Updated at: 24-05-2022 - By: Helen Skeates

Moisture can seep into your car more easily during the rainy season, increasing your risk of fungus growth. In order to keep the ride enjoyable, here is how to remove the mildew smell from vehicle seats!

Mildew and a musty odor are the result of your car’s carpeting and seats getting wet. It’s still possible to get rid of it, so we’ll give you some advice on how to do so and what may be behind it.

Causes Of Mildew Smell In Your Car

Mildew growth in your car might be caused by a variety of circumstances. These are a few examples:

Poor maintenance

It is common for automobile owners to neglect the hygiene of their vehicles, which can lead to the formation of mold and mildew. Because these fungi require food to thrive, the accumulation of dust and filth in your car will encourage mildew to develop and propagate.

How to Remove Odors and Mold Smells in Car Cabin | 9 Steps of Odor in

Maintaining your vehicle requires regular cleaning. Keep your vehicle clean and fresh, as well as safe for your family, by using this product.

Non-operational vehicles

It’s easy for fungus to grow on vehicles that have been shut off and completely closed for months. This is because the spores that have become lodged within the vehicle are taking advantage of the air and moisture available to them to proliferate and spread.

If you won’t be driving your car for a while, keep an eye on it by opening the hood and checking for dirt and dust. If you see mildew growth before it gets out of hand, that’s even better.


Your car is more likely to develop mildew if you reside in a location that has a lot of rainfall and high humidity levels.

If it’s a sunny day, don’t hesitate to park your car in the shade. Mold can’t develop if moisture is removed from the air using heat.

8 Ways Of Mildew Smell Removal

There are numerous methods for eliminating mildew from your car seats and preventing the musty smell from returning. You’ll be fine if you follow the steps outlined below.

1. Blot dry all the wet parts

When it comes to mildew, moisture is a constant foe. It is because of this that if you notice a musty odor in your automobile, locate the moist areas and dry them with a clean, dry towel.

2. Dry your car seats under the sun

The sun’s UV rays kill mildew spores and restore the freshness of your vehicle’s interior seats. If your car seats have mildew on them, air-dry them for one to two days, taking care not to harm the cover in the process.

3. Blast the air conditioner and park where there is sunlight

The best way to prevent mildew growth while driving is to run your air conditioner at full blast. It’s best to leave your car parked in direct sunshine when it’s stationary.

4. Use baking soda

Cleaning with baking soda has long been a well-known practice. For example, it can be used to remove or absorb bad smells.

Rub the fabric of your car’s seats lightly with baking soda once you’ve sprinkled it on them. Let it sit for 4 to 7 days to let the mildew odor and moisture to be absorbed by the product.

5. Make a DIY anti-mildew spray

Using a small amount of detergent, mix apple cider vinegar, grape seed extract and tea tree oil together until well-combined. Remove mildew and its smell with this mixture.

Spray the solution on your car seats and let it dry. Once you’ve finished, open the windows to expedite the drying process.

6. Dry coffee grounds

Additionally, dry coffee grinds can be used to remove unpleasant odors. In a two-container setup, lay two containers of dry coffee grinds under the car seats for 5 to 7 days.

7. Enzymes

Mildew may be removed from automobile seats with enzyme cleansers. A touch of freshness will remain in your automobile after the active enzymes devour the mildew.

Allow it to soak for at least 24 to 48 hours in the afflicted region. Let the air circulate by opening the windows, then blotting it dry.

8. Ask for professional help

Ask a professional for aid when you don’t have the time or aren’t interested in DIY projects. The auto cleaners know just how to get rid of mildew odors and guarantee that they won’t reappear.

Read this article on how to remove mold from seat belts if yours becomes contaminated. In addition to learning how to use anti-mold stickers, this guide can teach you other strategies to keep mold at bay.

Complete guide for car odor elimination

How Odors Occur

In addition to upholstery and carpets, other hard and semi-soft surfaces, such as door panels and floor mats, can contribute to odors in the cabin. You must first grasp how odors build up in a car’s interior before you can figure out how to get rid of them. Bad scents can be caused by a variety of factors.

