How to Clean Your Car’s Carpeting and Seats

Cleaning the carpeting and seats in your car isn’t the most exciting activity on the books but the results are always worth the effort. Got a little time to burn this weekend? Why not just jump in and just do it; you’ll be happy when it’s finished and, needless to say, so will your passengers. In this his article, we will look at some quick and easy ways to clean the seats and carpeting in your car so they look like new again.

Cleaning Supplies

There are lots of supplies available to assist you when you are cleaning your car’s carpets and seats. At most auto parts stores, hardware stores and other retailers, you will find a large variety of fabric shampoos, cleaning cloths, brushes and other cleaning materials.  Keep in mind that good old soap and water will go a long way when cleaning but you may find some of the specialty cleaners helpful for stubborn stains and debris.


Before you haul out the cleaning agents, give your car’s carpets and seats a real good vacuuming. The detailers at Rockland Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Nanuet, NY suggest a high-powered, home vacuum instead of those cute little car vacuums that plug into cigarette lighters. You need something that really sucks (sorry, couldn’t resist.) Most of these smaller units are good for casual cleaning but do not have enough power to suck out deep seated dirt, especially in the upholstery’s crevices.

Do your seats first and then take out your floor mats to access the carpeting underneath them. It is usually easier to vacuum the floor mats, when they are outside the vehicle and lying on the ground. Note: brush attachments are especially useful when working on surfaces that have a great deal of dirt ground in.

Start with the floor mats

Once your floor mats are vacuumed, is recommended that they be cleaned first because they often need time to dry. Scrubbing with water and detergent is highly recommended for rubber and carpet-type floor mats. Note that some rubber floor mats come with deep channels for collecting spilled liquids. You will likely soak these areas for several minutes before you start to scrub them clean.

Then the carpet

Automobile carpets take a lot of abuse. They are typically spotted with drinks, food and other unsavory substances. The best way to clean car carpets is to apply water with a cleaning agent mixed in and giving them a good scrub. You may want to consider using a commercial, water-based vacuum. These are usually available for rent at hardware stores, supermarkets, and other local establishments. Typically the cost is $15 to $20 per day and well worth it.

Cleaning leather seats

There are two steps to cleaning leather seats. The first is to use a good leather cleaner to get the dirt and built up gunk off the seats. After that -and this is important- thoroughly saturate the leather with conditioner and let it soak in. This may take 20-30 minutes or so. If the leather is dry, you may need to apply the conditioner a second time.

Cleaning cloth seats

For fabric-upholstered seats, a fabric shampoo is the best cleaning agent that can be used. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying and cleaning off. Note: be sure to allow enough time for your seats to dry. Leave a window open to allow enough air to circulate to help the drying process.


For those who are new to the upholstery and seat cleaning process, YouTube is your friend. There are many videos on YouTube that illustrate good cleaning techniques and special procedures for tough-to-remove stains. Good luck!

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