How to Clean Car Seats Like a Pro (2022 Update)
Our driving feels much better when our vehicle is all fresh and clean. And keeping our seats clean is the first step toward making the car atmosphere more pleasant. Car seats are the most commonly used car item, which is why they are prone to dirt build-up and spillages that might be difficult to clean, depending on the seats’ fabric.
The method and product you’ll use during the process of cleaning car seats depend on various factors, including the seat material. It’s crucial to read the label on your seat and check for the manufacturer’s advice on how to get stains out of car seats without the risk of damaging the fabric.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about the most efficient methods for cleaning car seats, whether you opt for DIY solutions or a chemical car seat cleaner. Either way, your seats will look like they’ve just left the auto salon!
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How to Clean Car Seats Stains?
Did you know that basic DIY methods can help you clean your car seats like a pro? This is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to remove the stubborn stains from your car seats. All you need to get the job done is a couple of household products and a little patience.
How to Clean Stains Out of Car Seats with Washing Soda and Linen Spray?
Once you’ve gathered all the “tools,” it’s time to start cleaning!
Step 1: Start by vacuuming your seats or wiping them gently with the cleaning brush. That way, you can remove any bits and quickly refresh your fabric.
Step 2: Mix the cleaning solutions and add the hot water to whisk on the fabrics.
Step 3: Dip the cleaning brush in the compound and apply it to seats in a circular motion.
Step 4: Wipe the seats with a towel and keep working until all fabrics have been cleaned. Lower the windows and let the seats air dry.
Step 5: Vacuum the seats again using the hose attachment, and then apply linen spray to get a pleasant smell.
How to Clean Car Seats with Baking Soda?
Baking soda has a plethora of uses, and it plays a vital role in many homemade car seat cleaners. However, it is not suitable for all materials. While it works well on cloth seats, it’s not recommended to apply it to leather.
Here is how you can use baking soda to make a potent car seat cleaner:
- Synthetic gloves
- Spray bottle
- Warm water
- Measuring cup
- Baking soda
- Liquid soap
- A large bowl
- Microfiber cloth
Step 1: Fill one-third of the measuring cup with baking soda.
Step 2: Put the baking soda into a large bowl and add a bit of liquid soap to it.
Step 3: Add a little warm water slowly and stir.
Step 4: Add a little vinegar to the mixture.
Step 5: Slowly stir the mixture with a spoon or spatula. Keep stirring for a few minutes to make sure all the ingredients are well blended.
Step 6: Once you’ve prepared the mixture, it’s time to apply it to the seats. Add the mixture into a spray bottle and spray the stains lightly. Next, wipe the area off with a clean napkin and let it dry. In case of more resilient stains, repeat the process.
How to Clean Car Seats at Home?
If you’re afraid that club soda or baking soda could damage your car seat fabric, you can rely on some of the following DIY methods to clean your car seats thoroughly:
- Vinegar mixture: Mix a cup of vinegar, some dish soap, and a gallon of hot water in a bucket. Next, apply the mixture to the stain and scrub it with a brush. Finally, use clean water to rinse the fabric off.
- Laundry detergent: Mix some laundry detergent with warm water and wet the fabrics with it. Dampen a towel with cold water to rinse the detergent off the fabric and scrub the stain away.
- Baby wipes: Baby wipes can help you tackle different marks and stains. All you need to do is wipe the critical area with them, and that’s it. Besides, baby wipes are safe for any material, and you can use them with peace of mind.
- Nail polish remover: Dampen the cotton swab with nail polish remover and blot the stain. After that, clean the spot with a mild cleaning solution or liquid dish soap mixed with warm water and wipe it with a clean, wet cloth.
- Toothpaste: Apply the non-gel paste on the stained area and use a toothbrush to scrub away the stain gently. Once finished, wipe the stain with a clean cloth and dry the area with a towel.
- Lemon juice and cream of tartar: Mix equal parts of lemon juice and cream of tartar into a paste. Apply to a coaly area and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, take a damp sponge to remove the paste. Remember that this mixture should be used only on light upholstery since it causes a bleaching effect.
How to Clean Leather Car Seats?
Appealing leather car seats look fantastic inside your car, but they require regular maintenance to prevent cracks and dirt build-up. When you clean your leather seats regularly, you lower the risk of scratching, extending the leather’s lifespan and preserving its gloss and fine finish.
If you’re not sure how to properly clean car seats made of leather? Gather the necessary tools and products and follow the steps below to start treating leather like it deserves:
Step One: Vacuum the Seats
Before you start cleaning the seats, you’ll need to vacuum first to remove dirt and debris. If you skip this step, you are at risk of grinding dirt into the material and damaging the leather’s texture. Don’t forget to vacuum the vehicle thoroughly, including hard-to-reach areas and crevices.
