Get 5% off in-app
400k+ download
Open app

Say Goodbye to Mildew Smell in Your Car with These Simple Tips

  • Car Care Tips
  • Silas Smith
  • 4 minutes

Spread the love

Mold and mildew smell in your car can be unpleasant, particularly on long trips. These are common in comparatively older vehicles where mildew growth can occur due to wet upholstery, leftover food, or trash collected in small crevices that aren’t easily noticeable. This article will explain how to remove the mildew smell from your car.  

mildew smell in car

What causes a mildew smell in a car?  

Various factors can cause a mildew smell in a car. In most cases, this is due to wet seats caused by unattended windows on a rainy day or a blocked drain causing water to seep in, wetting the headliner and seats. Furthermore, leaks in the trunk can also allow the passage of water inside the cabin.  

Mildew growth is also commonly seen during snowy conditions, where moisture can build up if passengers bring snow deposits inside the cabin. Additionally, it can also happen due to a clogged cabin filter or due to issues with its air conditioning system.  

How to remove the mildew smell from a car? 

Cleaning your car regularly is the best way to keep it away from mildew and other musty smells. Though it isn’t easy as it sounds, we’ve broken down the process into a few simple steps to make it easy for you.  

Step 1: Vacuum the car 

Vacuuming your car is the first step towards removing the mildew smell from your car. Ensure that you use a vacuum attachment that can read all small crevices and hard-to-reach areas of the car of your car where food leftovers and other odor-inducing debris are most likely to be trapped.  

Step 2: Cleaning the car 

The next step in the process of removing the mildew smell from your car is to clean it. Following are a few ways by which you can clean your car. 


You can use a powerful steam cleaner to clean your car to remove the mildew smell from it. Most mold/mildew cannot survive beyond 140F, making steam the best way to clean your car’s interior. Steam cleaner with a combination of a shampooer and an extractor is the best way to clean your car’s interiors.  

Baking Soda 

Baking soda is an easily available ingredient that doubles up as an excellent deodorizer as well as a stain remover. You can apply baking soda on seats, door pads, floor mats, etc., and leave it for at least 15-20 minutes and then wash it off to remove the mildew smell from your car.  


Spraying distilled white vinegar on the mildew-affected areas of your car can also remove the mildew smell from your car. However, make sure you dilute it with at least 50% water and use it in small amounts to avoid the strong odor of vinegar.  

Recommended read: Strange car smells and How to fix them

Mild detergent 

Using mild commercial detergents and steaming is also an excellent way to deodorize your car. These detergents have odor-eliminating molecules that help eliminate mildew smell.  

Ozone generator 

If any of the methods mentioned above don’t completely remove the unpleasant smell from your car, you can try treating your car with an ozone generator, which takes almost 30 minutes. However, make sure that the car has proper ventilation during the process.  

Essential oils 

Applying essential oils may not help eliminate the mildew smells forever, but it can mask these unpleasant odors for at least a few hours. All you need to do is to apply a few drops of essential oil to a tissue paper or a piece of cloth and place it inside the car. Furthermore, you can also spray it inside your car using an atomizer.  

Why is there a mildew smell in my car without any leaks? 

If your car has a mildew smell and you do not notice any leaks, it is probably due to bacterial/ mold growth in the water collected in the evaporator inside the heating/cooling system.  

Will the mildew smell go away on its own? 

The mildew smell on your car can fade away over time. But it needs manual intervention to remove the smell completely from your car. Follow the steps mentioned in this article to eliminate the unpleasant smell from your car’s interiors.  

Way.com, the all-in-one App, helps you find the best auto insuranceauto refinanceEV charginggas discountsbest parking, and car washes near you.   

Own a car in a smarter way using the Way App! 

Related Posts


Press ESC to close