If You Practically Live in Your Car, Mold Might, Too
It may not be the first location you think of when the topic of mold comes up, but in this hustle-bustle, quick-and-easy, on-the-go lifestyle that most of us have bought into, these six words could be the truth of an entire commuting and overworked generation: “I practically live in my car.”
With 30+ square footage, the interior of your vehicle isn’t exactly a luxurious “crib,” is it? It’s still, however, your lifeline to and from work. Or, perhaps you’re stuck in a truly bad situation right now and that ol’ tin bucket really is your home. Whatever the scenario, you are, to some degree, depending on that vehicle to do more than just get you from point A to point B every day.
Nowadays, our cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs serve as our offices, our lunch tables, and so much more. It isn’t any wonder that they get dirty or accumulate clutter—just like our homes. We stash papers, sweaty gym clothes, stinky work uniforms, muddy shoes, fast food packaging, soda fountain cups, candy wrappers, sticky pocket change, and that bag of items we swore we’d take to Goodwill but never have. The floors have taken a beating over the years with mocha spills, Red Bull splashes, French fry droppings, ketchup splats, gritty snow stampings, and rain water from that time the window wouldn’t go up. Let’s face it, our cars are just an extension of our homes, but we probably treat them more like a garbage bin or a laundry basket. It doesn’t help that our cars lock in moisture and heat like a sauna with a magnifying glass for a roof—even during the winter months.
Regardless of how time’s a-changin’ and life, as we know it, is always being upgraded to something bigger and better, the natural world tends to remain constant and steady as it has since the dawn of time itself. Birds still tell you how they feel on your windshields, deer still stand awkwardly blinded by your headlights, branches still enjoy a good thud on your car’s roof during a windy storm, and mold is still trying to kill you and destroy everything you own on a molecular level.
As always, we’re reminded that our iPhones, Facebook ramblings, and Twitter tweets are no match against the mighty animal, plant, and fungi kingdoms. We can, however, do what every zoo suggests: “Please Don’t Feed the [insert biological life form of choice here].” In other words, when it comes to mold—that’s right, this article is about mold—we need to stop making our vehicles their perfect habitats.
How To Avoid Growing Mold in Your Vehicle
- Remove all trash. Yes, today. Now.
- Clean up all spills and prevent moisture build-up. (See: How to Remove and Prevent Mold From Growing in Your Vehicle’s Carpet, Seats, and Door Panels)
- Check vents for musty mold smell. Consult a mold-remediation expert if smell is present and persistent.
- Stop leaving dirty clothes in the car. There is no laundry fairy that will come and take care of it for you and quit telling yourself that you’ll take them into the house or to the laundromat next time you’re off work. While you’re carpe diem-ing, why don’t you capere lauandi, too?
- Stop eating in your car. Seriously. Just stop it. You’re not going to die if you have to wait ‘til you’re properly seated at a table like human beings have been doing for thousands of years since the first one was built. No excuses. All studies prove that individuals and families who actually pause their busy schedule to sit down together and eat, will be more happy and successful in life. That sounds nice. Do that.
- Use the cup-holder for your lidded drinks and then throw the containers away or recycle them as soon as you exit your vehicle. Easy peasy. You can do this. Repeat after me: my car is not a trash receptacle.
- Keep an extra pair of clean sneakers or slip-ons in your car at all times and a plastic bag, in case you get wet beach sand, mud, food, feces, vomit, or massive amounts of blood and guts all over your shoes. What? It happens…
- Lay out blankets or seat covers specifically designed to catch hair, dander, drool, and urine from your carpooling pet(s), like this one. (Don’t forget to remove the cover and wash it regularly.)
- Ditch the Graham Crackers, Gummi Bears, and Juicy Juice. Consider giving your toddlers nuts or dehydrated fruit as a snack and stick to just water during a drive. Or, invest in better snack containers (like these) or non-drip sippy cups. For longer drives, stop and feed them at a restaurant or public seating area instead. Your children and your mold-free car will thank you.
- If severe mold is present and persistent after cleaning/removal attempts, consider reupholstering your car or hiring a professional to clean and remove the mold. Upside: it’s cheaper than getting a new car and it’ll protect your health and the health of your passengers.
- Detail-clean and vacuum your car at the end of every work week.
Ultimately, the best advice is to just quit being a slob in your vehicle—and quit enabling your passengers to be slobs, as well. I know. It’s tough. You’re tired. You’re overworked. You have little time to spare. But, trust us on this—mold may have an unmistakable presence but it won’t qualify you for the carpool lane.
For more information regarding mold, mold prevention, and mold solutions, please check out the rest of MoldBlogger.com.
Amanda Mott is the mother and personal chef of two boys, the domestic technician of a three-bedroom town home, and occasionally, a freelance writer and editor. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @TheWifesLife