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Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew odors are rather frequent in older cars. It’s likely that the doors and upholstery in the cabin got soaked if you’ve ever left a window open during a rainfall. As a result, mold and mildew thrive under these conditions. There is no mold or mildew on plastic, but dirt and other organic material may already be on the inside surface, enabling these organisms a chance to take hold of these interior surfaces. Leather, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring material that can be recycled. Mold and mildew can grow on leather inserts in luxury cars’ doors, seats, and other locations if they aren’t properly cared for. In addition, many of these microorganisms may be living on top of the components in your car’s interior, which could lead to the development of unpleasant odors.

Cigarette, Cigars or Marijuana (Weed, Cannabis)  Smoke

It’s difficult to remove cigarette smoke from the cabin of an automobile. Getting rid of the smell of cigarette smoke in a car is tough because it permeates the upholstery, carpet, hard surfaces, and air system. As a result, removing smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and marijuana (sometimes known as weed or cannabis) requires regular replacement of the cabin filter.

Other Causes

In spite of your best efforts, several substances can linger in your car’s cabin after you wipe them away. Drink holders in the doors of many newer automobiles are becoming more commonplace, as are those in the center console. Most people eventually wind up spilling coffee, soda, juice, and more on the surface around their drink holder, resulting in an unpleasant odor. Cigar smoke, spilt food, pet hair, and urine are just some of the substances that can leave a noxious odor in your car’s cabin over time if they aren’t cleaned up immediately. Some odors are more difficult to get rid of than others, necessitating the use of a variety of procedures and substances. One thing, though, is definite. The best method for removing stains from car doors and other interior parts is to thoroughly clean the cabin using steam and a light detergent solution.

How to Remove Mold and Smoke Car Smells

The easiest technique to get rid of unpleasant odors in your car is to thoroughly clean the interior. Ventilation systems, which circulate fresh air into your car’s cabin, are one source of lingering odors. Ventilation filter replacements alone will not suffice. Vents must be cleaned as well, but how do you go about doing that? Is only washing and scrubbing all that is necessary? It’s not in most circumstances. Consider these suggestions while cleaning the interior of your car.

1. Vacuum All Car Surfaces before Starting

The door panel and other inside surfaces should be completely vacuumed before steaming. You can get into hard-to-reach places with a tool that allows the detailer to get into cracks and crevices where decaying food and ashes from cigarettes may be hiding. After all, if you don’t get rid of all the odors, they’ll come back quickly if you don’t.

2. Baking Soda

Another effective deodorizer component is baking soda. Baking soda not only removes odors, but it is also excellent at eliminating soap scum and tenacious stains. Anywhere else in the car that has an off-putting stench should have it sprinkled on the door, carpet, or seats to neutralize the stink. For at least 15 minutes, let the baking soda settle. Using baking soda to get rid of lingering scents like smoke is a great way to get rid of tenacious odors.

3. Using a Powerful Car Steam Cleaner

All inside automobile surfaces and the air can be cleaned and freshened with steam cleaning. Fortador’s commercial-grade steam cleaners are capable of deep cleaning, sanitizing, and protecting every inch of your car’s interior. Debris and minute particles such as pollen, mold, mildew, bacteria, and viruses can be blasted away by the Fortador PRO Plus or PRO S. They not only clean your car’s interior, but they sterilize and freshen it at the same time.

The Fortador PRO Plus and PRO S family of steamers are also all-in-one devices. With a powerful steamer and a shampooer/extractor, detailers are able to clean everything from seats and upholstery to carpets and upholstery. A comprehensive set of tools is included with these commercial steamers, allowing the detailers easy access to locations where unpleasant scents prefer to lurk. Detailers merely need to use a Fortador steamer to get rid of unpleasant automotive scents. However, natural spray treatments may be required for additional cleaning of very dirty automobile interiors. You can choose from a variety of options in these situations.

