Easy Car Mold Removal: 8 Steps to a Fresher Ride

We've got simple steps for cleaning mold out of your car, plus tips for when you should DIY the job and when to call a pro.

Published March 18, 2024
A man cleaning car interior

Mold in a car's interior is not a problem anyone wants, but in many cases, it's solvable. Knowing how to clean mold out of a car can help you make sure your vehicle is a healthy place to be. We have tips and tricks for getting rid of it yourself, plus the signs that you might need to call in a pro.

When to DIY Car Mold Removal (And When to Call a Pro)

Mold can be toxic, so it's not always something you should tackle on your own. If your car is really moldy or if the mold seems to be irritating your allergies or causing a reaction, it's definitely a job for pros. These are the signs you can roll up your sleeves and DIY your way to a mold-free car.

  • 10 Square feet or less - The Environmental Protection Agency recommends calling in a pro if you're dealing with more than 10 square feet of mold. That's still a pretty big area of a car, so in many cases, you should be good to go.
  • Not from a flood - Mold loves humidity and moisture in general, but if your car was totally flooded, it's a job for a pro. If you're dealing with mold that's not from a flood or your car being completely inundated with water, you may be able to do it yourself.
  • Surface mold - If mold is limited to surfaces of your car (like the dashboard or steering wheel) and isn't deep in the upholstery, it's easier to get rid of on your own.
  • Not caused by contaminated water - If the water that caused your car to get moldy was contaminated with sewage or chemicals, don't tackle your car mold removal on your own. That's a pro job.

Related: How to Clean Mold From Leather in Simple Ways

How to Clean Mold Out of Your Car at Home

If you're ready to tackle this job on your own, you'll need an afternoon and some space with good airflow (like your driveway or a parking lot). Then, it's all about using a process that works to get rid of mold for good.

1. Wear Protective Equipment

You'll need to protect yourself while you're cleaning the mold, so it's a good idea to wear gloves, goggles, and an N95 mask or respirator that fits against your face. Tie your hair back if you can too and wear old clothes.

2. Gather Supplies You'll Need to Clean Up Mold

In addition to the protective equipment, you'll need a few cleaning supplies:

  • Wet/dry vacuum with a good filter
  • White vinegar
  • Hot water
  • Spray bottle
  • Gentle soap, such as dish detergent
  • Bucket
  • Baking soda
  • Scrub brush
  • Smaller brush for detail work (such as an old toothbrush)

Related: Homemade Mold & Mildew Cleaners That Work

3. Move the Car to a Well-Ventilated Spot

If your car is in the garage, pull it out into the driveway or a parking lot. Roll down all the windows and let fresh air blow into the vehicle.

4. Clean Out the Car

Start by cleaning out the car as you normally would. Wear protective equipment to avoid contact with mold spores. Remove all trash and anything else that's in the car. Take out the floor mats and put them in the sun.

5. Vacuum and Scrub the Mold

Using the vacuum, begin by sucking up as much loose dirt and mold as you can. Scrub off any visible mold with a dry brush as you're vacuuming (working with the vacuum nozzle right next to the brush). When you're done, you should only have the stuck-on mold and any stains to deal with.

6. Spray the Mold With White Vinegar

Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and begin misting the moldy areas. Saturate the surface and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Come back and use the scrub brush and vacuum to remove more mold. Repeat this process until you have worked through all the moldy surfaces. Use the toothbrush to get into tight spaces.

7. Clean Hard Surfaces With Detergent and Water

Using hot water and a few drops of detergent, clean the hard surfaces of the car, such as the steering wheel, dashboard, and center console. Use the vacuum to remove any excess moisture and allow the car to dry completely.

8. Remove Musty Odors With Baking Soda

If the car still smells a little musty after cleaning, sprinkle baking soda on the seats and floor. Make sure the surfaces are dry first, and allow the baking soda to sit there overnight. Vacuum it up before using the car.

Quick Tip

This is a good time to have the car's cabin air filter replaced since it may be harboring mold spores.

Enjoy a Cleaner, Safer Commute

Mold is nasty in general, but it's extra annoying in your vehicle. You've got this under control, though. Knowing how to remove mold from a car can help you enjoy a cleaner, safer environment for your commute and preserve the value of your investment.

Easy Car Mold Removal: 8 Steps to a Fresher Ride