There’s Mildew on My Seatbelts, What Do I Do?

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Hi Home-Ec101,
I have been following your site for a while and am super excited about how well the chore chart is helping around my place; it has made a huge difference! Anyway, I have an odd question, I have an older car that was in storage for about three years, and in that time the upholstery got moldy and had to be replaced. But in the meantime, I have the same seat belts, but they are spotted with mold, which is not pleasant. I was wondering whether you have any insight on ridding the seatbelts from mold spots, or whether you think replacing the belts is a better option. Naturally, if I can clean them, that would be the best option!

Spotted in Spofford

How to Clean a Mildewed Seat Belt

Heather says

Mold and mildew spores love damp, still places, like the crevice where the belt retracts.  While it would seem to make sense to reach for chlorine bleach to clean up the mold, don’t.

Chlorine bleach would kill the mildew, but it wouldn’t prevent regrowth, and more importantly, it could damage the fabric.

Seat belts have a critical role in automobile safety, namely keeping you safely in your seat should you get into a car accident. Car manufacturers are not going to recommend anything that could ever possibly put them at risk.

Do not use any unknown chemical compound on your seat belts. Do not use strong concentrations of chlorine bleach,  acidic cleaners, or leave your seat belts in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.

Consult your owner’s manual or ask your manufacturer to ensure the suggestions here are in line with your vehicle’s safety regulations.

Sping-Clamp You’ll thank me if you get yourself a couple of clamps to prevent the seat belts from retracting during the cleaning process. You’ll also want to allow the seat belts to thoroughly dry before allowing them to retract. You don’t want to accidentally provide any stubborn spores with a damp, cozy spot to start all over.

Extend the seat belt fully and attach the clamp as close to the base as possible to prevent it from retracting.

Use a mild detergent, like Dawn, just make sure it’s not the kind with added bleach, mix it with warm water, and scrub gently with a soft-bristled brush –think of the kind of scrub brush used for babies’ heads when they have cradle cap.

how to launder unusual items
Click the picture for more tips!

Next, remove the soapy water from the seat belt by blotting it with a damp rag.

Finally, when the seat belt is no longer soaking wet, spray it with a mold preventative like Concrobium. Allow the material to dry fully, remove the clamp, and return to your normal routine.


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