How 6 Years of Mold Is Deep Cleaned From a Lexus GS300

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  • Grass and mold started growing inside this Lexus GS 300 after six years left outdoors.
  • Mold developed after water entered the car through a leak in the sunroof.
  • Detailers at WD Detailing use a vacuum, pressurized air, and steam to loosen the grime.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Brent Dicesare: My name’s Brent Dicesare, and I’m half of WD Detailing. And today we’re going to be cleaning a super-moldy car that has grass growing in it, mold, water, and all of the above. It was absolutely disgusting.

First, we put the ozone machine inside the car. It basically pumps oxygen to the third degree into it, or ozone, and it suffocates the bacteria and kills it. And then we’ll pull the seats out after we do the ozone treatment, so we can actually get to all of the spots that we need to. And then the first thing that we’ll do is vacuum it, try to get all the debris, or, in this case, the mold and the water out of it so we can really get in the car and work on it. So, here we’re working with where all of the water ended up going.

The water was only on half of the car, and I think that’s because of where the leak was located. So what you’re looking at right now is us vacuuming up all of that water. The last time that this car was plated was in 2015, so it ended up sitting for the last six years. And just about five months ago, the owner noticed that there was an issue with the sunroof where it wouldn’t close all the way and water was continuously getting in there, but we’ve never seen anything like this before.

For a car like this, it’s actually recommended to remove the carpet, throw it away, and replace it. But for some reason, in this specific car, it was stapled down completely to the point where if we were going to remove it, it wasn’t going to go back in and sit the way that it would need to. For this car, it was definitely a different process than when we would normally extract a car, because the carpet was basically stained with that green mold. And we had to try to figure out a way to push it out of the fibers of the carpet and see if the carpet would revive to the white color that it ended up being. So the first thing that we did, which we normally would not do, is use the Tornador attachment, which is compressed air that shoots out in a circle, like a tornado almost. You have a little compartment where you put all-purpose cleaner in mixed with water, so you dilute it, and you attach it to an air hose on an air compressor. And it really gets into the fibers of that cloth and kind of blows out anything that might be in there. So we blew out the entire carpet with it after vacuuming it. And then we’ll go ahead and we’ll use our extractor soap on it and spray a healthy amount on there. And we’ll actually use the extractor, which shoots hot water into the carpet, to get the carpet a little bit more wet, because when we use our drill brush, we want to try to reduce the amount of friction that we’re putting into the carpet. Because if there’s too much friction, if it’s not wet enough, then it can actually damage the carpet. We’ll use our drill brush to agitate all of that soap. So we’ll go over it a few times, get it really into the fibers. And then we’ll use our hot-water extractor, which only has water in it. We don’t ever recommend putting any kind of soaps or anything in your extractor, because when you’re blowing the water into the carpet, you want to suck everything out, and if you have soap in it, it’s just going to add more to it and it’s not going to be completely clean. I actually filled half of a Shop-Vac full of water. So I think I actually got probably 95% to 99% of the water out.

When you do the doors, it’s the same thing as doing any of the other plastics in the car. In this case, we used Triclean, which is made to kill bacteria and all that stuff inside of cars. While most all-purpose cleaners do kill bacteria, we wanted something that is a little bit stronger. Especially because in this case, there’s a lot more mold than you would normally see in a regular car. And then use the Tornador attachment or some soft-bristle brushes and really get in every nook and cranny and make sure we clean it up. So, for this part, he’s actually drying off the door and getting all the liquid out of the nooks and crannies. So that is the Tornador attachment, but that’s a different one than the one that is used for specifically cleaning. So this Tornador attachment doesn’t have the canister that holds any kind of cleaner, and this one just blows out air. So you use that to get into cracks and crevices where you normally couldn’t with a brush or with a microfiber towel, or you use it to get under seats.

When we do leather seats that have been sitting in mold, the first thing we do with any seat is vacuum it just to get any kind of debris. Especially in the crevice where the bottom and the back of the seat meet, we’ll use an all-purpose cleaner or a leather cleaner. They’re two different things. A leather cleaner is more suitable for high-end leather. And then he’ll spray it on there, use a Colourlock brush. So it’s a really fine, strong brush to get into all of the pores of the seat. When we’re cleaning leather seats, we don’t use too much pressure just because you don’t want to damage them. You could leave scratches, you could tear them. Spray it again, use the steamer to kill any bacteria, and then wipe that away too.

When we do the wheels, the first thing we like to do is pressure wash them off and get any of that initial dirt or grime off of them. We have some heavy acid that we’ll use if it’s really bad, but we don’t use it on painted rims. And then we’ll go ahead and we’ll agitate it with a brush, and we’ll use a few different brushes to really get in both the wheel well, on the tire, inside the rim, and the drum of the rim. And then we’ll go ahead and pressure wash it away.

So, for the exterior, because it had been sitting out for so long, over time if you don’t clean it, grime will get attached to the paint and start growing mold. Because we did the exterior of the car first, we weren’t too worried about water getting in, since it was already full of water. So we just went ahead and we pressure washed everything out. We put paint-safe degreaser all over the paint because it just had a really thick layer of both mold and grime on it that wouldn’t just come off with an initial pressure wash. We let it sit for about two to three minutes, and then we pressure washed it again. And then we’ll go ahead and we’ll use the foam cannon.

So, the foam is just a car soap, and you just put it into a foam cannon and you attach it to your pressure washer. It acts as a lubricant for any dirt that’s on the car. So when you go to wash it, you’re really minimizing how much scratching can happen to the paint. And then we’ll go ahead and we’ll use our microfiber mitts to wash it and then spray it off.

The absolute best way to store a car if it’s going to be outside is with some sort of car cover or a tarp. That way, no water is going to get on the top of the car and find its way into the car. It’ll keep the paint clean and away from all the elements. If it’s going to be a car that you’re not driving for extended periods of time, you still want to look in it and make sure nothing’s going wrong, because seals can give. And if they do and water starts getting in, then that’s a whole world of problems. So the best way to stop mold is to be proactive and check on your car before it actually starts growing. When it comes to detailing, I believe it’s best to maybe get a full detail once to twice a year, maybe three times. I always tell people to vacuum it, if not every few weeks, at least once a month.

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