How to kill mold in you car | Remove mould in your car with steam cleaning

fact check policy
Updated on:

June 6, 2023

Complete Mold removal from Car Interior | How to kill mould in car

There are numerous ways available for removal mold in your car; you will get different remedies to cope up with the situation. Nut the fact is, if you don’t use the right process, then the mold in the car cannot be removed entirely. Steam interior cleaning is a method, which can be proved as the appropriate solution for this mold problem. So, no matter if you are doing it yourself or asking an expert, make sure the work is done correctly.

Key Takeaways:

  • Steam cleaning is an effective and non-toxic method to remove mold from car interiors. It kills mold spores and sanitizes the surfaces.
  • Steam cleaners use high-temperature steam to eliminate mold, bacteria, and germs without the need for chemicals.
  • After steam cleaning, take preventive measures to avoid mold re-growth by keeping the car dry, using moisture absorbents, and regularly cleaning and maintaining the interior.

Request FREE Ebook about Car Interior Detailing

Table of Contents (Show)

Table of Contents (Hide)

1. What is mold?

2. Steam Cleaning as the most effective method to clean mold from car

3. How to get rid of car mold in 8 steps

1. How to remove mold from your car?

If you are interested in Fortador steam cleaning products, then the Fortador PRO Line  machines is recommended. The machine has all the features that you could need for the mold removal process. Additionally, it is capable of providing two different detergents (for Max model) along with a hot detergent simultaneously with steam. Take a look at the following procedure and eradicate mold from your car.

old style car detailing

1.1 Protect yourself

As mentioned above, exposure to mold should be avoided strictly. So make sure you have protected yourself properly before starting the mold removal process. Wear a surgical face mask or a particle mask, non-porous cleaning gloves. This reduces the chances of getting affected by any virus and makes sure you are exposed to mold.

1.2 Air out your car for some time

Sunlight and fresh air are the most useful tools that can be used against mold. Even not only mold, all types of fungus, or the other bacteria that grow in the presence of a high level of moist, can be killed to an extent by bright sunlight.

So choose a clean, sunny day and move your car out to a direct sunlight spot. Open the doors and windows, sunroof (if there is one), and let as much as sunlight enter the interior. Keep the car this way for a few hours. It will take the dampness out, and your cleaning process will be much easier.

car carpets with mold
Car carpets with mold

1.3 Use wet dry vacuum cleaner

Remove seat covers if you have them installed and now clean the whole interior with a wet dry vacuum cleaner and remove all the food particles or dust or anything else that is lying around. This is an important step that must be done before steam cleaning. Otherwise, the steam will make the dry dirt wet, and then later, they will be tough to remove.

Check recommended wet/dry vacuum for for car wash and auto detailing

1.4 Air filter

The air filter must be changed as the mold particles have entered the air conditioning system. Changing it will make sure that the mold spores or particles are not returned to the car interior after cleaning it. Even after the cleaning process is finished, always take care of the air conditioning system because it tends to be dirty, very frequently.

Check this guide for air filter cleaning
steam cleaning of ventilaion system inside the car
Steam Cleaning of ventilation system to kill the mold
Learn more how to clean air vents

1.5 Steam your car interior to kill mould in car

Now, it is time to use the Fortador car wash machine. The car leather and fabric is sensitive to water, which is why it is safe and efficient to use the steam cleaning machine, as the steam produced by the machine contains an insufficient quantity of water. That’s the reason, the interior car detailing stays dry even after steaming. The car windows are also safe with steam cleaning because the steam does not contain any chemicals that can leave any streaks behind. You can dry steam the surface with 125C of dry steam and pressure of 235 PSI.

steam temperature by sprayed distance explained
Steam temperature by sprayed distance explained

1.6 Use detergent or white vinegar

After dry steaming the whole surface, detergent used to clean the surface again. Mold removal can not only be done with dry steaming. In the next step, put a good detergent into the steaming machine and then let the steam do the cleaning job. You can use more pressure where the dirt spot is wider or there is a grease spot, or the mold is much thicker.

After that, let the car dry. Then the steam cleaning experts treat the car with a special product to make sure that there is absolutely no mold left. They use a clean and thick piece of cloth to apply the product all over your car’s interior, seat belts and floor matts, use a scrub brush on the surfaces if needed.

You can also make dilution 1:1 of white vinegar and using spray bottle and clean microfiber towel, wipe all surfaces with this vinegar solution.

