Mold Remediation in Cars

Water puddleLet’s talk about something exciting today – mold remediation in cars. Or, as most people call it, mold removal in cars. If you’re like me, then you have no idea how often mold occurs in our automobiles, that is, enough mold so that you have to take it somewhere and have the car cleaned and treated.

I thought these instances were quite rare, and pretty much limited to instances where a car was flooded, or, left outside during a two-day rainstorm with all the windows down.

But, after talking with Neal Ailstock, owner of Seatco, about mold remediation in cars, he states that Seatco sees around 10 vehicles a month come in for mold remediation, and most of those jobs happen because a sunroof drain or a drain attached to the AC system or some other drain in the car gets blocked, and water being water, it seeks someplace else to go. That location is almost always within the interior cabin.

Carpets and seats get wet, it’s a closed environment so the interior can’t dry out quickly, and mold occurs. It smells bad, and sometimes it’s enough mold so that it makes people sick.

The vehicle shows up at Seatco, and the guys here go to work.

This is what usually happens when Seatco performs mold remediation in cars:

  1. The whole interior of the vehicle is completely stripped out, including the headliner. Sometimes the headliner is left in, but this is on a case-by-case basis.
  2. The interior is thoroughly scrubbed with germicide.
  3. The interior is thoroughly scrubbed with anti-mold solution (Seatco uses a brand called Moldstat, but there are other options).
  4. The AC system is flushed with ozone
  5. The carpets are pressure-washed with germicide, or if necessary, replaced with new material.
  6. All door panels, seats, etc. are also treated with germicide.
  7. Moldstat is applied to both sides of carpet.
  8. A new jute mat (goes under carpet) is installed in the vehicle.
  9. Re-installation of the interior pieces is then accomplished.

Sometimes, one of these steps needs to be repeated, and sometimes the sequence is juggled a little bit, but this is the usual process.

Of course, as all this is happening, other technicians diagnose the cause of the leak and repair same.

How long does this take?

Anywhere from 3-7 days, depending on the drying time needed. For example, if it’s the middle of the hot summer, and it’s not raining, everything dries much more quickly.

And the big question, how much does all this cost?

The average is around $1200. Could be less, could be more, but the average is around $1200.

And that’s it. The customer drives out of here with a dry, fresh-smelling car, the mold has been banished, and everyone breathes a bit easier.

24 thoughts on “Mold Remediation in Cars

  1. Rory says:

    Very, very informative post! I wondered how a professional shop takes car of mold. There are videos of mold removal on YouTube, but they’re by individuals and not as detailed as what you do, not by a long shot. I had a car that actually had little mushrooms growing in the carpet after it got wet and was parked in a garage, and the whole interior had to be redone. Expensive.

    1. We’ve seen cars that bad in here, with plant life growing in the carpets or the seats. It’s amazing how quickly a wet car can get really awful inside.

    2. I thought about your comment last week as we had a car come in here with fungus inside and plant life growing in the vinyl top. Mold removal was probably understating the case in terms of what we did to that car.

  2. MIke says:

    I had mold on my dash and my steering wheel in a Nissan 350Z. Good information to have and thank you for explaining it.

  3. Its a drain on us says:

    Great advice, good post.

  4. Sabrina says:

    I was extremely pleased to find this great article on mold. I need to thank you for this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every bit of it and its helpful and I also have you saved as a favorite to see future posts on your website.

  5. steveehrens says:

    Mold is not only unsightly and smelly, but can also be dangerous to breath in the spores due to allergies or other reactions, so knowing how to remove mold from car seats, carpets and the interior as soon as possible is a must do on your priorities list, but which way is the best to remove it?

  6. Adam Cornelison says:

    I have a Colorado. 2004. One row of seats and no carpet. I have molded vynil flooring. No carpet. Needs pulling and maybe replacing. Would it still be as much as 1200? Only 4 bolts on each side to get the seats out and not a lot on it.

    Thanks!

    1. Hello, Adam – sorry to hear you need mold removal in your Chevrolet Colorado. We have contacted you via email, and we’ll get you going on mold remediation as soon as possible.

  7. Len davis says:

    Need mold removed in my ford expedition

    1. Matt Lupton says:

      Hi there Len, my name is Matt. Thanks for the interest in our services. Please contact us at info@seatco.com, or at 703.354.4800 and we get the ball rolling on remediating your car.

      Looking forward to working with you!

