Does your car smell stale like a damp, stuffy basement? That’s because it may have mold. Now you can kill mold from your car?
Mold is basically a fungus that has been present on earth since the beginning of time. Mold can be seen in various colors. These colors include grey, white, black, olive green, pink, orange, beige, or even purple. Mold “colonies” appear as round blotches.
These blotches might be wooly, cottony, hairy, or even slightly smooth and silky. It is visible on surfaces but can also grow deeper in fabrics or carpets.
Some molds can also grow on plastics and certain metals. Mold loves moisture and slightly but constantly wet surfaces. The main natural factors affecting mold growth include moisture, temperature, climate, sunshine, and air movement. It keeps on releasing its seeds (spores) in the air. These spores are always floating about. If the conditions are ideal for growth, they start growing.
Molds grow in colonies wherever they settle. Mold spores are very lightweight. Any disturbance including gentle air movement can make them spread. Also, any sort of vibration can cause these fungal spores to travel and spread to other areas.
The shortest answer to this question is “moisture”. Yes, moisture is the most important ingredient for mold to grow. Did you notice that I used the word “ingredient”? Moisture may be the single most important part of the mold life support system.
It is still definitely not the only element that will cause it. Molds will not grow in a clean, hygienic, or sterile environment despite moisture. Like most living things, mold needs five things to grow. Those five things are water, food, oxygen, low light, and the right temperature.
Taking these five ingredients away from a mold will not kill it though. Mold is very hardy. It will survive for long periods without any life-supporting elements. Mold can then come back to life as soon as the conditions are right.
In cars, mold can come from moisture due to spillage of liquids or food on surfaces that absorb it. It can also appear in places that are hard to wipe clean or dry out. Other sources of mold in cars are moisture due to air conditioning.
Pets can also sometimes urinate and carpets which can lead to mold. Kids or other passengers may vomit or throw about bits of food due to any reason, and this too can cause mold. Another extreme situation is if your car gets flooded or if you accidentally leave your windows open while it is raining.
In any of the above scenarios if you are not quick in taking action you might end up with a nasty mold situation.
Mold is a very stubborn fungus. It usually grows inside your car. The most common places for mold and mildew growth inside a vehicle are seats, headrests, on floor carpets, foot mats, plastic panels, seat belts, armrests, glove compartment, gear console, hand brake area, boot compartment, drink holders, dashboard, inside air conditioning ducts, behind steering wheel covers, on the ceiling, on sun visors, on the rear deck or tonneau board (in hatchback vehicles or trucks) as well as on any upholstery and accessories like cushions or interior decoration items.
Mold can also grow on hidden surfaces, nooks, corners, and crevices in your car. These are areas that do not get regular attention while cleaning. You can come across mold almost anywhere which remains neglected.
Mold can be pretty stubborn. Mold colonies are able to grow on any type of surface. It can spread like wildfire if left to grow in the right conditions.
Everyone gets exposed to mold in one form or the other in their day to day life. It is usually harmless in very small amounts unless you are already allergic to it. If mold finds the right environment it can grow very quickly.
Molds constantly release invisible spores in the air that cannot be seen, but you can detect them by the smell they produce. The smell of mold is hard to describe as it varies depending on the type of mold. But in all cases, its smell is quite unpleasant.
Exposure to mold can lead to rashes on your skin, itching as well as other allergic reactions. It may also cause fungal infections in your ear, nose, and throat. In more severe cases it can cause respiratory complaints including asthma attacks.
If you are able to smell mold that means you are already breathing its spores from the air. Long exposure can be dangerous even for a healthy person.
If you are sensitive or allergic to mold, breathing even small amounts can quickly make you sick and may also require emergency medical treatment.
Mold colonies usually consume material from the surface on which they grow. Mold releases enzymes that slowly and gradually break down the material so that it can feed on it.
Biological degradation of natural fibers (eg. cotton) takes place as a result of enzymes secreted by fungi including mold and mildew. Natural fibers and furs are more at risk than PVC or polypropylene-based materials.
One of the most common and dangerous effects of mold can be the deterioration or leeching of material. It is important to get rid of mold as soon as it appears before it impairs the functioning or condition of the materials and surfaces in a car.
If for example, mold grows on a seat belt it can become weak. In case of an emergency, this seat belt might break or not be able to work properly. Enzymes released from molds can also speed up metal corrosion and decay of adhesives and glues.
If mold grows unchecked it will digest the material on which it has settled. Thus mold may weaken many parts inside a car and this rapid loss of strength can cause breakage and rust.
Mold can grow wherever there is moisture due to high humidity and extreme changes in temperature. Mold attacks any surface, especially paper, and other organic materials. It can leave ugly stains or marks which can permanently disfigure the material.
Mold is most often seen in vehicle interiors. Car interiors refer not just to the upholstery but also other surfaces including those made of plastics, foams, or metal. Mold makes your car interiors look bad. The interiors smell musty and dirty. More than that mold poses a real health hazard.
If you are facing mold problems and find yourself asking the question how do you get mold out of car interiors read on. But first, let’s talk about safety first. When removing mold from a car you should always wear a proper mask, gloves, and goggles.
The last thing you want is to get more spores than you can handle in your nose, eyes, or on your hands. Removing visible colonies of mold may not solve the problem for you. Mold might come back very quickly if it gets a damp, warm, and dark environment.
