Note: This article has been updated in March 2022.

We all love the smell of a brand-new car or our favourite car air freshener. But sometimes, your car can be plagued by a less than favourable smell – one that’s damp, musty, and seemingly hard to get rid of. If you are faced with this problem, no amount of air freshener can mask it in the long term. As with most issues, the best solution is to get to the root of the problem and tackle the source of the musty smell once and for all!

We’ve found these fantastic tips to help get rid of musty smells in your car and make getting into your ride a more pleasant experience overall.

Check your car for water leaks

Musty smells are usually caused by moisture or humidity that has been built up in your car – so start by finding out how water is getting into your car. Common culprits include the windscreen seal, door seal, or any other seals which might have been compromised, thus allowing water to leak into your car. If you are unable to locate the leak and fix it, the damp and odour issues will simply return no matter what remedies you employ.

You should also look for any growth of mould or mildew that could have accumulated as a result of moisture in your car. Check the floor of your car, removing mats and carpeting so that you can look under them as well. Don’t forget to also check the car boot or air conditioning vents.

Get rid of moisture and humidity

If you find that the carpet of your car is wet or damp, take a towel and blot the excess moisture. Then use a blow dryer and aim it at this spot inside the car. This will allow the hot air to dry up the moisture underneath the seat.

If the floor mats or any other removable parts of your car have been affected by the moisture, you can easily just remove them and place them in the dryer with fabric softener or let it dry naturally in the sun.

In warm and sunny weather, the easiest solution could be to simply leave the car doors open. This will let the moisture dry and your car will receive a thorough airing out! The heat from the sun will hopefully evaporate all the excess moisture that you can’t get rid of by yourself.

Remove mould or mildew

If you have old clothing or carpets in your car that have been affected by mould, remove them immediately. You can scrub off the mildew or mould that has grown on any areas by using a nylon scrub pad, taking care not to scratch too much of the car’s interior surface. Sprinkle baking soda on the interior areas of your car where there is moisture or mould. Allow the baking soda to seep into the carpet and then vacuum the excess baking soda afterwards; vacuuming will also help suck out mould spores and remove most of the remaining traces.

Another easy and natural way to clean and kill mould is with white vinegar. Make a mixture of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and spray it at targeted areas to kill mould and prevent it from returning. You can also fill a small bowl of white vinegar and place it on the floor of your car overnight to absorb odours in the air.

Prevent future growth of mould or mildew

After drying and cleaning the designated areas, you should take the appropriate steps to ensure that the mould or mildew does not return. In addition to keeping the interior of your car dry in future, you can apply an anti-mildew solution, odour absorber, or enzyme cleaner. There are several products available on the market for this purpose.

We hope these tips will help you vanquish all the musty odours lingering in your car once and for all!

Brighton Panel Works is an esteemed auto body shop in Brighton that specialises in prestige car repairs, providing services ranging from panel beaters and paintless dent removal to courtesy cars. We are experienced in repairing all prestige car models, including Range RoverAudiVolkswagenLexusVolvoPorscheMercedes and BMW. Our clients come from all across Melbourne, including Hampton, Glen Iris, Toorak, Armadale, Malvern, Brighton, Elwood, Elsternwick, Bentleigh East and more. Get in touch with us if you are looking for the best panel beaters in Melbourne today!