How to Get Rid of Mold and Mildew in Your Car for Good

It's that noticeable smell that gets you before anything else--and it almost smells like a blend of sour milk and gym socks that haven't been washed in a month.

Of course, you may be more fluent than us and have a better way to describe them, but whatever olfactory term it is, there's one thing we know for sure: mold and mildew do not belong in a vehicle.

What are Molds and Mildew?

Mold is a type of fungus. It's the one you should blame when your food spoils, or when you see those blue, brown, black, red, or green furry things covering your mother's homemade spaghetti.

Mildew, on the other hand, is also another form of fungus, and is closely related to mold. The difference here, is that the color is more distinct: it's white.

Both of them can negatively affect your health. Allergies to mold spores are a common complaint--and so are respiratory problems. Symptoms include headaches, migraines, itchy eyes, cough, rashes, frequent sneezing, fatigue, sinus problems, and nasal blockages.

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there. Molds--like the black ones--can be a serious health risk to people and animals. Prolonged exposure to the toxic ones can lead to neurological problems--even death.

How to Get Rid of Molds and Mildew in Your Vehicle

Molds and mildew love any place that's warm, dark, and moist--normal conditions you often see inside vehicles. For one, a vehicle's interiors are often warm and dark, especially if you park it in an enclosed space. Now, if you leave your windows slightly open while it's raining, or you don't wipe out the soda you spilled yesterday while you were eating your cheeseburger meal, then you now have a recipe for disaster waiting to happen.

Here are some ways you can stop them right on their tracks:

Step 1: Let in the sun.

Get your car out in a place with direct sunlight.

Step 2: Open everything.

Wear a mask to prevent inhaling the spores. Then open your doors, windows, trunk, and hood. Leave for 30 minutes or more.

Step 3: Inspect for mold and mildew.

Look for circular patches--these are often how mold forms on a surface. Wear your gloves, and then get a toothbrush. Gently brush onto the surface of the mold or midlew, and extend it to the cracks they might also be in. Do it very gently--we don't want to risk its spores spreading.

Step 4: Add in the vinegar.

Once you've loosened out the mold and mildew, it's now time to get rid of them. Get a spray bottle and vinegar (preferably distilled), and mix around a ratio of 1 cup water to 1 cup vinegar. If the molds are hard to loosen up, use more vinegar, instead. Let it stand for 30 minutes.

If you don't like the smell of vinegar, then you can just buy mold cleaners in hardware stores.

Step 5: Pat them dry.

When you use the vinegar-water solution, you'd more likely leave some drops and splatters everywhere. Get a paper towel, and pat them dry. You don't want to leave moisture there.

Alternatively, you can also vacuum them off the surface so you're sure you're getting rid of all the excess liquid left behind.

Step 6: Put borax.

This step is optional, but this could make for a better cleaning solution than just using vinegar alone. Sprinkle borax on the spots where the mold and mildew are located, leave them for 15-20 minutes, and then vacuum or brush them off.

What if you don’t have borax? Baking soda is a good alternative you might want to try out. Not only can they help clean out all the remnants of mold and mildew, they can be great deodorizers as well.