Yes, it can be quite frustrating. You might be wondering, So how do you kill mold inside? Killing mold requires a whole lot of hard work and some household as well as specialty chemicals.
You might be disappointed to know despite all efforts, that there is no permanent way to kill mold inside any environment, not even hospitals. Mold and other fungi existed much before humans and will continue to exist in the future. What you can do however is to control the environment in closed spaces like cars and other vehicles.
This is the only way how mold would not settle and start multiplying. Remember that mold spores are always present and suspended in the air. They are always looking for places with suitable conditions for growth. If you make the environment harsh for spores, you will kill all mold.
The foremost steps you can take are to stop moisture, reduce humidity, improve ventilation, and keep everything clean.
If any area or furnishings in your car get wet you must have it deep cleaned out and dry within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold from taking hold. Highly porous or absorbent materials that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
Mold can be killed on hard surfaces with simple water and detergent solution. The surface must then be dried to ensure that mold doesn’t come back.
You would start by using an appropriate brush, microfibre cloth, or cleaning rags to scrub the mold colonies. Then you can use a vacuum cleaner to remove the mold. Then you should use your choice of chemical cleaner to kill the remaining mold and spores. You should use a spray bottle so that you don’t end up using too much of any liquid chemical.
Remember you will have to dry out the material later. Soaking any material in any chemical will only make drying difficult. It is best to test all chemicals on surfaces that are normally out of site to ensure that the chemical is not damaging the material. Leave it on for a few minutes to be satisfied that the surface isn’t damaged in any way.
Vinegar is the most easily available chemical that will kill mold. It is not only easily available but being a weak acid, it is also very efficient at killing most types of mold.
More stubborn molds may be treated with a combination of sodium carbonate or baking soda and vinegar. Follow this up with an antifungal disinfectant spray to sterilize the material.
While it is a strong and long-lasting material, mold attacks leather quite easily. Natural leather because it is a very absorbent material. It traps moisture from spillages, sweat as well as dead skin cells. This provides the ideal breeding ground for mold. You cannot use brushes with hard bristles on leather as it can get damaged.
However, vinegar works very well to kill any mold colonies that form on leather. You can spray vinegar on leather even in an undiluted form. It is safe for leather, fabric, vinyl, or any other synthetic material. You can let the vinegar do its job for ten to twenty minutes and then wipe the surface with a clean rag. You can reapply the vinegar if needed. Keep repeating the process.
You must be sure that the infection site and its surrounding areas are completely clean. Use antifungal disinfectant to make sure that any remaining spores are also killed. But be careful to test it out as some of these sprays can damage leather.
Wait for the leather seat to completely dry out (which may take up to 48 hours in full sunlight). Then use a wax or polish to recondition the leather to restore its natural feel and softness and protect it against deterioration.
Another important consideration is to note the texture and thickness of the leather. If the texture is very soft and thin I would recommend using a mixture of mild liquid hand soap and water to tackle the issue of mold on leather seats in cars. Tea tree oil (1 tsp per cup of warm water) is also recommended for leather as it is a natural anti-fungal and disinfectant. Tea tree oil does not harm the leather in any way.
Air Conditioning units installed in cars have ducts opening into the passenger compartment. By design, these ducts are very difficult and expensive to maintain. In a humid climate, the extremely cold environment causes a lot of condensation within the ducts.
You can also detect moisture on surfaces inside the vehicle. If the vehicle does not get dried out quickly the moisture creates a favorable environment for mold to thrive. The problem of mold within and outside the A/C system leads to off-smells and allergies.
There are ways to prevent mold due to air conditioning. Instead of parking your vehicle in the garage, it is advisable to park it in a sunny spot every now and then. You can leave the windows open for better air circulation when parking in a garage.
This would also help with drying out the condensate on the vehicle surfaces. Frequently changing the car’s air filter also helps in removing spores. It also reduces the chances of mold taking hold.
You may also use cotton swabs dipped in vinegar to clean the air-conditioning vents. Another method you can use to thoroughly dry out the air-conditioning ducts is to use a hair-dryer.
It is not common for mold to appear on the car exterior. Yet, due to climatic factors and environmental factors mold can appear. Regular washing with an appropriate car Cleaning Kits can take care of most mold issues on the exterior.
The risk is higher if the environmental conditions that your vehicle has been exposed to are adverse (temperature/relative humidity / atmospheric pollution). If your car remains damp/moist for extended periods without drying I would recommend that you get car detailing done for mold removal.
Additionally, if you park your car outside the garage in a sunny spot with the windows/sunroof open for a few hours every day to help in drying it out. A little bit of natural U/V light from the sun and fresh air can work wonders on the cheap. Just keep an eye out for the weather and move your car to a safe place before it starts raining or snowing.
You must have a fair idea about this by now. But just to summarize let’s quickly go over what all you can do to stop mold from taking hold or coming back. It’s fairly simple. You need to keep your car clean, hygienic, and dry.
You can also use the following equipment and products to help keep your car dry, clean, and completely mold-free:
I hope that now you have a detailed idea about mold and how to spot, clean, eliminate, and control molds or mildew from taking hold in your car. While many people dread molds, it’s quite easy to handle with these smart tips. If you follow the advice given in this post you would continue to enjoy a lot of healthy, safe, pleasant, and 100% mold-free rides in your vehicle. Happy Driving!