The trunk of a car is a useful storage area within your vehicle, it can, however, also be an area highly susceptible to mold growth.
Once mold has begun to grow in the trunk of your car, it can easily spread to other locations and soon your entire vehicle can be filled with smelly and potentially dangerous mold spores.
So, why did your trunk become moldy in the first place, how can you clean it and how can you stop it from happening again? In this article, we answer all these questions and more, so keep reading.
To kill mold in the trunk of your car, spray undiluted white (distilled) vinegar onto the affected area and leave for ten minutes, the acidity of the vinegar will kill the mold and its spores. Then use warm water and detergent to remove any mold residue and remove the smell of vinegar.
Why is the trunk of your car moldy?
The most common reason that a car trunk has begun to grow mold and mildew, is a buildup of both moisture and nutrients within it.
This is usually facilitated by items like umbrellas, after being used in the rain, being stored in it, or a pair of boots that were covered in snow being quickly put in there, thawing and melting all over the carpet.
The source of nutrients can come from small crumbs of food or other organic matter, such as leaves or dirt from muddy shoes or from clearing compostable waste from the garden.
Finally, mold also tends to prefer temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit to really get going, and if your car is stored away in the garage of your home, the temperature might just creep into that temperature range for long enough. Sure enough, in only a few days, if the circumstances are just right, you could easily find the trunk of your car overrun with mold.
What types of mold grow in the trunk of a car?
The most common strains of mold you can find growing in the trunk of your car are likely to be either the Penicillium, Aspergillus, or Cladosporium varieties.
These three molds can often be powdery, velvety, or slimy in appearance and can come in color variations of white, black, grey, blue, orange, or red.
Whilst you may think that certain types of mold would be easy to spot (such as black mold), it is incredibly difficult to know the precise strain you are dealing with by sight alone. In order to determine the strain you are dealing with accurately (and whether it is dangerous), testing must be conducted.
Is the mold that grows in a car trunk dangerous?
There are many hundreds of thousands of strains of mold, and many of them are completely harmless to humans. However, some molds can become quite toxic and be a concern for both humans and animals.
Molds have a defense mechanism where they produce a metabolite called mycotoxins. These toxins can be inhaled via the release of the mold’s spores, or ingested by accidentally eating items with mold on them.
Mycotoxin exposure in the short term and in low quantities will rarely cause any great concern for most healthy people, but for people with severe allergic asthma or compromised immune systems, they can cause considerable health concerns.
Some of the common symptoms of mycotoxin exposure include:
- Runny nose
- Skin irritation
- Watery eyes
These are just a few of the most commonly reported symptoms. In the most extreme cases, exposure to mold and its toxins has been shown to cause liver damage, cancer, and even death.
It is for these reasons that if you are planning on tackling the mold in your trunk yourself, you should make sure you are wearing protective equipment, such as a face mask, goggles, and rubber gloves.
How to get mold out of a car trunk
In order to safely and effectively remove mold from the trunk of your car, use the following steps.
Step 1. Clean out the trunk
In order to be certain that mold will not return once you clear it from the trunk of your car, you will need to make sure the entire trunk is cleaned.
To do this effectively, you will need to remove any items that were in there to give you full access to all areas of the trunk. Make sure you are wearing your safety equipment before starting this process, as the moment of objects could stir up mold spores.
Check each item you remove for mold growth, as cleaning the trunk and then returning an item that has mold growing on them will ensure the problem arises quickly again.
Step 2. Vacuum
Using a vacuum, thoroughly clean the interior of the trunk, making sure there is no debris left. If the mold location is easy to spot, you can gently move the vacuum toward it and remove it as much as possible.
The reason you should approach the mold gently is if it is disturbed, it can release more spores through the rest of the car, causing further problems.
Step 3. Spray the area with vinegar
Take a spray bottle and fill it with undiluted white (distilled) vinegar. Spray the affected area liberally and leave it to work for at least ten minutes. The acidity levels of vinegar are high enough to kill mold and its spores, the smell will fade in a few days.
If you would rather not have the smell of vinegar in your car, you can make a solution of one tablespoon of baking soda to two cups of water. Spray the solution on the area and leave it to dry, any powder residue can be vacuumed away once completely dry.
You can pick up distilled vinegar from larger grocery stores, but to make life a little easier, I’ve placed a few links to the Amazon store below. Vinegar is an excellent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, it’s environmentally friendly, affordable, and can be used to clean bathrooms and kitchens too.
Step 4. Scrub the area to remove all mold
Whichever solution you decided to use, once applied you will need to gently stub the area with an abrasive sponge or soft-bristled brush.
The reason to do this is that mold has roots, and can become deeply embedded within the fabric it has attached itself to. Using a brush or sponge will allow you to get right under the mold and remove it completely, preventing any regrowth.
Step 5. Drying and deodorizing
As we stated at the beginning of this article, moisture is one of the biggest causes of mold growth in a vehicle, so once you have cleaned the trunk of your car, you need to make sure it is as dry as possible.
If you live in a warm climate, this can be as simple as parking it in the sunlight for a few hours. If however, this is not possible, you can use a dry cloth to dab at the area you cleaned in order to absorb any excess moisture. You also have the option of running the heater in the car with the ac on to evaporate and remove moisture.
How to prevent mold from growing in your car trunk
Keeping the trunk of your car as clean and dry as possible is two of the easiest ways you can prevent mold growth from occurring.
Perform a deep clean of the trunk every few months to remove any debris that could be used as a source of nutrients for mold, and if I had become wet for any reason, make sure it is dried quickly.
To further reduce moisture levels, you can use activated charcoal or a few open boxes of baking soda left in the trunk of your car, either will absorb moisture and keep the humidity levels below 55%, (mold’s moisture requirement).
A final and very simple step is to try to park your car in direct sunlight. If you can park your car in a position where it received direct sunlight for even just a few hours a day, mold will find it very hard to survive. The sun’s UV rays will kill any mold spores they come into contact with, and the heat generated by the rays will also help to keep your car dry.
The trunk of a car is an easy place for mold to grow due to the types of items that are often stored in it. Keeping your trunk as dry and clean as possible is an excellent method of prevention.