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Is mould a problem in your car?

Fact: Mould on your seat belts will have your car fail its WOF!

In the last weeks Winter has certainly raised its head to say ‘Hey I’m here!’. When this happens we see an upsurge in internal mould build-up in the cars we clean.  There are many different reasons for this. That simple coffee spill that appeared harmless which was given the quick wipe over and left damp, has now started to go off and breed bacteria; Or storing a collectable or a family member’s car that has gone overseas underneath a cover and then to pulling it out to find our friend mould has taken over.
Mould needs to be dealt with correctly. When you just vacuum off the surface the mould spores are still in your seats and carpet, and having disturbed them, they can take up residency in your air conditioning filters and ducts. This will cause a secondary problem with your air conditioning smelling like old socks and potentially spreading harmful bacteria when you fire up your unit.

Mould – How to treat the issues

Storing a car: One of the issues of using a car cover is that it makes the car sweat, collecting condensation, which if left converts to mould very quickly in a damp darkened condition. Prevention is the best form of control whenever storing a car for a long period. It is imperative that the car is aired at least once every two weeks. Remember, if you are storing a car for a long period, disconnect the battery. This way when you leave the doors opened for half to one hour you are not flattening your battery.

Cleaning mould: Tools needed – A wet and dry vac, scrubbing brush, two bottles with triggers and a commercial carpet shampoo.
To remove mould – Fill one bottle with hot water the other with a good carpet shampoo cleaner.
First soak the area with hot water by spraying onto the offending areas. Next spray on the chemical and let it soak for one to two minutes. Then agitate with the brush and re-spray with hot water as you suck up the affected areas of mould. Continue to then re-spray hot water until the water that you are sucking up is clean. Leave doors open to fully air dry before closing up your car. A trick is to close your car after air drying and turn on the heater with your car running for say 30 minutes.

Cleaning up the spill: We all do the “quick grab the nearest towel and give the surface a good wipe over”. Modern day car carpets are usually synthetic and fluids seep through quickly. Modern underlay can also be synthetic so when we clean up a spill this creates an issue. The spill often gets trapped between your floor pan (steel) and the synthetic underlay. This protects the spill from being extracted by a wet and dry carpet machine.
The clean up: Firstly how much fluid got spilt – if less than 100ml – we can react quickly to clean the top surface. The best treatment is to use a vacuum that can extract fluid. Soak the affected area with up to a litre of hot water spray on a good carpet cleaning chemical that kills the spores. Agitate with a stiff brush then leave to stand for five minutes. Then extract the water with the vac. Repeat this process to dilute the spill so the bacteria cannot build up and create both a bad smell and mould.
Smell the surface to see if you can still smell the offending spill. If so repeat the process. You now have a clean floor. It will, however, still be very damp. Ideally you should pop of your trim on your door (which holds down your carpet), lift the carpet, and air dry the area using a heater that blows hot. If you are unable to do this then the following is also OK. Close your car and start the engine, leave running and put your heater onto the floor and leave running for up to an hour. Then open your doors and leave to air for up to three or four hours. Feel your carpet and test to see how dry it is. If needed, repeat these processes until you are satisfied that the area is dry.

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to call
09 4887000 to discuss. Regards, Robert & Siobhan Bonnici.

Rob Bonnici is the Car Guy. Rob lives, eats and breathes car cleaning products and services. Having a background in chemicals, car cleaning products and now owning a seven day a week car cleaning and grooming centre, he is without a doubt the most passionate and the most knowledgeable car guy in New Zealand. Rob, along with his wife Siobhan, owns Car-fé facing the motorway in Barry’s Point Road, Takapuna. Rob is more than happy to help you out with any car cleaning issues.
Email: or Phone 488-7000.

by Rob Bonnici