Having to deal with a car mildew smell isn’t difficult and with a little bit of effort you can get rid of the smell and not have to put up with it every day.
While using a car air freshener is a great way to mask the unpleasant odor it’s not going to work for the long term and it’s never great to open the door to the car and have a blast of mildew hit you in the face.
Rather than just continuing to wonder how to get rid of a car mildew smell here are some helpful instructions on what you can do to remove the smell permanently and enjoy a better smelling car interior.
Getting Rid of the Mildew Smell in a Car
Before getting started there are a few different tools and materials you’re going to want to have on hand to help get rid of the smell most effectively.
- A car vacuum cleaner or hair dryer
- An odor absorber, anti-mildew solution, or enzyme cleaner
- A microfiber cloth or old rag
- A scrubbing pad
- Some baking soda
Now that you have all the tools you can get started with removing the mildew smell.
Try to keep the car doors or windows open while you’re working to avoid inhaling too much dust or any other debris that might get picked up while you’re cleaning.
Here are the steps that you’re going to want to follow to get rid of the pesky and unwanted odors caused by mildew:
Step 1: Start by Locating the Source
Any mildew smell that you pick up in the car is typically caused by a buildup of moisture and humidity.
Locating the source of this moisture or humidity buildup is the first step of getting rid of the smell.
You should also keep an eye out for any mold that might have grown from the increased amount of moisture that is causing the mildew to form inside your vehicle.
Start by checking the storage space in the trunk where you keep the spare tire as this is a problem spot because it doesn’t get cleaned out very often and some people keep junk in there that encourages moisture and humidity to form.
Afterwards check the carpeting and mats in your car and make sure that there aren’t any leaks or damp spots.
You’re also going to want to look for leaks or damp spots in the trunk as well as trying to spot any water droplets that could be caused by condensation.
It’s possible that the evaporator drain tube is clogged and it could be one of the causes of the leakage and moisture buildup.
It’s also possible that the smell of mildew can be coming from your air conditioner and if you notice this to be the case then you’re going to want to consider changing the filter in the AC unit.
Step 2: Remove Everything from the Car
As soon as you have found the source of the mildew smell you’re going to want to remove any car accessories, carpets, mats, and anything left behind so that you have full access to the problem area.
If you noticed that the smell is coming from the air conditioner then you’re going to want to remove the filter through the front cover of the unit.
Step 3: Dry Everything
Once you have finished removing everything around the problem area but then you can start by wiping everything down and trying to dry the area as much as you possibly can.
You’re going to want to use your microfiber cloth or old rag for this and pay attention to any small crevices or crannies where you notice any moisture or condensation.
Step 4: Scrub the Mildew Off
After you have gone ahead and removed any of the moisture that you say you’re going to want to scrub off any mold or mildew that has grown on the surface.
This is what the scrubbing pad is for and if it’s a surface that’s quite visible you’re going to want to be gentle so that you don’t scratch or damage the surface that you’re scrubbing.
If you notice a lot of build-up of mildew or mold then you’re going to want to use some soap and give it a thorough cleaning.
Step 5: Dry the Area Again
After you have cleaned off any of the mold or mildewy areas you’re going to want to dry the area again as thoroughly as you can.
This is where the car vacuum or hair dryer comes into play.
Use the hair dryer on flat surfaces like the dashboard or on the upholstery and use the vacuum for vacuuming up any leftover moisture and debris from the carpets.
For cleaning and drying the AC unit you’re going to want to use Q-Tips and small cotton swabs to get into the hard-to-reach spots and then it’s a good idea to turn the heat on afterwards so the unit can dry fully.
By cleaning and thoroughly drying out any problem areas you help to keep it clean for the future while ensuring that mildew isn’t given as easy an opportunity to build up.
Step 6: Apply the Anti-Mildew Solution
Once everything is clean and dry you can apply your anti-mildew solution or any other formula or compound you want to use.
There are a wide range of different products to choose from and I’d recommend looking online or in any automotive stores near you to see which products are the best suited for your needs.
Applying a solution will help to ensure that moisture isn’t able to build up in the future and it should also help to prevent mildew or mold from growing and leasing to your car smelling funky.
Step 7: Dry Everything One More Time
The final thing you’re going to want to do is to double check that everything is completely dry and to make sure that the carpets, mats, and seats are fully dried out.
You can hang any carpets or mats outside in the sun for a short while until the smell has gone away and they’re dry as well.
As for the upholstery, you can sprinkle some baking soda over it and let it sit for up to 24-hours before vacuuming it up or brushing it away.
Saying Goodbye to Mildew
Hopefully by following these steps you’ve been able to take control of the mildew smell inside your car.
As long as you keep the interior clean and dry you’ll be able to avoid most of the problems caused by any unpleasant smells and without any moisture it’s much harder for mold and mildew to build up and grow.
Cleaning your car regularly, especially the interior during the damp winter months, goes a long way in keeping it smelling fresh and looking new.
Should you have any questions, comments, or concerns don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below!