How to clean car upholstery yourself.

📅 January 27, 2020

⏱️3 min read

It goes without saying, if your car is much more than a year or so old, the cloth interior does not look as good as it did the day you bought it. During regular use, the car's interior can get soiled and stained from accidental spills and dirt tracked in from shoes. You can quickly learn how to clean upholstery, which will make it look as new as possible.

The how to clean auto upholstery tips below are based around cleaning cloth interior and not leather. A shampoo solution is used to remove dirt and grime from a cloth interior. To make a shampoo solution, you can use dish soap or a good degreaser. Power clean or super clean which are available at most local auto parts stores will work great and are a trade secret of the detail shops. You will need a pail of some sort that will hold three or more gallons of water. Fill it with clean water and add whichever cleaner you choose.

If it is purple add a small amount, just enough to tint the water purple, which should be only a few caps full. If it is dish soap only add a tablespoon or so. Too much detergent is a bad thing due to foaming, which can be a challenge to dilute and remove when shampooing. You should check a small hidden area before getting started to ensure it doesn't fade or make the colour bleed. If it does do not go any further. You would then need to ask a detail shop for advice. For stains that are ground in, you can spray a little purple cleaner directly on the stain and scrub it with a brush. Then shampoo as usual, as this will minimize the foaming of the entire area, we are trying to clean.

When planning how to clean upholstery, you will need a wet/dry vacuum, a scrub brush and a few clean towels. Use a hand towel to dip in the shampoo solution we made and wet the entire seat down. It is vital to go ahead and wet the whole seat by wiping it down with the saturated hand towel. This prevents streaking that can occur if the sides of the seat do not get wet. Use your scrub brush to loosen the dirt in the material and then vacuum thoroughly. You can repeat this until your satisfied no more dirt is coming up. Once complete use a dry towel to rub the seat down. This removes a little more of the surface dirt and assists in the drying process. Do the same to the rest of the cars seats, carpet and any other cloth interior needing cleaning.

Now that we are all done shampooing and vacuuming the dirt up, we have to dry the interior thoroughly. I cannot stress enough how important this step is. There are a few different ways we can achieve this according to the situation. One would be to only roll the windows down a few inches and run the heater on high.

If you have a fan, we can put inside the car this would help also. Another way would be to park the car in the garage and roll the windows all the way blow fans in the front and rear windows of the car all night. You can also park the vehicle in the sun with the windows down if the weather permits and you shampooed it early enough. The reason we must ensure it is dried thoroughly is it will sour and get musty like a load of clothes forgotten in the wash if we are not careful. This is not the results we are looking for, especially since we went to all the trouble cleaning it.

Sometimes as the interior of the car is drying, you might see the dirt come back to the surface in some spots. This is normal and can be handled by using a dry towel to keep it wiped down as it dries. Cleaning your car's interior is a physically demanding job that some people choose not to tackle. In that case, there are detail shops that will be happy to do it for you. For others who want to save that money, this would be how you can do it.