Your car's interior can be a challenge to dry out after a flood or leaving your windows down in the rain because there are many inaccessible pockets where water can pool up. In order to prevent mold damage, your goal is to clear out as much water as possible and then start circulating air to dry it out, but there are some specific steps you should take to make sure you're doing a thorough job.
Vacuum Out Standing Water
Standing water is the easiest thing to remove. Use a wet/dry vacuum to take as much water as you can out of the seats and carpets, as well as any fabric on the doors. Vacuum in the vents above the dash, as well as in your speakers and pockets like door handles and cup holders.
Remove Carpets and Seats
Take out any floor mats so they can dry in direct sunlight or in a non-humid environment. The same can be done with your seats if you have the tools to remove them. Clearing out space inside your car will also help air flow to dry the rest out. Don't forget the foam padding underneath the carpet, which often holds water much more resiliently.
Use Air Conditioning
If you can't find a place to park your car that's relatively free of humidity, your best option is the close all the windows and leave the car idling with the air conditioner running. The air conditioner will pull much of the humidity out of the cabin; this is only a temporary solution, but it's an option you can use to improve the situation while you wait for a better time to continue the process. You can make this work even better if you put a dehumidifier in your car.
Set Up Circulation
When your car is safely in a dry area, open all the doors and set up a few fans to push air through the whole cabin. Don't forget to aim some fans towards the vents and speakers, since moisture will likely have accumulated there as well; alternatively, if you can keep the car running for a few hours, run the vents without air conditioner.
Replace Your Cabin Filter
Even without water damage, mold can accumulate in your cabin air filter with prolonged use of the air conditioner. Since the air conditioner draws out moisture from the cabin, this moisture can end up sticking around in the car. If you've ever turned on the vents and smelled a musty odor, this could be mold. After water damage, replacing the cabin air filter is a good way to prevent mold from growing on the filter or anywhere inside your ventilation system. Run the vents after installing the new filter to make sure clean air gets through your system.
If you've just recently had a new filter installed, you may be fine. However, you should still remove it and make sure it has dried out before reinstalling it.
Use a Carpet Cleaner
When your car is mostly dry, use a carpet cleaner on your car's interior and the floor mats you've taken out. Not only is this a good way to make sure the interior is clean of any mold spores or early growth, but carpet cleaners also suck out moisture, which can assist in the drying process.
To learn more, contact an auto repair service.