Mildew Smell in Flooded Car

How do you get mildew smell out of a flooded car? My daughter's new (used) car smell of mildrew. We are afraid it was a flooded car. How can we get this odor out? It didn't smell when we bought it. It has been about two months now and the odor is very strong. They must have used something to hide the odor at the time of the sale.

Bonnie for LA

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Oh Bonnie, I feel your pain. Or son's car seats were used as a litter box at a garage when they left the windows down while it was there being repaired. We thought we had resolved the problem after cleaning the upholstery, but once we rolled up the windows and the car sat in the hot sun down here in Louisiana, NOTHING had changed.

We finally found a liquid enzyme product that we actually sprayed and even soaked into the foam of the seats. (We took the seats out to do this, but you may want to leave yours in and drench the carpet also) Anyhow - It worked! Every trace of the cat urine smell was removed. I would think it would do the same for a mildew smell. A local company here in Louisiana makes and sells the liquid enzyme I used.

If you can't find something in your area, try contacting Long's Preferred Products, (318)387-7304 or (318)398-9750. Hopefully they can help or at least make a suggestion for a purchase in your area. Good luck!

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Nature's Miracle products are unbelievable. Really, I still can't believe that there is no smell of urine in my car despite my cat peeing in my lap twice, it running through the seat and to the floor. I used their product called Urine Desrtoyer.

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If you smell mildew. chances are there is still moisture in the car. Use DampRid to suck up any moisture and it will also remove some of the odor. You can buy DampRid just about anywhere, like Walmart in the house cleaning products isle. Bleach is the most effective way to remove mildew but I dont think you want to use that on your interior carpet. Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet then spray it with vinegar and water and watch it fizz and eat the mildew away.The vinegar smell will disapate after it dries. These two combined work miracles on everything!!

Remember, if you smell mildew, there is probably mold in the car as well. The spores can get into your daughters lungs and cause upper respitory problems like stuffy nose, conjestion, mucus build-up, headache, and a general ill feeling. The safest way is to have the interior carpet replaced. I just went through a similar problem with my car after all of the hurricanes. Best of luck to you:)

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A few years back, I purchased a used car that had a mildew smell. We didn't smell it when we test drove, but once we had it at home. I tried shampooing the carpets, Febreze, etc. Finally, I went on line and found a product called X-Stinkt (I may have spelled that wrong) it is a powder that you sprinkle, let sit and then vacuum up. I had to use it about three times, but the smell was finally gone. You might try an on-line search for "removing mildew smells" and look for X-Stinkt (or something similar, as I said, I am unsure of the spelling).

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You may be a LONG time in getting that smell out. Six of us piled into my Chevy Blazer soaking wet after sitting in and walking through a torrential downpour and the mildew smell showed up within 48 hours.

Fabreeze will provide a temporary solution and at least make the car driveable but it will be back. Repeated treatments and airings (every chance you get on a nice day, leave all the windows open) finally got it to disapate but it was the better part of a year before it really went away.

The enzyme cleaner sounds like a better bet than fabreeze. There are several kinds, Nature's Miracle, Petzyme, etc. Check with your local pet supply store.

If it's totally unbearable, take it to an upholstry shop and see if they can clean it. They may not be able to get everything out but you'll be further along that timeline I was on.

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This is for a future car buying tip -

You can have the dealer run a CARFAX on the car when they provide the serial number of the car that tells the history of the car, number of owners, including if it was salvaged, flood damaged, the mileage etc.

The CARFAX is free when the dealer runs it, but if you are buying from an individual you can pay to have one run.

It's a very good investment ... you may not be getting the great deal you thought you were after reading the CARFAX report.

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Years ago, I had a car that began to have a mildew smell that I could not figure out where it was coming from. I bought the car new, never flooded it or left the windows open during rain storms, etc.

Finally I noticed one day while driving to work in a heavy downpour, that the windshield that I had had replaced due to a crack, was not sealed completely. The water would run down the windshield, and drip through the unsealed part at the bottom of the window, behind the dashboard, and down onto the carpet on the passenger side floor. Once I had the windshield re-sealed (for free because of their error), and shampooed the carpet and let it air out real good, I never had the problem again ! Good luck !

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Being sold a car that was previously damaged in a flood and not having it disclosed to you is considered dealer fraud.

There are Consumer protection laws in the states to provide punitive damages for persons who unwittingly purchased wrecks in situations like this, a risk compounded by state lemon laws that provide free legal help to consumers in these situations.

You can contact the Consumer Protection Section of the Attorney General's Office for more info.

Good luck

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I also knew I had a leak in the windshield seal, but I was keeping a towel under the dash in the passenger foot area. About a month ago, I started smelling mildew. It's been brutally hot and I thought it was after a day of wet swimsuits in the car. Days went by and it was every time I got in the closed car it would be very pungent. I remembered the towel. It smelled of such mildew and was immediately trashed. I went another 2 weeks saying that I needed to vacuum...then I took action last weekend. With baking soda and a toothbrush. I scrubbed and left the whole car's carpet AND some seat area covered in arm and hammer for 48 hours, windows closed. Then a vacuuming. I was relieved this morning when it was 80% improved! I need to take a little vinegar and baking soda to two small rubber areas that are below the floor mats, but I can almost breathe 100% again. [I would try the baking soda alone first. Vinegar -white- works many cleaning miracles but does need an airing out.]

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In my experience: I drove through some water, apparently enough water to leak up through the bottom of my car and soak the padding underneath the carpet and partially soak the carpet. The worst part was I did not notice it at all because the front driver and passenger side carpet was not noticeably wet and it wasn't until I started to smell mildew I became curious and I noticed the water there.

At first I thought it was just in the back seat floor on the right side, so I ripped out all the padding underneath that part of the car in hopes of eradicating the problem. The smell was still present so I looked around some more only to find when I got a look under any part of the carpet the padding was just soaked.

So I decided to cut my losses and just had an auto interior repair place order me some new carpet this morning. Carpet plus labor and clean/disinfect of any mold is going to run me $375, would have been $600+ for factory carpet. Until then, Febreeze is the only thing that has been effective in temporarily neutralizing the smell.

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In This Article
Mildew Smell in Car
Getting Rid of Mildew Smell in a Car
Consumer Advice Cars Cleaning InteriorJune 5, 2005
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