I was away from home this summer for an extended period of time (2 months). The car sat on the driveway. When I returned, I found a very strong smell of mold in the car and found mold on the carpet, the steering wheel and some panels. It turned out that the seal of the rear passenger side door became compromised and water was able to trickle into the car. In the hot and humid summer months, with the car sitting closed in on the driveway without being driven, the mold was sure to form and grow. After I returned, I had the car cleaned by a mold remediator company. The vacuumed all the mold out, cleaned all non-fabric surfaces, and filled the car with the gas containing anti-mold agent. After that, there car still smelled moldy and musty. I had the carpet and the jute padding under the carpet replaced. The smell situation improved but the car still smells moldy. Any suggestions? Some people suggested detailing the interior, but I am hesitating to do this because it involves moisture and if there is some of it left after detailing, it may restart the growth of mold, if some of it is left in the seat’s fabric. The car is a Honda Civic, 7 years old, with only 75K miles on it. I have been counting on using the car for several years ahead. Thanks for any thoughts/advice.
The entire interior needs to be taken apart to determine if all the mold was removed.
If mold was growing on the surface of the door panels, then mold could still be growing on the back-side of those dooe panels. There’s probably some mold in the vent system. The seats/headliner may still have mold growing growing in them.
Was there also mold growing in the trunk? If so, that will also have to be taken apart to see if there’s any mold growing.
There was no visible mold in the trunk or on the door panels. The vents were sprayed with the anti-mold gas while the air fan was on. I have used the fan since and the air that is coming out seems to be clean; it does not have any odor. Also, I replaced the cabin air filter. The moldy smell can only be felt when I open the car in the morning or in the evening when I am about to drive home, that is only after the car stood closed for a substantial period of time. Is it possible that the seats’ fabric as well as headliner are still holding mold smell even if there is no actual mold present? And how can I get rid of such smell? Of course, I will look for any remnants of mold behind the door panels and similar places.
“I had the carpet . . . replaced”
Do you mean that you removed the seats and replaced the entire carpeting underneath?
Or do you mean you replaced the floormats?
BTW . . . what is jute padding?
Killing off mold cells actually growing — mold is a type of plant or similar to a plant if I remember my high school biology – so killing it, like any plant that is actually growing isn’t that difficult; but the problem is the mold seed, or for mold, the spores. Killing the mold spores is probably much more difficult. Any spores still present may be re-sprouting whenever the interior humidity gets high enough to support growth. That may be the problem.
You might be able to just ignore it, and eventually it will go away as long as the interior of the car is kept dry. Some folks are more bothered by mold than others. And the adverse effects depend on the mold variety.
Getting rid of this completely will probably require that all the soft interior materials that got wet be removed and replaced.
A body shop removed the seats and replaced the entire carpet and the floor mats as well as the padding that is under the carpet (the jute padding); I was told that the padding is there primarily to absorb the noise; and if I understand correctly the term jute refers to the material it is made of; if you google jute padding, you will see images of this material.
The only part of the car that actually got wet was the carpet in the rear of the car. However, when I first opened the car upon my arrival there was mold on the steering wheel, on the carpet and on the dash board. And as @Tester suggested, I will check behind the door panels, especially in the door that had a leak.
Spray everything with Lysol, then leave the windows down for awhile to clear out the smell of the Lysol. You might also try Oust air sanitizer, but this time leave the windows up for awhile for it to work.
I had this happen to a corvette I had covered and closed up outside only much worse than you describe. Mold spores are everywhere you can’t eliminate them. They need a conducive environment to grow. That’s how they got going in your closed up car.
I had good results using chlorine dioxide gas to kill off the active growth. First you have to stop the leaks then go after the mold. Ask what gas they used. Did they run the fans to circulate through ducting? How long left exposed to gas? Etc.
You can buy the gas producing packets and kit online. Follow the directions to a T.