Step 2: Use a Cleaning Solution
A cleaning solution helps you get rid of bacteria and stains collected on your leather seats. You can use a commercial product or mix one with household ingredients. Regardless of your choice, make sure you don’t apply the product directly to your seats. Instead, use a small amount of product to a clean microfiber cloth and continue with the process.
Commercial cleaning solution: If you opt for commercial cleaning solutions, stay away from those containing bleach or ammonia since both substances may damage your leather. You can find many convenient options at auto shops, grocery stores, or Amazon.
DIY cleaning solution: If you prefer homemade products, follow the next steps to make your own cleaning solution for leather seats:
- Step 1: Mix warm water and liquid dishwashing soap at a ratio of 5:1 (5 parts water, 1 part soap)
- Step 2: Apply a small amount of solution to the microfiber cloth and start cleaning the seats.
Step 3: Wash the Seats with a Microfiber Cloth
Damp your microfiber cloth with the cleaning solution and start scrubbing your leather seats. Ensure you don’t put too much solution on your leather seats, as soaked leather may take a long time to dry. If not properly dried, the leather may get moldy. If you’re dealing with resilient stains, you may need to use some elbow grease to remove them completely.
Step 4: Wipe the Seats Clean and Dry
It’s not recommended to leave your leather seats damp overnight or let them dry themselves since the damp can cause the leather to crack. Use a microfiber cloth instead and dry your seats after you’ve scrubbed them. Even if there is some moisture left inside the fabric, you shouldn’t be worried as it won’t cause any problem. However, it’s essential to remove the majority of the moisture.
How to Clean Cloth Car Seats?
If you have cloth car seats, make sure to vacuum them weekly. And in case you’re dealing with fresh stains, it’s important to spot treat them. A more in-depth seat cleaning should be performed seasonally or more often, depending on your driving habits and whether you’re traveling with pets and kids. Also, don’t forget to clean the car mats!
Check out the steps below to clean your cloth car seats quickly and efficiently:
Step 1: Vacuum the Seats
Vacuum the seats to remove any dust, debris, or pet hair left. That way, they won’t dig deeper into the seat padding.
Step 2: Pre-Treat Certain Stains
Specific stains (grease, food and drink, or grease) should be pre-treated before you go on with the overall cleaning. You can use a bit of the upholstery cleaner to treat the stains and a scrub brush to work it into the seat fabric. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes.
Step 3: Use the Upholstery Cleaner Solution
Follow the product label instructions to use the product cleaner properly. Applying the product with a spray bottle is recommended as it allows you to control the amount of the solution that goes on the fabric. It’s not necessary to saturate the fabric but lightly spray the seat.
Step 4: Scrub the Dirt Away
Grab a scrub brush to work in the cleaning solution after you’ve sprayed it on the seat. Start at the top of the seat and cover every inch of it. When your brush becomes soiled, rinse it in a bucket full of clear water and shake it to remove extra moisture.
Step 5: Wipe Away Extra Moisture with a Microfiber Cloth
Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away any extra moisture left on the seats.
Step 6: Let the Seats Dry
Let the car seats dry for two to three hours before you drive your car again. You can park your car in a sunny location to speed up the process or place a drying agent inside to absorb the moisture.
Step 7: Apply a Protective Coating
Once you’ve cleaned your car seats completely, you can apply a protective coating to prevent stains and dirt from setting into the material. A protective coating makes future cleanings much easier.
If you’re not satisfied with the final result, you can repeat the steps.
How to Clean Suede Car Seats?
Suede car seats are a preferred choice among car enthusiasts because of their luxury look and feel. However, suede is pretty difficult to clean as it can be discolored by harsh products and inappropriate cleaning techniques. It’s essential to check the manufacturer’s guidelines to see whether your car seats are original suede or are made from synthetic materials (Alcantara or Ultrasuede).
Here is how to clean suede car seats in five easy steps:
Step 1: Brush the Suede with a Suede Brush
You can purchase a specific suede brush at high-quality shoe stores at a good price – $5 to $7. Start brushing from top to bottom, left to right, bottom to top, and right to left to eliminate any accumulated dirt. Keep brushing over the car seat in a circular motion to fluff up the surface.
Step 2: Remove Stains Using a Suede Eraser
Suede erasers are available at $6, and they can help you remove stains or marks from your suede seats safely and efficiently. Use gentle swirling motions with the top of the eraser over the stain. The eraser will crumble, providing a clean, smooth surface.
Step 3: Brush the Seats Again
It’s essential to brush the seats again to remove all the particles from the eraser. Repeat as many times as needed.
