Finding mold in your car? You aren’t alone -- and here’s what to do

ATLANTA — Metro Atlanta drivers are opening car doors to find a car full of mold.

David Lonadier, owner of Lonadier’s Mobile Detailing, told Channel 2 that this year, he’s seeing three times the number of mold cases than in past years.

Marietta resident JT Shy was one of them. A stay in the hospital this spring left his truck sitting for weeks. When he came back, the inside was covered in mold.

“It was green and gray. And there were some spots in the back where it was black up in the cupholder area, had 2 car seats in there and they were covered in mold,” he said.

Lonadier blamed Georgia’s humidity and the pandemic’s impact on travel.

[RELATED: Study: Atlanta’s traffic is lighter after COVID-19, but it may be more dangerous]

“It’s because people aren’t driving their vehicles. They’re sitting closed up in humid situations with high heat, and that’s kind of what mold needs.

In late March, the Georgia Department of Transportation reported a sharp drop in traffic-- as much as a 50 percent reduction in some parts of the metro area.

Traffic has picked up since then, but many are still driving less often than we did before the pandemic.

[RELATED: Investigation reveals years of mold issues at 30+ Atlanta Public Schools]

Sandy Springs resident Jason Vinson’s car sat idle for weeks after his employer sent workers home in March. He later found that his backseat was covered in mold.

“When the humidity is above 90 degrees, which is pretty common in Atlanta, and the temperature is only 80 degrees, mold can start growing in three days,” explained Lonadier.

Out of the four Southeastern cities Lonadier operates in, he told Channel 2 that he’s getting a particularly high number of mold cases.

He pointed to Atlanta’s trees as the possible culprit.

“People that live inside the perimeter especially, a lot of those folks don’t have garages, they have to park on the street under trees,” he said. “They just don’t have any sun exposure; they don’t ever get a chance to dry out.”

Tree sap and other debris can also clog liftgate gutters, sunroof drain tubes, or in Vinson’s case, the rubber seal of his trunk, allowing water to leak inside the car.

“In that well where the spare tire is was about four or five inches of water,” he said.

Lonadier told Channel 2 that the best way to prevent your car from growing moldy is to drive your car a few times every week. Run the air conditioning or roll the windows down-- the key is to circulate air.

Check for leaks and spills, especially on carpet padding, to ensure that your car is staying dry.

“If you do that, you have a high probability of avoiding mold.”

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