Few things are worse about driving in a classic car for any period of time than having to deal with the awful smell of mold, mildew, or some other odor coming through the vents. In fact, many of us would rather sit through a long ride with blown shocks, bouncing hard through each bump than have to smell something sour or rotten.
If the car has moisture locked inside of it for a long period of time (like a classic car you picked up from someone’s old barn to work on) then chances are the smell may even be unbearable enough that you haven’t even driven in it yet. We get it. Luckily, just short of ripping the whole interior out (unless of course, you’re doing that big of a restoration project) there are some steps you can take in any car to help get rid of the stinky interior.
Try some of the below and let us know if it worked for you.
*Pro Tip– If you’re working with an old, rare, or hard-to-come-by model make sure you understand the material and what is safe to use as a cleaner before proceeding. You should always understand what’s a stake when you’re DIY-ing your car restoration steps.
Dry Up Any Moisture
The first step to getting rid of a mildew smell is to get rid of all the moisture in your car’s carpet or interior. Whether it’s been in a flood, you forgot to close the windows or there was a leak – you simply must get rid of any lingering water and dry everything as much as possible.
Vacuum & Sweep out Everything
The next step in the cleaning and smell remediation process is to get rid of any particles or loose debris. Since you can’t be sure where the smells are coming from – it’s best to roll your sleeves up and just start cleaning everything. In addition to vacuuming loose dirt in the carpets. Be sure to also clean the glove box, cabin air filter if you have one – and all the crevices where things can hide.
Use a Cleaning Agent
It’s up to you where you want to go with the next step – but it’s an important one. You’ll need some kind of cleaning agent to help pick the smells out of the carpet. A natural mix includes vinegar and baking soda. You can also use hydrogen peroxide or other foaming carpet shampoos. The important thing is that you know what kind of fabric you’re working with and what can work best to lift the stains and smells.