How To Dry Wet Car Carpet Or Seats in 5 Easy Steps

Man using vacuum to clean car floor matsYou’ve just sprinted out to your car through a torrential downpour only to discover that you left a window down, and now the car’s interior is soaked! While you're driving from your soggy seat you wonder how to go about drying the car’s carpet and seats. Don't worry, we’ve researched the best methods for a thorough drying process, and we’ve got the answer for you.

Follow these simple steps to dry your car’s interior:

  1. Remove all floor mats.
  2. Vacuum the carpets and seats using a wet/dry vac.
  3. Using a clean, dry cloth towel sop excess water from the carpets and seats by pressing the towel down, firmly against the surfaces and letting the towel soak in the water.
  4. Lift the carpets from the sill, sop any excess water found below with a dry, clean cloth towel.
  5. Ventilate the interior by opening all the car’s doors and increase the airflow by setting up industrial fans to blow through the front row and rear rows of the car.

Rain is not always the cause of a wet interior. Driving through flooded roadways and leaky exterior or interior car parts can also soak your car’s interior. Keep reading, and we’ll share some additional tips on how to get your car’s interior completely dry and keep it smelling fresh afterward.

How Long Does It Take To Dry A Car Seat?

Car seats that have been drenched get wet all the way through the fabric and onto the interior cushion material. It could take between 24 and 48 hours for the seats to dry completely. You can try to expedite the drying process by:

  • Parking your car indoors, beneath a garage or carport, in order to keep the doors open and fans running continually.
  • Running a dehumidifier in the garage or carport while the car dries.

How Long Does It Take To Dry A Car Carpet?

Car carpets drying at broad daylight

Drying a car’s carpet can take at least 24 hours if not longer. You can expedite the drying process by:

  • Propping the carpeting up from the sill and angle an industrial fan to blow beneath the carpeting.
  • Using a hairdryer to dry between the carpeting and the flooring.

Why Is My Car Floor Wet When It Rains?

If you accidentally leave a window down when it rains, it’s easy to see the wet area on your car’s floor or seats where the rain fell. But, what if all windows were closed while it rained or it hadn’t rained at all and you still find a wet area on your car’s interior?

Discovering a wet area on the car’s interior could indicate that your car has a leak. The location of the wet area will give you the best indication of what might be the cause. Before the wet area dries completely, it’s a good idea to identify the location of the leak and repair it so it doesn't continue to leak.

Exterior Leaks

If you notice a wet area on your car’s floor after it rains or you’ve been through a car wash, odds are that you have a door seal, window seal, or sunroof seal that is loose, dried out, or damaged. By visually inspecting the door frames, in the vicinity of the pooled water, you will be able to evaluate the condition of the seals.

If you find water on your dashboard, a faulty windshield seal might be the culprit. A wet area found on the floor in the rear cargo area could point to the hatch window seal as the source of a leak.

Where to Check?

  • Door Membrane (plastic or foam behind the door panel) - look for signs of moisture in the panel, small tears on the membrane, or plugged drains at the bottom of the door frame.
  • Door Seal (weatherstripping) - look for dry-rotted or damaged areas.
  • Wind0w Seal (rubber edging at window base) - check that the rubber fits snugly against the inside and outside of the window and the rubber is not damaged.
  • Sunroof Seal & Drainage Channel - looked for cracked or damaged areas on the seal and check the drainage channel for any blockages.
  • Windshield & Hatch Window Seals - check the rubber for shrinkage or cracking and look to confirm that the rubber is fitted tightly against the glass.

Interior Leaks

Maybe you’ve discovered a leak on your car’s interior when it’s dry outside. Interior leaks, typically found on the front floors, could result from faulty components such as the heater core, air conditioning system, or cabin air filter. The location of the pooled water often gives you the answer to what system is the culprit.

Where to Check?

  • Heater Core - if water has pooled only on the passenger-side floor and the liquid has a sweet smell or tinted color (check by blotting with a paper towel; look and smell) it is likely coolant leaking from a corroded or loose connection.
  • Air Conditioner - a clogged drain tube can overflow causing water to leak behind the dashboard and find its way onto the front floors.
  • Cabin Air Filter -  an air filter located on the car’s firewall can leak if it is improperly fitted or the lid is not secure and you might find water on the front floors as a result.

Now that you have identified the leak and resolved the problem, you can let your car’s interior and carpets dry completely by following the aforementioned steps.

Does Baking Soda Draw Out Moisture?

Baking soda is a handy, household product that you can use in your car’s interior to draw out moisture and eliminate odors. If you notice damp areas on the seats or carpets, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the area. Wait for at least 15-minutes or longer for the baking soda to absorb any moisture. Remove the baking soda from the area by vacuuming and blotting as needed with a clean, damp cloth.

How To Make A Baking Soda Paste

You can also make a baking soda paste to clean heavily soiled areas. Mix a small amount of warm water into the baking soda, until the texture becomes thick and pliable. Apply the paste to the soiled area using an interior medium bristle scrub brush. Scrub gently, then allow at least 15 minutes for the baking soda to work. Vacuum to remove the clumpy paste and blot the area with a clean, damp cloth.

Does Borax Draw Out Odor?

Borax, or sodium borate, is an alkaline mineral salt commonly used as a household cleaning agent. You can safely use borax on your car’s interior carpets and seats in order to neutralize the odor of mildew.

How To Make A Borax Solution

Mix 2 tablespoons of borax into 2 cups of warm water and stir until the borax is completely dissolved. Pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto your car’s carpets or seats and let the solution rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Scrub gently with a cloth or interior scrub brush. Remove the borax solution by dabbing with a dampened cloth.

Does Saltwater Stain Car Seats?

After a day at the beach, you’ve tossed damp towels, wetsuits, toys, and water shoes into your car to head home. But, now you notice an unsightly ring around the edges of your car’s seats and carpets where the beach gear sat. Does saltwater stain? Not exactly. When saltwater dries, a deposit of salt is left behind because the salt does not evaporate with the water.

How Do You Get Salt Out Of Car Upholstery?

Salt left behind from dried saltwater discolors your car’s seat with a pale, white ring around the area that had been wet. You can easily clean saltwater residue from your seats by following these steps:

  1. Vacuum any already dry salt residue.
  2. Saturate the entire area with warm, fresh water.
  3. Use a dry, clean towel to sop the freshwater from the drenched seat by pressing down, firmly onto the cloth and letting the towel soak in the freshwater.
  4. Vacuum again, using a wet/dry capable vacuum.
  5. Ventilate the car and allow the seat to dry completely. Repeat the steps if you can still see salt residue after the seat is completely dry.

What are the Best Tools for Drying a Car’s Interior?

Ventilation is extremely important to facilitate the drying process when your car’s interior gets soaked. Using one or multiple industrial fans keeps the air circulating through your car’s interior.

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Super absorbent cloth towels will help you to sop excess water out of the carpets and seats. You’ll want several towels handy during the job!

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Hanging a DampRid bag in your car, even after the carpets and seats feel dry, can draw additional moisture from the interior and help to prevent mildew from forming below carpets and fabric.

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Hopefully, you will never experience a soaked interior. But, if your car’s carpet or seats have been saturated, you now know how to get the interior completely dry and restore its fresh scent.

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