Cars are designed to keep moisture out, but once it gets in, it can be a real nightmare! It’s important to get as much water out of your car as quickly as possible to prevent serious damage and expensive repair work.
There are a lot of ways to dry out your car, and the best solution will vary depending on whether you’re dealing with large amounts of water or just high humidity in the air.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to get moisture out of a car quickly and give you some tips on how to stop moisture formation in the first place so you can proactively protect your vehicle.
What Causes Moisture Inside Your Car?
Having moisture in your car is normal; it can even happen when your car is safely parked in the garage. However, excess moisture can cause issues quickly, and it’s important to understand what might be causing it.
It usually comes down to one of these things:
Leaks: All the doors and windows of your car should be protected from moisture and moist air, but it’s common for them to develop leaks. Even small cracks in your sunroof, car windows or car doors can let a lot of moisture in. Water can also come in through vents as humid air flow travels into your car.
Leaving Windows Open: How often have you left your car unlocked? It’s easy to do and just as easy to accidentally leave your windows or sunroof open too. All it takes is a quick rainstorm for a lot of water to get inside. Your floor mats and seats will absorb excess moisture, and if the rain is heavy enough, you might even come back to a few inches of standing water in the foot well!
Wet Items: It might sound obvious, but a wet car is usually a result of what’s left in there. Wet clothes, coats, shoes, and umbrellas can all drip a lot of moisture into the small space. If they’re left in there, your floor mats, fabric, or leather interior can absorb moisture almost instantly, leading to bad smells that even an air freshener can’t mask.
Food & Drink: Steam from hot food and drink, and even unsealed water, can add to the excess moisture levels in the car’s interior. Leaving moisture inside it can leave bad smells to deal with.
Pets: Pets, particularly dogs, have a lot of fur, and they like to get wet. They can heavily contribute to the amount of moisture inside your car if they aren’t dried off properly.
Breath: Humans (and pets) all give off a surprising amount of moisture when we breathe. This isn’t an issue in a well-ventilated area, but if the temperature inside your car is low enough, the water vapor will condense on cold surfaces when you breathe. Even just a few people in a car for a few hours can leave a lot of moisture behind.
8 Best Ways to Dry Out Your Car
1. Use a Dehumidifier
A dehumidifier is one of the best ways to lower the humidity and dry out the air inside your vehicle. They won’t actively remove rain water or other water which has pooled in the car, but they will take water vapor from the air before it condenses. This can help stop mold and mildew from forming in your vehicle, especially your seats, and protect your interior from dust mites and other pollutants.
Dehumidifiers absorb damp air, remove water vapor, and release dry air back into the space. This stops moisture from being absorbed by the interior of the vehicle, which can stop damp external conditions from causing damage.
You can use a portable dehumidifier from your home in a wet car as long as it’s battery-powered. Just bear in mind that they are generally used as a preventative measure and won’t dry out pools of water.
2. Use A Moisture Absorber
A car moisture absorber is basically a desiccant dehumidifier. Ther work using hygroscopic materials which attract moisture and literally absorb it from the air.  As they absorb moisture, the humidity levels drop, leaving you with drier air.
You can buy a moisture absorber for your car which is typically filled with silica gel, or you can make your own. Baking soda and charcoal will both naturally absorb dampness, so if you leave a few boxes of baking soda uncovered in your car then it will take water from the air. You can also use cat litter if you have it.
Over time, your baking soda will become solid as it absorbs moisture. When this happens, you can throw it away and replace the box with fresh baking soda.
The advantage of moisture absorbers like baking soda, silica gel, or charcoal is that they’re really cheap and work well in a small space. They can also help to absorb and remove musty smells and bad odors from your car.
However, just like portable dehumidifiers, they won’t be able to dry up pool of standing water from your car, and for that, you will need towels or a wet vacuum rather than a moisture absorber.
3. Use a Blower
A leaf blower is useful for dealing with moisture in your car quickly, especially if there’s been a lot of standing water. Water would usually trickle out of car interiors slowly, but by using a blower, you can accelerate the process and blow it out quickly.
