How to get rid of moldy mildewed seats?

Joined
Sep 30, 2013
Messages
172
Location
Tanzania
Hi all.

After a couple of weeks away on holiday with family, I returned to find the cloth seats in my 80 growing mold and mildew. A lot of it. It's the dry season here in Tanzania, my windows were all up, and my sunroof is sealed, so I know water didn't get in while I was gone. But the seats get wet after surfing or sports, so there's probably some residual moisture in there somewhere. And the odor is distinctly coming from the seats, not the carpet.

The issue now is how do I get rid of this stuff growing in and on my seats? I've tried upholstery shampoo, which got everything off the surface, but there's still a strong stench of damp every time I open the door.

Do I pull the seats out, douse them with vinegar and let them dry in the sun for a couple of days? Any other suggestions?

Seats are fully manual, so no electronic components to worry about.
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2017
Messages
48
Location
California
Sorry to hear this happened.

I'm sure others far more knowledgeable than myself can address where the water is coming in from but I do fancy myself a above average automotive detailed.

I see you are located in Tanzania so not sure if they will have this product in your country (no offense) but check out the "Rug Doctor". You rent them for about 30 dollars a day (24 hours) and they work AMAZINGLY well.

You will get bucket after bucket of bacteria and grime/dirt out of your carpets and seats.

Only thing I will say is to do it on a warm day and start in the morning to allow the interior to dry quickly.

Best of luck!
 

inkpot

SILVER Star
Joined
Jan 30, 2003
Messages
13,609
Location
All over Arizona
 
 
 
I have had good luck with FREEBREEZE for eliminating various odors. Usually found near other laundry supplies, but not available in all locations
 

crikeymike

Exit Offroad - Dobinsons Specialist
Supporting Vendor
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
771
Location
Miami, Florida
 
 
 
Someone told me once just straight up baking soda is supposed to absorb that stuff.

If it is the dry season, maybe take them all out and put them in the hot sun. I think the UV rays should kill whatever is on it too, but it won't make it "clean".

Yeah, pulling the covers off might be a good idea too. Or ask the local car detail guy for his suggestions and a price quote.

Sounds like your sunroof let you down. Mine gave me some issues years ago. I used some vaseline to help bring all the seals back to life a little, and that worked until I sold it.
 
Joined
Apr 20, 2012
Messages
404
Location
Overland Park, KS
 
Buy an O-Zone generator on Amazon...5000mg/h run about $75...a/c powered. Kills the stuff along with virtually every other odor in a vehicle. Run it for two hours then air the rig out well before driving. Might take a few "treatments" but I've had luck with these getting rid of similar mold/mildew problems along with heavy smoke smells.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2005
Messages
368
Location
ca
 
 
 
Yikes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2012
Messages
2,009
Location
Ann Arbor, MI
 
Borax and water, or mild boric acid, if available, should fix the problem. Probably best to remove the seats, take off the covers and give them a good wash and let them dry in the sun
 

MoJ

Moderator
Joined
Oct 24, 2003
Messages
4,046
 
 
 
Remove the seat covers. Soak the covers with white vinegar, rinse, and dry in the sun. While the covers are off spray the seats with a weak bleach solution.

Eliminate the source or moisture to prevent it from happening again.
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
462
Location
Eastern Washington
 
I had a similar issue in an older 4 runner. I took my pressure washer and put vinegar in the injector tank. Took the seats out, scrubbed them down as good as I could with soap, water and a hard bristle brush and then power washed them really good. Let them sit and dry in the hot sun for two days. Never had an issue after that.
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2014
Messages
152
Location
The Savannah River Valley
 
I'd pull the seats and pressure wash them with vinegar and or borax. Pull the covers off if you have hog-ring pliers and the courage to tackle upholstery. Leave them in the sun for a few days to dry. The interior of the truck will have absorbed some odors (headliner, carpet, door cards). I've used Star-Brite Car Bomb (a chlorine dioxide generator) to great effect to remove organic stink from boats, cars, and teenage boy's rooms. Two of them left in a sealed 80 series really neutralize the smell of kids, wet dogs, and "old car" if left in the sun for 2 or 3 days. Here's the tech data from the manufacturer. Summary: pull seats and pressure wash, use vinegar. Leave in sun to dry and let the magic of UV do its thing. CLO2 bomb the interior. Reassemble. All better.
 
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