While mold related news stories tend to focus on toxic mold in the home, it is also possible for mold to affect the interior your car. There are many different types of mold living in nature. When these airborne fungal spores get into your car and they find a wet surface they have the chance to breed.
This can certainly cause unpleasant odors. If the mold forms in a visible place, it can also look disgusting. Some types of mold-like Stachybotrys chartarum and chlorohalonata are toxic and can severely affect your health. Even the presence of a non-toxic mold in your car can lead to respiratory irritation, respiratory health conditions, and may affect other conditions if you have a weakened or suppressed immune system.
If you notice mold in your car its best to deal with it as soon as possible. The longer it goes unaddressed the more it will spread, and in right conditions, it can spread very fast!
Sometimes mold can go undetected in a car if it develops in a place that is out of sight. Toxic black molds like Stachybotrys chartarum and chlorohalonata can cause lead to some ugly health symptoms. This can include:
- Fatigue along with general weakness
- Poor memory
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- People with respiratory allergies might also have a significant allergic reaction
What Causes Of Mold In Cars
Moisture is the primary culprit that gets a mold problem started. Sometimes the simplest of mistakes like leaving your sunroof open when it rains can introduce enough moisture to your car’s interior to foster mold spores. Of course, mold also needs warmth to flourish. A car’s ability to trap heat from the sun on even a cool day gives it what it needs to reproduce quickly.
Once the mold establishes itself it can be very hard to get rid of. Especially if it manages to infest cloth covered seats! Worse still is if the mold manages to infiltrate the vehicles ventilation system.
In times like this professional intervention is likely needed as soon as possible. Left unchecked some toxic mold infestations can lead to a total write-off of the vehicle.
Dealing With A Minor Mold Problem In Your Vehicle
If you catch a mold problem early enough, it might be possible to deal with it yourself. There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of success.
Move the vehicle into direct sunlight. If it’s a nice day, you should open all the windows and doors. Since mold needs moisture to live, airing and drying your vehicle out will retard it. Also, mold is susceptible to UV light from the sun.
Airing the vehicle out also helps clear out some of the foul odors as well as the mold spores that might be present. This will help reduce your chances of suffering respiratory irritation while you are cleaning.
Give the vehicle at least 20 to 30 minutes to air out. Then prepare your safety gear. You will want a quality dust mask. Try to find one that is rated to block out microbes, as there will still likely be a few mold spores lingering the air. A pair of latex cleaning gloves would also be a good idea.
When you are ready, perform a thorough visual inspection of the vehicle. Pay especially close attention to porous or absorbent surfaces such as cloth seats as well as the areas behind and underneath them. If you can unzip your seats or you have aftermarket seat covers, you should open or remove them. Make sure to also check:
- The carpeting
- The flooring (Especially in the corners)
- The seat belts
- The vents and moving parts of the vents
Mold in a vehicle can take on different colors. The more common varieties look white to grayish-brown or green as well as black. Mold also tends to develop in large, circular clusters.
If possible, you might be able to scrub or scrape away a mold colony. Just try your best not to spread the spores in the process. Once a colony has been craped up, you’ll need to clean up loose mold.
It helps to use a bucket of warm water mixed with a small amount of a PH-neutral shampoo. Wet a sponge and the scrub off as much of the remaining mold as you can. Airflow here is important because you want the surface to drys fast as possible after cleaning. If it isn’t a breezy day, you might want to set up a fan or two.
Cleaning and sanitizing is very important for preventing mold problems in the future. You shouldn’t ever use bleach or ammonia-based cleaners. They are better for killing bacteria and other surface germs. Their evaporation rate and inability to fully saturate porous surfaces won’t be able to affect a long-term mold solution.
Ideally, you want a cleaning solution that is known as an enzyme eater. There are some that are specifically designed eat away at the mold at a microscopic level. You can find them in most hardware stores for between $5 to $10.
In some cases, you might also need to use a carpet steamer to get mold out of a carpet. Hard to scrub cracks and crevices might need to be soaked with a vinegar-based solution of eight parts vinegar mixed with two parts water.
Once you spray vinegar solution, let it sit on the surface for at least 20 minutes. This should give it enough time to eat away and kill the mold as well as allowing the vinegar to dry a little. You can then use a wet-dry shop vac to remove any leftover vinegar from the area.
Dry the vehicle as best you can, you need to remove all excess moisture from it. Leaving a dehumidifier in the car overnight would help. You could also try to leave some small bags of painter’s desiccant in the car for a few days.
Going forward you might want to address the cause of the initial moisture if your sunroof or convertible top had a leak that caused water infiltration, you need to make every effort to have it properly repaired.
Seeking Professional Remediation
If your vehicle is suffering from a severe mold problem, or you simply don’t feel confident in your ability to eliminate it yourself, you need to seek a professional remediation service. If the mold threat isn’t eliminated in a timely manner, it could start to threaten your health as well as the health of your passengers.