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How to Dry Out your Car — Dehumidifiers, Absorbers, & Blowers

If you’re like me, you’ve probably dealt with at least some degree of moisture inside your car. Whether you are dealing with a leaky sunroof or accidentally left the top down during a rainstorm, there are numerous ways water can enter your vehicle eventually leading to mold and other problems.

In this blog, I’ll break down when you should use a simple moisture absorber or go all-in with a dehumidifier. Once dry, if you need a few pro tips for cleaning out the interior, check out my post 17 Interior Detailing Tips the Pros Keep a Secret.

Slight dampness or funky smells? Try a moisture absorber

car charcoal moisture absorber

As long as you do not have extensive water damage caused by flooding or standing water, a moisture absorber is a great way to remove bad smells from your car. Wet clothing, pets, and even condensation from beverages can cause moisture inside your vehicle.

Sometimes this can be seen cupholders, the windshield fogging up, and just a generally damp feeling inside your car. If you live in a very humid area, you may want to use a moisture absorber from time to time to keep things smelling fresh.

Quick Tip: Always remove trash from your car, especially food and drink bottles to prevent moisture.

How moisture absorbers work

Moisture absorbers you commonly find on store shelves like DampRid work by using calcium chloride crystals to absorb moisture from the air and often times combined with an air freshener. This water is essentially collected by these crystals and released into a bottom chamber. I’ve found these do make things smell better after a couple of days, so I’d recommend using one if you have bad odors.

DampRid Moisture Absorber

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You might also want to go with a charcoal-based pouch absorber to place on your dashboard to help reduce moisture. These look the best in my opinion and are just good to have on hand.

Absorbing moisture naturally

One way to absorb moisture without an external moisture absorber is oddly enough by turning on your car’s air defroster or air conditioner. This tip I learned from gadkitman on YouTube, but is really quite simple.

Cars have vents usually near the doors that help maintain pressure inside of your car, but these also allow humidity to escape. By running your car’s AC fan or blower (using your defroster) you can accelerate moisture removal by forcing moist air out of your vehicle. That’s usually why you see puddles under your car from time to time.

Can you use electric dehumidifiers in a car?

electric household dehumidifier

Yes and no. First of all, many of these moisture absorbers on the market are marketed as ‘dehumidifiers’, but they really belong in the absorber category in my opinion. An actual electric dehumidifier is probably what most people think of, but they don’t really help dry out a soaked car quickly as much as they do remove moisture from the air.

You could lug a household dehumidifier to your vehicle to help remove some of the humidity, but it’s not going to be effective in drying out a wet car the way a blower would be. Dehumidifiers pull water vapor from the air, instead of blowing air which is really what you need for drying.

In rare cases when you’re in an extremely moist environment for a couple of days (where mold has the potential to grow) an electric dehumidifier would be a good idea. Especially if your vehicle isn’t airtight, and you have left it parked on grass (where morning dew can enter).

Drying out your car with a blower

Anytime you are dealing with carpets that have been soaked, you are probably going to want to use a blower instead of a dehumidifier to accelerate drying. Many people tend to use shop fans, which are usually fine for occasional spills, but generally aren’t powerful enough to dry out soaked carpets.

Choose a blower designed for drying wet carpet

A commercial blower (also called a floor dryer), is ideal for situations where you have experienced some minor flooding inside your interior.  XPOWER makes a great line of these air movers at a reasonable price point.

XPOWER Utility Blower Fan

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These are quite loud but are great at concentrating the airflow to the ground, which will help dry carpet quicker than a fan.

Use a wet vac prior to blowers in extreme cases

Before using a blower, make sure you first use a wet vac to remove any standing water in your vehicle first. Underneath the carpet is a foam layer that you can also pull back to suck up as much water as you can. I’d also recommend removing seats if you are dealing with a lot of standing water.

It’s a good idea to work in a well-ventilated garage if you can because you will probably want to leave the doors and trunk open for an extended period of time. I have used these blowers overnight when a pipe burst and water-saturated my carpets. You just want to make sure you move them periodically.

If you have a shop fan or box fan, you can also use it to help circulate air throughout your car in addition to a blower, just make sure you don’t trip a circuit!

Final thoughts and one last resort

Overall, some moisture in your car is bound to happen, but it’s not totally impossible to remove. A spilled drink or general musty smell might just require a moisture absorber and some circulating air, while flood damage will require direct airflow.

If water has reached your engine you may be out of luck, but to be on the safe side don’t try powering on any electricals. If you are feeling uneasy about drying out your car by yourself, call a local plumbing or water removal company like a Roto-Rooter. They usually carry these blowers and may be able to help if the price makes sense for your budget.

Need to deep clean seats and carpets next?

After you dry out your car, check out our post on how to clean car carpets for beginners. You can remove a lot of the funky odors left behind by mold if you follow a few simple steps.

If you need help making your car look amazing inside and out, get our video course, Washing and Detailing for Beginners and use code BLOG for 15% off at checkout.

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1 thought on “How to Dry Out your Car — Dehumidifiers, Absorbers, & Blowers”

  1. I will be leaving my car for six months during the winter in Oregon. I purchased a car cover and it will be in a carport open on the sides. Last year I left my Volkswagen in that position and it and mold took over most surfaces. It was horrible. I’m thinking of getting a electric dehumidifier and wonder what your recommendation would be. Thank you


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