As a driver, you probably use the car seats every day. With frequent use comes more grime and dirt, which can cause actual damage.
Fully understanding how to properly clean the car seats can help you increase the lifespan of your upholstery while saving you money on professional cleaning services.
Fortunately, a clean car seat can be easily achieved at home, often using materials you have already.
It doesn’t take long — and usually costs next to nothing — and is in line with what commuters expect from their car riding experience.
Read on to discover more about DIY car cleaning procedure from start to finish.
This guide will cover fabric, leather, and vinyl car seat cleaning processes.
Table of Contents
The Basics Of DIY Car Washing
Few things are more satisfying than a perfectly clean car.
With its floppy brushes and one-spray-fits-all approach, it’s a feat rarely achieved at your neighbourhood automatic car wash.
Even self-service car washes can do more damage than good because the brushes frequently collect dirt particles that could scratch the surfaces of your car.
Having the hose and buckets ready in the driveway involves taking our time and concentrating on the dirtiest sections of our vehicles.
Taking the DIY route also allows you to clean your vehicle safely and without harming the paint.
And, let’s be truthful, it’s also an extremely rewarding procedure that enables you to get to understand the car that transports you from place to place on a daily basis.
Here are some simple steps to mastering the do-it-yourself wash strategy so you can clean the car like a champ in your own driveway, from cleaning to waxing to polishing.
Check The Condition Of Your Car
Before bringing out the cleaning supplies, assess how flthy your car is. Is there mud on the panels?
Is there fine dust on the car? Will you have to remove salt from your car after travelling on icy roads?
For a rapid touch-up wash, you should not need a full arsenal of products. Take a look at the vehicle itself.
An older car may require a full cleaning regimen of waxes and polishes to preserve the paint, whereas a new car may still have a strong clear coat.
The same thing applies to car seats: older seats may require a different regime of care and different cleaning products to newer seats.
Examine The Labels
Check labels on the cleaning supplies you intend to use on your vehicle before applying something to it.
Not all car cleaning products are multi-purpose.
The incorrect product could even harm the paint or other finishes on the inside and outside.
If you’re unsure what your car’s parts are formed of, always use the gentlest cleaning supplies you can find.
Reading the instructions will help reduce the time and money while also ensuring you use the correct amount of the product for the job at hand.
Use The Three Bucket Method
The main objective of deep cleaning is to remove particles from the vehicle’s surface.
You definitely don’t want to clean the car using dirty water, which will re-apply the grime. The three-bucket cleaning method comes in handy here.
You have a bucket of clean water and soap and another bucket of plain water.
The water only bucket is intended for washing your cleaning glove before returning it to the soap bucket.
The third bucket must contain a cleaning solution and water mixture that is only used for the wheels, since these are frequently the filthiest parts of your vehicle.
Similarly, cleaning products and water used for the car seats and interior should be kept separate.
Remove Any Scratches
Remember the expression “that’ll buff out?” It most likely will, but will require some effort. Scratches are much more difficult to remove.
Milder scuffs and scratches are frequently coated or loaded with a sleek coat of wax, which we’ll discuss shortly.
If that doesn’t work, try using a scratch-specific repair compound, which may require several applications before a scratch is hidden. Deeper scratches may necessitate a touch-up.
Paint pens and cans are available at dealerships and parts stores, however if the paint has started to fade, these may not be an exact fit.
In that case, you might be able to get some matching paint from a paint store.
Don’t Forget To Polish And Wax!
After washing and preparing the exterior, you can polish the car for a high-gloss shine that will give your car’s paint a mirror-like appearance.
This step is optional, and you can apply your polish by hand or with a double action polisher.
Use caution when using these polishing tools. A heavy hand could leave unsightly swirls in the finish of your car.
It’s better to do this stage by hand if you don’t know whether you will definitely be gentle.
Many people believe that car wax shines your paint, which is true, but it is only one of its benefits.
Wax acts as a protector, putting an additional layer that prevents fading by blocking UV rays.
Wax also protects the paint from corrosive substances that may settle on the car, . Wax can be purchased from most auto stores.
How To Clean Fabric Car Seats
Fabric car seats should ideally be vacuumed once a week (don’t ignore the car mats), and any new stains should really be spot treated.
A full cleaning of the car seats can be performed season to season or more frequently, based as to how much activity occurs in your vehicle.
Follow this step-by-step guide to perform a thorough clean on your fabric car seats.
Seats Should Be Vacuumed
Once you’re prepared to clean your fabric car seats, begin by vacuuming the fabric.
