How to Clean Car Upholstery

upholsterKeeping your car’s interior clean is just as important as keeping your car’s exterior well-maintained. You inhabit the inside of your vehicle whenever you drive, and it’s good for both your health and peace of mind to keep your vehicle’s interior clean. Luckily, cleaning your upholstery is extremely easy thanks to a variety of techniques and specific cleaning products tailored to keeping the interior of your vehicle in tip-top shape. Little messes can add up easily within your car after day-to-day driving. By staying on top of these small messes and fixing those pesky stains immediately, keeping your car’s upholstery clean is rather easy to do on your own.

  1. Pick up after yourself. If you are prone to eat food or drink beverages in your car, make sure you throw away all refuse immediately after use. Fast food wrappers and empty bottles can add up easily, so it’s best to dispose of any excess trash immediately after use so they don’t pile up and add to the clutter of your vehicle’s interior.
  2. Vacuum often. Small food scraps and bits of dirt easily find their way into your car. The best way to counter this natural lack of cleanliness is to vacuum often. It’s easy and takes very little time. You can purchase a hand-held vacuum specifically for your car (often times these will plug directly into the cigarette-lighter power source in your vehicle), or use a hose attachment from your house vacuum. These larger home floor vacuums often have specific upholstery cleaning attachments-usually with a wide square mouth and a brush around the edges-so use that for your seats and floors; for those hard-to-reach corners, use the long narrow attachment that often comes with home vacuums.
  3. Remove stains immediately. You can usually get rid of even the worse stains with simple household solutions that dilute and remove said stains from your car’s upholstery. For ink stains, use hairspray or rubbing alcohol mixed with water. For grease, use a watered-down paint thinner formula and a cotton cloth. If you happen to spill coffee, use cold water on a damp cloth, followed by some glass cleaner and another dose of cold water. Always blot stains–never scrub them, so that they are not rubbed further in to your vehicle’s sensitive upholstery.
  4. Use baking soda and water on vinyl seats to clean and polish them. To finish the job, rinse the seats off with a detergent and water mixture. Standard upholstery cleaners will harden your vinyl seats, so make sure you dilute this homemade mixture.
  5. Use a standard vinegar, detergent and water mixture. This is the all-around best solution for your car upholstery needs. Not only cheap and easy to create, watered down detergent and vinegar solution will clean stains off your seats and give them a fresher look and feel.
  6. Buy a carpet or upholstery cleaner from your local retailer. This is an easy solution and usually not much more expensive than a do-it-yourself mixture. If you own leather seats, this may be the safest bet to begin with, simply because of leather’s sensitive nature.


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