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How a barn find covered in 22 years of mold is deep cleaned

  • This barn-find Buick Reatta was covered in 22 years of mold, and the interior smelled terrible.
  • Brent Dicesare from WD Detailing walks us through the process for removing thick mold.
  • He uses a variety of tools, including a pressure washer, foam cannon, vacuum, brushes, and steamer.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Brent Dicesare: Hi my name is Brent Dicesare, I’m one half of WD detailing. Today we’re going to be cleaning a really moldy Buick Reatta that sat outside for over 22 years.

The owner took me into his backyard and said that he had a ton of cars and as soon as I saw this one specifically, I knew we had to do it.

When we opened the doors the first thing that we found was a ton of mold and what looks like a mouse nest beginning to form. All and all this car smelled absolutely horrendous and it was just disgusting. When a car is outside for that long untouched, and it doesn’t get washed, this is what happens after 22 years.

The first thing that we’re doing is working on the engine bay and that means getting rid of all of the leaves and anything that piled up over the years in the jamb of the bay. After that we went ahead and used the pressure washer and degreaser on it.

Usually when you’re pressure washing an engine bay you don’t have to be too worried about anything getting damaged as long as you’re keeping a good distance from all the components and you disconnect the battery. There wasn’t gonna be any electrical current running through this car anytime soon so that was not an issue whatsoever. 

And after we finished the engine bay we moved on to the wheels. When cleaning the wheels the first thing we’ll do is pressure wash them off just to get a cleaner surface and then we’ll spray our wheel and tire cleaner on them and use a couple different brushes to get into the wheel crevices and on the face of the rim, and then behind the rim, and in the barrel. And after that we’ll spray everything away leaving a really clean wheel.

Now we’re getting ready to pressure wash and clean the outside of the car. We wanted to use our paint safe degreaser first to loosen up all of the mold and grime before we actually took a pressure washer to the surface and then we started pressure washing which is by far the most satisfying part of any detail that we do. So our process with pressure washing, we always like to try to work from top to bottom. So the first thing we did was the roof. We went to the hood after that and then the sides, and then the rear. Watching the pressure washer go in straight lines taking away those years of grime just feels so good inside, I can’t even explain it.  

Then after having all that pressure washed off, we’ll go ahead and spray the entire car down with our foam cannon. So here we’re using the foam cannon and the reason for that is because after pressure washing the car there is still grime and dirt left on the surface of the paint and the foam cannon really just helps add more soap to the paint then putting soap in a bucket would. And when you’re washing the car off with microfiber mitts it makes it easier to do and quicker.

After we wash it off we spray the ceramic spray just to give it some protection before moving on to the interior.

The door jambs on cars like this are really disgusting and you can’t get everything out just by using a towel, so using the pressure washer can get into those spots where the towel and some sprays won’t. 

So in our first round of vacuuming we knew that this car was really bad so we weren’t gonna get everything, so we definitely knew we were going to need to use the drill brush and extractor later on. 

This area looks like mice made a nest and they were both leaving their droppings behind and also bringing some food or different materials from the inside of the car they could find. We were able to vacuum that up and actually get it pretty clean.

When we work on doors that have leather or vinyl or anything like that, we’re pretty much using the same process, especially when they’re covered in mold. The first thing we’ll do is use Triclean which is a cleaner that kills 99.9% of bacteria. We’ll spray it all over the leather and then we’ll use soft bristle brushes and sometimes a steamer from a distance just to kill the bacteria and kill the mold, and then we’ll wipe it away. We’ll spend a decent amount of time on each section of the car to make sure that we get it really clean before moving onto the next one. We repeat the process with the steamer and the Triclean throughout the entire interior including the steering wheel which was covered in a very thick layer of mold worse than any steering wheel we’ve ever seen. 

So what we’re using is the Tornador, and that’s pressurized air and it’s used to dry it off and also blow out any product that could be in the cracks or anything like that.

Older leather can definitely be tougher to work with because if mold sits on it for a long time it can damage it, it can remove the dye, and you also have to be really careful with the steamer because if you spend too much time in one area or you get too close it can definitely damage it. 

When you’re cleaning the interior components like the buttons and anything that has electrical current that eventually will go to it, these cars aren’t gonna run for quite a while they need a lot of work, so it’s OK if a little bit of cleaner gets into them. And as long as you use the Tornador to blow out any excess cleaner, then you should normally be fine.

And after we clean the interior components, we’ll go ahead and focus on the carpets. The first thing we’ll do is spray our extractor soap into the carpet and get it wet. Then we’ll use the drill brush to agitate it into the fibers of the carpet to help release any stains or any dirt that’s in there, and then we’ll use the extractor to suck that all away.

And after the interior it’s completely cleaned with the leather and the vinyl, we’ll go ahead and use a leather conditioner that way it can bring back the softness and the suppleness. It also leaves it with a nice shine.

And then some of the final things that we do to the car is clean the windows. We add a tire shine to give the car those finishing touches so when the owner actually sees it, it gives that wow factor. 

All and all this detail probably took us around 12 hours over the course of one day. And just looking over the final result of the car we couldn’t have been happier with the way it turned out. Even though there was some damage to the exterior with the paint, everything else absolutely was fantastic. 

My favorite part about making these videos is the satisfying content, a lot of people find that it helps their OCD, their anxiety or their depression. And that’s the biggest thing to me because I struggle with anxiety myself. So if I’m able to help others by posting this content, that’s the biggest win for me.

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