What Should You Do Once You Find Mold In Your Car?
The principles may be similar, but the smaller breathing space of the car, as well as the presence of soft surfaces for mold to spread make removing mold from your car much more of a challenge than removing it from your home.
Consider Calling Professional Help
A lot of people flinch when you mention professional mold cleaners. After all, it’s just mold, right? It’s not a house fire! Well, as we said, mold can be highly hazardous to your health, but even outside of that, it can utterly destroy your car’s interior. One might say that this is enough of a reason to call professionals. So, at the very least assess the damage and weigh up whether dealing it by yourself won’t be too much hard work.
- Provide dry conditions for your car. Move the car into the sun and open all doors and windows. Mold can’t grow in dry conditions, so this is always the first thing that you should do. Additionally, inhaling mold can be dangerous to your health, and with the small space inside the car, it’s quite possible. Properly venting your car’s interior for at least 20-30 minutes before starting to deal with the mold is a must. Keep the car well ventilated and dry during and after the whole cleaning process as well – once there’s been mold it can reappear very easily and very quickly if moisture is reintroduced into the environment.
- Get a dust mask before you start doing anything. This may feel like an overprotection to some people, but they simply haven’t inhaled dangerous mold before. Especially when dealing with mold in the small space of a car’s interior, always wear a dust mask or any piece of cloth that you can breathe through.
- Locate all the mold. This should be self-explanatory, but it actually needs to be highlighted. Mold can grow anywhere and a car’s interior offers a ton of different places for mold to grow. Literally any surface, particularly soft ones, are very susceptive to mold under the right conditions. And if you leave even one small spot of mold in an unnoticed place, it can grow back throughout the car in a matter of days. So, once you’ve vented the vehicle and equipped yourself with a dust mask – literally disassemble the interior of your car. Every surface of every item should be checked, including the inner surfaces of carpets, floor mats, seats and cushions where possible. “Know your enemy”, as a certain wise man would say.
- Scrape off the large mold patches with a mold brush or another effective tool. While doing so, be careful not to spread the mold spores on the surrounding surfaces – the situation doesn’t need to become worse than it already is.
How To Remove Mold From Your Car:
- Once you’ve taken care of the main clumps of mold, it’s time to clean up the loose mold. A bucket of clean, warm water with some PH-neutral shampoo should help you scrub off most of the remaining loose mold. Remember to keep the airflow going – the doors and windows should still be open and the sun should be shining – the atmosphere in the car should still be as dry as possible.
- Get a cleaner. This may be the step that almost everyone would have started with, but the previous ones were absolutely necessary. Plus, even just getting a cleaner isn’t as simple as it sounds. Most people don’t think about it, but there are a lot of different kinds of mold, usually recognizable by their color. Mold can range from white, through gray, brown and green, to black. And some of those different types of mold infestation require different types of cleaners and cleaning techniques. So, identifying the type of mold that troubles you is actually a step before buying the cleaner.
- As a general rule of thumb, don’t use bleach or ammonia. These substances serve for little more than just staining the surface and the mold, but won’t kill it properly most of the time. What’s even worse, some types of mold actually thrive in ammonia so you can make the infestation much worse.
Instead of bleach or ammonia, consider an enzyme-eater. There are mold-eating enzyme cleaners that eat away the mold at a microscopic level.
Also, as most people are probably shouting at their screens right now – distilled white vinegar works against certain types of mold as well. It’s natural, chemical-free and often effective. It’s quite smelly, but that’s usually an acceptable trade off. It’s not always effective, however, so properly identifying the mold is still the right first step.
- If you decide to use white vinegar, here’s how you should do it – mix eight parts vinegar with two parts water into a spraying bottle and shake it well. After that, apply the vinegar to the mold. Don’t just spray it – soak the mold into it. If the mold infestation has engulfed the entire car you might need a lot of vinegar, so be prepared for that.
- Once you’ve applied all the vinegar, let it sit for 20-30 minutes. This should be enough for it to do its job and to start drying off. After that you’ll want to clean the vinegar itself – if you have a wet-dry vacuum, this will help you out a lot. You can also sprinkle Borax on the moldy spots.
Once the vinegar has done its job, it’s time to deal with its smell. We warned you it would be smelly. If you’ve had to clean your entire car with vinegar, the smell might be even harder to deal with than the mold was. Which is why, a commercial cleaner is usually a better bet.
Clean And Wipe All Surfaces
- Once the mold infestation is eradicated, the next step is to remove all the moisture from the vehicle. Permanently. You should not just dry the car for now, you need to make sure that it stays dry in the future. Identify why the mold had formed in the first place – maybe the air in the garage is too moist, maybe someone drove on a rainy day with a cracked window, maybe someone spilled something in the car a while back? After you’ve dried off the car, make the needed changes to ensure that it will stay dry.
- If you have a portable dehumidifier, use it. It will make drying the car much faster and if used regularly in a damp garage, it can prevent mold from ever occurring again. If you don’t have a dehumidifier, use the elements – sunshine and fresh, windy air should do the trick, at least at first.
If the weather doesn’t allow for this and isn’t cooperating with your efforts, use fans and blowers – they may not be as effective and efficient as a dehumidifier but they can still help you enough.
- If even this isn’t helping and you don’t want to get a dehumidifier, kitty litter in a sock or rice in a sock can suck some of the moisture out too. Granted, if you’ve had to resort to that then you’ve had some real serious mold problems, but if you’ve gotten this far then you should be fine.
In Car Moisture Removal
And that’s more or less it. As you can see, removing mold from your car can be quite an adventure, so the professional help we suggested at the start may not seem that bad of an idea now, right? If you still feel up to the task, however, following these steps should be enough to guide you through the problem.