a little help with mold in a car

Forebearance

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Yes, @Gingergrrl, I've been through that many cars because I've contaminated the ones I drove.
Usually I wreck cars by parking them in a place with poor quality outside air. But If I had known about the trick of changing the cabin air filter, I might have been able to save a couple of those cars.

To clarify something, the thing that makes me sick in cars is not that they have mold actually growing in them (although that sounds bad too) but that they have mold toxins stuck to all the surfaces, in the cabin air filter, etc.

The Fram air filters are not made in the US. That is all I care about, personally. Actually filtering the air is another level of performance that I am not even expecting at this point.

I had a new EnviroShield cabin air filter put in my car yesterday. I have trusted that brand so far. But this particular filter is killing me .I was in so much pain last night that I could barely sleep. And that included heart pain, which I only get when very poisoned by the worst kind of mold toxin.

Now I have to go take a taxi to buy a Tyvek suit so I can drive the car back to the Firestone place and try a different filter in it. I'm going to lose the new car seat cover I just bought, my driving gloves, probably the set of clothes and shoes I was wearing, etc. Darn it. It is so expensive to run into a bad toxin exposure.

I talked to the guy at NAPA and he said that the company that makes the EnviroShield, a company called WIX, has many factories all over the world. So I must have gotten very unlucky and gotten an air filter that was made in Asia or Europe. He said you have to read the side of the filter to see where it was actually made. (not just the side of the box it comes in)

I do think it's worth it to get a new car in your situation, @Gingergrrl. Your old cars have been cross-contaminated for years.

One time I had a very nice Subaru dealer clean out my entire AC unit with rubbing alcohol. The mechanic said he didn't find any mold growing in it. Yet the car was bothering me a lot. It felt very toxic. I had them change the cabin air filter. And the car felt worse after it was all done that it had when I brought it in.

If only I had known that the kind of cabin air filters Subaru dealers use have become highly toxic in the last few years. Sigh. I really loved all the Foresters I drove. But I can't tolerate them any more.

Fore
 

Gingergrrl

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I do think it's worth it to get a new car in your situation, @Gingergrrl. Your old cars have been cross-contaminated for years.
@Forebearance Thank you for all the info. I think you are right and both of our cars are completely cross contaminated with the same black mold from our old home plus it is in the A/C system. We used my dad's car yesterday as a test and there was no bad smell from the A/C and it did not affect my breathing while in the car and we drove it for several hours. I can't drive anymore anyway so we are considering trading in both cars for one new one. In the meantime, since this is not something we can do quickly, we bought new cabin air filters from the brand I linked in an earlier post.
 

Gingergrrl

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@Aerose91, Sorry for my delayed response...

Hey @Gingergrrl I thought about your problem with the A/C vent and given my (somewhat extensive) mechanical knowledge I had an idea then looked it up and others have mentioned it, too.
Thank you so much for doing that!

It would make sense for mold to grow in an AC duct wherever the residual condensation collects. That would mean the bottom of the intake tube or if there is a partially clogged drain tube. These would prevent the condensation from draining out and there you have a perfect place for mold growth.
I know nothing about cars but this makes sense and the A/C in both of our cars has a horrible musty/moldy smell the moment you turn it on.

There's a thing called a lysol bomb which people use to disinfectant the vents and AC unit. Given that lysol is very toxic this wouldn't work for us but I figured it would make sense that vinegar would work just as well and I was right, here's a procedure someone wrote up. Can't hurt to try.

http://autoresource.internetautoguide.com/clean-mold-cars-air-conditioning-system-1460.html
My husband is convinced he knows how to safely do the Lysol bomb but I think it is too dangerous like you said and told him not to do it in my car. Am not even sure if I want the vinegar bomb!

I just did a little research on it. It says it will filter down to 5 microns which wouldn't be sufficient for mold. I think for mold spores something needs to filter down to 1 micron, possibly even less. HEPA filters get to .5 or as low as .3 microns.

Still going to be better than a typical air filter though.
We ended up buying these filters as an interim measure and couldn't find any true HEPA filters for the car. We are trying to decide what to do long-term b/c we moved and got rid of all our belongings so it would be stupid to keep getting ill over and over again from the cars.
 

Aerose91

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@Forebearance I'm having the same problem as you, i got rid of the mold in the car itself but the damage was done. Even after gutting the whole interior I still get really sick in it after just a few minutes. I contaminated the whole thing. Unfortunately I don't have any money for a new car so I'm just gna clean it again and go on about my life with mold in my day now :meh:
 
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I would suggest an ozone generator, but it may not be possible under $90 or so. I am not sure it would work, but I guess it's supposed to work. I have a cheap one that I use but I'm not as sensitive to mold, so I don't know if kills off the mold.

Another possibility is a UV sanitizer wand. I don't think you could treat places like underneath the seat with one.
 

Forebearance

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I'm so sorry about your car situation, @Aerose91.

Yes, I know of a few mold avoiders who feel like using an ozone generator in their cars has helped detox them.

One time I was staying at a hotel for a while and got to know the head housekeeper and she let me use their ozone generator in my car. It felt to me like it moved the toxins to the floor of the car. So I didn't like it that well, but some people do. They say you have to clean, vacuum the surfaces of the car really well after using one. Maybe I just didn't have enough energy to clean the car really well afterwards.

