So you left your car in the rain? Don't panic! Here's how to Dry Out Your Wet Car.

How to Dry Out Your Wet Car in 3 Easy Steps

You hoped you’d never have to learn how to deal with it, but it finally happened: You left your car’s windows down or your convertible top open, and a sudden rain storm completely soaked your vehicle’s interior. Don’t panic, though; there are a number of things you can do to make sure that you don’t have to deal with any permanent damage. Here are some tips for how to dry out your wet car in three easy steps so you can get back on the road as soon as possible.

1. Water, Water Everywhere

Your first order of business is to get as much water out of your car as possible as quickly as you can. If your floorboards have an inch or more of standing water, you’ll want to use a wet/dry vac to suck it out, taking particular care to get into the nooks and crannies between the seats, center console and armrests.

Next, use shop towels to soak up any water from carpets and seats. It’s always better to use cloth rather than paper towels for this step, because cloth towels are much more absorbent. You should also check to see if your vehicle has drain plugs in the floor that you can open up to release any trapped water.

2. Use Airflow to Clear Out Moisture

No matter how much you towel or vacuum off your car’s surfaces, any fabric and carpeting in your car, as well as the chassis beneath, will be damp to the touch. So, how can you deal with any lingering moisture?

Large fan in garage as one way How to Dry a wet car

Start by positioning a fan, two if possible, so that it blows across the car’s floors and seats from one side to the other. A shop fan is perfect for this. Keep the car’s doors open and leave the fans running for at least a day inside your garage. This should thoroughly dry out any remaining moisture. If you can, station a dehumidifier in your garage while the fans are running to take as much wetness out of the air as possible.

If you’re stuck far away from home, don’t worry: You can also blast your car’s heater to simulate the drying effect of the fans. This method is less efficient, however, and should only be used as a temporary fix until you can properly ventilate your car.

3. Keep Mold Out of the Picture

Even after performing all of these steps, there’s still a chance that lingering moisture could set the stage for future mold growth and mustiness. Ditch the air freshener and target areas that might still feel wet with a blow dryer. Next, get some moisture-absorbent products, such as baking soda, that you can leave inside the car behind each of the seats. This will work over time to dry out your car’s cabin and reduce the chance of funky odors taking root.

A wet car isn’t the end of the world. As long as you keep calm and follow these basic steps for how to dry off your car’s interior, you should be able to avoid any permanent water damage to your vehicle.

Check out all the tools & equipment available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to dry out your wet car, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Image courtesy of Flickr

about author

Benjamin Hunting

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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  • Bill Crosby

    August 16, 2016 at 1:10 PM


    Another useful option for drying out a wet car is to take the care to a carpet cleaning company such as Servicemaster. Or Stanley Steamer. They have portable equipment that can take the lions share of water out in minutes. You will still need to vent the car for a long time to get all the moisture out. The carpet people could help with that too.

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    August 17, 2016 at 1:11 PM

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  • Gerard Collon

    November 20, 2016 at 9:45 AM


    I would also recommend Silicone Cat litter, as it is very absorbent and a good way of getting rid of the last of the moisture.

  • Nancy T

    December 27, 2017 at 5:39 PM


    Thanks for the tips. I don’t know yet how the water got in but we did have 9″ of rain overnight and my car was in the driveway. There was about 1″ – 2″ of water on the floor but nothing in the cup holders or the seats, and the trunk is fine. I did use small towels to sop up, wring and then put clean dry, triple folded towels in front and back on the floor, which I keep switching about every hour as they absorb the rest. I have the doors open and the sun is shining brightly today. Will also add containers of baking soda before nighttime. I feel like I am on the right path – now to find out how the water got in. Mahalo nui loa, Nt

  • vickie greer

    January 21, 2018 at 2:24 PM


    had recall on car, took to dealer and they were taking care of it and stated they would wash car free, they called and i went to pick it up, notice papers over visor was in passanger seat , sunroof top pulled back , went to shut , water came out of it and also visor, have leather seats but put my hand between back and seat it was wet got home, looked under mats , carpet was soaked, called them and they didn’t know nothing but to bring it back, they are to dry it out but i have questions about my electric heater in seat and radio and etc that got wet, do i need them to wrtie a paper stating what happen and if anything comes up about things happening make them take care of the problem

    • NAPA Auto Parts

      January 22, 2018 at 12:05 PM


      Thank you for your question about water damage. We recommend consulting your local NAPA AutoCare for an inspection. Every vehicle is different and water damage will vary widely based on percentage of water intrusion.


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