February 9, 2012 11:07 PM   Subscribe

How to remove water from my car, specifically the carpets - they squish!

My car has (hopefully HAD, thanks to some well-placed duct tape) a leak in a broken taillight lens that let the hatch take on some amount of water. Afterwards I'd be driving and when I braked the water would slosh towards the front of the car, filling all the foot wells with 1/4 to 1/2" of water. How do I hasten the drying process?

If there's no rain in the forecast I leave my windows open during the day, but there are only the front two - I'd need to leave the hatchback open as well to get a good cross breeze and I just don't feel safe doing that in the office parking lot. My car is in an open lot at night, probably secure but I'm not going to leave the windows down all night.

Sadly I don't have a garage, let alone a wet/dry vac or a nearby outlet to plug in a fan (my kingdom for a garage).

Would a car wash/detailing place be able to wet vac my car? I don't believe I've gotten to the mold stage, but is there anything I can do to prevent it? Is there some substance I could put on the carpets and (dry) vacuum up that would absorb the water? Giant car-floor-shaped sponges? A week-long trip to the desert?

So far I've been mopping the condensed water off the inside of the windshield every morning but that's not a quick enough solution. How can I speed up the drying out process?
posted by bendy to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've vacuumed wet rugs with a diy car wash vacuum before and there wasn't any problem. I didn't really think about it not being able to deal with that when I did it, but in retrospect I have to assume they'd engineer those things to handle a lot more abuse than someone vacuuming damp floor mats.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:20 PM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

This must have happened to my beloved Jeep before I bought her. She still smells faintly on humid days, and I live in Southern California where it's pretty much hot and sunny every day. Prior to my ownership she was an outside vehicle. She had plenty of time to "dry out" properly, and it didn't happen.

Get your car professionally serviced ASAP. That's A LOT of water you're talking about. Don't fuck around with this. MOLD SUCKS.
posted by jbenben at 11:52 PM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

You could try dumping a whole bag of crystal (silica gel) cat litter into each footwell, leaving it to suck up water over a day's parking, then scoop out and bag as much as you can (you can regenerate its suckitupitude by baking it in a low oven for a few hours) and vacuum up the rest.
posted by flabdablet at 11:58 PM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

The dealer left a window open on my car overnight, it rained like crazy. As a result, the carpet was soaked. After I vac'ed out the water, the floor still squished. Turned out the padding under the carpet was also soaked. My fix was to take out the passenger seat and the sill plate and jam a small milk crate under the carpet and pad for a few weeks. It eventually dried out.
posted by Marky at 1:06 AM on February 10, 2012

A shop vac or one of the vacuums at a car wash is the way to get most of it. If you can borrow a dehumidifier then you could leave it running in the car overnight, with an extension cord going in through a barely cracked-open window.

1/4" - 1/2" in all the footwells is an awful lot of water to come in through a tail light. How long did you drive around with the lens broken?
posted by jon1270 at 2:23 AM on February 10, 2012

I've used bags of dry-ez, not sure if that's correct spelling, white bags of some dehumidifier. A few in the body and trunk will help. Also take out any removable floor coverings and any pieces in the trunk, lots of water gets trapped in there.
posted by jennstra at 3:59 AM on February 10, 2012

Vaccuum at a do-it-yourself car wash.
posted by Flood at 4:17 AM on February 10, 2012

A low tech solution:

1- Use a DIY vacuum at the car wash to suck up everything you can.

2- Buy a bag of rock salt and put it into shallow trays on the seats.

3- For a couple days straight, warm up the car real good and then park in the direct sunlight. I mean, blast the heat just to the point that the windows are fogging up. (If you have a long commute, alternate this with running the AC on recirculate, which should dehumidify the air.)

4- The trays of rock salt should develop water sloshing around the bottom. Drain it daily.

5- Repeat until you get no more water.

6- Keep a bag or two of the above recommended basement-dri stuff in the car for the foreseeable future.
posted by gjc at 4:41 AM on February 10, 2012

My car sprung a leak during Hurricane Irene and I ended up with water flooding my entire driver's side, front and back. Here's what I did:

-Used a wet/dry vac at a car wash to get the visible water out
-Used a sponges to pull the water from the carpet and wrung them out as I went
-Purchased a big bag of Desert's Sand cat litter and spread it in a thick, even layer over my carpet
-Left my windows open as often as I could, parked in the sun
-Vacuumed out and re-layered the litter as soon as it was visibly wet

My car smelled weird for about a week as I completed the drying process, but it now smells normal. I was really diligent about reapplying the litter all over and replacing it. I considered the silica gel cat litters, but I liked the non-clumping sand kind better.
posted by rachaelfaith at 4:49 AM on February 10, 2012

If the carpets are saturated (they squish) you are going to have to remove them get them completely dry. You will not be able to get them completely dry if you leave them in-place. If you leave them in the car to dry, moisture will be trapped beneath them and you run the very real risk of mold developing in nooks and crannies of the floor.

I did this once, after water got into one of my cars. It's not fun, and it's very time-consuming.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:59 AM on February 10, 2012

Get the water out quickly; cars arent meant to be wet inside, and it could cause all sorts of problems. Or fungus.

1. remove as much wet/damp stuff as you can from the car; footmats, carpets, boot (trunk) liners etc.

2. For the ammount of water you are talking about (sloshing around?! WTF?!) there will be a drain plug in the boot (trunk); a rubber plug which you will be able to pull out to let the water drain. If the footwells are slopping about then look for the same in them. You can leave these plugs out to assist with drying; even on a wet road you wont get water coming up through them.

3. Sponge/vacuum as much away as possible

4. Drive around with heater on full, blowers on full and back windows cracked open.

5. Dehumidify; hire a unit and leave it running in your car. Can you do this in the work car park?

I admit; I have a bit of a thing about damp cars. It comes from dehumidifying cars; have you seen the stuff that comes out of them?! I know have blowers on '2' as a matter of course to stop fushtiness.
posted by BadMiker at 5:32 AM on February 10, 2012

I came into suggest dry rice on the floor, as I've had good results with it in my old car after a leak. After reading the other answers I think silica cat litter would be even better.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 5:05 PM on February 10, 2012

Response by poster: Is anyone still reading this? In follow-up, there were enough dry days after the initial flooding that when I left my windows open during the day at work, the car eventually dried out. I put a piece of duct tape on the broken taillight lens and haven't had any new wetness since.

As far as I can tell there is no serious mold (I sneeze at perfume and any odd scent at all) and the car doesn't have any odor.

I'm calling this one a win. Thanks again for all your advice - it'll help someother poor sapone else who googles this.
posted by bendy at 12:16 AM on March 7, 2012

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