      Thanks again,

      Matt Lupton

  8. Dee Bausch says:

    I have a VW BEETLE CONVERTIBLE that has a canvas top that got dry rotted and window came loose in back. Windows were stuck halfway down and rain got in car. Mold is growing in car and top. Which needs replaced, but have to get mold taken care of first. It cant be driven not safe to be in car. Probably have to get it towed. I live in calvert county md. Do you know if insurance pays for water damage? Does your company ever tow a car to your shop?
    Thanks for any information you can give me.

    1. Matt Lupton says:

      Hi Dee, Matt here. Happy to help you with that. Most of the moldy vehicles we work are handled by insurance carriers, yes. We ourselves do not provide a towing service, that would be up to your carrier to handle that.

      Please contact us at either info@seatco.com, or at 703.354.4800, and we can help you sort out the details about your Bug.

      Thanks!

  9. Donna Spencer says:

    Please help in Maryland. Just purchased a used vehicle and have traced a smell to black mold. Need it out ASAP

    1. Matt Lupton says:

      Hi Donna, Matt here. We would be happy to work with you. Please contact us at info@seatco.com, or at 703.354.4800.

      Thank you kindly!

  10. Eric says:

    Hi, in Florida seems white mold came this old building place I rent. It crossed over into my 2016 Volvo S60. It’s from bringing stuff out my rental then some guy blew leaves off roof seems got into AC vents car system now. It’s all from inside my place I got move. The landlord is a jerk won’t fix mold burning my eyes coughing now it’s in my Volvo very disturbing. Anything I can try since your not in Florida for my car? My landlord had 2 roofers out goof balls said can’t smell inside my place it’s invisible spores but I saw under sink white mold and same around car cabin filter changed filter. It must grew inside car…. nightmare. I got cancer this all too much got get out of rental unit when able….HELP

    1. Matt Lupton says:

      Hi Eric. Sorry to hear about your troubles. Please feel free to contact us, I would be happy to share as much advice with you as I can.

      Our shop line is 703.354.4800.

      Thank you kindly!

  11. Kurt Schlaus says:

    How I get rid of a car mold?

    Choose your mold cleaner. White vinegar and hot water in a spray bottle is a popular option, and you can mix it with baking soda. This odor remover is particularly effective against black mold. One part water and one part color-safe bleach can also work, but you’ll want to test a patch in an out-of-the-way area first.

    Regards,
    Kurt

  12. Ashley P Glenn says:

    Thanks for this great article! I’m in Richmond, VA with a ’20 VW Tiguan that smells like a swamp after what we believe was a spill of melted Ice (so just water) from a small, tipped-over cooler. The odor was noticed first and then the suspected culprit, so we’re not positive of the issue and can’t tell where it might have spilled. There’s no visible evidence of mold that we can tell. Just the odor. Given that I’m not local, I’m trying to locate someone closer by to provide restoration service if I can first. If not, we may be making a trek to you!

    Do you have any suggestions on how we can identify the location of the issue/growth so we can provide some direction when taking it in for service?

    Do you have anyone you work with or recommend in the Richmond, VA Area? So far, I’ve only found Car Pool, which I am uncertain of.

    Thank you!
    Ashley G.

  13. sara allen says:

    need guidance regarding a BMW left in a FL garage for a year. White mold all over. I have to pick it up from dealer where new battery was installed and plan to drive 3 miles with gloves on and windows open. Located in Naples. Your expert opinion greatly appreciated.

    1. Matt Lupton says:

      Hi Sara, Matt here. There’s not much I can offer that we might without your BMW being here, though I would suggest using Yelp with your respective ZIP code to look up shops that may help you. Maybe start with local detail shops.

      I’ve sent you an email directly. Please let me know if we can be of anymore help!

  14. Diane says:

    If the mold appears contained to the front passenger seat carpet, and the source of the leak is solved (O-ring), should I assume there are mold spores all over the van? For example, do I need to have headliner pulled out and cleaned, or can I just spray the headliner with a fungicide? I have not noticed mold on the headliner but I was not sure how far I should take the mold removal.

  15. Ron Turner says:

    Thanks you for the information you posted with a starting price for your service. Very informative. Yes I have my 1998 volvo wagon which did have water for a few months. Being that I am a disabled veteran on a slim income (SS), who can’t do that kind of work anymore, my wife and daughter completely cleaned, shampooed carpet and such. But the slight smell of being moldy still exists. I’m hoping in the future I’m able to afford your type of service. Also, getting a replacement vehicle, nope. I love my volvo.
    Again thank you.
    Ron

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