Last Updated on 4 months by Ollie Barker
If you leave your car unattended for a long time, mold will likely grow on your car’s exterior. If left untreated, the mold can cause serious damage to the paintwork. In this article, I will show you how to remove mold from car exterior.
Table of Contents
Before we dive into removing mold from the car exterior, it’s essential to understand what mold is and how it grows. Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in warm and humid conditions. It feeds on organic matter, including dead insects, leaves, and other debris accumulating on the car’s surface.
Why Mold Growing on Car Exterior
In the right environment condition, there are 3 things that can grow on the car exterior: mold, moss, and algae. These are very harmless, but if they grow on the car exterior for a long time, they will cause permanent damage to the paintwork.
Moss and algae can grow over several years. If left for a long time, you will see that the moss and algae will start to lose their color and appearance.
There are many reasons why moss and algae can grow on your car exterior: Vehicle Exterior is covered by atmospheric conditions (moisture). The paintwork is not sealed well, allowing moisture to get into it. You do not clean the paintwork often enough.
How to Remove Mold From Car Exterior? Methods Applied for Removing Mildew,Too
Before you start cleaning the mold off your car exterior, you first need to know what mold is and how to remove it:
Mold is usually a very small organism that can cause consequences such as allergies or dangerous chemical reactions when breathed in. It is important to know what kind of mold you are dealing with before attempting to remove it from your car.
There are many different types of mold. The most common but not dangerous mold is the Stachybotrys chartarum.
This kind of mold is very common on the walls, ceilings, and floors of buildings. This kind of mold will always appear dark brown or black in color. It can grow on wallpaper, wood, and ceramic tile.
While removing from the car exterior, you should try to avoid contact with these colors – it will only increase the chances of dust becoming embedded in your skin.
Use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe off the mold. A hard brush can scratch the paintwork of your car.
If you want to use an automotive product to remove the mold, stick to using products that are mild in nature. Never use detergents or polish, as they can permanently stain your paintwork.
If you find cleaning the area affected by mold on your car exterior difficult, visit a professional detailer or have your car repainted by a professional body shop.
How Long Does it Take for Mold to Cause Damage to the Car Exterior?
How long you have to wait before you see damage on your car’s exterior is the question.
Mold and mildew will grow after being exposed to water for 24 to 48 hours. Even worse, it will keep growing until steps are taken to remove the water source and deal with the mold problem properly. But honestly, it will take a very long time for them to damage the car’s exterior.
If left for a long time, mold can cause permanent damage (paintwork and/or structural damage) to your car; therefore, when cleaning the mold off your car, we recommend cleaning them immediately.
Step by Step Cleaning Mold off Car Exterior
You’ll need some tools and supplies to remove the algae and mold properly:
- All-purpose cleaning ideal for the exterior of a car
- Snow foam or car shampoo.
- Microfiber Mitt
- Bristled brush (paintbrushes can work well)
- Pressure washer or a high-pressure hose attachment (If suitable for your case)
- Pump, snow-foam gun, or spray bottle
- Gloves and a mask (to protect yourself from the mold)
Step 1: Examine the vehicle’s condition (Most important step)
You should really start by evaluating the car’s damage and overall condition. Which techniques are safe to apply will depend on the amount of algae and mold on the outside as well as the state of the car.
- Use pressure washers if the car’s exterior is still in good condition without scratches and the trim and paint are good.
- If the car’s exterior is in bad condition, do NOT use a pressure washer; it can harm the finish.
Step 2. Employ a pressure washer (If Suitable, if not, move to step 3)
Utilizing a high-pressure washer, either with a hose connection or a jet washer, is a very effective way to eliminate algae.
Avoid washing the car with a strong pressure washer if it exhibits any of the following symptoms:
- Plastic or rubber trim breaking
- The paint that is flaking, peeling, or cracked
- Corrosion or rust
Generally speaking, you should only use high-pressure water on a vehicle in good overall condition. There shouldn’t be any obvious indicators of deterioration that the power washer could exacerbate.
Avoid applying high-pressure water to the region if you have any worries since you risk causing greater harm.
Here’s what to do, though, if utilizing a pressure washer is safe to do so:
- Make use of a fan attachment to spread out the pressure.
- Place the fan attachment around 2 meters away from the vicinity.
- Initially, use medium to low pressure.
- Increase the pressure if the algae are not moved.
You should move on to step 3 if this approach is unsuccessful. Avoid using the pressure washer too aggressively to avoid doing needless damage.
Step 3: Apply Snow Foam
You might be able to soften the algae or mold using snow foam. This chemical is intended to linger on the surface and break down grime so it can be rinsed off more quickly.
A foam cannon attached to your pressure washer is the finest tool for applying this. At a pinch, you might also use a spray bottle or pump.
