The BIG Wet - Controlling mould in your car
Remember the La Nina weather pattern giving us very little sun and lots of moisture a few years back? Wet weather months may have a big effect on your cars, especially if you're like us and have your babies tucked away nicely waiting for a break in the weather to take them for a drive.
When the day comes to roll up the garage door, you will most likely find you're in for a lot more than you bargained for, as a new unwanted organism has moved in and infested your car. Namely, black or grey mould throughout the interior. If you don't treat it quickly and correctly, it can become a long and expensive task to get rid of.
Nasty Mould Prevention
Eeek, 6 weeks of no sun, constant rain, humidity and low ventilation cause this!
Mould is a kind of microscopic fungus. There are many types of moulds, and they are present throughout the environment, indoors and outdoors. Tiny mould particles are always present in the air, in the form of tiny microscopic cells known as mould spores. Mould spores can germinate and grow in a moist or damp environment, on almost any surface. They especially love to grow in low ventilation, low light areas. The interior of our garaged cars seem to fit that bill very well.
In extreme cases of mould it can badly damage the surface it is on, not to mention create respiratory problems, so it is important to treat and clean down the mould affected areas before this can happen.
Prevention starts in the home
Mould is easier to prevent than having to remove it. Here is a few quick steps to stop or slow down any growth, starting with getting your shed/garage prepared.
Importantly, mould cannot grow in a dry and well ventilated area. You need to remove moisture in the air and provide natural light to slow any mould growth. This can be difficult for most sheds, especially with sunlight. One thing to look at is a decent dehumidifier machine; a local Sunshine Coast company http://www.dampsolutions.com.au specialises in these and have a huge range of items to help with this. A good one can be somewhat expensive however, if the missus puts up a fight about it, let her know it also works great at drying the washing in the same area. A good compromise to make sometimes! If you don’t want a unit in the garage, an inexpensive, small, portable unit running in the car would be worth a look at, just be sure to check the water tray each week so it doesn't overflow. Also make sure it sits on a solid, flat surface and has a separate electrical cut out, as I'm sure we would all pick mould over a fire any-time!
Open the garage right up and ventilate it every chance you can get, especially when it’s a dry day with the sun out! Likewise, if your baby shares a garage with an everyday car, don’t put the everyday car away wet, as it just adds a lot more unwanted moisture to that environment.
Wind down windows
Leave the tops of your car windows open for ventilation. Yes, it can allow moist air to come in the car doing this, but our next item helps with this.
Moisture absorbing packs
Place moisture absorbing packs in the car, under the seats and on the floor. These are the “closet camel” or “silica dry packs” types, available from any supermarket or hardware store. Change them or re-dry in the oven every few weeks, depending on the climatic conditions. We use bigger ones throughout the shed in place of running dehumidifying machines, mainly due to the size of the areas we have. We find they are a lot of work in the wet season to keep the silica gel topped up and absorbing, but if we keep on top of it, they work well.
Car cover off
Keep the car cover off in rainy, humid weather as they kill any chance of light or ventilation inside the car. One exception is the Carcoon types, which circulate air and allow light to filter through, but in the weeks of non-stop rain this year, we have seen moisture and mould develop even in these!
Remove any rubbish or other loose items from inside the car and clean all the surfaces from dust and grime (Steering wheels especially as the mould loves any perspiration left on the wheel). It’s these types of things that mould will first begin to grow on.
Fix any leaks or ways water could be getting into the car (I've had it from both an air conditioning drain pipe not feeding out of the car and rubber floor bung covers not being replaced). If out in the rain, wipe dry your wet shoes before they come into the car and really shake the umbrella before putting it inside. Keeping everything dry inside is essential for keeping the mould out.
Minimise mould growth
Our interior car care products; Leather Love and Vinyl Care, both have unique antimicrobial and cleaning ingredients built into them, which help minimise the effect of mould growth, plus they will not damage the surfaces they are being used on. Use them as required, to combat any potentially damaging mould build-up in your car.
How to clean away the mould
Time to clean the mould away! You don’t want to be breathing in any of the mould spores as they affect most people, even giving major respiratory trouble if the mould infestation is well established. Follow the steps carefully. Don't cheat!
Get yourself a filtered face mask.
Get yourself a wet/dry vacuum or even a steam cleaner for your floor mats and carpet. It may sound like a pain, but it's best to remove the seats for a good job. Thoroughly clean the carpets with a good fabric carpet cleaner with disinfecting properties (yes we are making one currently). Then vacuum it all out. Clean the hood-liner with our Vinyl Care and glass with the Naked Glass cleaner too. Once finished, leave the car with all doors open to totally aerate.
A lot of the musky smell you get from cars is from mould in the carpet. If the vacuum doesn't remove it, we've found that rather than using “masking” agents to hide the smell short term, it's best to just replace the mats, then if the smell is still there, replace the carpet and more importantly the felt underneath with brand new ones. Be sure to clean the steel floor too; any mould in the car needs to be removed as it can quickly grow back.
For all the other surfaces, especially where the mould is visible, use our interior products. Following the instructions on the bottle, spray the product into a microfibre applicator pad, wipe off the mould quick and easy. Be sure to swap this applicator for a fresh, new one often, as the mould spore build-up in the cloth can help spread the infestation further!
Apply again if needed
If the mould was quite built up or is not totally removed the first time, we recommend giving a couple of applications with fresh cloths, just to be sure the spores are all removed. Again, don't forget to clean the hood-lining with the Vinyl Care and the glass with Naked Glass too. Change any air filters in the car, especially for the air-con units. Mould can live in these for ages and keep spreading the spores every time you turn the air on!
A lot of websites, even “car care” ones, suggest you use chlorine bleach to kill the mould. DON'T, under any circumstance use this on your car interior, it can and will damage a lot of the different surfaces, not to mention the overpowering fumes in the confines of your car. It should also be mentioned that bleach cannot kill mould either, it will look like it's removed it, but in fact it's still there as the mould has a built in defence system that makes bleach into something it can actually feed on!! Likewise, Ammonia is another toxic chemical, and something we do not recommend for interior car cleaning.