When you don’t use your car for some time, chances are mold is going to grow in it. Now, there are different kinds of molds, and some of them are more concerning than others. There are molds that are completely harmless to us humans, while there are others, like black mold, which should be avoided at all costs.
The problem is that it’s quite hard for the uninformed to identify what kind of mold is present. In a lot of cases, different types of mold grow in the same area, making it even harder to do so. Moreover, to many people, all mold is bad mold. Since even breathing in mold spores can be harmful to your health, let’s take a look at the best way to get rid of mold from your car’s interior.
Preparing Your Car
Before we go into the different options you have for mold removal, let’s begin by talking about how to prepare your car for it. If possible move your car to a place where it can be exposed to direct sunlight. Moving your car outside is also a good idea because it prevents the mold from contaminating the interior surfaces. Once your car is under direct sunlight, open all of its doors and windows. Do so for at least 15 minutes to get as many mold spores out as possible. This will also help deodorize the car.
It’s also important that you put on the appropriate personal protective equipment, even if you’re just dealing with “harmless” types of mold. When dealing with mold, you should be wearing gloves that cover your forearms, boots, safety goggles, coveralls, and most importantly, a particle mask. It would be better if you used ones that were disposable to have less chances of cross-contamination. Make sure that anyone who’s helping you is also wearing the proper safety gear.
Once you’re all suited up, check the full extent of the mold. Look at how far it’s spread and how much damage it’s done. Check the seats as well as underneath them, the carpeting, the dashboard, the steering wheel, and even the seatbelts. Look for any trash or old clothes, especially wet ones, as these could have served as the breeding ground for the mold.
Removing Larger Mold Clusters
You’ve now successfully prepared to remove the mold from your car. Start by taking an old toothbrush and using it to break up larger mold clusters. Use short and gentle strokes to avoid spreading the spores around even further. Once you’ve brushed most, if not all, of the car’s nooks and crannies, get a wet-dry vacuum and suck all of the loose mold spores out. Despite your best efforts at brushing and vacuuming; however, you’ll find that there are still some spores that don’t want to budge. Here’s how you get rid of them.
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Getting Rid of Mold with White Vinegar
If you’re more of a DIY type of guy, then we have three easy yet effective solutions for you. The first is using white vinegar, an acid, which can kill mold and stop it from growing back by burning it. Don’t worry about your car having a strong, vinegary smell after all this. It’s nothing a little fresh air and baking soda can’t handle. What’s also great is that this method works with all kinds of seats – from leather, to vinyl, and even cloth-type seats.
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For this, you’ll need distilled white vinegar, a spray bottle or some clean cloth, and some tap water. Mix eight parts vinegar with two parts water. Afterwards, put it in the spray bottle or keep it in a clean container where you can soak the cloth scraps in. You can use non-distilled white vinegar, but you may have to add in more of it. You could even use undiluted vinegar if you’re dealing with a more severe infestation.
If only a few spores were left after you vacuumed, you could make do with spot cleaning. Simply spray or dab the solution directly on the mold as well as on one or two feet of the surrounding area. For more extreme cases, spray the entire area from top to bottom. Once you’ve applied the vinegar solution, let it soak in for around 15 minutes. This would be enough time to kill all of those pesky spores.
Get your wet-dry vacuum from before and use it to suck up what’s left of the mold. If you only have a regular vacuum, wait for the car to dry before you start work. Use vacuums with disposable bags to get rid of the spores as quickly as possible. Once you’re done vacuuming, let the car air out for at least another 15 minutes, or more, if possible.
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Eliminating Mold with Salt
The next method is quite similar to the first one, but instead of using distilled white vinegar, you’ll be using non-iodized salt. Simply mix the salt into a bucket full of water. Then, brush or spray this mixture on to a moldy surface. Again, make sure that you’re not only covering the area where the visible mold and spores were, but also one or two feet of the adjacent space. Leave this to dry for a couple of minutes, with direct sunlight and air circulation if possible, so that salt crusts will form – brush or vacuum off these crusts. Repeat as necessary.
Killing Mold Using Oil of Cloves
The third do-it-yourself method may be harder to come by for some car owners, but it may also be the most effective. This method requires the use of oil of cloves, a powerful antiseptic that kills mold and inhibits the growth of its spores. You’ll only need a small amount of this stuff, so dilute it carefully. Using too much oil of cloves may irritate the skin of younger children and babies. To prepare your mold cleaning solution, you’ll need a quarter teaspoon of oil of cloves, one liter of tap water, a clean spray bottle and cloth, as well as an old toothbrush. Baking soda and white vinegar would be useful too if you have them.
You have a couple of options on how to use oil of cloves to remove mold from your car. The first requires you to make a paste out of some baking soda, white vinegar, and a few drops of oil of clove. Use an old toothbrush to apply the paste to every corner of your car’s interior, leave it to dry for a couple of minutes, then wipe it off. This is perfect for removing mold from harder surfaces and as a preventive measure.
The next method works best for softer surfaces such as seats and carpeting, but also works on hard surfaces. For this, you’ll need to mix four liters of hot water with half a cup of white vinegar and one tablespoon of baking soda. Put this mixture in a clean spray bottle. Cover the moldy parts of your car as well as the surrounding areas well. Leave the mixture to dry for at least 20 minutes, but the longer you do so, the better. Wipe the dead mold away with a clean cloth or use a wet-dry vacuum to suck it all up. Throw away your used pieces of cloth or vacuum bags when you’re done.
Neutralizing Foul Odors
The next steps are completely optional, but if you’re the type of person who’s bothered by the residual smell of cleaning solutions, then here’s what you should do. Your first option would be to use an air freshener spray to neutralize the bad smells. You could also sprinkle a bit of baking soda around problem areas to absorb the foul odors, then vacuum it up once it’s done its job. These smells usually go away on their own given a bit of time.
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Preventing Mold from Growing Back
Once you’ve cleared out all the mold in your car, it’s time to start thinking about how to stop it from happening again. If there are any leaks on your car, seal them. Remember, moisture is mold’s best friend, so if there’s any way for snow or rainwater to come into your car then spores are bound to appear. Check the windshield and the windows thoroughly. If you find any leaks, bring your car to a certified auto shop to have them patched up as soon as possible. Also, if you spill something in your car, wipe it up immediately.
It’s also a good idea to put in some extra time and effort into washing the seat covers and carpeting. Just make sure that they are completely dried out before you return them. Since mold thrives in moisture-filled environments, it would be a good idea to invest in a dehumidifier to lessen the chances of mold growing again. You could also keep a sock filled with a bit of litter sand in your car to achieve the same effect, but not to the same degree.
Now you know how to get rid of mold from your car’s interior. You no longer have to worry about your car being ruined or yourself getting sick if you see a couple of spores floating around – you’ll know how to deal with them.
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