This gives the remaining moisture less time to be absorbed in the car and makes it easier to dry everything quickly.
4. Use A Wet Dry Vacuum
If there’s a lot of standing water in your car, you should use a wet vac to gather it up quickly. Just run it over the areas and gather as much water as possible from the bottom of the vehicle. This is essential if you’re dealing with a lot of moisture caused by heavy rain and want to keep it from sitting there for hours.
5. Use Towels
If your vehicle has a leaky sunroof, or you accidentally left the windows open and there’s been heavy rain, you may have a lot of water inside the car. The best way to remove it is to use towels to quickly dry the interior.
You can use towels on the seats, carpet, and other surfaces to soak up moisture, but you may need to go back over it with heaters or let the fans run to get rid of the water completely.
6. Use A Heater
If you have a lot of water in your vehicle, you’ll need to use heat to dry it out. A portable heater can be used to get rid of moisture, but you’ll need to keep the doors open; otherwise, you’ll leave the water vapor within the car.
You should remove your carpet and car mats and hang them up to dry separately so the water can be removed away from your car.
7. Use Your Air Conditioner
All modern cars have air conditioning systems that you can use to ventilate your car and remove water vapor. Cars are built with vents that maintain pressure inside the vehicle, but they also remove some humid air. Turning on the car’s AC fan can accelerate the process and direct more humid air out of these vents and safely away from the vehicle.
8. Ventilate The Space
If you don’t have an AC, leaving your car open, with windows down and doors open when you’re parked when the sun is out, can help get rid of dampness from your vehicle. This should prevent condensation from forming and leave the car drier.
Ventilation is great for managing the humidity in your car (as long as the weather outside isn’t very wet), but it’s another method that won’t dry out rain water or other moisture which has already formed within vehicles.
How to Prevent Moisture Formation Inside Your Car?
Often, once you notice standing water in your car, it’s already too late, and the damage is done. Here are some top tips to stop moisture from forming in the first place:
- Remove damp items from your car. By taking damp clothing, shoes, and towels out of your vehicle, you prevent moisture formation from occurring overnight.
- Wipe down moisture. Use a towel to wipe down your dashboard, seats, and window every day to remove any excess water.
- Use a moisture absorber or dehumidifier. Using a portable dehumidifier or desiccant moisture absorber will absorb moisture from the air. They limit moisture formation and prevent mold and mildew from developing.
- Close your windows, doors, and sunroof securely every night.
- Park your car in a garage if possible.
- Check for leaks every morning. If you notice you regularly have a wet car or even a small amount of moisture, you should look for the underlying issue quickly.
- Run your car’s heater and fans as you start the car. This will force humid air out of your car, and the heat will help to dry your interior and prevent moisture formation.
How Long Does it Take to Dehumidify a Car?
If you’re using a dehumidifier and fans, dehumidifying a car should take a few hours. However, if you’re using a small portable dehumidifier with a lot of moisture, it can take 12-15 hours. It’s best to leave it in overnight if possible.
How Do You Get the Moisture Out of a Car Fast?
Running your car’s air defroster or air conditioner is the quickest way to remove moist air from inside your car. If water has already gathered, soak it up with a towel or use a wet vacuum to remove it.
Is it Better to Air Dry or Towel Dry Your Car?
It’s better to towel dry your car quickly because when you air dry your car the water evaporates, and it can leave behind visible marks. However, you can remove carpets and mats to let them air dry, or use heating fans to dry them out.
Does Car Air Conditioning Remove Moisture?
Yes, your car’s air conditioner will cool the air, which helps to stop condensation from forming, limiting the moisture in the vehicle. It will also blow damp air toward the exhaust vents and remove it from the car.
If you have a humid car with a lot of water vapor in the air, then dehumidifiers and moisture absorbers are a great investment. They’ll prevent your windows from misting up, keep your car smelling fresh, and stop mold or mildew from forming.
However, dehumidifiers won’t actively remove pools of water from your car, so if water has already gotten in, you’ll also need to use a towel and blower to get it out quickly.
Hopefully, this guide has helped to explain how to remove moisture from your car and has shown you the best methods to use and when they’ll be most effective.