How To Clean Car Seats

You spend a lot of time in your car, wouldn’t it be nice to have a clean interior? But life happens: maybe you eat in your car or transport messy passengers. Eventually, your car seats get dirty. Luckily, deep cleaning and disinfecting your car seats is an easy maintenance task you can complete at home.

What is the best stain remover for car seats?

A simple carpet and upholstery cleaner is all you need to clean your car seats. For especially soiled seats, consider using an extractor vacuum to clean the dirt from foam beneath the seat because this is what’s making it appear stained. A stain remover, such as OxiClean, is also safe to use on cloth car seats.

Incredibly dirty car interior after a wreck.
Dirty car interior | Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images

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Firstly, you’ll need the right tools for your seat-cleaning job. Wrenches will help with the important task of removing your seats from your car so you can deep clean them. Then a vacuum cleaner will make it easy to get loose dirt and dust off the upholstery before you begin to wash it–according to DIYer Chris Fix.

You will also want a microfiber cloth towel to apply your upholstery cleaner and wipe it off. Finally, if you want to go really above and beyond, get a brush (like an old toothbrush) to clean the crevices of your car seat.

If your car seats ride on metal hardware, you can easily clean the metal using soap and water. But if you have car seats with plastic trim and plastic seatbelt buckles, you may also want a bottle of interior plastic protectant.

What is the best way to clean cloth car seats?

A carpet or upholstery cleaner and a microfiber cloth will go a long way in cleaning up your car seats. For a deeper clean, also remove your seats from the vehicle and rent or buy an “extractor vacuum” designed for carpets.

An automotive detailer's hand spraying a car interior with a cleaner.
Car cleaning | Towfiqu Barbhuiya via Unsplash

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Removing your car seats from your vehicle may sound like overkill. But this quick step will allow you to really rinse your seats, vacuum them, and let them dry in the sun. This is critical for cleaning the foam seat cushions, for long-lasting effects. If you leave dirt in the foam seat cushions, just sitting on them can force it to the surface again.

In addition, if you take the time to remove your seats, you can really vacuum and clean under them. You can clean and restore the plastic skirting around the bottom of your seats. You can even give your seatbelts a good scrub. The results will be a car that looks professionally detailed.

How do you clean your car seats?

You can clean your car seats like anything else with upholstery: first brush or vacuum surface durt off. Then soak in the upholstery cleaner, towel it off, and towel dry the seat as best as you can. You want to use fresh air and sun to dry the seats as quickly as possible to avoid mold.

Car seats in the midst of a cleaning, sitting on a lawn in front of a car.
Seats in the midst of cleaning | ChrisFix via Youtube

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You should also take the time to vacuum your seats first. You wouldn’t mop a floor before sweeping it, and you wouldn’t want to shampoo dust further into your seats.

Once your seats are ready for upholstery cleaner, you’re simply going to towel it on, let it sit, then use a clean towel to wipe it off. This is the step where an extraction vacuum will help you really pull grime up through the seat cushion, leaving them clean as new.

Want to see step-by-step seat cleaning instructions? Just check out the video below:

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