Unfortunately, your car can provide the perfect environment for mold to grow and reproduce. No area of the car is safe, and the carpet is certainly no exception to the rule.
If you have noticed spots of green, white, or blueish mold appearing on your car carpet or interior, and want to get rid of it ASAP, we have all the answers for you in today’s article.
We will be covering the signs and symptoms (so you know if you’re really dealing with mold), why it’s happened, how to clean it, and how to stop it from happening again, so keep reading if you want to rid your car carpet of this unsightly and potentially dangerous fungus.
Signs and symptoms of mold in a car carpet
Before you see mold in your car carpet, you are more likely to smell it. As soon as you open the door you will likely be hit with a smell that resembles a basement, cave or some people say spoiled milk.
If somehow you have missed out on the smell, you will certainly notice circular patches that differ in color from your carpet. Mold can come in many colors, but it is most commonly seen as a blueish, green, white, or black color.
Mold also comes in a variety of textures, including, fluffy, powdery, cottony, and even velvety, so if you see some white powdery patches on your car carpet, you can be certain you’re dealing with a mold infestation.
Why has your car carpet become moldy?
It’s fairly common to find mold growing in your car, because, as I said in the intro, a car provides the perfect circumstances for it to flourish.
Mold needs a few things to survive, they are:
- Food sources
- A lack of sunlight
- A lack of airflow
As you can see, your car will provide all of these. Moisture can be trapped in cars from wet clothing, or from rain finding its way through gaps or broken seals. It gains its food from either skin cells or from crumbs of what’s been eaten in the car. A lack of sunlight due to being parked in a garage (potentially) and a lack of airflow from the windows being shut (especially if the car is in storage for a considerable time).
Your car carpet is one of the prime locations for all these things, they are usually out of direct sunlight, they absorb moisture from people’s shoes (spilled drinks, etc), and it’s where any dropped food will land or skin cells settle. Finally, they will rarely receive any direct airflow, allowing the mold spores to settle.
How to remove mold from a car carpet
Now that we’ve gone through the reasons that you may be suffering from a mold infestation in the carpet of your car, let’s get down to various means at your disposal for removing it.
A quick safety note
Some molds can be toxic, and several of the strains that produce cytotoxins (such as black mold), can find their way into your car. Therefore, before you start trying to remove it, you should make sure you have protective equipment, such as a breathing mask, rubber gloves, and eye protection. If you are unsure if you can safely remove mold on your own, you may feel more comfortable hiring an expert.
Steam cleaner method
Using a steam cleaner is a good method of easily removing mold from a difficult area such as a car carpet. The steam reaches well over 100 degrees, which is a high enough temperature to kill spores and remove them from the fabric.
They are also a great way of dealing with mold without the use of any harsh chemicals if this is of concern.
Before you use your steam cleaner, it is best to use a HEPA-filtered vacuum to remove the majority of visible mold, as this will prevent the spores from being spread once you get to work with the steam cleaner.
Allow the cleaner to come up to temperature and move it slowly over the affected area. After only a short period of time, most of the mold residue should begin to come away from the carpet and can be wiped away with a cloth.
One important point to note with steam cleaners is that they produce a lot of moisture, which mold loves. To prevent using a steam cleaner from doing more harm than good, make sure you open all the doors, and if possible, give the car several hours in natural sunlight in order to make sure the carpet is completely dry before closing the doors.
White vinegar method
Vinegar’s high acidity levels make it an excellent way of both removing and killing mold and its spores, it’s also a natural method that doesn’t produce hazardous fumes.
Here is the method:
- Using a spray bottle, make a solution using one part water to one part white distilled vinegar.
- Spray the affected area liberally.
- Leave the vinegar solution to work for 20-30 minutes, (an hour may be necessary for well-established mold).
- Use paper towels or a dry cloth to mop up any vinegar residue, and remove any visible mold at the same time.
- Open the doors and allow the carpet to fully dry (preferably in the sun) before closing the doors again.
The vinegar method is highly effective, however, it can leave an odor in your vehicle. This odor should dissipate within 1-2 hours if you allow adequate airflow through the vehicle after cleaning.
Baking soda method
Using baking soda to kill mold in your car carpet is very simple, but it does require a little more time to work.
Take your baking powder and sprinkle it generously over the affected area, leave the powder on the area overnight to do its work. The baking powder creates an alkaline environment that mold cannot survive in.
Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum to pick up the powder and mold combination, once the powder and visible mold has been removed, clean the area using a mild detergent in warm water and an abrasive sponge.
Let the cleaned carpet fully dry before closing the doors of the vehicle.
Vinegar AND baking powder method
Vinegar and baking powder are both highly effective methods of killing mold in carpets, but it’s even more effective to combine the two products together.
Mix two parts baking soda with one part white distilled vinegar and one part water. This will create a fairly thick paste.
Apply the paste to the affected area of the carpet and allow it to sit until it has completely dried.
Using an abrasive sponge, remove all mold residue, along with the dried paste mixture. Allow your carpet to fully dry before closing the doors.