This should remove the dirt, debris, and dander from the seat padding rather than pushing it further into the padding.
To access in between the back and the seat, use a crevice tool. Then, using an upholstery brush, help lift the fabric fibres.
Stains Should Be Pre-Treated
If you notice any specific stains, pre-treat them before performing an overall cleaning.
Simply apply a small amount of upholstery cleaner to the stains and work this into the cloth with a scrub brush to remove most spillages, grease, and mud stains.
Enable it to work for around 15 minutes before performing a thorough cleaning.
If you have dye-based stains on your seat that have bled or transferred colour, gently dampen the stained region.
Make a paste with a few drops of water and dry oxygen-based bleach.
Spread it across the stained area, then let it sit for at least an hour. Remove the powder with a vacuum. Repeat as necessary.
Use The Upholstery Cleaning Solution
Depending on the cleaner, you may need to combine the cleaning solution and warm water.
Follow the directions on the product label to determine how much to use for every gallon of water.
The easiest way to use the cleaner is with a spray bottle because you can control how much will go on the fabric.
Start from the top of a car seat and spritz the entire seat lightly. It is not necessary to over-saturate the fabric.
Scrub The Dirt Away
After spraying the cleaning solution on the seat, work it in with a scrub brush.
Starting at the top, get it over each inch of the seat to ensure that any dirty cleaning solution drips down.
When your scrub brush gets dirty, soak it in a bowl or bucket of clean water and shake it to remove any excess moisture.
Remove Excess Moisture
Wipe away any excess moisture with an absorbent microfiber cloth.
This will also aid in the removal of matted fibres. Repeat the steps if the upholstery is still dirty.
If the fabric is extremely dirty (or if it has previously been cleaned), doing a few rounds to get rid of layers of dirt will yield better results.
Allow Time For The Seats To Dry
Allow the seats to air dry before using your car again, if possible. It usually takes between two and three hours.
If you do need to speed things up, direct a big fan in the car toward the seats.
Alternatively, leave your car in the warmest spot possible to fast track drying time.
If the seats are still damp, put a small carton of drying agent in the car to absorb the moisture.
Include a Protective Coating
After you’ve finished up and the seats are spotless, use a spray fabric protector to keep stains and dirt from trying to settle into the fabric. This will make future cleaning much easier.
How To Clean Leather Car Seats
Great responsibility comes with great leather interiors. Unless you like the dry and blotchy cracked look, leather upholstery will require a lot more care than your standard fabric upholstery.
While your skin creates oils to keep it smooth and hydrated, the animal hide cannot generate its own oils when it is transformed into leather.
We must clean and moisturise it ourselves to keep it plump and smooth.
To keep a car upholstery just as plush as it was when it was new, you should make a habit of cleaning and conditioning it on a regular basis.
Follow this step-by-step guide to keep the leather appearing fresh.
Examine And Remove Any Loose Dirt
The first step is to inspect the interior of your vehicle. You’re looking for any signs of interior damage, such as holes, tears, or frays.
You should also look for any perforated areas; if liquid gets trapped within these areas, it will damage the internal foam.
Surface dirt is very abrasive, removing the colour from the hide and scratching the material, so it must be removed.
You should begin by removing any bits of food that have become lodged in the seat nooks.
Removal of this dirt will make it much easier to tackle the seats with leather cleaner later on.
Vacuum The Seats
Get your vacuum out and start vacuuming. Vacuum up all the dirt, and if you have an air compressor, use it to blow persistent dirt and grime out of those annoyingly difficult-to-reach areas.
Work Leather Cleaner Into The Leather
Now is the time to gather your leather cleaning agent and prepare for some thorough cleaning.
Begin by adding the cleaning solution to a small region of the car seat, particularly if this is your first time using that product.
A spot test such as this will reveal any problems before you damage the whole of the leather upholstery.
If your seats do not fizz and melt when interacting with the cleaning agent, consider it a good sign to continue.
Instead of spraying it all down at once, apply the car leather cleaning solution to segments of the car seats at a time.
Deep cleaning takes time and patience – you paid a lot of money for this car, so you want to take care of it!
Allow the cleaner to settle for a few moments. Then, using a soft bristle cleaning brush, massage it in.
Don’t scrub too hard or you’ll destroy the upholstery. The cleaner will foam up, drawing dirt out of the leather.
Wash away the suds with a clean cloth. If you used too much cleaner on the seats, spritz it with water and wipe it away with your cloth.
