How To Clean Cloth Car Seats: Tips, Techniques, & More

car sear cleaning

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Cloth car seats get dirty quickly. Anyone who is a car enthusiast will understand the inane need to keep the interiors of an automobile clean. Taking a trip to the car cleaners is not always feasible, especially if you are struggling with time and money. However, with these simple DIY techniques and tips on how to clean cloth car seats you can have the seats spick and span in no time. It is imperative for people with allergies and children to ensure that the insides are always clean to prevent sickness. 

Products You’ll Need

There are so many options and opinions on how to clean cloth car seats properly that you should really follow your own heart in getting the right equipment. The things you won’t need are complicated methods, overly specialized cleaning solutions, and hot water extractors. The list below is designed to make the task as simple and pocket-friendly as possible.


It is important to keep the seats and the interiors free of dust and debris.

Fabric Cleaner

You should invest in a solution that has mild to medium power to prevent your car seats from fading. This helps in removing dirt and stains easily.

Fiber Brush

Do not use a stiff bristle carpet brush. It is advisable to invest in a soft to medium stiff interior brush to clean your fabric seats.

Micro Fiber Towel And Other Rags

It is important that you never spray a solution directly on the seat. Use a clean rag to apply the solution. To clean out the solution it is recommended to use micro-fiber towels as they absorb the dirt and solution effectively.

Tips For Cleaning Cloth Seats

Before you seek advice on any DIY project such as how to clean cloth car seats, it is important to understand what you are up against. By learning more about your car seats, you can effectively clean them better. For instance, no two car upholsteries are same. If your car seat fabric has a tight weave, then you would find it nearly impossible to clean with just a vacuum. A tight weave should also never be allowed to let the dirt build-up, otherwise, it makes the task of cleaning monstrous. Here are tips on how to clean cloth car seats and of ensuring that your car seats are clean in the most efficient manner.

Multiple Cleaning Agents

No cloth car seat shampoo can clean every form of dirt settled between the thread. There are a number of factors you should take care of while choosing the right cleaning agent such as the amount of dirt, type of dirt, and the time since the seats were last cleaned. There are many spot cleaners and fabric guards available in the market that can manage an effective cleaning when used for the right purpose.

Never Skip Vacuuming

An extremely important step in how to clean cloth car seats is the initial vacuuming. If you miss out on vacuuming your car prior to cleaning, then you might end up with some rough abrasions on your car seat fabric. Seat cleaning requires massive amounts of scrubbing.

Initial dirt and debris sticking to the upholstery will cause major damage to the fabric if you are not careful. Hence, it is always a good idea to clean your car out with a vacuum before getting your hands wet. You might also benefit by vacuuming your car at least once a week depending upon your use. This will cause less dirt to build up resulting in an easier car cleaning experience in the long run.

Difficult Stains Removal

If you have children, are in the habit of drinking coffee or eating in the car, then chances are that there might be many visible stains on the car seats. Cloth upholstery soaks up all the stains in its weave pattern, making it difficult to get rid of the stains. Fortunately, there are a few quick fix methods that can help you ease out the stains. For instance, people recommend alcohol and mechanic’s hand cleaners to remove tough stains from cloth car seats. Alternatively, you can use a foaming cleaner.

Always Test First

It is of utmost importance you test any new cleaning product or solution in an inconspicuous area of your car seat fabric. This is to prevent any nasty surprises later on in the form of fabric damage or color fading. This also allows you to check whether a solution is effective or not.

Never Spray Directly

It is never advisable to use a solution directly on the car seat cover. The best way for you to clean a seat cover is to spray some solution on a dishrag and then wipe out the surface of your car seat. For edges and crevices, you can use Q tips to tidy up.

Best Cleaning Techniques To Use

When asked how to clean cloth car seats effectively, there are many people who reply that it is impossible to get the right cleanliness in a DIY job. That could not be farther from the truth. In fact, with proper care and by following the instructions listed here you can actually manage a better job than the cleaners.

How to clean cloth car seats the right way


It is important that you start off with a vacuum. This allows you to clear the seat of any debris or dirt that might be stuck. It also lessens the work you are left with later on while using the solution. It is important that you use the vacuum nozzle in the seams of the seat bottom and creases to loosen the dirt and remove it. Use your fingers to pull back creases wherever necessary.

Cleaning Liquid

While using a spray or solution, it is important that you do not let the liquid seep down to the bottom layers. The main purpose is to clean the top layer and keep the bottom layers as dry as possible. Work on a small area and use a soft to medium stiff interior brush to bring all stubborn dirt to the top.


Do not use excessive force while brushing as it will make the fabric fray. Also, do not use stiff bristle carpet brushes as that will damage the fabric. Light to medium strokes towards the grain of the fabric is the right way to brush.

Wipe Up

Make sure you wipe an area as soon as the suds bring dirt to the top. Using a microfiber towel here works wonders as it wipes up excess liquid and traps the dirt. If you let the suds dry out, the dirt will reattach itself to the fabric.

Vacuum Again

Once you have cleaned an area and wiped up the dirt, use the vacuum again. This helps in pulling up the fabric wicks ensuring that there is no heavy saturation or excess moisture left.

Give it Time

Do not jump into your car as soon as the cleaning is complete. You need to allow for the car seats to dry out. Leaving the car doors open can be a good idea. You could also use a car freshener here.

Typical Stains and Debris

There are many types of foodstuff and other debris that can accumulate on the weave pattern. These stains do not tend to be removed easily by simple and traditional car seat cleaning methods. Here are some ways to remove such stains:

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great way to remove dirt that is stuck between the weaves. Apply a mixture of equal portions of water and baking soda on a clean dish rag and leave it on the area for 5 minutes. You can also gently scrub the car seat with this dish rag. This allows the dirt stuck in the deepest crevices to dissolve. However, you need to make sure you wipe with a clean wet rag or a micro-fiber towel afterward or the baking soda will stain.


This is definitely not a traditional car cleaning method. However, it is one that is most effective on removing pen stains. Spray some on the pen stain and scrub with a clean rag. You should notice the pen mark fading away. Again, it is important for you to clean with a wet rag afterward or else you might end up with a whole new stain.

Mechanic’s Hand Cleaner

If you are unlucky enough to get oil or grease stains on your car seat, then do not worry. Fortunately, mechanic’s hand cleaner is great for removing such stains without harming the fragile cloth fabric of your car seats. You need to be very careful while using the solution though.


Ice is most beneficial in removing sticky stains such as chewing gum or glue. Immediately, use ice to on the sticky compound to harden it. Then clean as much as possible with a cloth.


Cleaning your cloth car seats can be a simple process if done the right way. You do not have to go to the car cleaners whenever you need a stain removed. You can make the process even easier by vacuuming your car weekly.

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