Step 4: Address Liquid Spills with a Soft Cloth
Liquid spills must be cleaned immediately with a soft cloth. Ensure not to press too deeply into the suede or rub hard to prevent the stain from pushing further into the seat.
Step 5: Let the Seat Dry
Let the treated area dry completely and check for the signs of discoloration. In case there’s any remaining stain left, remove it with an eraser and brush the seat thoroughly after that.
How to Keep Your Car Seats Clean for Prolonged Periods of Time?
Cleaning your car seats every once in a while may be a time-consuming task for every car owner. However, there are some useful tips to facilitate your future cleanings and help you keep your seats cleaner for extended periods of time. For instance:
If you vacuum your car seats regularly, you will make your future cleanings much easier and prevent premature cracking. Besides, vacuuming helps you remove dust, debris, and pet hair, ensuring you don’t push the particles deeper into the seat padding.
Treat the Stains
If you don’t treat car stains immediately, they might leave long-lasting marks on your car seats. Make sure you apply a cleaner of choice to the stained area and treat it with a soft scrubbing brush to prevent permanent marks.
Don’t Saturate Cloth Seats
If you have cloth seats, avoid using products that clean with a lot of water to prevent mold growth. Such an inconvenience may lead to long-term seat damage.
Clean Other Parts of Seats
The most common mistake car owners make is focusing on the hard part of the seat only. Other seat components, including seat belts and buckles, require our attention, as well. Therefore, don’t forget to address each seat part equally, especially the front and beneath the seat.
Dry the Seats Completely
Drying is an essential part of car seat detailing and cleaning. Once you’ve cleaned your car seats thoroughly, let them dry for a couple of hours or overnight. Remove excess moisture to speed up the process and prevent potential mold growth.
Use Seat Covers
Seat covers will protect your car seats from dust, sand, tar, mud, and dirt you bring after cycling, hiking, or other outdoor activities. If you spend a lot of time outside, it’s recommended to install seat covers, especially if you’re hauling dirty equipment. Seat protectors are machine washable and easy to use, and you can purchase those specifically tailored for your make and model.
Pay Special Attention to Leather
Leather seats require special care to maintain their fine finish. Make sure you use the right cleaners and conditioners for leather to prevent leather cracking or discoloration. If you opt for homemade cleaning solutions, make sure you don’t use harsh ingredients that could damage the surface.
Top 3 Car Seat Cleaner Solutions in 2022
Chemical Guys Citrus Fabric Clean Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
Chemical Guys Citrus Upholstery Cleaner comes in handy when dealing with stubborn dirt, odors, and stains on your automotive components, such as carpets and fabric seats. This product successfully dissolves the accumulated dirt from your seats, even if it’s deep in the seat fabric.
Thanks to its foaming action, the particles will float directly to the surface. That way, you can easily clean the area with a microfiber cloth. Additionally, this seat cleaner is low-moisture and detergent-free, and you can use it on your fabric seats with peace of mind.
PROS// Restores fabric seats successfully; Excellent for messes and stains; Destroys odor-causing microbes; Free from toxic chemicals; Breaks down stubborn stains.
CONS// Some users wish it would be stronger.
Ultima Interior Shampoo Gel
The Ultima Interior Shampoo Gel safely and gently cleans and refreshes your entire vehicle. It features a no-rinse formula safe on all automotive interior finishes, such as vinyl, fabric, carpet, plastic, and wood. It leaves a fresh scent and dries in a couple of minutes without removing the natural sheen of your seat finish.
It is pretty easy to use, and you can apply it to various surfaces. Once applied, the product leaves a protective barrier, ensuring no microbes can survive on your vehicle’s surface. Overall, it’s a strong car seat cleaning product that removes the stains from your automotive parts in a safe and efficient manner.
PROS// Antibacterial formula; Multi-surface interior cleaner; Leaves pleasant scent; Reputable brand; Easy to apply.
CONS// Nothing we could think of.
Chemical Guys Lightning Fast Carpet and Upholstery Stain Extractor
Chemical Guys is another leading brand in the automotive industry, and its Lightning Fast Carpet and Upholstery Stain Extractor proves its flawless reputation. It is excellent for carpets, upholstery, fabrics, and other surfaces inside your vehicle. It is simple to use and helps resist future stains and dirt accumulation.
This cleaner reaches deep into the fabric, lifting dirt and grease with a high level of efficiency. No matter how you use it, it won’t destroy the seat color or cause any fading.
PROS// Hyper concentrated formula; Easy to use; It won’t destroy the color; Removes deep stains; Makes future cleanings easier.
CONS// Customers complain about the faulty sprayer.