If your seat has perforated surfaces, avoid spraying the cleaning product directly onto it to avoid saturating it.
Rather, spray your cleaner directly onto your brush and then rub the surfaces.
Wipe slightly damp cloth, and then a dry cloth. You don’t want any gunk at the end because it will become sticky or smell bad.
Use Leather Conditioner To Protect Your Leather
The final step is to deep condition leather car seats and apply a protective coating.
Conditioning the leather provides temporary protection from heat and abrasion, much like waxing your car to preserve that expensive shiny paintwork.
If you have coloured leather seats, you can locate conditioning products that contain colouring compounds to keep the rich colours.
Massage the conditioner into the seats in circular motions with your microfiber cloth to properly condition them.
Allow it to cure for 5 to 10 minutes, allowing it to soak into the leather. Buff it up with a microfiber cloth, washing away excess conditioner.
Leave It To Set
Once you’ve completed all of the above – make sure to leave the clean car seats to settle for a while before taking your car out for a ride (around an hour should do it).
How To Clean Vinyl Seats
Vinyl seats, like leather interiors, can quickly become cracked or fragile if not properly cared for.
Proper maintenance will assist your vinyl interior in looking and feeling its best, and snagging stains fairly soon will help you avoid permanent discoloration.
If you plan to sell the car in the future, well-maintained furnishings will have a much higher resale value.
Follow the step-by-step instructions below to care for your vinyl car seats.
Vacuum The Seats
Vacuuming your seats beforehand, as with any other interior, will help to speed up the cleaning process and eliminate any loose surface dirt.
If you skip this quick step, you risk rubbing dirt particles into your material, potentially worsening the situation. Simply vacuum gently to avoid scratching your material.
Apply Cleaning Solution
After vacuuming, you can proceed to cleaning with a store-bought or handmade cleaning solution.
If your stains are light, a homemade mixture will most likely work just as well as some rather expensive products on the market.
Simply combine warm water and a cap of detergent in a squeeze bottle to be used on bigger areas.
Most vinyl seats can be cleaned with a cloth, but if the seats are particularly filthy, you’ll need to locate an interior brush. Simply follow these steps:
- Begin with a smoother bristle brush and test the brush and cleaning solution in a hidden area to see how your material reacts. This can also help to prevent rips or tears caused by using a rough brush.
- Spray your solution in segments, covering the first areas you’ll work on, and gently brush over the car seats. For tougher stains, use more force or a slightly tougher brush (but not too hard, or the vinyl will be damaged).
- When you’re finished, wipe down the vinyl with a slightly damp cloth to remove any remaining product.
- Lastly, use a clean cloth to remove any remaining dirt or grease from the material.
- Remove Any Stubborn Stains
Using a baking soda paste is among the most popular methods to remove stubborn stains from vinyl car seats.
Mix a small quantity of the baking soda with some water drops and a dash of dishwashing liquid to make this.
Apply a layer of paste, wait a few minutes, and then gently scrub away with a brush.
Why Should You Clean Car Seats Regularly?
While appearance is the most apparent reason to keep the car seats clean, there are numerous others.
Most people think of making sure the outside of their car is clean. Nevertheless, the interior of vehicles, particularly car seats, is frequently overlooked.
You may not realise it, but the car seats are excellent at collecting dust, gunk, spills, and other food debris.
It is critical to keep the car seats clean in order to make sure that they will be free of stains and that they are well maintained.
Proper maintenance of the car seats would also help to extend their lifespan, saving you money on future upholsteries.
Untreated stains can cause severe damage that can only be fixed with replacement.
Regular car seat maintenance will also ensure that your car stays in good condition and retains its overall value.
When you keep your car clean and maintained, it will have a higher value if you decide to sell it in the future.
How Often Should You Clean the car seats?
Stains, grime, and other debris will inevitably accumulate on car seats. You should clean car seat on a regular basis, preferably once a week.
Food, stains, dust, and other aspects can become trapped among cracks, so it is necessary to clean them thoroughly.
If your seat covers are removable, remember to wash them every two weeks or as needed. Make sure to sanitise the car seats on a regular basis.
Your car’s seats, whether leather, vinyl, or fabric, have a tough life.
Even the most conscientious owner could leave crumbs, dirt, and stains on their pets from spilt drinks, food, and muddy clothing.
Not only will this look unappealing, but it may cause permanent damage if you never clean it.
With regular cleaning, your vehicle will look and smell better, and the appearance and colouring of the seats will be preserved.
The car will be comfortable to drive, but it will also be more appealing to potential buyers in the future.