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How To Clean Cloth Car Seats

By Peter Swanson October 14, 2019

Cloth car seats can be beautiful and durable. But, they can also be a pain to keep clean. Even without kids or a pet, daily wear and tear from clothing, bags, and weather conditions can create a huge mess. Kids and pets multiply that.

clean cloth car seatsDirty seats are not very easy to hide. It can be embarrassing to have guests in a car with stains or signs of wear on the seats. That is why we recommend these simple and cheap steps to keeping your upholstery in pristine condition. In this guide, we cover the top tips for how to clean cloth car seats.

These solutions range in price, time taken, and type of cleaning method. There are ways to invest in the cleanliness of your car seats that preserve long-term durability. Be sure to know the facts before you decide which method to use on your cloth car seats. Commercial and household products each have their benefit, so choose wisely.

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Commercial Products

There are hundreds if not thousands of commercial products on the market designed specifically for cloth upholstery in cars. These products can keep the fabric materials clean and stain-free regardless of what damage they've sustained.

The No-No's of Cloth Seats

Before diving in, take heed that there are some products to avoid. These may seem like a good idea but aren't great for long-term life of the material. These products include hot water carpet extractors and high-pressure water systems. These intense solutions may be high tech, but they aren't needed for these types of fabrics and could end up doing more harm than good.

The Environmentally Safe Solution

There are major brands like Simple Green industrial cleaner and de-greaser that can clean your upholstery (we covered cleaning leather here) successfully without harming the environment. This specific brand is non-caustic and safe to head out into the environment after use.

How Commercial Products Clean Your Upholstery

Using a cleaning product is relatively simple, but there are some ways that could seriously mess up your fabric cloth seats. For most spray products, you should:

  1. Vacuum and tidy initially to make navigation simple and effective.
  2. Point the nozzle toward the stained or dirty surface.
  3. Spray a light covering (about four sweeping sprays) onto the targeted area.
  4. Let the spray sit for a moment while the liquid seeps into the fabric.
  5. Brush the stain with a cutting edge interior brush. This helps the chemicals to seep into the tough fabric. Massage it into the seat so that the cleaning particles intermingle with the upholstery.
  6. Wipe the entire area down with a microfiber cloth. This gets rid of the messy soap suds and dirt left over after the cleaning.
  7. Vacuum the seat to help dry the chair and keep the vehicle clean from the leftover residue.

Household Products

Using household products to clean your car can save you time and money—if done correctly. It is important to know how to clean cloth car seats correctly using household products. That way, you don’t destroy your upholstery trying out these do it yourself methods.

Try these tips for the best household remedies for cloth seat stains.

Which Substances Work?

There are different household ingredients that can help treat different stains. These include: cornstarch, dish soap, vinegar, onion, and water. It is important to use these correctly to see the results you need.

The major benefit of these products is that they are cheap, and you most likely already have them lying around your home. You don’t have to waste time and money on a trip to the store.

How Household Products Clean Your Upholstery

Use one of these many helpful methods to freshen up your stained car upholstery. You don’t have to buy an expensive product to get rid of heavy-duty stains.

  1. Vacuum and tidy initially to make navigation simple and effective.
  2. Mix half vinegar and half water.
  3. Put this in a spray bottle.
  4. Point the nozzle toward the stained or dirty surface.
  5. Spray a light covering (about four sweeping sprays) onto the targeted area.
  6. Let the spray sit for a moment (2-3 minutes) while the liquid seeps in.
  7. Blot out the mixture with a cloth.
  8. IF THE STAIN IS STILL VISIBLE scrub a bit with a tough brush or cloth.

Onion Method (For Cigarette Burns)

This won’t get rid of the burn, but it will make it more subtle.

  1. Peel a raw onion.
  2. Place it on the area of the burn.

convertible car seats at sunsetThe Dish Soap Method

  1. Combine dish soap (1 cup), club soda (1 cup), and white vinegar (1 cup).
  2. Put this in an empty spray bottle.
  3. Point the nozzle toward the stained or dirty surface.
  4. Spray a light covering (about four sweeping sprays) onto the targeted area.
  5. Use a hard brush to work the mixture into the fabric.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of how you choose to clean, your upholstery can benefit from both commercial and household remedies. That being said, big stains can be a pain to treat either way. To prevent stains from happening in the first place, consider car seat protectors.

Click here to see our waterproof car seat protector. It saves you the trouble of stains and blemishes by keeping the seat clean and protected.


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