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Sources of mildew smell in car

A mildew smell in your vehicle can be disturbing and tough to handle. Traditional air fresheners can only mask the smell temporarily, which is why it’s important to identify the source so the smell and the infected area can be addressed. 

Mildew is a type of fungus, although it is the same family as mold it is distinguished mainly by its color. Mold is mostly with black, blue, red, and green, while mildew is mostly a powdery grey-white color.  But both mold and mildew produce disturbing odors and can be hazardous for your health.

Mildew is a microscopic fungus that can be air borne as a tiny spore. These spores are not only a health hazard, but when they land in humid environments, they can colonize and grow. Fortunately, mildew doesn’t penetrate surfaces.

Both mold and mildew fungi produce a musty, earthy smell. So, it’s difficult to tell them apart just by smell. But since mildew grows on surfaces, it is easier to spot. 

A mildew growth is often triggered by moisture or humidity that is present in many areas in your vehicle. The key question is: how can you get rid of the horrible smell? First, you need to locate the source. Once you do, use any mildew cleaning product. There are few common areas you should check for mildew growth in your car:

  • Check and clean the storage space and tire compartments. 
  • Check and clean your floor-mats and remove them to expose the underlying carpet or liner. 
  • Check the evaporator drain tube, it may be clogged which may cause water leakage.
  • The most common source of mildew smell is the ventilation system due to the moisture in the system, Start with the evaporator, tubes, hoses, blower fan and most importantly, the cabin air filter.

There is a wide assortment of “sanitizing” products to clean the HVAC system in your vehicle and eliminate mildew. Some are in the form of foam that should be spayed through the vents and from under the dashboard to reach the evaporator. The foam products are quite effective, however it may be more suited for detailing professionals or mechanics.  Other products are in the form of “spray bomb”   which can be easily applied for 15 minutes while the ventilation system is running in circulating mode. 

Often, drivers forget or disregard replacing the cabin air filter on a regular basis, while the filter can be a great hosting environment for mildew and mold, especially with an economy filter that doesn’t have  bacterial and fungi inhibiting material. That’s why it’s essential to replace your cabin air filter at least twice a year.

Pureflow filters include an antibacterial, antifungal layer that prevents the growth of mold, mildew and fungi on the filter. PureFlow also offers a new product category of cabin filter air fresheners that are loaded with your favorite scent and with a car AC odor eliminator which masks any bad odors in the ventilation system. With six scents to choose from, the fresheners are snapped directly onto the cabin air filter, ensuring a balanced, long-lasting scent inside your car.
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