How To Clean Car Carpet: Products, Tips, & More

car vacuuming

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We often take our cars to the local carwash for a quick wash or even make sure that the wash is perfect by doing it ourselves with special cleaners and a good car wax. However, how often do you clean the inside of your car? Our guess, if you are anything like us, is that it gets done much less often than the outside. The inside of your car is just as important and get help you maintain the value of your vehicle for years to come. When it’s finally time to trade in or even sell your ride, you will be glad you took some time now and then to notice the inside and learn how to clean car carpet. We understand that it is time consuming and probably one of the last things on your priority list. But with these quick and simple tips you can learn how to clean car carpet and have the job done in no time. Besides, just think how nice it will be to get into your neat and oh so clean car.

Products and Supplies You Will Need

Products and Supplies You Will Need

In reality, cleaning your car’s carpet isn’t hard and doesn’t even take that much time to do. And it will take even less time if you complete this task more often. However, there are a few supplies and products you will need to get the job done and have your car looking its best.

Supplies needed to learn how to clean car carpet:

  • Vacuum cleaner-either the one you use in your home or a shop vac will do the job. A hand-held vacuum is nice to use as well, especially in those cramped back seats.
  • Carpet cleaner- this can be a specialized product you have found for car carpet and upholstery or something simple like laundry detergent.
  • Water- cold or hot depending on what type of stain it is (more on that later).
  • Soft-bristled brush- this is for scrubbing hard to remove stains.
  • Garden hose- Don’t freak out. We are not going to tell you to put this into your car. It is used for the floor mats after they are removed from the car.
  • Towels or rags- while the brush mentioned earlier will work for most cleaning jobs, a basic towel or cloth rag works best for some persistent stains where blotting is the preferred method. However, this will be needed for rinsing your carpet as well.

How to Clean Car Carpet Efficiently

Pick Up


The first step in cleaning any carpeted surface is to pick up loose items that may be covering it. Those items that don’t belong on your car’s floor but have somehow ended up there, such as your son’s clothes, your daughter’s hair barrettes, loose change, and fast food trash should be taken into the house and/or organized in the car. Most cars come with built-in organizational compartments and pockets for many items. However, if your car does not have these in abundance, there are many specially made car-organizer products available for purchase.

The key is to get as many loose objects out of your car as possible. The next step in learning how to clean car carpets is to remove the floor mats in your vehicle. Once you have them out of the car, shake them vigorously to remove and loosen dirt and debris that may be on them. Then, for now, lay them down in a dry area some place near the car.



Back to the car. Now it is time for the vacuum. Just like any carpet, your car’s carpet needs to be vacuumed occasionally. While it removes dirt, small pieces of trash, and crumbs, it also helps to lift all the fibers back into their manufactured upright position. Vacuum the entire floor, getting under the pedals, under and around all the seats, and in any nook or cranny present. It may be necessary to use a hose for those small, hard to reach areas.



After the floors are free of any dirt and debris, you can clean the carpet. The effort and time you put in during this step really just depends on the state of your car’s carpet. The object is to remove and thoroughly wash out all stains present on your car floor. It may just be a small spot here and there, or, if you have children and pets that are often in your car, like some of us, you may have a larger job on your hands.

It is important to note that different stains may require a little different method of cleaning. There are specialty products available made to handle just about anything possible. One of these may come in handy in you have several kinds of stains.

Before you tackle any major stains, you may want to just generally clean your car carpets. To do this, you will need your brush and the cleaner of your choice. Spray the cleaner onto the surface of your carpet. It is important to note here that some cleaners may work best if you let them sit for a while after applying them, usually about 10 minutes or so.

After the amount of time determined by the back of your cleaning product container, you may slowly and carefully work the solution into your carpet using circular motions. Working in small circles is the best way to work loose dirt and grime and bring it to the surface. If you have problem areas with deep, set-in stains, pay close attention to those areas. It may require more scrubbing and a little more soap application.


Once you have cleaned the entire surface area of your car floors, you can rinse your carpet. Using your wet towel or cloth rag, dampen the surface of your carpet where you cleaned it. This will effectively remove the soap and any dirt that was brought to the surface during cleaning.

Do not use too much water here though. If your carpet becomes too wet, it can cause mildew and mold growth underneath. Just try to get most of the soap out and your carpets should be fine. After the carpets are clean, it is time to make sure all the doors or at least windows are open to let your car interior dry out. While it is drying, you can work on the floor mats.

Washing Car Mats

Washing Car Mats


Washing your car or floor mats follow much of the same procedure, except that it is made easier because you can use your garden hose on them. We suggest that complete this task on the ground. Concrete, cement, or blacktop work the best, as they are relatively clean in comparison to a dirt or gravel drive where your floor mats will just pick up more debris in the process. However, before you get them wet, vacuum them as you did with the car carpet. This ensures the removal of all loose dirt, crumbs, and debris and leaves you with a cleaner surface to wash.

Clean and Rinse

After the car mats have been vacuumed, you can wash them using your preferred cleaning product. Start with the underside of your mats. These rubberized or plastic surfaces are easy to clean. Spray or drop a small amount of your cleaner on the mat and use the hose to get it wet. With a towel or rag scrub any problems areas. Then rinse it off with the hose and dry with a towel.

The front of the mats might require more work depending on what they are made of. If they are made of rubber or plastic like the back, the process is exactly the same. However, if they are carpeted like the floor of your car, there may be harder to remove stains present. Spray the fabric with your cleaning product, letting it sit for a time if needed. Then get the fabric and soap wet using the hose again. Using circular motions and your brush, scrub the fabric paying close attention to stained or problem areas. Once you are finished scrubbing, rinse the fabric with the garden hose again until it is free of all soap and bubbles.

Dry and Hang

Unlike, your car’s floor, these mats can be hung up to dry. Before you hang them, you can remove a lot of water using a vacuum or shop vac and even more if you try to dry them with a towel or rag. Then you can hang them up in a sunny convenient spot where the can hang freely. A clothesline works just fine. When they and the inside of your car are dry, you can return them to their rightful place in the car. And then you are done.


Learning how to clean car carpet isn’t a difficult task. The more often that you do it, the less time you will have to spend on the task and the easier it will get. Your car should be a possession that you can take pride in, inside and out. So, treat your car to a little tender loving care every now and then. You will be glad you did and so will anybody that rides with you.

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