1.7 Dry the car and get the remaining odor out

The individual product that was used after the steaming process will return your car’s old shine and make it as beautiful as new. Move car to direct sunlight, then turn the car on and dry it using heat from the air conditioning for 20 minutes and put an ozone machine inside the vehicle to get rid of any remaining odor and bacteria for another 15 minutes.

The Fortador steam cleaning machine will surely do the mold removal process without leaving any trace behind. But if you are worried about food stains or salt stains from your car interior, you can use the Fortador scrub brush and spray bottle with White distilled vinegar or Fortador OXI shampoo. This equipment will take care of all the stubborn stains, and at the same time, your interior fabric and clothes will also be alright.

If you also smell smoke smell in your car learn more about odor removal of cigarettes smell.

2. How to take care of your car even after mold removal

You must know now that mold can germinate again, and moist is the thing from what you should keep your car away. The first thing you have to keep in mind is that try not to eat and drink in the car, especially during the rainy season. Fast foods can dry out before growing mold, but spilled drinks may help mold to grow inside your vehicle. Another thing you must keep in mind is, do not ever get into your car wearing wet clothes or shoes or even when you have long wet hair. These precautions are mostly for rainy seasons because that is the ideal time for molds spores to grow.

  • Whenever you see the sun is shining brightly, get your car out from the garage and let the sun rays and fresh air come in your vehicle. It is very healthy for a car and, at the same time, harmful to the mold’s life.
  • Keep your car clean. And try not to use lots of water to clean it. Use a vacuum cleaner to keep the sits, floor matts and carpets dust-free. Change the air filter time-to-time. A clean car is the enemy of mold.
  • When it is rainy weather or stormy for weeks, it becomes difficult to limit the moisture in your car. During these days, you need to be extra careful. Use things like rice bags or silica gel desiccant packets to absorb the moisture inside the car. Sprinkle a little baking soda on the carpets; let it sit for a few hours then clean it with the vacuum cleaner. Being a thick piece of cloth, it is challenging to keep carpets dry. Baking soda absorbs the moisture to some extent.
  • If your car is not running for a long time, buy a full-body car cover to prevent moisture from touching your car.
  • Your car’s interior requires more than just moisture absorbents. Spray an antimicrobial cleaning product inside the car time-to-time. These products are made to kill mold as well as prevent mold from growing. When you are taking out your car in the rainy season, don’t forget to cover the seats with protective cover and put waterproof floor mats on the floorboards.
  • Using air freshener inside your car will keep it fill fresh and clean. After removing the mold you can finalize with odor using our next guide for odor removal mold, smoke or food
  • Do not forget to clean microfiber towels after finishing the job

Mold indeed looks like an impossible challenge, but with the right equipment and method, it can be cleaned, and your car will be again as good as new and no mold will coming back

Learn more about Car Steam Interior Detailing process

If you still struggling with mold smell, learn more with our guide
Learn more about full set of detailing equipment, tools and chemicals for mobile detailing.

3. What is Mold, and is it dangerous?

Mold is a fungus that can be formed if your car has been left over for a long time. The presence of high temperature and moisture, more than the natural level, are the two main reasons mold occurs. People with lung diseases, skin diseases, allergy sufferers, and a low level of the immune system are especially sensitive to it. Exposure to mold can be dangerous for them, which is why it is highly recommended not to expose you to mold, even if you do not have any disease or have a robust immune system. Symptoms like wheezing, skin or eye irritation, nasal congestion, fever, shortness in breathing, etc. can be caused after exposure to mold, especially the dangerous Chlorohalonata species and Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as a black mold.

The origin of mold spores is humidity and moisture. To be very specific, if you left your car’s sunroof open on rainy days or somehow any liquid left inside your vehicle and that is in damp weather, then that was the time when the welcome bell rang for the mold in yur car. Any moisture, even a little bit, can develop mold spores, and gradually it spreads all over the surface, mold growth takes from 1 month to 3 months.

mold spores completely covered car seats
White Mold covered car seats

4. Steam detailing at interior car shops

Steam car washing is an effective way to remove molds from your car. In this method, a steam cleaner is used to clean up the car’s exterior as el, as interior car detailing. Most detailers use steam cleaners because it takes much less time than any other cleaning method and uses less water too. Additionally, steam cleaning has several health benefits also.

The steam cleaner are starts working after heating a certain amount of water in a boiler. Slowly the water turns into vapor and enters the machine through a nozzle. Then you need to set a temperature, depending on what you are going to do and similarly set a temperature. Likewise, your work will determine what ingredient you need to add in the machine to do the cleaning job properly. For example, after dry steaming the whole car interior, a detergent is used through the steam to get rid of the last bit of mold.

