Left the Windows Open in Your Car? Here’s What to Do


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The sound of rain pitter-pattering on your windows can be incredibly soothing until you remember you’ve left your car windows cracked. In a panic, you rush outside to find your vehicle’s seats and floor sopping wet. Maybe puddles have already begun forming on the floor.

There’s no way to go back in time and roll up your windows before the storm. So you’re left with the cleanup. Luckily, however, your beloved vehicle won’t suffer any permanent damage so long as you act quickly.

Soak or Suck It Up

The first step to drying out your car is to get rid of any standing water as quickly as you can. Leaving it to sit for too long can damage the wires and cables that control your powered seats and wreak havoc on your upholstery. So, as soon as you notice your windows have been down, grab a cloth towel and get to work.

Soak up puddles on your seats and carpets and look for drain plugs on your floor to release trapped water. If there are no drain plugs and you find more than an inch of standing water on your floorboards, use a shop vac to suck it up before wiping it down. And don’t forget to suck out any liquid from the center console, the nooks between the seats and any empty cupholders.

Use Airflow

After you’ve removed as much water as you can, transfer your car to a covered area like a garage so you can get some dry air flowing through it. If your car didn’t accumulate much water, you might opt to simply leave the windows open and let natural breezes dry it out.

However, if your interior was saturated, you’ll want stronger airflow moving through it to get rid of the dampness quickly.

Open all the windows and doors of your car and position shop fans around it — the more the better. Leave them running for at least a day. If, after a day or two, your interior still feels damp in places, use a hairdryer to target those spots. This concentrated warm airflow will hopefully dry out any trouble spots. Or, you might move your car out into the sun and wind, allowing the natural warm breeze to work its magic.

Prevent Mold

Even after your car is dry, there’s still a chance of mold developing on your interior. This can leave your car smelling mildewy. So it’s best to take preventative measures before any unwanted fungi stars to grow.

Gather some moisture-absorbent products, like baking soda or DampRid, and place them in your car to draw any leftover dampness out of your seats and carpets.

If your efforts fail and you begin to notice moldy spots, take action immediately. Open your doors and windows to let the spores blow out. Then, inspect your car and locate the source of the infestation. Then, use a scrub brush to break up the leftover spores and get the mold out of cracks and crevices. Mix eight parts white vinegar with two parts water and wipe down moldy spots as well. The acidity of the vinegar will burn and kill the mold and prevent it from returning.

Close Your Windows!

Everyone makes mistakes. But, once you’ve left your windows down and suffered the repercussions once, odds are good you won’t make the same mistake again. Because sucking all the water out of your car and scrubbing mold off the seats isn’t fun for anyone.

So save yourself the trouble and keep your windows rolled up at all times. Or, at least check the weather before leaving them open next time. And if you get stuck with a wet car again, at least you’ll already know what to do.

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