When Does Mold Tend To Grow in a Car?

The main culprit to the mold problem of your car is the moisture that manages to enter. It could be from the take-out food you left to sit in it or unpredictable weather conditions. These things are seemingly unavoidable, no matter how caring you are toward your car.

Moreover, the tendency of mold to propagate in places such as your car varies depending on the material makeup of your car’s interior. For instance, they are more likely to grow on car seat covers made of fabric or upholstery. Although leather seat covers are just as susceptible to mold and mildew growth, these are more easily prevented with the help of leather care products that are conveniently available in car and hardware stores.


A thin film of mold may be tolerable, but any more than that could be a bother every time your palm grazes on your steering wheel, for instance. You can only tolerate its grimy appearance so much, but you should never ignore the risks mold poses on your health and those to whom you offer rides.

Why is mold harmful?

Mold is a type of fungi that feeds off of dead organic matter. It can only propagate with the optimal moisture, heat, oxygen levels, and, of course, a good food source. Your car ticks off all four from the list when you turn off your engine and park it outside on a cloudy and humid day.

Mold spores that enter your car take several days to set base and are initially invisible. By the time they’ve spread on your car’s surfaces, they’re already tough to remove. If you’ve been having sniffles or itchy eyes in the car, chances are these are caused by mold you’ve touched or inhaled. In worse cases, you could suffer rashes on your skin, a sore throat, or irritation in your lungs.

Suppose you or someone who frequently rides your car has preexisting health conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. In that case, your body could react more adversely to the mold. You could exhibit symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, respiratory infection, and worsening of your health condition. It’s also worth noting that some types of mold, like black ones, are more hazardous to humans.

How do you get rid of mold in your car?

Realistically speaking, excessive amounts of mold, to the point that they’ve penetrated the car seat’s foam, is only ever effectively removed with the help of professional cleaners. They have the appropriate and safe cleaning equipment and chemicals to do the job.

Once you notice early signs of mold in your car, you don’t have to wait for it to worsen. The most effective preventive measure you could take as soon as possible is to leave your car doors and windows open for about half an hour to allow air and sunlight to dry the moisture out of them.

But, this ventilation method cannot guarantee total mold eradication from your car. For a more in-depth cleaning of your vehicle, you have to prepare the following cleaning tools:

  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Rags
  • Cleaning brush
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Car interior cleaning chemicals

Before cleaning, wear protective equipment, including a breathable face mask, gloves, and goggles if your eyes are irritated. What you need to do first is to declutter your car and discard items that have been infested with mold. Then, brush off or vacuum every nook and cranny of your car interior.

If your car is heavily infested with mold, you might need to scrape off mold layers before vacuuming your vehicle. Now, pour white vinegar into your spray bottle and, after closing the lid, generously spray it onto your car’s seats. You can use a bleach solution for this step, but beware that this could discolor the surface it sits on.

Brush the surfaces to allow the vinegar to work better. Then, leave the characters to dry while keeping your car windows open.

If you’re worried about the more mechanical components, such as the stereo and air vents of your car’s interior, getting damaged by your DIY treatments, you can always leave them out and have them cleaned by car repair shops. It would be better if the shop had a staff specializing in car stereo installation.

If your air vents start emitting unpleasant smells, mold, and dust have already taken over the filters of your car’s air conditioning system. You can also have your filters cleaned or replaced in a shop.

Not only does mold cause your car to smell, but it also poses health risks. Therefore, it is essential to check your car for mold frequently. Having it deep-cleaned as often as three times a year is costly but is still an excellent practice to decrease the growth of harmful microorganisms.

Jeremy D. Mena
Alcohol geek. Future teen idol. Web practitioner. Problem solver. Certified bacon guru. Spent 2002-2009 researching plush toys in Miami, FL. Won several awards for exporting tar in Libya. Uniquely-equipped for managing human growth hormone in Libya. Spent a weekend implementing fried chicken on the black market. Spoke at an international conference about working on carnival rides in Miami, FL. Developed several new methods for donating jack-in-the-boxes in Edison, NJ.