How to Get Rid of a Car Mildew Smell

January 27, 2012

A car mildew smell can be quite disturbing and annoying. This stinky smell cannot be solved by just spraying an air freshener and no matter how many air fresheners you use, you will not be able to get rid of this smell. However, you can permanently remove the mildew smell by following these simple steps.

Tools and Materials:

  • Hair dryer or vacuum cleaner (wet vacuuming capable)
  • Odor absorber, enzyme cleaner, or anti-mildew solution
  • Rag or absorbent cloth
  • Scrub pad
  • Baking soda

Step 1. Locate the Source

A mildew smell is often caused by moisture or humidity that has been built up in your car. To get rid of this smell, you first need to locate the source. Often times, mold growth or mildew is caused by moisture that has accumulated in your car.

There are several areas you can check where mold can grow. You can check the storage space where your spare tire is located. This area is often times neglected so make sure you check this first. If you find no leaks or mildew then proceed to the next possible area.

Check the floor of your car. Remove the mats or carpeting to make sure that there are no leaks as well. You can also look at the trunk for any leaks due to condensation. Your evaporator drain tube may also be clogged that can cause leakage.

Mildew smell from the air conditioner is also possible. The filter of your vehicle’s air conditioning unit can also be the cause. Check if the floor mat near the air conditioner is damp.

Step 2. Remove Any Accessories or Covering

Once you have located the source, you need to remove any car accessories in this area so you can thoroughly clean and dry it.

If the source is on the floor or trunk of your car, remove the mats, upholstery, or carpets of your vehicle. If the smell is coming from the air conditioner unit, remove the filter by opening the front cover of the air conditioning unit.

Step 3. Wipe the Dry Area

After you have removed all parts that are not bolted to the car, try to wipe off as much liquid or moisture as you can using an absorbent cloth or rag. Make sure that you remove as much of the moisture or liquid as you can.

Step 4. Scrub Off the Mildew

When you are sure that you have removed the moisture, you may need to scrub off the mildew or mold that has grown on the area. Use a nylon scrub pad for this. Be careful not to scratch too much of the surface. Only clean the area enough to remove any mold growth.

Step 5. Dry the Affected Area

Dry the affected area once you have cleaned it thoroughly. You can use a hair dryer for smaller areas or a vacuum capable of doing wet vacuuming for larger areas. This is a step to prevent mold from growing back.

If the problem is emitting from your air conditioner unit, you can use a cotton swab to dry the affected area and then turn on the heater until you can no longer detect moisture.

Step 6. Apply Anti-Mildew Solution

After drying the affected area, apply an anti-mildew solution, odor absorber, or enzyme cleaner. There are several products available on the market today so you can choose one of these. This will prevent any moisture leading to car smells.

Step 7. Dry Mats, Carpets, Upholstery, etc.

Completely dry any matting of the affected area. Hang them outdoors under the sun for a few hours or until the smell is completely gone. Put some baking soda on the upholstery and let it rest for 24 hours.

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