Use it as follows:
- As directed by the manufacturer, prepare your soap.
- Apply the foam to the affected area.
- Don’t let it dry on the surface; give it a few minutes to dwell.
- Use a hose or a pressure washer to rinse if safe to do so.
This should completely get rid of the algae or at least soften it up enough that the subsequent steps can get rid of it.
Step 4: Wiping the car using a microfiber cloth & car wash soap
Use a microfiber wash mitt and auto shampoo to accomplish this, as they can be used without damaging the paintwork.
Again, I strongly advise against using a brush or sponge to remove algae because they are quite likely to result in scratches. Microfiber wash mitts are much kinder and safer, but they are also quite good at getting rid of dirt and other obstinate impurities like algae.
Use it as follows:
- Make sure that the afflicted region is moist.
- Apply car shampoo on the microfiber wash mitt.
- Wipe the area gently.
- To see if the algae are gone, keep checking and rinsing.
It is unnecessary to scrub the paintwork because algae can be removed by microfiber relatively easily and run the danger of leaving scratches.
Continue washing the area so that you can evaluate the condition. Avoid using the microfibre mitt excessively, as this can cause the dirt and algae to be rubbed back into the paintwork.
To ensure that the wash mitt isn’t additionally contaminated, it’s crucial to rinse it constantly.
Step 5: Use a soft brush to clean plastic and rubber areas
Algae usually gather on rubber seals and plastic trim. This’s where you’ll start to notice it.
It also tends to live in difficult-to-reach places like cracks, gaps, and corners, making removal difficult.
A soft bristle brush is the most effective tool for this. You’ll need something very delicate because removing the algae and mold doesn’t require a lot of force; rather, you need something that can fit into the small crevices.
If you don’t already have a specific detailed brush, I’ve found that a paintbrush works pretty well for this. If only it were soft.
If you do decide to use a paintbrush, wrap the ferrule with masking tape to prevent scratches on the paintwork.
Here’s how to clean plastic trim and rubber seals with a soft brush to eliminate algae and mold:
- Wet the affected area completely.
- Spray your APC on the brush or dunk it in vehicle shampoo.
- To gently remove the mold and algae, use a brush.
- Rinse the area to remove mold and loose algae from the more difficult-to-reach regions.
- Once the algae and mold are gone, carefully check the area to ensure you’re ready to travel.
Avoid letting the brush touch the paintwork at all costs to prevent scratches. To prevent unintentionally touching the paint, holding a soft, clean microfiber towel around the area you’re brushing can be helpful.
Step 6: Get rid of the mold and algae
Now, this is a crucial step that you must not skip.
Even while the algae and mold are no longer visible, that doesn’t imply they still exist.
The mold and algae may likely return shortly after this process unless you completely disinfect the region. Therefore, you must address this “invisible infection.”
What is your process, then?
There are a few techniques you can use:
- An all-purpose antimicrobial cleanser (recommended)
- Isopropyl alcohol (IPA)
The most effective approach is to use an all-purpose anti-microbial cleaning. Since mold is not a bacteria, I use the term “antimicrobial” rather than “antibacterial.” Although algae isn’t technically a “microbe,” most antimicrobial cleaners will also kill it.
Spray it on the affected region, let it remain for five minutes, and then thoroughly rinse. Never use it in hot weather or direct sunshine; avoid letting the surface dry.
The safest method for eradicating any lingering algae or mold is to use an APC made exclusively for outside use on automobiles. Otherwise, utilizing common cleaners could be too strong and risk destroying the paint.
Utilizing 50% IPA is a fantastic alternative. This is safe to apply on the paint and the rubber and will efficiently kill the algae and mold. Spray it on, wipe the area with it, and then quickly rinse. Keep the IPA off the surface as long as possible to prevent drying, fading, and cracking.
Never clean your car with bleach or other household products. They are overly aggressive and might permanently discolor and harm your car. For additional information, see this post I wrote about why you should never use bleach to wash a car.
Step 7: Add a Layer of Defense using paint correction
Applying some protection to the impacted regions is the last step. The significance of this can be attributed to a few factors.
Any previous protection on your car will have been destroyed during the algae removal.
By providing protection, you can stop the algae and mold from proliferating again.
You can protect by applying wax, sealer, or ceramic coating to the paintwork. Given that they are more durable than wax and easier to apply than ceramic coatings, sealants are probably the best option for this application.
The plastic trim and rubber seals should also be safeguarded. This shields it from fading and drying over time and protects it from algae and mold.
Applying a trim gel or spray will help you achieve this. They require relatively little effort to apply and offer protection for several months before needing to be renewed.
It’s crucial not to omit this phase of protection. If you do, the algae and mold will probably return within a few months.
