How To Dry Car Carpet (Quickly)

Image by Ford Motor Company from Flickr

Image by Ford Motor Company from Flickr

How To Dry Car Carpet (Quickly)


Moisture in your vehicle happens. Unless you live in a desert and you never allow liquids in your vehicle, at some point you’ll need to deal with a spill in the car or rain making its way inside.

To avoid mold or even a musty smell from developing, getting it dry quickly is a must. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to attack a wet car carpet as well as a wet interior.

In this article, we will not only tackle how to dry out your car carpet and vehicle interior, but we will also cover how to prevent the buildup of unwanted moisture as well as how to keep your car dry.

How long does it take for a car carpet to dry?

There’s not a set amount of time for a wet car carpet to dry. Say you just got your car cleaned or perhaps you cleaned and shampooed it yourself.

How long will it take to dry if you do nothing? With your seats damp, it can take anywhere from three to five hours depending on the temperature and humidity outside. This is assuming the seats and carpet are simply damp from being cleaned.

If you spilled something in your car or it rained in your vehicle, then you may be looking at a different timeline and will require some different solutions to avoid mold or a musty smell developing.

While you can leave your doors or windows open to let the shampooed seats and carpet dry, this is not an option for spills and rain.

You must take immediate action to dry out the interior of your vehicle!

How can I dry my car carpet fast? Simple and Effective Steps

Water in your vehicle is never a welcome sight. If you have a spill on your car’s carpet, you need to dry it out quickly. There are a couple of things you can do that will expedite the process.

  • Pull your car into a dry area whether that be outside because you live in a hot climate or in your garage because you live in a colder climate. Then, you can leave your car doors open or windows open to hurry the process.
  • Take your floor mats out of the car and allow them to air dry. Most floor mats are not fabric, so they will dry out quickly on their own without any hassle on your part.
  • Use a microfiber towel or any towel you have on hand to absorb as much moisture as possible. Shop towels or microfiber towels are your best option, and paper towels are the worse as they are not as absorbent and can leave white bits of paper behind.
  • Airflow, airflow, airflow. Get your fans and let them blow in your car. The air movement alone will go a long way to drying out your wet car carpet. Don’t have any fans? You can get small, cheap fans from the store and place them in several spots in your vehicle.
  • Finally, use a Shop-Vac if possible to vacuum the remaining liquid from the carpet. Simply turn the vacuum to its “wet” setting, and begin drying out that wet car carpet. A Shop-Vac is a specific and well-trusted brand of wet dry vac. This just means it can be used to vacuum dry surfaces as well as wet! Some other top brands include Vacmaster, DeWalt, and Craftsman. If you don’t have a wet-dry vac, I suggest purchasing one as you can get them for a bargain and they are very handy for a multitude of tasks.

Best Wet Dry Vacs

I just mentioned the value of a great wet dry vac and that there are affordable ones on the market, but what are the best vacuums out there? Below I’ve listed the best, the most affordable, and a mid-range of price and quality option.

  • Best Wet/Dry Shop Vac – Craftsman 16 Gallon 6.5 hp Wet/Dry Vacuum – Craftsman is a quality reliable brand and 6.5 hp of sucking power will help you pull as much water from the carpet and padding beneath it as possible.
  • Budget Wet/Dry Shop Vac – Stinger became a bit of a sensation in the shop vac market. The reason is their 2.5 gallon 1.75 hp shop vac is very small which makes it a very portable and versatile option. If you don’t need massive power and want to save a large amount, this handy little shop vac is a real winner.

Ways to help prevent moisture in the car

The steps to getting rid of unwanted moisture in your car or dealing with spills are fairly straight forward. You absorb and then get as much air movement as possible.

But you don’t want to be living in reaction all the time, so how can you prevent moisture in your car that leads to mold and unwanted scents? The answer is by using a dehumidifier.

These are products that absorb moisture in the air in your car and help prevent mold and other moisture-related issues. They can help to an extent with spills, but these products are really more for prevention than anything else.

If you live in a humid climate, I highly suggest investing in at least one of these options.

  • Damprid for cars – Damprid is an all-natural way to keep moisture out of your car. It will literally suck moisture from the air preventing mold or unwelcome smells in your car. Their products are also great for absorbing moisture when your car has been in heavy rain. You simply put a disposable moisture absorber under a seat and let it do its job. Make sure to check on these and replace them when necessary. These are a great investment if you live in a humid or rainy climate.
  • Bamboo Activated Charcoal Bag – This activated charcoal bag is amazing for a few different reasons. The first is it lasts a long time, as in up to two years! The other feature is the activated charcoal not only absorbs moisture but absorbs bad odors as well instead of covering them up like a typical car freshener would. Leave the bag in your car, and when it becomes fully saturated, just leave it in the sunlight to dry out and then use it again! The only downfall is it is a bit more expensive, but given the long life-span, it may be worth the investment.
  • Baking Soda – It’s amazing how versatile, cheap, and effective baking soda is. You can use it in the kitchen, to clean, and even as a dehumidifier! Simply open a box of baking soda and place it in your car. If you’re going to be driving the vehicle, make sure the baking soda is in a place where it won’t fall over. It will absorb moisture, and you’ll know when to change it when the baking soda has begun to form into clumps.

Prevention is key when it comes to moisture buildup in your vehicle. These dehumidifiers are an inexpensive way to avoid a not so fun situation later!

How do you dry out a car interior?

We’ve covered the different ways to deal with spills as well as preventing moisture in your car, but what do you do if it rains in your car? How do you dry out areas that aren’t your car carpet? As you may have guessed, the steps are similar to taking care of a wet car carpet, but there are a few differences, too.

  • Move your car into a covered area. You don’t want to get rained on again while you’re trying to dry out your car.
  • Follow the same steps as drying out the wet carpet. You want to absorb as much moisture as possible, so use absorbent towels, and then use a wet vac to dry the air, even more, is essential. You can also use fans to blow in the car while you work to speed up the process.
  • If there are areas you’re unable to reach with the wet vac, you can use a blow dryer to get those parts of the car.
  • If you have leather seats, you will need to condition them to ensure they last and don’t deteriorate due to water damage.
  • If you have cloth seats, the same thing applies only instead of using a leather conditioner you’ll use a shampoo.


Whether you accidentally left the window open and it rained in the car or someone spilled their water or beverage, you want to clean your car quickly. 

Allowing moisture to linger is never a good idea as it can lead to mold and unwanted scents. 

The good news is drying out your car is a fairly simple process. Just gather your shop towels, your vacuum, a plethora of fans, and you’ll have the job done in no time!

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