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I am helping a friend who has a 66 Mustang that got caught up in a flash flood (car was 100% submerged). We have salvaged the powertrain and it drives again, but the interior needs a little work. After airing out for about a week, it still has a pretty strong smell as can be expected. We are stripping out everything that can be replaced, but my question is regarding the seats.

The seats are original and in really excellent shape. I really don't want to pull them apart or take them to an upholstery shop to replace the foam/burlap since they are in such great shape. Do you guys have any recommendations for cleaning them out? I am leaning towards dousing them really good with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. I was even considering a mild bleach solution if the vinegar isn't enough. If I can kill whats inside making the smell, then I can dry them in the sun with the nice 90 degree weather coming. The bench seats seem like this would be easy to do since it is open on the backsides, but the buckets are a different story.

If I can get the seats squared away, I'll be replacing the carpet while the seats are out.
 

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Also, while the seats are out I'd remove all the carpet and see if the carpet underlayment actually dried properly. If not, clean the floor pans and coat it with a rust protective paint or coating. Then either replace the carpet or if it is in really good shape, re-install the carpet with new underlayment.
 

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....and the headliner too. Any pieces capable of absorbing water will need attention.
 
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Mold & Mildew (and rusting metal touching those damp parts) sets in fast, At a minimum remove / tear everything part (including seats, door panels, head liner, etc.), and dry it out. The longer you wait, the more damage you will have, not to mention the mold can make you very sick.
 

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.... and the inner quarter panels, and the package tray, and the kick panels, and the firewall padding.

All that stuff's got insulation, mostly jute on the back of it and it'll all hold water.
 

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I bought a '38 Ford that had the same thing happen- completely underwater for a day, then the water receded. The car sat d aired out for several weeks before I got it, but it was still too late. The seats were shot- mold setting in, burlap falling apart, and the smell was overwhelming. Reusing any of the material was absolutely not an option. As stated above, replacement seat foams, burlap, and covers isn't anywhere near as expensive as you'd think. Reusing just the covers isn't a good idea imo either- they'll most likely still smell, mold, and decay much quicker. Bite the bullit, call Rick at NPD, and get a complete new interior coming your way- seat materials, carpet and underlayment, door panels, insulation, headliner, dash pad, arm rests, etc. Do it right- don't cut any corners.....
 

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My new edge Cougar got a couple of inches of water in the cabin (thanks, Katrina, you wicked &%*$.) Insurance paid for the remediation. I took it to the Ford house where they removed the seats and carpet to let it all dry out. They used some type of mystery shampoo that managed to get the funk out of the carpet and underlay. My seats didn't get wet except for the electricals and base structure, so no idea what to do about that.

Get that carpet out though. Let it dry.

Good luck. Water's a very cruel mistress.
 

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Are you overlooking all the electrical connections? That will become a real problem later.
I had a car that got water above the dash. My understanding is anytime water covers the dash the car is totaled.
After a week I called the adjuster and asked the situation. He said they were considering fixing the car (It was an expensive car at the time). I told him that would be okay, but I wanted a 5 year warranty on all electrical. Within an hour he called and said it was totaled.
 

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Are you overlooking all the electrical connections? That will become a real problem later.
I had a car that got water above the dash. My understanding is anytime water covers the dash the car is totaled.
After a week I called the adjuster and asked the situation. He said they were considering fixing the car (It was an expensive car at the time). I told him that would be okay, but I wanted a 5 year warranty on all electrical. Within an hour he called and said it was totaled.
Yes, everything should be torn apart and dried out or replaced (preferably replaced).

When it comes to vehicles flooding at least Classics are somewhat salvageable since they don't have a lot of complex electronic systems and can be somewhat easily dealt with (not saying it isn't a lot of work).

Newer cars with 10X the electronics are pretty much toast if they flood. Insurance companies tend to total those since the cost to repair is too much and unless you replace the parts you are correct, down the road a bunch of gremlins will rear their ugly heads.
 

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Having cats occasionally things have been marked. My wife would do a rinse first, then a wash vinegar and baking soda I believe. Let me tell you, there's absolutely no trace of cat pee what so ever and even had a nice fresh air smell like they had been on the clothes line all day. If it can get that out, I think it would have no issues with the mold smell. But I have to agree with the others. I would replace it all. The car was submerged and totaled. Even the wiring all needs to be replaced. Water itself is a perfect insulator of electricity but it's the contaminates in the water that do conduct and there's a lot of them in water. It's going to get wicked into the wire and will cause corrosion and problems sooner then later.

That burlap is probably is so dry rotted it wouldn't survive any sort of washing IMO.
 

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Replacing the interior can be done in a relatively short period of time and that is the only way to be sure you stop the rust and get rid of the smell. The fire wall padding is easier than you would think once all the interior and dash pieces are removed. I have removed and replaced my interior several times in the process of painting my car. I can do it all in a weekend if I really wanted to (not including the factory headliner and wiring harness). My advice would be to find a donor and put the cars side by side then replace everything...if it is not a high value car then the expense would be too much to buy new. How are the electrical components now? Lights?
 

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I agree with the others to replace all soft materials, but I think you might be able to save the seat covers.

The original covers are Naugahyde, and I would try removing them and scrubbing *both* sides first with a soapy cleaner and then a disinfectant. IMO, you'll never get covers that good again and they're worth the attempt to salvage as long as they can be completely cleaned. You do not want any hint of funky smell when it's all back together.

John
 
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