woman covering nose in carMany people worry about mold in their homes, especially damp areas like the basement and bathroom. While your car might not be at the forefront of your mind, black mold can develop here from an abundance of moisture.

Mold influences the air quality in your car, potentially contributing to fatigue, lack of focus, an allergic reaction or abdominal and respiratory issues. Its presence can also indicate a problem causing moisture to accumulate inside your vehicle and often signals that your car may additionally be developing rust.

How Does Mold Grow Inside a Car?

Mold needs moist, damp and warm conditions to form. Specifically in your car, this environment can be created by routinely leaving your windows open, especially in the rain, or allowing liquid to accumulate on the floor.

In all cases, moisture enters but your car doesn’t have a chance to thoroughly dry out. Mold starts to grow after a few days of constant moisture, damaging fabric and upholstery. Conditions may worsen and cause the mold to spread if you use the air conditioning or heat while driving.

Common sources of mold in your car include:

  • A crack forming on the underside
  • Poorly sealed around windows or the sunroof
  • Spilled food and drink that haven’t been cleaned up
  • Flooding
  • Transporting damp wood inside the car, rather than a truck bed
  • DIY interior detailing but failing to dry off the upholstery
  • Poor cabin ventilation

Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Compromised air quality poses a health hazard to those living with asthma, allergies, a respiratory condition or a compromised immune system.

Signs of a Mold Problem In Your Car

Mold problems are not always obvious, especially if you don’t check under the seats or mats. Warning signs include:

  • The appearance of white, fluffy spores
  • Black spots on fabrics and solid surfaces
  • A strong, musty smell
  • Circular patches of green and brown growths

Tips for Cleaning Mold from Your Car

With the right tools, you may be able to remove a small patch of mold from your car’s interior. A larger, more pervasive problem requires professional interior detailing and could involve replacing materials, especially if the mold has advanced to the foam below the upholstery.

Bleach only goes after the surface, rather than the source of the problem. Never use ammonia on mold. To attempt to remove any spores:

  • Make sure you can work on the car in a dry area with significant sunlight.
  • Air out the car for 20 to 30 minutes before working on it.
  • Wear appropriate PPE, including a dust mask and gloves, to limit contact with mold spores.
  • Check all interior surfaces, including underneath mats, rugs, covers, seatbelts and seat covers
  • Carefully scrape off any patches with a stiff-bristled brush, before washing the area with a pH-neutral carpet shampoo, enzyme-based mold-cleaning solution or white vinegar and a rag. Let the solution sink in before cleaning up the mold.
  • Leave your car to fully dry with the doors open or use a fan. To remove as much moisture as possible, you may also want to use a dehumidifier.
  • Go over the interior with a vacuum cleaner or shop vac with a separate, dedicated bag to remove any spores or residue.
  • Any cleaning supplies and PPE should be disposed after use.

Long term, you may want to invest in seat covers to create a barrier for any liquids, use rubber floor mats to catch moisture and debris, keep the windows closed while the car is parked, and routinely change the air filter.
Are you concerned about mold in your car? Contact DaSilva’s Auto Body for thorough interior detailing, rust removal and rustproofing. Book an appointment today.