Oil of clove method
Oil of clove is highly effective at killing the spores that mold produces, reducing the chances of it spreading.
The oil is very powerful, in both effectiveness and odor, so you only need to use a small amount. Do not be tempted to use more, as it can stain some carpets.
To use oil of clove to clean and kill mold, use the following steps:
- Mix a quarter teaspoon of oil of clove with a liter of water.
- Use a spray bottle to apply the solution to the affected area and leave it to work for between 12-24 hours.
- Clean the affected area using a mild detergent and cloth the following day.
- Ensure the car is allowed to fully dry for several hours. This will not only dry the carpet but will also help to remove the odor of the oil used.
Non-iodized salt method
Non-iodized salt will kill mold and its spores by dehydrating them. As you will remember, mold needs moisture to thrive (as do most living things). If we dehydrate the mold, it dies, it’s as simple as that.
Here’s the method to use non-iodized salt to kill mold in your car carpet.
- Make a saltwater solution by mixing two parts of non-iodized salt with eight parts of water.
- Apply the solution using a spray bottle to the affected area and allow it to fully dry. You may start to see small salt crystals form once it’s fully dried.
- Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner to remove the dried mold and salt crystals.
Mold remediation product method
The methods suggested above are all-natural methods of removing mold. However, there are specific products available on the market that do an excellent job of killing mold and its spores within a car carpet.
The method of use will be on the back of the product packaging, but it’s important to state that it’s always best to clean your car carpet using these kinds of products in a very well-ventilated area and using the safety equipment suggested, as they can contain powerful chemicals that could be hazardous to your health if inhaled or spilled directly onto the skin.
How to prevent mold from growing on a car carpet
Luckily mold prevention isn’t too complex when it comes to cars, and there are several things you can do to stop it from forming on the carpets or interior in the future.
Here are some of the most effective methods:
Keep the interior of your car dry
Clean up any spills as quickly as possible, investigate any leaks or cracks in door seals, and leave a box of opened baking powder to absorb any moisture that does find its way into the car.
Use the sun to kill and prevent mold
Mold hates sunlight as the ultraviolet rays it produces kills it. Therefore, making sure that your car sees plenty of natural sunlight is a great way of preventing mold from thriving.
If your car is in storage or sits in your garage for long periods, try to allow it some natural sunlight at least once every few weeks. This will help to reduce the likelihood of mold formation.
Clean your car frequently
The exteriors of our cars get visibly dirty more quickly than the interiors, unfortunately, this usually results in the internal areas of the car being forgotten and cleaned less frequently.
The use of the car means a steady food supply for mold. They feed off organic matter, and in a car, this can mean dead skin cells or dropped food that has not been cleaned properly.
It’s important therefore to clean your car internally as well as externally to take away one of mold’s valuable resources.
Is mold in a car carpet dangerous?
Yes, mold and mildew can be dangerous to your health if the spores are inhaled. For some, this may mean breathlessness, nausea, and headaches, whereas, for others, it could mean asthma attacks and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.
For these reasons, it is always best to remove mold from your car as soon as you find it.
How to remove mold smells from car carpet
One of the most telling signals that you are dealing with a mold infestation is a strong, musty odor, which we discussed earlier in the article.
Unfortunately, even once you have removed the mold and cleaned your car, the smell can linger for several days.
Here are a few ways that you can quickly get rid of the smell and go back to enjoying car rides again.
Use odor absorbers
I have already praised baking powders’ ability to absorb moisture and odors from a car, but there are also other options, including charcoal briquettes and even kitty litter.
Simply take a jar and fill it with whichever deodorizer you have decided to go with and leave it without a lid in your car. Within a few days, you should start to notice the smell has all but disappeared.
Air it out
The car needs to be aired out for several hours whilst it is drying after cleaning, but if it is stored in a safe location (such as a garage), consider leaving the windows and doors open for a few more hours to allow airflow through the vehicle.
The fresh air will speed up the rate at which the smell will dissipate, however, you must make sure that you only do this in dry circumstances, as if new moisture finds its way into your car, you will be back to square one again.
Use deodorizing products
There are plenty of deodorizing products available on the internet and in most local stores. These are generally used in the home for upholstery etc, if you are certain the mold has been completely removed, you can also use them in your car to remove the musty smell of mold.
This comes with the caveat that you must once again ensure the car is completely dry before closing the doors after using these products, as they introduce moisture into the car, which encourages mold growth.
Use the AC
Whilst you are using your vehicle, switching on your AC can speed up the rate at which you rid your car of smells, as it introduces fresh (dry) air into the vehicle. When the internal pressure within the car increases, it forces out the old stale, and odorous air through small cracks in doors and any other gaps it can find to escape.
The carpeted areas of your car are some of the most prone to mold growth. Prevention is the greatest cure, but if you need to remove mold that you have found, it’s best to do so as quickly as possible using the tips above to avoid irreparable damage to the interior of your car.