The UV sanitizer wand sounds interesting. I haven't tried one. It sounds like it might help if there is actual mold living someplace in the car.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I haven't used either the heat or the A/C in cars for the last few years. I also keep the fan turned down very low. It's not the greatest, but it's a coping strategy.
 

Aerose91

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I don't think ozone generators would be that beneficial. I've never heard anyone who has used one say it cleared the problem and also ozone, apart from being toxic, if left in your car for too long can do some damage. It could shorten the life of seals, gaskets and all your plastic. If it starts to oxidize the plastic you would have a really bad smell that would last quite a while I'd imagine.

Just something to be careful with, imo.
 

Gingergrrl

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@Aerose91 my research led me to believe that ozone machines were toxic too especially in an enclosed space like a car but I didn't recall the details so thank you for explaining it.
 

Aerose91

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@Aerose91 my research led me to believe that ozone machines were toxic too especially in an enclosed space like a car but I didn't recall the details so thank you for explaining it.
Well, you most definitely dont want to be in there while it's on. Afterward it's fine health-wise, there's just a few issues it can cause for your car, too
 

Gingergrrl

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There's a thing called a lysol bomb which people use to disinfectant the vents and AC unit. Given that lysol is very toxic this wouldn't work for us but I figured it would make sense that vinegar would work just as well and I was right, here's a procedure someone wrote up. Can't hurt to try.
@Aerose91 My husband ended up doing the lysol bomb to his car's a/c system today and said it smells too strong even for him and had to open up all the windows. I made him *promise* me not to do it in my car and he said he won't. I need to be able to ride in at least one of the cars as a passenger and am not tolerating smells at all right now. I am going to be getting a lung cat scan on Fri to assess if any damage from the mold and breathing in Lysol in the car is the last thing I need :mad:.

When you said the lysol bomb is too dangerous, do you mean b/c we already have mold toxin illness or too dangerous for anyone?
 

Aerose91

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Hey @Gingergrrl

Sorry that happened to you! I meant it may he dangerous for us, as in ME folk because of our sensitivity to all toxins, lysol and cleaning supplies included. I would think if you leave all the windows open for a couple days it will start to dissipate and after however many days it will go away. I would guess that much lysol would be too much for even healthy people to handle at first
 

Gingergrrl

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Hey @Gingergrrl

Sorry that happened to you! I meant it may he dangerous for us, as in ME folk because of our sensitivity to all toxins, lysol and cleaning supplies included. I would think if you leave all the windows open for a couple days it will start to dissipate and after however many days it will go away. I would guess that much lysol would be too much for even healthy people to handle at first
@Aerose91 Sorry, I should clarify that I was not in the car when he did it and did not have to smell the Lysol but am going by his report. Thanks for clarifying that it is dangerous in the normal ME/CFS or MCAS/mold type of way and that it should dissipate at some point. I wasn't sure how long it would remain in the A/C system but plan to go in my car for appt on Fri just to be sure!
 

Aerose91

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I understood you weren't in the car, i just think it would stick around for a few days at least considering how much is used and the cloth in the car. I would think it would take longer to dissipate in the cabin of the car vs the AC ducts due to the cloth vs plastic. Hope this helps a little!
 

Gingergrrl

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I understood you weren't in the car, i just think it would stick around for a few days at least considering how much is used and the cloth in the car. I would think it would take longer to dissipate in the cabin of the car vs the AC ducts due to the cloth vs plastic. Hope this helps a little!
Thank you and that is very helpful!
 

student

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Oh no! what cris-cross contamin- storries. But tell me. I do expect this: - Could there not be new, and very active mold involved. Again and again, no?

All the best @good gingerGrrl. and others. (Lets keep praying ...)
 
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Gingergrrl

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Oh no! what cris-cross contamin- storries. But tell me. I do expect this: - Could there not be new, and very active mold involved. Again and again, no?

All the best @good gingerGrrl. and others. (Lets keep praying ...)
@student I am not sure if I understand your question but the source of the mold was in the A/C system of our former home and we moved and got rid of all our belongings.

We tested new apt before moving in and it was mold free. We have not tested the cars but our mold doc feels they have been cross contaminated and I also wonder from my reaction.

I no longer drive so we are thinking of trading in both cars for one new one. I guess there is no guarantee the new car is mold free but much more likely than keeping the ones we have in the long run. Hope that makes more sense!
 
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I ve been wondering about this too since I can not only smell mold when I use my AC ( with my menopausal sweats I need that air ) but can smell pee since the neighbors cats like to use my car to sun themselves as well as use it as a litter box.
has anyone asked a mechanic what might be usable?
I had planned on using my ozone machine for the cab but know that won't help the HAVC system. replacing the tubes would help some but it might take replacing the entire unit and still might not help if its in the vents... right?
so for the few how can afford to replace their car great but they would have to buy a new car that has never run an AC unit.... I would think. you would have to make sure there was nothing that could create moisture for the future since its probably going to happen in every car over time … moisture + dark spaces + time = mold.
almost a no when, move to the desert to get away from mold but you have to cook in your car or make your self sick in it.
wish I was Amish.

I have to take my car in soon I will ask in case the "guys" have any great ideas.