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My 2000 Mercury Sable 4D Premium LS (Duratec 24V DOHC 3.0L engine) smells like a musty swamp. The door seals leaked a couple years ago, letting in water. Since then it has smelled awful. I'm gotten rid of some of it by cleaning the carpets with TuffStuff, but it still smells bad.

What can I do to get rid of that swampy smell? I don't want any gators moving into it...

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    Fun fact - a real living swamp doesn't really smell and the air quality is great. But yea, we get 'ya. Moldy cars are yuck.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 21:07
  • What about having the carpets steam cleaned?
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 21:13
  • Like @Ben said, a good steam clean, some lysol, and generous use of baking soda with the car locked overnight. It will help. For the gators I recommend installing the mother-in-law option. They will not know what hit them.
    – race fever
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 0:02
  • I'll try that @Ben.
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 3:54
  • Well @racefever, I'm only 17, so it's a bit early to install the mother-in-law option. I'm working on that ;)
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 3:54

1 Answer 1

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When I need to really clean carpet (in the car or in the house), I fill up a pump sprayer with assorted cleaning products (including dish soap, oxyclean, simple green degreaser, odoban disinfectant, carpet stain remover) and mostly water. Test your mixture under the seats first to make sure it doesn't change the color of the carpet. Soak the area down good, and suck it up with a wet/dry vac. Let the car air out, as you just introduced a lot of liquid to the car, and want it to all evaporate away ASAP.

If this does not work, you will need to remove the carpet to determine the extent of the damage. The mold may be in the insulation. It is also possible the water will pool under the back seats. Don't forget the trunk, this is a popular place for leaks.

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  • Good point, you sometimes have to pull the carpet and powerwash it or even replace it.
    – race fever
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 17:26
  • I'll try this - not now, I've got to get ready for an interview.
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 18:08
  • I know bleach will change the color of the carpet - is there a similar product that will kill everything organic yet leave the carpet's ugly grey color alone? OR turn it a less ugly grey?
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 2:19
  • I've used a SMALL amount of bleach (maybe 1 ounce in a gallon) on a grey/tan carpet without any ill effects. Not sure how high of a concentration you can go, might depend on the dye/color.
    – rpmerf
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 10:26
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    Lysol + TuffStuff got rid of 80% of the smell. Will repeat in a few days.
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 2:30

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