Mold and mildew can destroy the interior of a car from the carpets to the upholstery to the headliner and thereby lower the cars resell value. In addition, it can smell bad and be unhealthy for individuals with asthma or other respiratory problems. Mold will attach itself to most any type of interior material. Removing mold and mildew stains from fabric either cloth or leather can sometimes prove to be a problem even after the mold and mildew are killed. If you are lucky the stains will disappear with the mold and mildew but more times than not, the stain may prove to be permanent.
Things You Will Need
Protective gloves, Vacuum cleaner, Soft bristle brush, Depending on the severity of the stain, one or more of the following: mild soap such as liquid Ivory, a solution of 50/50 water and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, one-half cup Lysol to a gallon of water, or a Non-Chlorine Bleach and warm water mix.
Begin by vacuuming loose spores and then lightly brush the mold and mildew on the affected area and vacuum again. It is best to throw away the vacuum cleaner dust bag to remove the mildew spores and keep them from being spread in the house the next time the vacuum is used.
If the mold and mildew is still present, try a mixture of liquid Ivory and warm water (1/4 cup soap to 1 gallon water) or the mixture of Lysol and water or water and rubbing alcohol. Before applying one of the solutions, test the fabric in a non-conspicuous spot. If possible remove the seat cover to prevent the padding or filler from getting wet. If it is not possible to remove the seat cover, lightly sponge the area with the mix being careful not to saturate the fabric and underlying padding. Using the sponge, rinse with clear water using as little water as possible.
If the mold and mildew stain remains after step two above, try the mixture of a non-chlorine bleach and water. As mentioned in Step Two above, before applying the solution, test the fabric in a non-conspicuous spot and then treat as in Step Two.
After treating the mold and mildew, the upholstery fabric must be thoroughly dried to prevent the mold and mildew from returning. Keep the vehicle in a warm, dry area and place a fan to blow air onto the affected area until it is completely dry.
If you were lucky, the stain came out and the upholstery fabric was not harmed. The removal of the mold and mildew will take care of most if not all of the odor they caused. To remove the remaining odor if any, increased air circulation with a fan, air fresheners and car deodorizers will be helpful.
Removing mildew stains from a cars interior fabric and leather can sometimes prove to be a problem even after the mildew is killed. Try the steps above and you may be pleasantly surprised and save the interior without having to replace it.
Tips & Warnings
Start with the mildest soap solutions first to see if they will successfully remove the stains before using the stronger solutions.
Bleach and other chemicals used to clean mold and mildew can be poison and the vapors can be toxic to individuals with breathing problems. Some individuals also may have allergies that can be aggravated by the mold and mildew itself. Protective gloves, safety glasses or goggles and a mask are recommended when dealing with chemicals.