Removing mold from a car can be a challenge because a car provides many hiding places for mold, and certain types of upholstery are porous enough to let mold grow deep inside. However, even if your car's interior is covered with mold, you're looking at a problem that is more tedious than difficult. With the right cleaning materials and attention to detail, you can clean the mold from your car without having to hire anyone.
1. Air Out Your Car
Mold thrives in damp environments, so when the weather is warm and dry, open up your car doors and trunk to let it air out. Not only will this let out many mold spores and the awful odor for you while you work, but it will help the inside dry quickly after you're done cleaning. After your car is aired out and ready to work on, put on a face mask to avoid breathing in mold spores.
2. Break Up The Mold
Before you focus too much on details, try to remove the bulk of the mold from your car. Use an old toothbrush to scrub away the growing mold and detach it from whatever surface it's growing on. This will make it easier to vacuum up later. While you're mostly removing the bulk of the mold here, make sure you look everywhere: under the mats, under the seats, in the trunk, and inside the car's vents. Cleaning won't do any good if you leave too much mold behind.
3. Kill The Spores
Once most of the mold growth has been detached and cleared away, you can focus on killing whatever spores might be left. This is when it starts to get a little tedious. Use white vinegar, salt water, or clove oil with a brush to scrub the surface of your seats, floor mats, dash, and ceiling. Some, like the vinegar, can have a strong smell, but this will fade as it dries. Don't wash it out just yet—let it sit for about 24 hours before proceeding to the next step.
4. Use a Steam Cleaner
A steam cleaner is often used on in-home carpets, but they can also be effective on car upholstery. If you don't have one, you can pick up one at many local grocery stores or hardware stores. Make sure you get one with an upholstery attachment. Using a mixture of warm water and soap that is safe for your car's interior, thoroughly scrub everywhere the mold touched, and everywhere nearby. This helps remove the spores the previous chemicals killed and also helps remove some of the odor.
If you still have an odor problem when this is complete, sprinkle baking soda over your car's interior and let it set for about two hours, then vacuum it up.
5. Change Your Cabin Filter
Mold spores won't grow unless they're in an environment suitable to do so. Unfortunately, the damp air conditioner often provides that environment. One thing you can do is replace your cabin air filter to remove any spores that might still be there. Next, turn on your car's vent without air conditioner or heat. This removes the moisture from the air conditioner. You can also do this when you're out driving—when you're about five minutes from your destination, turn off your air conditioner and just let the vent run so the moisture inside has time to dissipate.
6. Check Weather Stripping
If you aren't sure how the inside of your car got so damp, check your car's weatherstripping. If it's old and worn, it could be letting moisture in. If you see a problem, have it replaced as soon as you can.
For more information on mold removal, check with companies like Dove Services Inc.