How to Remove Mold from Car Carpeting

car

Arnold asked: How do I remove mold from carpeting? Water got into the carpet in our car. It wasn’t obvious because it was under the removable rubber mats and was there until we noticed a fungus-like smell. The mold isn’t visible. There’s no obvious green, brown or black gunk. I vacuumed the water out with a wet dry vacuum and let the car air dry. The carpeting has felt totally dry for several weeks, but the smell is still there.

If you have a mold or mildew smell in your car, odds are pretty good that you still have a moisture problem. Mold will not linger without a moisture source, so the ideal solution is to get to the bottom of your issue. Until the underlying cause has been eliminated, it will not go away. The following fix is temporary,  however, it should be quite effective.

Removing Lingering Odors

You Will Need:

Steps to Remove the Smell:

  1. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda over the entire carpeted area of the car. If you suspect the smell is coming from the seats, treat those as well.
  2. Allow the baking soda to sit for several hours.
  3. Vacuum the baking soda up.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 as necessary. It may take a few applications, depending on how bad the odor is.
  5. Once you’ve improved the smell, leave an Innofresh Odor Eliminator in the car. These activated carbon filters actually remove, rather than cover, odors.

Removing the Mold

You Will Need:

  • Carpet shampoo
  • Carpet steam cleaner
  • Water
  • Household bleach (optional)

Steps to Remove the Mold:

  1. Fill the carpet cleaner with hot water.
  2. Add the appropriate amount of carpet shampoo. Each vacuum is different. Some will use a separate compartment for the soap, and others add it directly to the water.
  3. Use the upholstery attachment if necessary for small spaces.
  4. Clean all of the areas that were affected by the mold.
  5. For additional cleaning power, add a small amount of household bleach. However, be aware that this may discolor the carpeting.
  6. Once clean, rinse the entire area with clean water and vacuum away the moisture.
  7. Keep the car open and allow it to air dry completely.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Avoid using liquid odor or mold eliminators or homemade solutions with liquids. Because it will be difficult to dry the carpet completely, you will likely extend or multiply your problem.
  • It’s best to wash the interior of your car on a hot, sunny day. Keep all the doors/windows open to allow maximum air flow and shorten drying times.

Comments

  1. Alisha says:

    My daughter spilled her cup in my back seat (never told me about it). One day, I started feeling sick, but when I got out of the car I felt better, so I started hunting and found the mold under the back seat. I used Hydrogen Peroxide in a spray bottle all over the carpets first. It may discolor, but it kills 100% of the mold. It’s an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral solution. Bleach only kills 80% of Mold. Let the Hydrogen Peroxide sit for a few hours, then shampoo and dry as normal.

  2. Ernest says:

    I used a mixture of 8 parts water to 1 part bleach and it worked great. And it did not discolor my carpet!

  3. Art says:

    A local car wash place ruined my car carpeting by failing to properly dry the car after they shampooed the carpet. Now I have this persistent mold and mildew problem. Can’t tell the difference because I cannot see the problem, but I can definitely smell it. Thanks for the tips. I will try to clean the odor with the comments suggested.

  4. Koda says:

    Yes, really helpful commenting and really new tips that are a helping hand with the green mold in the back of my car.

  5. Tracy says:

    I am battling this problem and found it very helpful to pry the door thresholds off in order to get under the carpet to allow complete drying of the carpet and used peroxide to kill the mold.

  6. Kelly says:

    I live in a extremely wet climate in the pacific northwest. I work for a non-profit organization and unfortunately got stuck on a day that it was ‘rain, sleet and snow’ to pick up three loads of furniture. Needless to say, since then (a year ago), I have been battling the wet carpet in my suburban. Over the summer, even though it was hot, the humidity levels were unreal so some drying happened, but it is still moist and causing more mold. More odor. I have tried taking it to the only auto detailer in town, tried the bleach thing, as well as the baking soda. Haven’t tried the hydrogen peroxide yet, although it has peaked my interest. Thing is, I don’t want to try it only to battle the weather to try to get the carpet cleaned. Any suggestions on how I could dry the carpet, aside hitting a catch 22 and vacuuming only to just keep adding more water from the heavens above into the car? I should probably inform you it rains night and day 295 days of the year here. Unfortunately, the summer isn’t dry enough, as I have discovered, and the rainy season has already commenced. I seriously just don’t want to deal with yet another year of this… I desperately need some help.

  7. Melanie says:

    Kelly,
    You can try using a dehumidifier, either store-bought one or a homemade one (which is basically just charcoal, rice or baking soda in a modified plastic carton). Keep the dehumidifier in your van and replace it regularly, or just put it in the van each night. Pointing a fan on the area overnight when it is the most wet could also help to dry out whatever moisture is left after vacuuming it. Also, when you are hauling the furniture, you could duct tape a tarp over the open area to prevent large amounts of water from entering the van.

  8. Irv says:

    Accidentally spilled milk on an auto carpet and since have what smells like a chemical odor. What is the solution?
    Thanks.

  9. Melanie says:

    Irv,
    This article can help you to clean the area: How to Clean Milk and Cereal from Carpet.
    If any smell remains after that, this article can help you to remove the smell: How to Remove Sour Milk Odors from Carpet.

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