How To Get Mildew Smell Out of Car in 2023

Are you tired of dealing with unpleasant odors in your car, such as mustiness and moldiness, after the beloved “new car smell” has faded away? If so, you’re not alone. Many car owners face this challenge as their vehicles age. 

That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you eliminate the stubborn mildew smell from your car and restore a fresh-smelling interior. 

By identifying and addressing the six common causes of car odors, you can effectively tackle the root of the problem and enjoy a pleasant driving experience once again. 

Whether it’s utilizing techniques like drying out your vehicle, using a steam cleaner, or employing the power of Odor-X Spray or baking soda, our article provides valuable insights and practical solutions to banish mildew odors. 

We’ll also discuss how leaving your car window cracked during a rainstorm or tracking water onto the floor mats can contribute to mildew growth and lingering smells. 

Additionally, we explore the simpler cases where drying out the car over time is sufficient to eliminate the mildew smell caused by water exposure. 

Don’t let unpleasant odors ruin your driving pleasure; let our article be your guide to a revitalized and enjoyable car interior.

Do Not Forget to Read About: Best and Latest Air Purifiers

How To Get Mildew Smell Out of Car? Effective Tips and Techniques

Now, we will explore various methods and products to help you effectively combat mildew odors in your car.

Thoroughly Detailing the Cabin:

To tackle mildew smell effectively, it is essential to embark on a comprehensive detailing process. This involves cleaning and refreshing the entire cabin, targeting potential sources of the odor.

Identify and Remove Odor-Causing Debris:

Mildew smells can originate from hidden areas, including cracks, crevices, and the ventilation system. Utilize specialized tools that can reach into these tight spaces to remove any debris or decaying food that may be contributing to the odor.

Harness the Power of Baking Soda:

Baking soda is a versatile and effective deodorizer. Sprinkle it generously on surfaces with strange odors and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes. This natural ingredient not only absorbs odors but can also help remove stubborn stains and soap scum.

Steam Cleaning: A Highly Efficient Solution:

Steam cleaning is an excellent method for deep cleaning and freshening the air in your car’s interior. Utilize commercial-quality steam cleaners like Fortador’s models, which not only sanitize and protect your car’s surfaces but also come with additional tools to access hard-to-reach areas where bad odors may linger.

Enhance Cleaning with Natural Spray Products:

For particularly stubborn smells, combining steam cleaning with natural spray products can provide enhanced results. Opt for mild commercial detergents made of natural substances, as they effectively eliminate odors while maintaining eco-friendly standards.

Pay Attention to the Headliner:

When dealing with persistent smells like cigarette or marijuana odors, it is crucial to carefully clean the headliner. These materials tend to absorb and retain smells, requiring thorough treatment to remove them effectively.

Odor Neutralization with Diluted White Vinegar:

Diluted white vinegar can be a powerful odor neutralizer. However, exercise caution to avoid using too much, as it may leave a lingering sour smell. Mix vinegar with water (approximately 50%) and apply it to the area where the odor is strongest.

Multiple Passes with Steam Cleaner and Shampooer:

Certain areas may require multiple passes with a steam cleaner and shampooer to completely eliminate stubborn odors. Be diligent in your efforts, ensuring a thorough and comprehensive car detailing process.

Prevent Engine Odors from Migrating:

Unpleasant smells from the engine can infiltrate the cabin through vents. Combat this issue by cleaning the engine with a steam cleaner, degreaser, and water rinse. Wipe down the engine components with a microfiber cloth to complete the process.

Utilize Ozone Generators:

To eliminate any residual chemical smells after deep cleaning, consider using an ozone generator. This device effectively neutralizes odors within the vehicle. After the treatment, ensure proper ventilation by leaving the car’s doors open for 15-30 minutes.

Mask Odors with Essential Oils:

As a final touch, you can use essential oils to mask lingering smells, such as smoke. However, exercise caution not to overpower the scent. Place a few drops of essential oil on a handkerchief and store it in the glove compartment or back seat.

