How to remove damp in a car

Got a problem with damp in your car? Our handy guide will tell you what you need to know, including what can cause it, how to get rid of it and how to prevent it happening.

Got a problem with damp in your car? Our handy guide will tell you what you need to know, including what can cause it, how to get rid of it and how to prevent it happening.

Written by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
24 AUGUST 2022
3 min read
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What causes damp in a car?

When it comes to damp in cars, you’ll usually find that the culprit is condensation. Car interiors tend to be warm, and when the warmth from the inside hits glass cooled from the outside, moisture is created.

Steam can also cause damp in cars. If there’s something wet inside your car and the sun then heats the interior, the rising steam collects on the surfaces as moisture.

Sources of moisture inside your car include:

  • Breath from passengers in cold weather
  • Wet items like coats, clothing, shoes and umbrellas
  • Leaks from doors, windows, the sunroof, or vents
  • Steam from hot drinks and food
  • Coolant leaks.

How do I remove damp in a car?

The best way to remove damp is to air out your car. If it’s a mild day with no chance of rain, open the doors and windows for as long as you can – this can be done while on the move or stationary. But keep an eye on the weather outside as you may end up with more water inside your car than you bargained for.

If moisture appears while you’re driving, crack a window open if it’s dry outside or turn on the air conditioning if it’s raining. 

Check the car for leaks and remove any excess moisture with dry cloths. You could also buy dedicated silica gel packs, which absorb moisture over several hours. These packs can be microwaved afterwards to remove the moisture, allowing them to be reused.

You might also want try using a fan or hairdryer to dry particularly damp surfaces.

How can I prevent damp in a car?

There are a few simple ways to stop damp forming in your vehicle.

  • Keep an eye out for signs of moisture
    Watch for leaks and condensation - and if you find them, act quickly. Try to keep the windows open when you have hot drinks and food, and remove anything wet as quickly as possible. Regularly check the car boot and other areas for signs of leaks.  
  • Keep your car covered
    If you keep your car in a garage, a lightweight, breathable cover will help keep it free from damp. If you can, use a dehumidifier or a low-powered heater to keep the air dry.

    If you’re storing a car for long periods, remember to take it for a drive regularly. This will keep everything ticking over and give it a blast of fresh air, as well as stopping the battery from going flat.

    For more on keeping your car in a garage and the possible impact on your car insurance, see our overnight parking guide.  
  • Use your air con and windows
    It sounds simple, but keeping the windows ajar on hot days and closing them on wet days will help keep your car damp-free.

    Turn on your air conditioning in the winter – even while the heating is on. This can boost circulation and stop pipes or vents clogging up.

Does having damp in my car affect my insurance?

While damp in your car won’t affect your insurance, it could damage your car. Leaky parts, mould and water can cause your car problems, leading to expensive vehicle repairs.

Check out the common issues that lead to car breakdowns.

Frequently asked questions

What causes condensation in my car?

Condensation occurs when the temperature inside your car is different to that outside. That’s why it tends to happen overnight, as this is when it’s colder outside.

How to stop condensation in your car

Moisture likes to cling to dirt particles, so if you want to stop condensation, it helps to clean your windows. And avoid leaving anything wet, such as swimming kits or dog towels, in your car.

What products can I buy to get rid of damp in my car?

You can buy dehumidifiers, which are bags filled with silica gel that sit on your dashboard and absorb moisture.

Some people also swear that filling a pair of tights with cat litter will do the same job. We can’t guarantee it works, but it might be worth a try.

How do I demist a foggy windscreen?

The easiest way is to wipe it with a cloth, but this isn’t dealing with the problem and you may find the condensation returns. That’s why it’s better to use your car’s ventilation system. Turn the fan or air conditioning on full, or better still, open a window.

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