So You Left the Windows Down and it Rained – How to Dry Out a Wet Car Interior

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Car interiors and water don’t mix. Even if you drive a latex-lined Honda Element your ride’s insides can only handle so much moisture before things start to go sour.

Exposure to too much water, whether it be by leaving the window open on a rainy day, driving into a deeper hole than you were planning for, or letting your little ones get carried away with the garden hose, can have some detrimental effects. By the way, never do this:

So what’s the problem with a wet interior? For starters, no one enjoys a wet butt, but damaged electronics can render your stereo or more important equipment non-functional, and cost thousands to repair. There is also the risk of mold, which can set in when moisture isn’t removed quickly enough. Avoid this situation at all cost if you ever want to enjoy life from the inside of your car again.

A wet interior is no fun, but if you follow these steps, you can right the situation with minimal money spent:

Do What Comes Naturally…
Get the water out! Grab some towels and go to town. Follow up with a thorough dose of shop-vac. These wet-or-dry vacuums are incredibly effective at removing moisture from surfaces like car seats, floor mats and carpet. If you don’t own one, they cost much less than a new interior, so pick one up.

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Some vehicles have drain plugs that allow water to escape. If you’re the lucky owner of one of these cars, you know what to do. Just remember to put them back when it’s dry.

Turn Your Ride into A Desert
Heat and Airflow are next on the list when it comes to drying things out. You can use a space heater to warm things up in your ride, but if you do, be careful not to place it somewhere that might cause things to get too warm.

Gather all of the fans you can find that will fit into your car and let them run. 24 hours is good, 48 is better. Position more fans on either side of the car, so that they blow across the seats and carpet. A dehumidifier placed next to the car will also help, if you’ve got one.

Protect Against Mold
Now is when things get crucial. With the easily removed water out of the car, the trick is to really dry things out so that your fabrics wont stink and make you sick.

car mold

Many hardware stores sell industrial-grade desiccant, you know, those little pellets that come in shoe boxes? It’s hygroscopic—that means it will attract moisture from its surroundings. If you can’t buy the fancy stuff, just get a few boxes of baking soda and leave them in the car.

If you haven’t got a garage in which to performing your drying operation, let the car idle and run the air conditioner, which will remove additional moisture.
Accidents happen, and a soaked car interior is no fun to deal with, but it’s not the end of the world. Follow these three simple steps, and you’ll be back on the road sooner than you think, unafraid to leave the car with a dark spot on your behind.

About Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington is an Automotive YouTuber and writer who loves cars, sports, and business. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington or email scottmhuntington@gmail.com.

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