a woman showing how to dry wet car seats using a towel
Tips & Tricks

How to Dry Wet Car Seats Effectively: 4 Pro Tips

The interior of your car does not work well with water. There are generally 2 ways by which fluids can get into your car — either you accidentally spilled liquid on your car seats or left the car window down on a rainy day. If you’ve ever done either of these before, then you can attest to the terrible aftermath of leaving your car seat damp.

Damp car seats can develop problems like wet stains, mold growth, and that awful damp smell. In this article, we’ll show you how to dry wet car seats completely and remove any odor.

How to Dry Wet Car Seats

1. Use Towels

We’re not talking about an ordinary paper towel that will come apart easily and leave a film of paper behind. To properly dry a car seat, you will need an absorbent cloth towel.

To make sure this step works well, stack clean towels on the wet spot and then lean into it with your hands or sit down on the towel. This will do a good job of soaking up the water from the wet seats. Remember to pat the seat with a clean cloth towel when drying so more water can be absorbed and the leather dye or fabric of your seat doesn’t get smeared. 

You can turn on your air conditioner to the highest setting to speed things up even more. 

2. Make Use of the Sun

car seats drying in the sun

This is one way to speed up the drying process. You can take advantage of a hot sunny day by opening the windows and car doors to allow for more airflow if the seat of your car cannot be easily removed. If that is not possible, you can open the sunroof to allow the heat of the sun to take care of excess water. 

3. Use a Dehumidifier

If you live in a damp area, leaving a dehumidifier on for a period of time will help collect moisture in the air. You can place the dehumidifier in the car on the seat or on the floor. You can also place it outside at an angle that reaches the seat. 

4. Use a Fan

If the previous option is not available, you have an alternative. A good fan can do a great job of getting rid of the excess moisture in the damp seat. All you need to do is to aim at the wet part of the seat. You can also keep your car windows and doors open to allow for air drying. 

If you don’t have a fan to dry your car with, use a blow dryer. This involves a lot more work than the other alternatives because a blow dryer doesn’t produce enough heat to dry a car seat quickly. Also, you will have to hold the dryer to get to the wet spots. This can take hours before you see any results.  

On the other hand, a blow dryer wouldn’t cause much heat damage to your seat and it can reach those tight spaces in your car that a fan cannot. 

Another substitute for a fan and a blow dryer is a shop vac. Position the vacuum to the “wet” setting and then aim it at the wet part of the car seat to soak up the moisture. 

How to Remove the Dreaded Watermark

If you notice a mark forming on the seat of your car as it begins to dry, it is important to get rid of it immediately before it becomes a permanent tough stain. These wet stains are caused when the seat doesn’t properly dry or moisture evaporates on the surface. All you need to do is to follow these easy cleaning methods. 

Step One

If your car seat is made out of cloth, you’ll need to get rid of every dirt and crumb by using a vacuum. After this, use a shampoo made specifically for cleaning the car interior to clean the stain on the chair with a soft brush.

Step Two

Stack the seats with towels to let them absorb and dry all that shampoo and water. Leave the seats to dry or use any of the methods we’ve mentioned earlier. 

If you have to clean leather upholstery, you’ll need a different approach. You can start by mixing together an equal amount of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on a clean towel and then use it to rub off the stains. Use a dry towel to wipe off, and you should be good to go. 

How to Get Rid of Smell

It’s very likely that after drying your car the smell of mildew will remain. 

Mildew and mold appear as a result of the damp area. Mildew is a subclass of a mold — they are not the same. Although mildew is not a direct threat to humans, other kinds of molds can be toxic. The solution is very fast and easy.

1. Protect Yourself

Wear gloves and masks to prevent you from breathing in mold spores from mildew. Breathing them in can cause irritation.

2. Make a Mixture

man applying a liquid mixture to car seat

In a spray bottle, mix together white vinegar and water (more vinegar than water). Spray the area of your car that’s smelly, then vacuum the area after about twenty minutes. White vinegar is the only type of vinegar you should use to get rid of the mold.

3. Use Baking Soda

The downside of using vinegar is its smell. This is where baking soda comes in handy. Sprinkle light amounts of baking soda on the car seat or other areas that are smelly, then leave it for about twenty minutes. Use a handheld vacuum to get rid of the baking soda on the seat.

After doing this, the smell of mildew and vinegar will be gone.


This comprehensive guide on how to dry wet car seats will come in handy when you have accidental spills in your car. Typically, drying your car seat should only take a few hours. So next time your car seat gets wet, you don’t need to panic or waste money on a trip to the car wash.