Recognize and Remove Mold From Your Car For Good

There are multiple reasons why mold can develop in a car, the most common reason is standing water on the carpets or the seats of your car. And while it might seem strange, such leaks can go unnoticed for a long time until you start seeing signs of mold. To preserve the value of your car and your health, it is in your best interest to take care of the mold problem as soon as possible. Mold can also develop in the air ducts of your car, which is even harder to notice and it poses an even bigger danger to your health as it is blowing mold particles directly to your face.

 Let’s break down why you should take care of your mold problem asap!

Signs of Mold in a Car

Recognizing mold in a car is similar to recognizing mold in a house or an apartment. If you do not see the mold, the first sign you will get is a constant scent of mold which can be described as musty, earthy and damp. And the smell will be constant, as the mold continues to grow, the bad smell will only get worse. You will also not be able to get rid of the bad smell, even with extensive airing.

If mold is growing in the interior you should see discoloration on your seats, carpets or most commonly between your car’s lining and carpets. 

Signs of Mold in a Car’s AC

If there’s mold in the AC system and all the air ducts, your only sign of mold will be bad, foul-smelling air coming from your air vents. You might also notice a larger amount of what looks like black dust accumulating on your air vents. Those are actually mold particles that detach as air passes over the growing mold in your AC vents.

How Does Mold In A Car Look?

Mold comes in various colors, from white to black and even green, orange, pink, and yellow. It depends on the type of mold. As we mentioned before, you will quickly notice the typical discoloration and circular shapes of the mold. Mold can form on practically every surface of your car’s interior. It can be found on plastics, windows, fabric seats, fabric interior lining and even leather upholstery. It is much easier to remove mold from surfaces like plastic and glass, compared to fabrics where mold has the ability to form deep under the surface of seats for instance.

 Check the video below to get an idea of how mold looks in a car’s interior.

Why Does Mold Grow In a Car?

Fungal spores are one of the more common things floating around in the air outside. This means it is almost impossible to prevent those fungal spores from entering your car each time you open the doors, windows or turn on your AC. However, fungal spores are not harmful on their own. There is a crucial factor that turns those innocent floating fungal spores into a big problem called moisture. 

Excess moisture can get in a car through leaky door seals, window seals, clogged water drains, wet clothes or umbrellas that are left in the car, through open windows and so on, you get the idea. When you add excess moisture into the car, mold will start growing and you have a big problem on your hands. So the one thing to remember here is to always keep your car free from excess moisture.

How to prevent mold growth

Now that you know how mold can develop in a car, here are a few tips on how to prevent mold growth in your vehicle:

  • The vehicle should be parked in a dry place, a ventilated garage or cover is best.
  • Always check that all windows are closed and that the seals on the vehicle are intact.
  • If the seat covers do get wet , for example through soaked clothing, remove them and dry them thoroughly.
  • A car dehumidifier can help absorb moisture inside the vehicle. Use one if you live in areas with high humidity.
  • Wet clothes or umbrellas must not be left in the car. Always take them with you when you leave the car.
  • Be on the lookout for any water leaks in your car, they can also happen if your water drainage ducts are clogged.
  • If you do find signs of mold, take care of the problem immediately and do not wait for it to get worse.

Following these tips will make it hard for mold to grow and develop in your car.

Is it Dangerous?

Yes, mold in the car does pose a danger to your health. The most common symptoms of inhaling mold spores over a long period of time include:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Persistent colds
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Burning eyes
  • Coughing fits
  • Runny nose
  • Itching
  • Wheezing

If you do experience these symptoms, there is a possibility that you have developed an allergy due to mold exposure. We advise you to consult a medical professional.

How To Remove Mold From a Car?

As we already mentioned before, mold can form on basically all areas and materials inside your vehicle. Before we dive into how to remove mold, we will shortly review how to remove mold from different surfaces in your vehicle.

Before you start removing mold, make sure you discover and fix the underlying reason for mold in your vehicle Find the source of moisture and repair the underlying problem!