4. Use Mild Detergent

Natural-based commercial detergent and steam cleaning are two options. Even odor-eliminating molecules can be found in some commercial auto cleansers, making the vehicle’s interior smell fresher. Many clients today choose environmentally friendly cleaning and deodorizing solutions, so always choose the mildest spray cleaner that will do the job. Take caution when cleaning the headliner, since it will soak up any smoke or pot aromas you’ve managed to get rid of.

5. Apply Distilled White Vinegar

Using distilled white vinegar, a cheap and effective odor neutralizer, blot the affected area. With the windows closed, the vinegar scent might last for days or even weeks, especially if too much is applied. This problem can be solved by spraying vinegar, which has been diluted with water to roughly 50%, on the source of the odor.

6. Repeat Cleaning

It may take a few tries with the steamer and the shampooer to get rid of the odor in some spots. Don’t skimp on many passes if necessary, as this will ensure that your car detailing service is thorough.

7. Don’t Neglect the Engine Bay

Dirt and grime buildup in the engine might cause foul odors to arise from time to time. Vents might allow these odors to enter the cabin. Degreasing the engine, followed by a steam cleaning, can help keep interior odours from accumulating on the door panels and other surfaces. Wipe the surface with a microfiber cloth to complete the task.

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8. Use an ozone generator

Consider purchasing an ozone generator if you don’t already have one. If you’ve done a thorough cleaning and still have a faint chemical odor, an ozone generator can help. To complete an ozone cycle, the car must be ventilated with open doors for 15-30 minutes after it has begun. This final step eliminates any odors from the vehicle’s interior.

9. Apply Essential Oil

An essential oil can still be used to get rid of unwanted smells after you’ve exhausted all other options. Smoke odors, for example, can be effectively concealed for extended periods of time with the use of essential oils, which also serve as a pleasant air refresher. There are a variety of scents available for essential oils, including mixes. Essential oils can be overpowering if you use too much aroma, so be cautious while using them. Several drops on a handkerchief placed in the glove compartment or anywhere behind the rear seat will suffice for this purpose.

Activated Charcoal

An interior that is frequently vacuumed and steam cleaned retains its fresh scent the best. In between detailing sessions, a fresh cabin can benefit from the use of a variety of different products to keep odors at bay.

Other Ways to Eliminate Car Odors

In certain cases, people place fabric softener sheets in their automobile doors, tucked behind the seat cushions, and in other interior areas. When it comes to eliminating pet odors, an odor bomb neutralizer may be an excellent choice for pet owners.

Apply a Kevlar Coating

Kevlar can be applied to the entire cabin after it has been detailed. Fabric seats, floor mats, and other hard surfaces are all protected by Kevlar, a ceramic coating. Professional detailers will find all they need in Fortador’s Kevlar system to safeguard freshly cleaned surfaces. You’ll be providing your customers with a clean, odor-free car, but one that also smells great and is easier to clean during subsequent auto detailing visits.

What’S That Musty Smell In My Car?

Some 10,000 different scents can be detected by the sense of smell. Aromas can be pleasant or offensive, depending on where they come from and who they come from. While humans can detect a rotten apple in a barrel of perfectly nice apples, dogs can detect a rotten apple in a warehouse of perfectly good apples. Fortunately, our sense of smell isn’t quite as acute as that of most animals. Smells are released when all of these elements come together. The smell of a gym when you open your car door isn’t nice, regardless of whether or not you go to the gym.

Why Is There Mold In My Car?

Colonies of fungus release their reproductive spores into the air, causing musty and mildew odours. In most cases, these smells may be traced back to excess moisture, which provides the ideal environment for the growth of bacteria. Mold thrives at temperatures between 77 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit, so your car is the ideal environment to create a colony of mold and mildew. While mildew thrives on non-porous surfaces such as vinyl and plastic, mold prefers to dwell in porous materials such as leather, foam, felt, and paper. Do you know what could allow mold and mildew to thrive in your vehicle?

