How to remove mould from your car

Last updated February 24, 2023

When you leave your car sitting outside in the damp for long periods of time, a build-up of mould may accumulate inside the vehicle.

Mould doesn’t merely look and feel disgusting; it can also create a dank, lingering smell - and in the worst cases, lead to health issues. Not only that, when the time comes to sell your car, the presence of mould can significantly reduce its resale value.

If your budget won’t stretch to having the mould removed professionally, you’ll be pleased to learn that it is very possible to tackle the issue yourself with the right products, materials - and a little insider knowledge. Follow our simple step-by-step guide to make your mould problem history!

In this article, we’ll also explain some of the common factors that cause mould to develop – and what you can do to stop it from returning.

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What you’ll need to remove mould from your car

In addition to regular car washing, proactively removing mould from your car is crucial if you want your vehicle to look its best. If you want to remove mould from your vehicle, you’ll need the right materials and equipment for the task at hand:

  • Materials: Your chosen solution for removing mould from your vehicle (e.g. baking soda, vinegar etc.)
  • Equipment: A spray bottle, bucket, or normal bottle, depending on the method chosen.
  • Cloths: Make sure you have at least two clean cloths to hand – one to apply the solution, and another to wipe the area.
  • Vacuum cleaner: A wet-dry vacuum - or a standard model.
  • Protective gear: You should wear a mask and gloves whilst removing mould for your safety.

Different ways to remove mould from your car

    • White vinegar

      An easy and chemical-free way to clean and kill mould in cars is by using white vinegar. White vinegar is an acid that helps to remove mould in cars - and prevent it from returning. Simply pour the vinegar into a spray bottle and dilute it with water; a good ratio is eight parts vinegar to two parts water.

  • Clove oil

    If you can’t stand the smell of vinegar, you can use clove oil as an alternative. However, please be aware that this can be an irritant for children and dogs, so dilute the oil to avoid this.

How to remove mould with clove oil

  • Soap lather & non-iodised salt

    The lather from dish soap can be used to clean the car seats and other areas, as can non-iodised salt.

How to remove mould with non-iodised salt

  • Baking soda

    Finally, baking soda can be used to effectively cleanse your car of mould. However, it can be tricky to get the mixture right, so dilute it carefully before application.

How to remove mould with baking soda

How to get rid of mould in cars with clove oil

  • Step 1: Make your clove oil mixture

    Take care when diluting your clove oil; the concentration of clove oil should be around 1%. When using one litre of water, use ¼ teaspoon of clove oil. Add this to a spray bottle or a container in which you can easily soak a cloth.

  • Step 2: Apply the solution

    Spray or wipe the solution onto the affected area - and the surrounding area.

  • Step 3: Let it dry and repeat

    Letting the clove oil dry into the mould-affected areas will be the most effective way to kill it. Simply repeat the process after the first application then allow the area to dry again.

How to get rid of mould in cars with dish soap

  • Step 1: Make a lather

    Rub any standard dish soap between your hands with a splash of water to create a lather and apply the foam to any areas affected by mould. Leave this to sit for a few minutes.

  • Step 2: Wipe the area clean

    Using a clean cloth, wipe the foam away from the affected areas, then dry using a towel or by airing your vehicle out.

How to use non-iodised salt to get rid of mould in cars

  • Step 1: Make your non-iodised salt solution

    Mix non-iodised salt with water. This type of salt can be found in many cleaning stores, or the cleaning product aisle in supermarkets.

  • Step 2: Add the solution to the affected area

    Apply the non-iodised salt solution to the mouldy areas in your car, using a spray bottle or by soaking a cloth in the solution and dabbing it on.

  • Step 3: Let the area dry

    Let the non-iodised salt dry into the area. With this method, salt crusts will form as the area dries. Leaving your car parked in direct sunlight will aid this process. Then, simply vacuum up the resulting crystals.

How to remove mould from your car with baking soda

  • Step 1: Make your baking soda mixture

    Mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda with around 230ml of water.

  • Step 2: Apply the baking soda solution

    Again, use a spray bottle or a soaked cloth to apply the baking soda solution to the affected areas. Once you have applied this, scrub at the mould using a cloth.

  • Step 3: Wipe down the area and dry

    Wipe the solution away and leave your car to dry out.

Health considerations when dealing with mould

Long-term exposure to mould can be dangerous, so it’s important that you know how to remove it from your car to eliminate any risk to your health. In the case of enhanced symptoms or prolonged issues, you should visit your doctor. Here are some common health problems that might occur due to mould:

  • Allergies causing rashes, a runny nose, and sneezing.
  • Asthma.
  • Wheezing.
  • Coughing.

When exposed to black mould in particular, these symptoms could become more serious. Exposure to toxic black mould can lead to the following:

  • Headaches.
  • Vomiting.
  • Bleeding from the nose or lungs.
  • Nausea.
  • Continuous fatigue.

How do you prevent mould in your car?

Now that you know how to remove mould from your car, you might be wondering how mould can be prevented in the first place. Here are a few tips to keep mould at bay:

  • Mould grows where there is moisture, so try to avoid it. Keep this in mind when parking your car.
  • Try to avoid eating and drinking inside your car. This prevents liquid spillages and will ensure that no crumbs fall into the seats or onto the floor.
  • Clean your car and try to keep it dry.
  • Use a dehumidifier, if possible.
  • Ensure the windows and doors are properly shut when leaving your car.

What causes car mould?

There are many ways in which mould can develop and fester within your car. Fungus can grow quickly - and mould in cars will spread quickly on different surfaces. You need be vigilant to spot developing mould; keep an eye on the dashboard, seat, mats etc. Here are some common causes of mould in cars:

  • Liquid on the floor.
  • Storage of a wooden item for a long period (wood is very susceptible to fungal infestation).
  • Humid environments.
  • Parking in a damp storage area.
  • Wet or damp clothes in the vehicle.
  • Windows left open in the rain.
  • Flood damage.

How do I know if I’ve got mould?

If you want to keep your car clean and safe, it’s not enough to know how to remove mould – you also need to know the signs so that you can detect it.

To check your car for mould, take it into bright sunlight and roll down the windows, opening the doors too. Allow fresh air to enter and remove any damp items (or items that might cause dampness, such as floor mats). Search for mould in all corners of your car, including the dashboard, ceiling, boot and seat belts. Usually, mould presents as circular, multi-coloured patches.

Frequently Asked Questions

Mould can grow in air-conditioning units and is a common source of bacteria in your car’s AC. Your air-conditioner can be a breeding ground for mould, especially when it’s turned on.

Many different valeting services will offer deep cleaning and mould removal services. Professional mould removal can be costly, particularly if the problem is extensive. However, if you follow the steps outlined in our guide, removing mould yourself is a relatively straightforward process.

Your health may be at risk if you are exposed to mould inside your car whilst driving. Mould particles, once inhaled, can affect the lungs and heart, and in some causes cause serious health issues.

Using any of the processes detailed above, you can easily remove mould from your car seats.