The car can move on to the paint correction stage after the mold has been effectively removed. It’s crucial to clay bar, polish, and apply a fresh coat of wax if the automobile has been left outside for a long period of time. By doing this, you will protect your paint from any road hazards.
The first stage in paint repair is using a clay bar. All of the impurities that are embedded in the clear coat will be eliminated by this tool. This procedure aids in clearing away any debris that remains after a typical car wash removes the surface grime. The clay bar picks up very microscopic dirt particles as it moves across the paint surface.
The simplest way to polish is with a dual-action polisher if you’re a beginner. Because this detailing tool is so user-friendly, it will be difficult for you to damage your car. In light of the foregoing, always polish a test panel before the remainder of the vehicle. This aids in determining the type of polishing pad you require.
Applying a new coat of wax to the paint completes the paint correction procedure. Applying fresh wax is essential since polishing will remove anything else. When you drive on the road, wax is a barrier between the paint on your automobile and any dirt that comes into contact with it.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Why should you prevent mold from growing on your car’s exterior? Mold will grow very fast in the right environmental condition. Therefore, you must make sure that there is no place for it to grow. If this happens even once, it’s too late – if you leave your car unattended for a long time, even a small amount of moisture can cause mold to grow on your car’s exterior.
The easiest way to prevent mold from growing on your car’s exterior is to keep it clean. Frequent washing will keep your paintwork clean and free of mold.
Always use a mild detergent-free shampoo for washing your car’s exterior. Do not spray any water directly on the surface of the paintwork; this can cause damage.
Ensure you completely dry your car exterior before applying any sealant or wax. Always ensure no water is in it (water can easily be from rain or condensation).
Pro Tips for Removing Mold in Your Car
Below tips are suggested by car detailing experts:
#1 Use Solvent-free products
Be careful with the type of paint you choose. To clean the mold from your car, use safe solvent-free products. Car waxes that contain polymers or resins will not damage your paintwork, but be sure not to apply too much.
If you are using products that will require more than six months to cure, make sure you have time to wait for them to dry out.
#2 Do not use any chemical-based shampoo or detergent on your car exterior.
#3 Dry the car completely
Always make sure that you completely dry your car interior before applying any wax or sealant.
#4 Carefully use the pressure washers
Take care when using a pressure washer to clean the mold off your car; they can crack your vehicle’s paintwork.
#5 Don’t let water get into the crevices
Always make sure that you do not let water get into the crevices of the door shut lines. This can cause damage to your car’s exteriors, such as rust and fading.
#1 How Do I Get Rid of Mold and Mildew from car’s exterior?
You need to get rid of mold on the car exterior quickly. You can use a mild solvent-free detergent to clean the mold off your car, or, if you prefer, you can buy a commercial cleaning product.
#2 Should I wash my Car Before Attempting to Remove Mold?
This depends on the place where you live. For example, if it is raining nonstop in your area, wash your car before attempting to remove any mold that might have formed. Wash your car after removing the mold from it to remove all traces of mold.
#3 How Do You Get Mold Spores Off Car Paint?
On the car’s exterior, you must wash the mold off with a mild detergent. Gently scrub away any remaining mold spores with a soft brush, and then use a clean sponge to apply some dish soap and water to the surface of your exterior paint.
#4 How Much Does It Cost to Remove Mold From a Car?
The cost to remove mold is relatively less. In most cases, the mold and mildew removal will cost $200-$400 on a single car.
#5 How Can a Doctor Help Me Clean and Remove Mold from My Car?
There are several methods you can follow in cleaning your car exterior. You can use a soft cloth and mild detergent to wash the surface of your paintwork. After that, create an acidic solution by mixing four drops of vinegar in one cup of water. Then with the help of a soft cloth, apply this solution to the affected areas and then wipe clean.
#6 Will Car Wax Prevent Mold from Forming on My Car?
Yes, car wax will prevent mold formation on your car. However, you must ensure that you use good quality car wax known for its anti-mold properties. Regular washing and waxing of your vehicle will ensure that the outside of your vehicle stays free from mold and mildew for a long time.
Check out This Video for Deep Cleaning the Moldiest Car!
Learning how to remove mold from a car exterior is not hard. You need time and some products to clean the mold off. The important issue is how to prevent mold from appearing again. You can follow the suggestions and use good-quality car wax to prevent mold from forming again. Also, you should wash your vehicle regularly to remove dirt and dust that may cause mold to grow on your car.
Hi, My name is Ollie Barker.
With 25 years working in repair and detailing shops. I’d love to share my tips & tricks to all car lovers. Also, give my recommendations on which products are the best to have on the market.
Thanks for visiting CarDetailingArt! Hope you enjoy your time on my little blog!