  • Forgotten Food – Moisture is found in almost all food and beverage products. Spilled beverages can also soak into the padding of the seat cushions and the carpet. The humidity in your car climbs everywhere, even in locations you can’t see or access, while food and drink are evaporating.
  • Misplaced Apparel – The normal individual sweats about 20 oz per day, but severe exercise can increase that to more than a quart per hour for a short period of time. As you wear your clothes, stockings, and shoes that soak up a lot of it. After a swim in the pool or ocean, your towel will be soaked by the water. Evaporating sweat or water, if left in a trunk or the backseat, enhances the car’s relative humidity.

Water-based Damage

  • Damage and aging can lead to water leaks in the vehicle’s interior. Leaks can occur if the bodywork or panels are not properly sealed. Many automobiles suffer from worn-out, deteriorated, or cracked door or trunk seals, and this is a typical problem. Sunroof drains that become clogged are another typical issue. If the window or sunroof is accidentally left open during heavy rain, your carpets and seats may get soaked.
  • Another source of water and new mold spores is the weather, which includes rain, snow, and muck. To avoid this, make sure your shoes are clean and dry before you enter the room. It is possible for this water to evaporate and spread throughout the vehicle in a hot, enclosed space.
  • Evaporator – The evaporator in air-conditioned automobiles is always damp because it removes moisture from the air. Normally, this water drips out of the car through a tube on the ground. To avoid wetting the car’s interior, make sure that the drain tube is clear of any obstructions. Mildew can build up in the air box and evaporator if the evaporator is left in recirculation mode.

Is it possible to get rid of the musty smell in your automobile without damaging your health? Musty odors might trigger allergic reactions in some people. It would be ideal if you could remove musty odors from your car without the use of harsh chemicals.

Remove Mildew Smells And Musty Smells

It’s impossible to mask mildew odours with air freshener since mildew is a live organism, even though it’s small. To get rid of a musty odor in your car, there are two simple measures.

  • First, remove any visible mold and mildew from the affected area, along with any potential sources, such as food or clothing. Steam cleaners are a fantastic non-chemical way to kill visible and invisible mold because mold cannot tolerate temperatures beyond 140 °F. Harsh chemicals can be replaced with a simple solution of white vinegar and water. On a sunny day, it’s best to leave your car with the windows open and the breeze blowing to help dry out the interior.
  • Use Turtle Wax Power Out! for deodorizing hard and smooth surfaces, such as door panels or dashboards! Using Odor-X and a gentle cloth Air conditioning vents and air boxes can also be treated with Odor-X Spray to remove musty odors. Turtle Wax Power Out! Upholstery Cleaner and its built-in brush remove stains and odors from porous surfaces like seats and carpets.

After you’ve done all the cleaning, using Turtle Wax ODOR-X Whole Car Blast Kinetic is an excellent method to get rid of any remaining musty smells. In just a few minutes, the fine mist dispels musty odors throughout the vehicle, including in the interior door and roof panels, under the seats, and in the air conditioning system.

Prevent Car Smells From Car Smells

How can you prevent musty odors from returning to your automobile now that mold and mildew have been removed? In order to prevent mold and mildew from returning, it is necessary to remove sources of heat, humidity, and food.

  • To avoid mold and mildew, make your vehicle as uninviting as possible. To keep your car from being too humid, take care of any water damage and avoid leaving anything wet inside. When parked, make sure the air conditioning is set to “fresh air” to allow for proper circulation of the vehicle’s interior. All-weather floor mats prevent most water from soaking into the carpets throughout the rain, snow, and mud seasons. Keep your automobile clean both inside and out to extend its life and keep it smelling fresh. Turtle Wax Power Out in a convenient travel size! Pump Kinetic is great for occasional touch-ups, and it’s easy to use.

It’s truly a surprise that we can notice the aromas of our morning brew, evening snifter, significant other, and even danger with our sense of smell. With the correct products, it is possible to erase unpleasant scents from your car and prevent mildew odors from returning.

How to Remove Odors and Mold Smells in Car Cabin | 9 Steps of Odor in Car removal You Need to Know


As a car owner, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety and comfort of yourself and your passengers. A mold- and mildew-infested car is not only unsightly, but it could also be dangerous to your health.

Now that you’ve learned how to remove mildew odor from vehicle seats, you’ll have a great time driving throughout the city and upstate!