Specialized Car-Odor Eliminators:

For persistent smells that are difficult to eliminate, consider using car-odor eliminators like Turtle Wax’s ODOR-X Whole Car Blast Kinetic or Armor All® Fresh FX™ Rapid Odor Eliminator. 

These products are specifically designed to target and neutralize stubborn odors, leaving your vehicle with a refreshing scent.

Further Information: Best Air Purifier for Car

How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Car

What Causes Mildew in Your Car

During late fall and winter, when moisture levels tend to be higher, mildew becomes a common problem in cars. 

The combination of excess moisture and humidity in the air creates an environment that promotes mildew growth. It is crucial to be vigilant during these seasons to prevent mildew from taking hold in your vehicle.

Inclement weather can be a significant contributor to moisture accumulation in your car. If you’ve recently experienced heavy rainfall, snow, or mud, you may inadvertently bring a substantial amount of water and debris into your vehicle. 

Failure to dry the interior properly can result in the growth of mold and mildew. Therefore, it is essential to ensure thorough drying of your car’s interior after exposure to these conditions.

Your car’s AC system plays a crucial role in regulating temperature and humidity. The AC evaporator’s function is to remove water from the air, keeping your car interior dry. 

However, if the drainage tube of the AC evaporator becomes clogged, water leakage can occur inside the vehicle. This creates an ideal environment for mildew to develop. 

Regular maintenance and cleaning of the AC system, including ensuring the drainage tube is clear, are vital to prevent this issue.

Unwanted water intrusion through leaks in the vehicle poses a significant risk of mildew formation. Whether it’s small cracks in the body or improperly sealed windows and doors, these openings allow rainwater to seep into the upholstery, resulting in dampness. 

If left unaddressed, the dampness promotes the growth of mold and mildew. Regular inspections and prompt repair of any leaks are crucial preventive measures to safeguard against mildew.

Further Information: Best Air Purifier for Mold

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when your car smells like mildew?

When your car smells like mildew, it indicates the presence of mold or mildew growth in the interior. It is often caused by excess moisture or water accumulation, creating a damp environment where mold and mildew thrive.

Can mildew ruin a car?

Yes, mildew can cause damage to a car if left untreated. It can deteriorate upholstery, carpets, and other interior materials. Additionally, the musty odor associated with mildew can be persistent and difficult to eliminate.

What is the best odor eliminator for cars?

The best odor eliminator for cars depends on the specific situation and personal preference. Some popular options include specialized car-odor eliminators like Turtle Wax’s ODOR-X Whole Car Blast Kinetic or Armor All® Fresh FX™ Rapid Odor Eliminator. Natural solutions like baking soda, activated charcoal, or vinegar can also be effective at absorbing odors.

How do you dry mildew out of a car?

To dry mildew out of a car, start by removing any sources of moisture, such as wet floor mats or damp upholstery. Increase ventilation by opening windows or using fans. Utilize dehumidifiers or moisture-absorbing products like silica gel packets to speed up the drying process. Regularly clean and disinfect the affected areas to prevent further mildew growth.

How do I know if my car has mildew?

You can identify mildew in your car through various signs. These include a musty odor, visible patches of mold or discoloration on surfaces, dampness or excessive moisture in the interior, and allergic reactions such as sneezing or itchy eyes when inside the vehicle.

How long does it take for mildew to grow in a car?

The timeframe for mildew growth in a car can vary depending on the conditions. However, under favorable circumstances with excess moisture, it can take as little as 24 to 48 hours for mold and mildew to start developing in a car’s interior. Prompt action is crucial to prevent its spread and minimize damage.

Kristen Park - Specialised Content Writer for Caresh Fresh

My name is Kristen Park and I am a senior writer specialising in how-to guides and home cleaning information at Cares Fresh. As a researcher, I take pride in digging deep to find every small detail on a topic and explaining it in a way that is easy for the reader to understand.