How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Car Vents: The Ultimate Guide

Are you curious about “how to get mildew smell out of car vents”? Few things are as comforting as a car’s air conditioning on a hot summer day.

But what if the air flowing from your vents smells like a mildew-ish sweaty sock? You don’t have to close your eyes and tolerate this weird, moldy odor that appears as soon as your air conditioner is turned on. 

how to get mildew smell out of car vents

Because of the moisture in your AC system, you’ve most certainly developed mold and mildew. Moisture is a natural element of the car, but it can cause mold if left unattended for too long. 

Mold spores are picked up as air rushes past the evaporator and into the automobile, feeding on the moisture. Fortunately, they’re simple to clean, and your car will smell like new again.


Getting Rid Of The Mildew Smell In Your Car

The evaporator drain under the vehicle’s floor is where the majority of the water is supposed to go. On a hot, humid day, you’ve probably noticed a small puddle of water under the bottom of your car.

Although, some of it collects in the evaporator, and if it sits there for long enough, germs and mold will bloom, and you will smell it in the car’s cabin. Fortunately, it’s a relatively simple remedy.

Whether you detect that mildew-ish smell, try the following procedures to see if they solve the problem:

Step #1. Make sure your air conditioner’s drain isn’t clogged. When you park the car after it has been running for 20 minutes or more, the condensation water should drain from under the engine. 

Note: It may be obvious depending on your car, or you may need to move to see if water is draining. You’ll need to get the A/C system serviced if you think it’s clogged.

Step #2. If the A/C system is drained and there is still a stench, turn off the A/C before turning off the automobile.

Allow the fan to run to assist in the removal of damp air from the vent system. You’re attempting to force the water from the drain pan to evaporate. 

Note: To keep the stink from returning, you may need to do this every time you switch off the car. Read this article about how to get mildew smell from car carpet to give you extra tips.

Step #3. It’s also a good idea to leave your air conditioner compressor on all the time, whether you’re heating or cooling. The temperature setting decides whether the air is hot or cold, while the A/C mode removes moisture. 

Note: When you’re trying to defrost your windows in the winter, this method works well.

If these measures don’t help you get rid of the odor, you should clean your car’s ventilation system.

Physical removal of the growth from the afflicted surfaces is the first step in any repair endeavor. Dust and debris collect on the A/C coils and drain pan, as well as in the air ducts, in your car’s ventilation system. 

Mold and bacteria might form if the coils and pan remain damp. Because these surfaces are difficult to reach, we employ an indirect cleaning procedure.

The stink should be eliminated by using an antimicrobial agent on the coils and drain pan. Choose a substance that is effective without corroding the vehicle’s components and does not cause allergic responses in anyone who uses it. 

It is extremely advised to use a fragrance-free product that is a viscous liquid. Dilute it with water before using, but use twice as much as the manufacturer recommends.

If you can’t find a product that isn’t fragranced, make careful to test whatever you plan to use outside of the automobile before applying it. If responses occur after application, the product can’t be removed.

Try spraying the product in a plastic bag to see whether you or your family reacts. Prepare at least a pint of liquid and pour it into a trigger-type spray bottle to make application easier.


How To Deodorize Car Vents

Here are the steps in deodorizing the vents:

Step #1. Turn on the car engine and the A/C fan to the highest setting. Instead of “recirculate,” choose “outside air.”

Instead of blowing onto the floor, direct the airflow to the dashboard vents. While you’re deodorizing, open the windows.

Step #2. The mixture should be sprayed in 14 cup increments. Replacing the floor air vent and spraying another 12 cups of the combination, there should be about a cup left over.

Note: The air intake should be found. Almost always, it will be towards the top of the hood, near the bottom of the windshield, and in the middle of the automobile. 

The majority of what you spray will never make it into the A/C unit because the coil is buried inside the car. It will accumulate on and drop off the grill, as well as the sides of the ducting and all other structures. 

Although, by the time the container is empty, there is nearly always enough spray to make a difference within the A/C unit.

If the first method doesn’t satisfy your expected outcome in getting rid of the mildew-ish smell you can try the other tips on how to remove mildew stains from outdoor cushions. Here are some other steps on clearing out the smell in car vents.

Step #1. Turn on the car’s internal fan on low and open all of the windows. Spray a disinfectant like Lysol or an AC disinfectant into what’s known as the plenum at your local auto parts store.

The intake is positioned at the base of your windshield, where your wipers are located, and the plenum is a box that links to your HVAC system. 

You’ll notice vents there, which is the plenum. That’s where the air for your heating and cooling system comes from.

Step #2. Spray the cleaner liberally into both sides of the plenum intake vent, and the fans will pull it into the system, killing the germs and assisting in the removal of the musty stench. 

You should leave your windows open to allow the automobile to breathe. To help the disinfectant travel through the system, remove the cabin filter before spraying it. 

Note: It may also be a good time to replace it, as a filthy filter might obstruct proper airflow. Cabin filters are often located behind the glove compartment door and are quite straightforward to access.

Step #3. Turn off the air conditioner and let the fans run for a few minutes before turning off the car’s ignition to assist preserve your vents in the heat. This will assist in the removal of some of the moisture that collects in the AC vents.



To achieve the best results, make sure to clean every vent. Examine every seat, the dashboard, and the trunk.

A wall AC unit that has developed an odor after being switched off for a few days can be cleaned in the same way.

These are just temporary fixes to get you through until you can do a more comprehensive cleaning. We hope you gain a better understanding on how to get mildew smell out of car vents.

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