Fortador car wash steamers use high-temperature steam that not only removes grease and dirt quickly but also bacteria, viruses, and germs; thus, steam cleaning is an effective way to remove mold. The Fortador steam cleaner can produce high themperature pressure according to the amount of dirt and strain. For example, it acts tenderly on car paints at the same time that can break down large-sized dirt and can clean them within no time.

5. Advantages of Steam Cleaning

  • Steam cleaning is the most non-toxic way to get rid of mold and clean and sanitize the car surface. Apart from the effectiveness, it can kill almost all bacteria inside your car very quickly. Thus, steam cleaning is a safe, eco-friendly, healthy, and quick way to clean your car, top to bottom.
  • Steam cleaners use a minimal amount of water. That little water can clean the entire car, even without any scrubbing or rubbing
  • The steam produced by the machine does not require any chemicals in order to clean your car. So your sit fabric and leather, mats and carpets, windows, car paint, will be safe
  • You do not have to use multiple fancy or bulk-sized equipment or lots of efforts
  • Just like a regular car wash, the steam cleaning process can also be done in your yard, without extra hassles
  • Steam car wash is an effective way to clean your car, as well as it makes a complicated process like mold removal easier. Not only that, but the steam cleaning process can also be applied for both interior and exterior
  • Apart from using the dry steam of the steaming machine, one can use different nozzles to pick up dust and dirt particles from tough-to-reach places, like the footwell, between the dashboard button, etc.
  • Regular dusting and cleaning cannot give you relief from germs and bacteria, growing inside your car, but steam cleaning can kill mold and other bacterias
Check our full guide of mold and mildew removal out of house

6. Can a steam cleaner remove mold from your car?

Mold is quite a thing to concern as it requires lots of effort to clean it. But did you know, mold removal process becomes much easier with steam cleaning? It happens because the steam machine produces a high-level heat which helps to kill the mold. Mold tends to die at a temperature between 150 degrees and 364 degrees Fahrenheit. Steam cleaning can effectively kill the mold spores from a surface, but steam should not be used on a non-porous surface as the steam can absorb the qualities of porous materials.

But there is one thing you should understand that somehow mold spores have an omnipresence. Even after steam cleaning the interior car detailing, it can again germinate on the surface. It requires oxygen, a nutrient source, and moistures to germinate, which is why if you leave your car in a closed, damp place for a long time, mold grows every day and therefore covers the inside surface of your vehicle.

7. Commonly asked questions about mold removal

Q: Can mold be cleaned out of a car?

A: Yes, sure. Mold removal is a multi step process, but it is completely doable. You need to preform dry clean, apply solution of vinegar or pro chemicals, and use ozone after cleaning to remove mold smell

Q: Can mold in car make you sick?

A: Yes, this is a real danger thing and yes, it could be affecting your family. Dry car first and make deep cleaning of car interior with replacing all filters in your a/c system

Q: How long does it take for mold to grow in a car?

A: Mold can grow in a car in about 12 hours in the warm climate. Often times you will get that mildew smell in 6-10 hours. So it is important to dry your car same day if it get extremely wet. You can use your A/C on heat for 20-30 minutes to avoid mold grouth

Q: How much does it cost car wash wash package to clean a moldy car,?

A: The average cost of mold removal wash packages is $175-$275. If you catch the problem early and only need one spot removed, you'll pay far less ($75),  standard steam cleaning can fix mold problem, Average price for big mold removal is much higher ($475-$750), because it is needed to perform deep cleaning, mold cleaning and ozone smell removal treatment. Also add costs of air filter replacement"

Q: What is difference between mold and mildew?

A: Mildew is usually flat, begins as white, then turn brown or gray, while mold tends to have a higher profile and can even become foamy, exhibits darker colors such as black or deep green.

About the Authors

Ugur Sezmis
Renowned in the world of Professional Detailing, Fahrzeugaufbereitung is not only a master in restoring automotive brilliance but also a distinguished Rupes Trainer based in Germany. With a commitment to perfection, he enhances car aesthetics while sharing his expertise through top-notch training.
Sergey "Serg" Paskevich
Panama-based detailing pro, proud owner of Car Care Performance Detailing studio in Panama-City. Specializing in Paint Correction, Ceramic Coating, and comprehensive Car Detailing services

Learn More

The Ultimate Guide to Car Interior Dressing: Protect, Preserve, and Shine


The Ultimate Guide to Competitive Car Detailing Pricing


Gentle Care for Luxurious Interiors: Cleaning Tips for Suede Car Seats


Contact Us
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
This is some text inside of a div block.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.