How to Dry a Rained-In Car

Yep.  I’m speaking from experience on this one.  It all started on Saturday when my handsome, weekend mechanic changed the oil in our cars.  After I drove my car off the ramps I parked it on the street so Brad could work on our other cars.  I was going to move my car back into the driveway when he was done, but it started to rain so I decided I’d move it in the morning.  While Brad and I were watching this documentary (yeah, we’re worldly like that) later in the evening, I sat up and said, “Did I roll up the window on my car?”  Thank goodness I threw on my rain boots and ran out into the pouring rain because no, no I didn’t roll up my window.  And it had been pouring rain for four hours.  FOUR HOURS.

how to dry a rained-in car

So here are my handy tips for drying out your rained-in car:

1.  Curse

2.  Roll up the window and get the car into a covered area ASAP.
(I backed my car into our garage.)

3.  Sit on towels when you move your car.  This will help soak up some of the water and kind of keep you from getting a wet butt.

4.  Towel off as much water as you can.

4.  Grab a Shop Vac and turn it to the ‘wet’ setting.  Vacuum the crap out of the wet areas of your car– seat, floor, everything.  Be sure to get all the electronic-related areas (window/door/mirror buttons, door speaker, etc.).  Don’t have a Shop Vac?  Buy one.  Seriously.  The small ones are around $30.  Money well spent.

how to dry out a car

5.  After you’ve done all you can do with the towels and vacuum, grab as many fans as possible.  (I went with a fan trifecta.)  Turn on the fans.  Open the door with the window that was rolled down.  Position the fans on the areas that were saturated with water.  Roll down the other windows in the car for better circulation.

how to dry a rained in car

6.  Wait.

As of late Sunday evening, the fans have been blowing for 24 hours.  I plan to leave them on for another 18-24 hours for a total of 42-48 hours.  If some spots are still wet today I’ll grab my hair dryer and get to work.

If you have a dehumidifier that can be easily moved, you can put it near the car.  Someone suggested Damp Rid.  I may head to the store (in a different car) and pick some up today as a precautionary measure.

While this episode obviously wasn’t the best experience, it could have been worse.  All of my windows could have been rolled down.  OR I could have left the car out there all night with the window down.  Keep in mind it rained nonstop from 6 PM Saturday til, well I think it’s still raining (it’s 10 PM on Sunday).

Have you ever done this?
Any additional tips?

two twenty one


  1. says

    I unfortunately had to do this once before, in college, and a Shop Vac is the ticket! I had driven my parents’ SUV one night and had left the moon roof wide open, and it rained all.night.long. I was in the house and could hear my dad shout my name all the way from the street when he discovered it!! Both seats were soaked (cloth, not leather), and the cup holders were full of water. Thankfully the console with the radio didn’t get it, or else I would have been out a whole lot of money!

  2. says

    I live in Indiana as well and boy we had a down pour. At least you threw on your rain boots. I don’t have rain boots so I’m not sure what I would have thrown on-oh wait-I would have sent my husband out to move the car. Actually he would have done it without being asked as I use a cane.
    Thanks for the advice on how to dry out a car. It might come in handy some day.

  3. says

    If you notice ANYTHING weird with anything electrical take it in immediately. My sunroof gutters clogged and flooded my last car and we didn’t realize there was still water under the rugs until it was way to late. The computer (which in my 99 Passat) was under the drivers seat in a well where the water collected and when we finally figured it out two weeks later there was still water there AND the computer looked like it came out of the titanic. :-(

  4. Debbie says

    Yikes! That stinks! BTW It’s “thank goodness I THREW on my rain boots” I had trouble understanding you at first!

  5. Beth says

    I used to have a sunroof that leaked. All the time. Damp Rid is Amazing stuff! If you can find it, get the Damp Rid that cones in a hanging plastic bag. It’s way less messy than the bowl-like container. You nay want to get a couple and either use more than one at a time or to change it out after one is used up.

    Also, if you’re going to leave your doors open for that long, it’s good to remember to turn off the interior lights (if they don’t shut off automatically). Otherwise, you’ll also be dealing with a dead battery!

    Good luck!

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  8. JohnS says

    A better method, if you’ve got good functional air conditioning, is to turn on the AC in the “Max” setting (which draws air from inside the cabin, conditions it, then blows it back into the cabin), close all the windows and let the car sit and idle. Ever notice how cars drip water when the AC is running? Ever notice your house is way less humid than it is outside when you have the AC on? That’s because AC dries air out bigtime.

    • Sanjay says

      The car comes with a built-in dehumidifier, (air conditioning), so why use fans or another dehumidifier
      Well, My car went through about 2 feet of flood last night (about 5-6 inches of water inside the car). The seats have sucked up the water.
      It’s been running on idle for the last 45 minutes with the air conditioner on, and the temperature set to MAX ( the setting before max is 32C (~90F). I was just wondering, would a colder & drier air be better for evaporation, or a hotter, and slightly more humid air be better. (will the condensation be better at coldest setting? but then, will the evaporation be the same with a drier cooler air…. )…. THAT is the question which brought me to this blog…
      Fans are no good for me.. its still drizzling, there is no sun, and the humidity is close 100%.. its cold.. & damp during the rains in this part of the world.

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  12. Tanya says

    Guess what I will be doing on my half day off from work… drying out my husband’s truck. Ugh. He asked me to check the windows on his truck last night, and well… I forgot. Waking up to the sound of rain was delightful for about 5 seconds this morning.

  13. Kristen says

    I did this saturday, we havent had this much rain in the mtns of north carolina in a while! Im sitting on the couch with my boyfriend and we are talking about how it is coming a flood and such a nasty day then come to realize that my sunroof on my car had been opened since the night before!!! now i left my sunroof open the night before, i guess we got home around 11 that night, rained most of the night and all day the next day! didnt realize i had left my sunroof open till 4pm the next day!!! I AM ANKLE DEEP IN WATER RIGHT NOW!!! soaked up most of the water in the seats and dash with towels yesterday! sat on a towel to work this morning, fanned it out all night last night, helped alot but shop vac is calling my name at lunch. Damp rid helps especially if the floor is soaked and uh mine def is! made sure to put leather protector on this morning for my seats! if anyone has any more suggestions please let me know! WET and MAD!

  14. Elyse says

    Never use damprid in your car!! I made this mistake and it ruined the leather interior. The carwash refused to attempt cleaning it for fear cleaning supplies will only worsen the damage. The car dealership told me the best shot is to completely replace the back row bench if your car gets rained in, time and fans are the best way to go!

  15. denise says

    I had just did this to my brand new 2015 dodge. I left the windows cracked so it would be so hot when I got in. It started to storm really bad and had totally forgotten that I left the windows cracked. I was at work by the way and when it was time to go home, I walked out to my car and it was soaked! All the cup holders in the front and the back seat were filled with water. My car hadn’t even had 1000 miles yet! My Co worker saw the inside and we quickly tried to dry as much as we could it took three days for it to completely dry and I sprayed all floors with lysol to be on the safe side

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