Removing Car Smells: Water Damage

Removing Moisture and Bacteria From Your Car

water damage carWater damage can occur due to a number of reasons. Some of the more common occurrences include leaving a window or sunroof open during rain, flooding, and draining system leak. The moisture sits in the car, which is essentially a box with very few exit points for liquids, and can lead to molding, bacteria growth, and the smells associated with both problems. Although these are terribly unfortunate circumstances to be in, people have been through it before, and here we'll be showing you what you will need to do if you want to tackle the problem. Read on as we examine the water damage recovery process…

The initial step in recovering your car from water damage is to assess the situation. Find out the extent of the damage; how much space does the water cover, has it seeped anywhere, is it mostly in one area, is it the entire interior, is it just the seats? Typically, unless the car is only lightly damaged, the moisture will be spread across the entire interior carpeting, which is where we'll start the process. You'll be able to find the moisture by pushing down on the carpet and seeing if it is saturated or not. If it's just a small area, here's an quick tip to conquering the situation: prop up the affected carpet, raising it from the wet ground. Place a fan in the car and aim it directly at the opening where the moisture is present. Let the fan run and allow the area to dry overnight (at least). Doing this could save you a lot of work, as you'll soon read…

water damage car

If the damage is substantial and the carpeting is saturated, it is now time to remove the carpeting to remove the moisture from beneath it. This makes our second step removing the seats. It is important that you please refer to your cars manual before continuing, as every car has different requirements for removing the seats. For some this may mean a few socket wrenches, and for some it may require a trip to the dealership. Fortunately there are many online resources on removing seats from specific cars, they're literally everywhere. All you have to do is search "how to remove (your car make model year) seats" and you'll be set.

water damage car

With the seats gone, you can see the damage much better. You can feel around the car's floor to determine where the moisture has accumulated and where it's sitting. The next step is to pull up the carpet. Once again you will want to consult your owner's manual and/or the internet for your specific car. Typically it should take about 10 – 20 minutes to fully remove the carpet. Once the carpet is out of the car, you'll see sitting water in the bottom of the cabin and it is time to tape and cover any stray electrical wires away from the water if there are any.

The obvious next step would be to dry up the water, but to save time you will want to shampoo your car's carpet first. For this you will need a shop vacuum, a premium carpet cleaner, a scrub brush, and a pressure washer if you have access to one. Vacuum the carpet clean, spray the carpet cleaner and scrub both sides. When you're done, it's time to either spray down the carpet with the pressure washer or skip to dabbing up the excess moisture. You will have to allow plenty of time for the entire carpet to dry, preferably in the sun, so while you wait it is time to dry up your car.

With the seats still out of the car, shampoo them if they need cleaning. If moisture hit the seats it's a good idea to follow the same process that you did with the carpeting. Once this is done (if needed), grab absorbent towels and start to soak up all the sitting water in the basin of your car. Be sure the entire area is dry before putting carpet and seats back into the car. If you put these items back in too soon, you will be in another smelly predicament that nobody wants to experience. Before putting them in, if you notice certain spots still smell, spray them with a molecular odor eliminator to remove any residual odors.

Once the carpet and seats have dried, retrace your steps and place back the carpet and seats following the proper procedure recommended for your car. Keep in mind that sometimes this instructional information is best communicated by your dealer or mechanic if the internet/manual doesn't seem to help.

By now you should notice that the carpet and seats don't smell and your car should look a lot like the day before the storm if not cleaner than it was to begin with. If you follow these steps it's an easy process to restore your cars interior after a water damage incident. The most important thing is that you don't live with the issue if you can solve it. Bacteria and mold can cause health concerns and is one of the most unpleasant things to deal with when it comes to your car. Tackle the problem and bring your car back to life!