  • Mold on the car seat 

Bleach-Free Anti-mold agents developed for textiles are recommended here. These usually use special organic ammonium compounds that do not damage the sensitive upholstery. You should avoid using cleaning agents with chlorine, hydrogen peroxide or alcohol with additional lime compounds, as the ingredients can bleach and discolor the fabric.

  • Mold on Plastics

A chemical anti-mold spray can be used on most plastics. After the agent has been applied and allowed to take effect, the surfaces must be wiped off with a damp cloth. In addition, vehicle owners must ensure that the treated areas can later dry well again. Alternatively, you can also use pure alcohol (available in pharmacies) to remove mold.

  • Mold on the window

Mold can appear at the transition between the window and the car door, especially in older vehicles. Since the infestation usually continues under the cladding, it is advisable to remove the affected windows and the mold there.

  • Mold in the air conditioning/ventilation

If mold has established itself there, it is essential to consult a professional. However, not every workshop offers an effective service. Since the costs can vary greatly depending on the provider, you should obtain and compare several offers.

Additional tips

Make sure you follow the mold-removing cleaning agent’s manual to a point. Not following the cleaning instructions may lead to damage to your car’s interior. It is recommended that you apply the mold cleaning agent to the entire surface of a seat for example, as mold spores do travel and inhibit areas that do not look affected at all. When cleaning the mold, make sure you wear a face mask to prevent inhaling both the cleaning agent and mold particles. After you are done cleaning the mold, make sure you dry out your car thoroughly.

 If you do not feel capable of taking care of the problem on your own it is better to use your local car detailers that dabble in mold removal. A simple car detail will not be enough, you need a professional mold removal service. 

How much does it cost to remove mold from a car?

Removing mold from cars is not cheap, let’s begin with that. Depending on how big of a mold problem you have, it can cost anywhere from 50$ and up to 1200$ if your entire interior is covered in mold, including your AC system and vents. If you have a minor mold problem, we recommend cleaning it yourself to save some money.

Frequently asked questions

Is It Safe To Drive Cars With Mold?

While mold inside a vehicle does not pose a direct danger to your safety on the road, it still has a bad effect on your health as you are constantly inhaling mold particles which can lead to serious health issues. 

How Do You Know If You Have Mold In Your Car?

A car with mold will have an unpleasant musty, damp, and earthy smell to it. If you cannot get rid of those scents there is a high chance there is mold present in your vehicle. In most cases, you can also see mold on your seats, plastics, or windows.

Can Car Mold Make You Sick?

Yes. Mold in a car will lead to health problems such as headaches, wheezing, runny nose and watery eyes in the long term.

Can A Car Get Mold?

Yes, excess moisture in a car will eventually lead to mold growth, even in a car.

How To Remove Mold In A Car With White Vinegar?

Take a spray bottle, mix 7-8 parts white vinegar and 2-3 parts water and spray the solution on the affected moldy areas. Leave the solution to work for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a damp towel. Do a surface test before applying white vinegar to bigger surfaces to see how it reacts with your interior materials.

Will Car Detailing Remove Mold?

Simple car detailing will not remove mold in a car. A special mold removal service is a must. Not all car detailers offer it.

Will Car Insurance Cover Mold Damage?

Unless it is specified in your insurance policy then no, mold damage is not commonly covered in a car insurance policy.

Why Does My Car Have Mold Inside?

There is mold in your car because you have excess moisture present in the car. Find out what the source of excess moisture is and remove the mold afterward to prevent the mold from growing and spreading again.


Mold in any environment is a serious issue, even if it does not seem like it at first. Not only is it not good for your health, it is also bad for the resale value of your car. If you plan on selling your car, make sure you remove all signs of mold before you do so. If moisture gets into the car, a car dehumidifier can help. A bowl of salt, ground coffee or rice is a proven home remedy that can be used to bind moisture. Kitty litter stuffed into socks has the same effect. You should simply remove wet seat covers and let them dry outside of the car. Additionally, you should always remember not to leave wet clothing or umbrellas in the car longer than necessary. 

About The Author