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Left Your Car Windows Open In the Rain? Here’s How to Quickly Dry It Out

rain covered car on forest road
GaudiLab/Shutterstock

It’s easy to forget to roll up your car windows on a beautiful summer day, but nice summer days have a way of turning into rainy days in a matter of minutes. Here’s how to dry your car out if your day got a little damper than expected.

Failing to get out to your car fast enough when the rain comes doesn’t mean a damp drive home, it can also mean a musty smelling car, mildew, and worse. Let’s take a look at how to get the water out before it becomes a problem.

Remove the Excess Water

Whether your seats are just damp or you have standing water in the car, start by getting as much out as possible. A wet/dry vacuum will make short work of the standing water.

Once you’ve dealt with standing water, use some towels to soak up more water. Push down on them into your seat to absorb as much water as possible.

Removing the water immediately is best (and much faster than the additional ways we’re about to dig into). Whenever possible, shop vac and blot up all the water you can before proceeding.

Let the Air In

While keeping your windows open was what got you into this mess in the first place, you want to make sure your vehicle is getting ample airflow. The air will help dry things out fast.

The key to keeping air moving through your vehicle is the use of a fan. You want to have a fan that is blowing across your floors and across the seats (or whichever areas are wet). A larger shop fan will come in handy. You’ll have to keep your doors open and let the fans do their job for 12 to 24 hours. Keeping your vehicle in a garage during this time is ideal.

If you don’t have garage access or you’re away from home, you can try cranking the heat in your car or the defroster and aiming the vents toward the seats and floorboard. This is a temporary fix, and you’ll want to get some proper ventilation going through your vehicle to dry it out thoroughly.

Using the defroster might sound counterintuitive, but it’s a smart solution that combines hot air (which can hold more moisture) and the AC system (which extracts moisture). The reason you see puddles under cars during the summer is that the AC unit is pulling moisture from the interior of the car and dumping it out.

If you don’t want to waste gas, and it’s a low humidity day with the sun shining bright, you can let nature do the drying for you. Cars can get up to 40F higher than the outdoor temperature quite quickly. Park in the direct sunlight, roll your windows down just a bit, and the heat will help vent the damp air right out the windows.

Spot Dry

After you do the other two steps, there’s a chance you may still find some wet spots. These will usually be found on your floorboards or at the edge of your seat—spots that got really wet and aren’t drying fast as the rest of your car.

To avoid mold, you want to be sure you get all of the moisture out of your car. You can spot dry using a blow dryer.

Use Desiccants

Finish up with some moisture absorbent products. You can purchase disposable moisture absorbers that come in a plastic container. These desiccants help to keep the drying process going.  You can see the moisture they pull from your vehicle as the container fills with water. You can also use a box of baking soda (but you won’t see the direct results this way).

During the daytime, keep your windows cracked and keep your car in a sunny area, for the fastest drying results. But don’t leave your windows open overnight. Since the sun is gone, the moisture absorbers will continue the work the sun was doing.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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