The weather this morning was hot and dry, without a cloud in the sky. We have an uncovered parking lot at work, so I opened the windows an inch or two (2.54 cm to 5.08 cm for the more metrically inclined) to let some air in and keep the interior of the car from getting too hot for my drive home.

Then it rained for the rest of the day.

I returned to my car and sat down on something cold and wet. The rain had decided to join me for my evening commute. I wiped down the plastic paneling as best I could and soaked up some of the water from the cloth seats with paper towels, but the seats are still fairly damp. Not wet enough that water shoots out when you press down on it, but visibly damp.

How do I dry out my damp seats?

8 Answers 8


After your initial pat down with a towel, leave a marine or RV desiccant bucket in your car. They're typically used for winterizing boats and RVs to prevent mold developing from humidity issues. You'll want one with a mesh or screen top so if it tips over while you are driving it won't spill the desiccant material. It will trap moisture and won't release it back into the air. Something like this: enter image description here

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    I speak from experience... a car window got left down during a camping trip and it poured. This is what we found at the camp store and it worked great! Feb 18, 2016 at 16:16
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    If you can't find this product, a great alternative is the Silica based cat litter which you can stuff into an old sock or pair of tights. Feb 25, 2016 at 10:18
  • This has worked fantastically for me Mar 2, 2016 at 21:39
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    I spilled a gallon of water under driver's seat. Removed as much as I could with what I had (paper towels), used hair dryer then opened up DampRid. No feel of moisture. I love when things work as advertised.
    – Judy
    Dec 8, 2016 at 22:43

If your car's heat and A/C both work, it has everything it needs to dry itself better than anything we could come up with.

When you switch on your car's front "defroster" / "defogger" (the little windshield symbol), you are essentially running the heat and A/C at the same time -- the two basic components that make up a commercial dehumidifier.

You've probably seen that puddle that forms beneath running cars on a hot day. That's condensation from the A/C. That water came from the air inside the car -- human breath, sweat, air leaked in from outside. As air blows across the cooling coils, water condenses and drains outside.

However, as everyone knows, hot air is best for removing moisture from wet surfaces. A clothes dryer is a basic example.

Put these two concepts together and you have a dehumidifier -- cooling coils to pull water out of air, heating coils to re-heat the air so it will absorb water again, and a fan to keep it moving.

So, crank up the defogger, put the windows up, and come back in 30 minutes***. You'll be surprised how well it works. If you have an older car with the little A/C button, be sure it's on. If you can manage to get the heat coming from the main vents AND turn on the A/C button, that'll work even better.

***If it needs to be said, don't run your car for long periods in an enclosed garage. Someone could die in there.

  • My old car does not have defogger function but another answer by @Hobbes mentioned setting airflow to re-circulation and that turned out to be one of the critical steps. A/C + Heater + re-circulation worked amazing! Without re-circulation it was making very little progress. Thanks.
    – AnyDev
    May 25, 2021 at 3:58

If there is a lot of water, especially if it is standing water, use a wet/dry shop vacuum to remove it. This can also help help dry out the seats as well, as it causes air flow which well help evaporate the moisture.


The most energy-efficient way is to wait for the next warm day, crack the windows open a bit and watch the weather this time.

If you don't want to wait:

Leave the car running with the heater at high temperature, the air conditioning on and the heating set to recirculation. The combination will lower the air humidity and simultaneously increase the amount of humidity the air can hold, so it will draw all the moisture out of the car.

This works if the AC controller is dumb enough to allow it. On cars with automatic climate control, the AC tends to switch off when you switch the heater on, so you have to select a very low temperature instead.

  • I would like to highlight the part of this answer that "re-circulation" is very important and made a huge difference. Without re-circulation on a humid day I was making almost no progress in the first hour. After getting re-circulation right and another 1.5 hours my car and foam seats were completely dry. I could not see change on fuel gauge, I guess on idle did not use much fuel. Thank you for this answer.
    – AnyDev
    May 25, 2021 at 3:31

Soak up as much moisture as you can with a towel.
Aim a car fan at the seat on a hot temperature and leave a widow partially open to release the evaporated moisture. Hot air is the best way to dry out fabric, I use a hair dryer and it takes no longer than a minute for fabric to dry (depending on the surface area of course). If they're leather seats, a simple wipe over with a towel and left to stand for a few minutes will do the trick.

For future reference, keep a towel in the car so that you are prepared for future occurrences. Leave the towel on the seat when your not at the car, if you forget and don't want to spend time drying, you could always sit the towel on the damp patch later to make the ride more comfortable.

Hope this helps.


Could you use the car's heating system? Leave the car running with heating on full blast and vents pointed as much as possible towards the wet area. Providing it's not raining you would want to have the windows slightly open to let damp air out.


There are some vacuum cleaners that can suck up water (safely). If you have one of these or have a friend with one, that would help to get out water deep in the foam.


If applicable, you should pick a sunny day, and open all the windows and doors of your car, let your car sit in the sun for as long as possible. This way, you can prevent any bad smell from not dying up everything quickly enough.


I bought this moisture absorber online. Put two containers in my car, closed all doors and windows, left it in the sun for two days and after that its dry and crisp inside the car. I cant remember the exact product but it looks something like this


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    In our area I believe it is called Damp Rid. Excellent idea!
    – L.B.
    Oct 3, 2016 at 13:20

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