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Young woman holding her nose because of bad smell in car

How To Get Rid Of Mildew Smell In Car?

Our ability to smell is quite fascinating. But, only when the smell is pleasant. Sometimes, the odour is so bad that we wish we did not have a nose. Mostly during monsoons, our car forms a strange mildew smell. It is not pleasant a lot and your car smells like dirty laundry. Are you also experiencing musky odours in your car? Do you want to know how to get rid of the mildew smell in the car?  If yes, read this article further to know how to lose this smell.

What Causes This Mildew Odour?

This musky odour is caused by colonies of fungus. The breeding of fungus is done with the help of humidity and heat. This is the reason this is most probable during monsoon. A car with similar conditions will start forming mould and mildew inside the car. Mould grows on porous materials like leather, cotton, paper, etc. Mildew grows on non-porous materials like vinyl and plastic. What exactly causes the breeding of mould and mildew?

1. Food:

Food and drinks are moist to some extent and they can cause fungus to breed in your car. Food that you forgot inside your car will get spoiled after getting oxidised, providing a breeding ground for microorganisms. The fungus can grow on bread as well. And the moist environment required for their growth will be made by the spilt drinks on your seat. When these drinks evaporate they will diffuse with the environment. This will make the air moist and cause fungus to grow.

2. Clothes:

Everyone sweats even without exercising. This sweat is absorbed by your clothes and also gives them a musky smell. If you have worn clothes in your car, it is probably the reason for the mildew smell and the fungus formation. Make sure you don’t keep clothes inside your car.

3. Water Leak:

Fungi like mildew and mould require a moist environment to grow. This can be provided by water leaks. Poor bodywork can cause water leaks. A loose door or trunk seal can also cause leaks. The humid air seeps in through these leaks or even water directly during rain. An open window during rain can also cause this water to seep in. A clogged sunroof drain cause also leaks. Make sure your car does not have any leaks as it can make your car smell funky.

4. Weather:

During rainfall or snowfall, water can seep inside the car. Either directly through a leak or indirectly. If your shoes are wet and you enter the car, the shoe water starts evaporating. A closed car will trap this humidity and cause fungus to grow. Make sure you do not get anything wet inside the car.

5. AC:

An AC can cause water to seep inside the cabin rather than outside the car. Any car with a faulty AC can cause fungus to grow. If your AC is creating problems there is a high chance it is causing mildew and mould to grow. A blocked condensate drain or tube could also cause water to flow in the car. This water when evaporated will cause moistness in the car causing fungus to grow.

How To Get Rid Of Mildew Smell In Car?

This musky smell can be very embarrassing for you and also quite taxing on your everyday mood. You could get rid of this smell with the help of a few methods. Some of them are written below:

1. Removing Fungi Sources:

The first thing everyone should do is remove the source of the smell. The source could be anything like dirty laundry or a box of food. Removing particles that can cause moistness in your car will help solve the problem. If there is an improvement in the smell condition, deodorise your car with a freshener.

2. Using Steam Cleaners:

Even though fungi need a warm temperature to grow, they cannot survive at a temperature above 140 Fahrenheits. Using a steam cleaner should help kill the fungi. But, remember to go out for a drive after to remove the steam accumulated inside. Also, use a freshener after using a steam cleaner.

3. White Vinegar And Water:

White vinegar and water are great alternatives for harsh chemicals. Creating a mixture and spraying inside the car will help you remove the smell. Just make sure you keep the windows open and drive for a while after doing this method. And, do not forget to deodorise.

Chemical free home cleaner products concept. Use natural distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle to remove stains. Tools on wooden table, green bokeh background, copy space.

4. Chemical Sprays:

There are many commercial sprays out there in the market which work great for removing this smell. You could easily find one around the block. These work great for eliminating fungus. The only problem with this would be the unnecessary money you will have to spend. Even though the cost is not too much it is not free. The other solutions in the article are free and should be done first to save money.

How To Prevent Mildew Smell?

The only way to prevent mildew smell inside the car would be by preventing moisture in the car. That can be done by removing any cloth or food. The water can also be from a leakage. Make sure your car doesn’t leak. You should regularly clean your car which will prevent the growth of any microorganisms.

Frequently Asked Questions:

So, here are some of the frequently asked questions about how do I get the mildew smell out of the car, what causes a Mostly smell in the car etc?-

How Do I Get The Mildew Smell Out Of My Car?

  1. Thoroughly vacuuming car surfaces, and all interior areas, including the door panel, can help in getting rid of the mildew smell.
  2. You can use Baking Soda.
  3. Next, you can use a Powerful Car Steam Cleaner and mild detergent
  4. Clean till you get rid of this smell.

What Causes A Musty Smell In My Car?

Musty smells are caused by colonies of fungus released into the air. Such car smells usually lead to excess moisture and over 50 per cent relative humidity which gives a breeding ground for these microorganisms.

What Absorbs Odor In A Car?

Baking soda absorbs odours in a Car. Sprinkling baking soda on their upholstery helps to eliminate car odours. After that, it will slowly absorb the unwanted odour.

How Do I Make My Car Smell New?

  1. If you want your car to smell like new, what you can do is vacuum the seats.
  2. Wash your car with steam cleaners or with detergent, vinegar etc.
  3. Use a Car Air Spray.

How Do You Get Smell Out Of Car Upholstery?

You should Mix one part white vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle. After that spray on it and let it dry till do till you get rid of this smell.

Does The Smell Of Mildew Go Away?

You can remove mildew and musty odours with a simple toothbrush, or a few cleaning supplies like detergent, steam cleaners, vinegar, or chemical sprays depending on the type of surface you’re cleaning and then you will get rid of the mildew smell.


The musky smell of mildew can be very irritating for the driver and also the passengers. It is also quite embarrassing. Fortunately, we can easily get rid of this smell. There are many solutions available for this problem in this article. They are easy to do and also cheap. The best option would still be cleaning your car regularly and taking care of what you keep inside it. I hope this article helped you know how to get rid of the mildew smell in cars.